This has been a project within the Technology Integration Group for the last several months – redesigning the support website so that it can be more useful to instructors and students who are integrating technology into their teaching and learning. The previous site was nearly a decade old, and had been designed by accretion – full of links, documents, links to documents, etc… but difficult to actually find things that are important. So, the redesign.

First, we moved from Drupal to WordPress – the new site runs on This gave us the flexibility to treat it like a knowledgebase, apply a more useful theme, and enable some additional functionality like tagging and live search of content.

Previous Drupal-powered site on the left, new WordPress-powered site on the right. Both screenshots are of approximately the same square region “above the fold” on the homepage of the site.

With the knowledgebase model, content is available right away, without layers of drilling down. The search box is live, so people can just start typing what they’re looking for and it searches all content to find relevant bits. (no siri support. yet.)

I’m super proud of what my team was able to accomplish with this1 – and excited to see how we grow it from here. Now that we have more flexibility on what we can do with the site, we have lots of plans to revise some of the content, incorporate contributions from the community, and start a series of showcase articles to highlight innovative and successful applications of technology-enabled learning.

  1. and lots of other things – I need to write a post about our awesome new app for the 2015 Postsecondary Conference on Learning and Teaching! []

Norman’s Law of eLearning Tool Convergence

Maybe more of a theory than a law, but still:

Any eLearning tool, no matter how openly designed, will eventually become indistinguishable from a Learning Management System once a threshold of supported use-cases has been reached.

They start out small and open. Then, as more people adopt them and the tool is extended to meet the additional requirements of the growing community of users, eventually things like access management and digital rights start getting integrated. Boil the frog. Boom. LMS.

UCalgary eLearning Discovery Working Group report on LMS engagement

What a consultant-ish title. Anyway. The working group I’ve been chairing since last summer (it even has its own tag here on my blog) has been doing a bunch of stuff (i.e., “engagements”) to talk to people on campus (i.e., “stakeholders”) to find out what they need from eLearning in general and in an LMS specifically (i.e., “high level needs documentation”).

The first report, focusing on documenting the LMS engagement itself (surveys, focus groups, vendor demos, etc…) is now final, and has been published to the website. There will be 2 additional reports published before September – the first will update our documentation of stuff we do on campus to facilitate and support eLearning (i.e., “eLearning Inventory”), and the second will try to crunch through the data, mush it into the community’s needs and hopefully make some sense out of it all (i.e., “eLearning technology analysis”). Another group, spun out of the General Faculties Council, will be working on an eLearning strategy for the University, and we’ll be feeding our reports to them to help inform the process.

Anway, again. The report.

eLearning Discovery Working Group preliminary report

My *big summer project* this year was to act as the chair of a newly formed “[eLearning Discovery Working Group](”, with the mandate to begin to identify what eLearning means at The University of Calgary. We were tasked by the CIO to find out what is involved with providing, supporting, and using eLearning tools in whatever ways are necessary to enable the activities of our students, instructors, and staff.

Over the summer, we began to build an inventory of eLearning tools – both centrally provided, and distributed and ad-hoc tools, to start to form a picture of what eLearning looks like to our University community. The inventory is *extremely* coarse, and we know we’ve missed huge swaths of activity on campus. But we had to start with *something*.

The first thing we learned was how surprised we were that this kind of documentation didn’t already exist. Even in this coarse, high-level, incomplete form, this is a big step forward as a University, in getting our collective heads around what eLearning means to us.

Throughout the next year (and more, since this is an ongoing process), we’ll be working with various stakeholder groups to help better identify what they do with respect to eLearning, what their needs are, and how the University can better support their modern practices of teaching and learning.

The report is extremely brief, and provides only a high-level overview that can be used as a starting point for the real “discovery” activities this year.

The Coles Notes version:

The University provides some eLearning tools centrally (Blackboard, Elluminate, Breeze/Connect Presenter), but much of the activity is taking place in tools that are managed at the faculty, department, program, or even individual instructor level. We need to find out more about these distributed tools, and identify ways in which the University can better support and enable the activities that they facilitate.

Here’s the [eLearning Discovery Working Group Preliminary Report]( (3.9 MB PDF).

Now, to start planning how to work with the University community to start filling in the gaps, and figuring out what we need to do to better support effective eLearning…

Unlimited Magazine: The Wild World of Massively Open Online Courses

[Unlimited Magazine]( just [ran an article by Emily Senger on the massively open online course experience]( It’s a good overview of open online learning, and is definitely worth reading – if only for the 6 paragraphs featuring yours truly… They also spent some of the article talking with people that actually taught the course.

> George Siemens, along with colleague Stephen Downes, tried out the open course concept in fall 2008 through the University of Manitoba in a course called Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, or CCK08 for short. The course would allow 25 students to register, pay and receive credit for the course. All of the course content, including discussion boards, course readings, podcasts and any other teaching materials, was open to anyone who had an internet connection and created a user profile.

and the closer, by your humble narrator:

>”It comes down to the motivation,” Norman says. “Are you (an) intrinsically motivated person who does things because you’re interested? Or do you do things because you want the gold star. If you’re motivated by the gold star, then this probably isn’t interesting to you.”

The [September 2010 issue of Unlimited Magazine]( is dedicated to education and learning, and the changing natures of both.

Video: Sticky Concepts (introduction to) eLearning

I just found this introduction to eLearning and blended learning video, produced by the United Nations University Vice Rectorate in Europe (UNU-ViE). It’s **very** basic, but that’s the point of the video. Could come in handy in talking with faculty members – sometimes they have interesting concepts of what eLearning is (and isn’t)…

Sticky Concepts on E-learning from UNU-ViE on Vimeo.