2015 week 44 in review


Our new Online Learning Environment Specialist started on Monday! We’re now almost fully-staffed – I’m still looking to hire an AV/media/tech specialist to run the fancy stuff being installed in the shiny new Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning building.

I took some HR workshops this week, on “Enhancing a Culture of Respect and Engagement in the Workplace”, and “Rewarding and Recognizing Employees”. Some really good ideas – the workshops were interesting and I’ve got some ideas for how to improve as a manager.

It looks like progress toward having a campus media hosting platform is starting to happen – it’s now an Official Project™ in IT. I’m really looking forward to having a stable place to have people host the content they produce, without having to worry about YouTube inserting ads or privacy-intrusion tracking codes (or changing the terms of the service unilaterally), or having to pay for individual Vimeo Pro accounts. I don’t know anything about timelines for launch, though.

We did a soft launch of the new UCalgary ePorfolio platform. It’s a streamlined WordPress multisite server, tied to D2L and CAS for authentication. So, anyone with a campus account can create as many ePortfolio sites as they want, using WordPress as a simple-but-powerful website management tool. We’re really looking forward to seeing what people do with it – lots of people came to us, looking for viable alternatives to the D2L ePortfolio tool. As a result, Kevin put this together. And I have to say – what a beautiful site. I want to build stuff on it. That’s a completely different vibe than the other ePortfolio platform we have on campus. I’m putting together a demo ePortfolio myself. My new ePortfolio still needs lots of work, but as a demo it’s a good start.

The campus announcement about the Provost Star Awards went out, and my inbox did the kaboom thing. blush

I finally gave up on using Apple Mail and Calendar with our campus Exchange server. It mostly works, but there have been enough funky wierdnesses that I’ve gone back to Outlook. Thankfully, Outlook 2016 is actually pretty decent.

The construction fence around the Taylor Institute was removed this week. Construction is done! Now, Matrix is going to be busy installing the AV and tech in the building, to prep for our move-in date of April 2. Which is coming up REALLY quickly.

taylor institute spine study





My mom turned 75 yesterday. My dad turned 80 in August. Holy. We went out to celebrate at Tony Roma’s, as 75- and 80-year-olds are wont to do. They had a coupon, of course.

I spent a good chunk of the week thinking about what I might want to do for a PhD, and how I might contribute. Lots of ideas. Lots of doubt about if any of them are PhD-worthy.

2015 week 43 in review


I was off for most of the week, but went in on Friday to wrap up some stuff. The whole “take a vacation but don’t actually go anywhere” thing is actually kind of awesome. No pressure to get my money’s worth out of a Big Fancy Vacation. It was the most relaxing 2 week vacation I’ve had (but I’d still rather have spent it in Kauai…)

Looks like I’m going to be presenting at the MIIETL 2015 Research on Teaching and Learning Conference at McMaster in December. I’ve never been, and am looking forward to visiting a new-to-me campus.

And preparations for Congress 2016 are starting to ramp up. Campus is going to be kind of crazy with 8500 visitors for a week or so.





I was kind of getting used to the rhythm of hanging out at home with The Teen™ and The Pup™. They’re both growing up pretty fast.

the pup

2015 week 42 in review


Nope. Well, almost nope. Had some HR stuff to finalize before our new Online Learning Environment Specialist starts on the 26th. I’m out of the office until Oct. 23.





Thinking about ideas for starting a doctoral degree. Nothing crystallizing, yet, but I have some things I’d like to explore.

Migrated a copy of our family photo library from Aperture to Photos with iCloud backup. The upload process took a few days, and went from an initial estimate of 160GB (which fit nicely in our 200GB iCloud storage) to 180GB (which would be tight, with device backups, but still room for it), to 216GB (which filled the storage, so I had to upgrade to the top 1TB tier). Seems to have worked nicely, and it’s great having every photo available on every device. But our lowly MacBook Air seems to want to cache a bunch of it on its small SSD – the library is stored on an external volume, which has lots of room, but the iCloud cache is in my home directory, which means 20GB or so of stuff gets pulled into a boot volume that has 20GB free. Which means the drive fills up and complains. Not cool. I’ll figure something out, maybe with The Magic of Symlinks™.

And, spending some time at home with The Teen™ and The Pup™ (who is working on her Chewbacca impression)

insert chewbacca roar

2015 week 41 in review


We’re hiring – Taylor Institute Operations Technician

Patrick Finn gave a “Last Lecture” on campus this week. An absolutely amazing, emotional, raw, dangerous and important lecture. We are so fortunate to have Dr. Finn as part of our campus community.

last lecture

Kelsy Norman has been doing a series of interview podcasts with UofC alumni. Lots of great ones, but he got to sit down with Dr. Cannon for some non-official-chat. Nice. Peer Review 55: Elizabeth Cannon sets her sights even higher

I won an award, from the Provost. That felt pretty awesome. But, I am nothing without my amazing team. The EDU is the best.

And I’m taking a couple of weeks off. Out of the office from Oct. 9-22. No big plans. Hanging around the house. Getting The Teen™ to school etc.





So, I’m planning on applying to enter the Doctor of Education (EdD) in Learning Sciences program @UCalgary. I’ll be working on the package while I’m out of the office this month. Oh, and trying to figure out how to pay for it. Basically, costs as much as a pretty nice new car. And I don’t have any of those because they’re too expensive… Assuming I figure out that side of things, I’ll hopefully be able to start the program in July 2016.

2015 week 40 in review


Big week on campus:

UofC Report to Community 2015





It was bound to happen. The Boy™ is now The Teen™. Holy. He was born after I started working at the Learning Commons (then Teaching and Learning Centre, now Educational Development Unit of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning). I’ve made a teenager in the time I’ve worked on edtech at UCalgary. Yowza.

  1. see? I can use appreciative language too! []

2015 week 39 in review


We kicked off the Learning Technologies Coaches program this week, when our Technology Integration Specialist started on Monday! Already so much progress on that project – can’t wait to see how it grows and adapts through the first semester.

As usual, had some really great meetings/talks within the Taylor Institute – it’s really amazing, how incredible the entire team is. Also, lots of project meetings, and coffee meetings with people across campus. Blah blah institutional yadda etc…

Joni published a nice interview with our new Academic Chair of the Taylor Institute, Nancy Chick. UToday – New chair champions scholarship of teaching and learning  – Nancy is pretty amazing, and fun to work with.



  • via Stephen Downes: Evernote vs. Google Keep: Which Does More? – I moved to OneNote a year ago. I’m loving it. Evernote feels like it’s trying too hard to sell me things. Google is too creepy and unreliable to trust with anything I care about. Which leaves Microsoft. Who knew? OneNote has been totally solid, flexible, and works great on every device I use.
  • Campus Technology: Chalk & Wire Pledges Continued E-Portfolio Access 
  • Tom Woodward: Google Script Drop Box/Display Package 
  • Todd Conaway: Teaching & Learning Centers 
  • Karl Rivers – The top 10 edtech lessons I’ve learnt after 15 years in schools via Claire Coulter – 10 really good lessons learned on edtech
  • Brightspace Community – Lang-Term Changes in 2016 “As a part of the continued effort to make Brightspace more intuitive for you and your users, in January 2016, improvements will be released to some of the default system language terms, including Dropbox to Assignments and News to Announcements.” Also, they’ll be dropping “Pager” – likely because no student born in the last 20 years will have any idea what a Pager is. It’s like an iPhone, but without apps, no voice support, no input, and can only display 1 line of maybe 32 characters of text. You know, the kind of thing a messaging platform should be named after in 2015…
  • MPAUS – Medium Fusion™ Manual Height Adjustable Mobile AV Cart – The mobile carts for the collaboration huddle stations going into the Taylor Institute – 37 of these, with 50″ touch screens mounted, and some really great tech to let participants actually do stuff together.
  • 2015 Research on Teaching & Learning Conference – McMaster’s teaching and learning conference, in December 2015. I’ll likely be going, and have submitted a proposal to present (although the focus of the conference is highly Research-oriented, so that may be a longshot)
  • TCPS 2: CORE  – I’m finally taking the Research Ethics course. Holy painful. Glad I still have a browser that can play Flash and MP3 files.


  • Cory Doctorow: How Canada’s Tories destroyed the country’s memory, and its capacity to remember – Glorious Leader says everything is fine.
  • Joni Miltenburg: Starlight and Northern Lights  – Joni’s been publishing some really impressive stuff on her photography site.
  • Cory Doctorow: Ian McDonald’s “Luna: New Moon” – the moon is a much, much harsher mistress  – I think this is my next read.
  • Rob Beschizza: When you will die  – I let this run in “fast” mode for awhile. I should not have done that.
  • The Atlantic: Images From Offworld (28 photos) 
  • via Nick Heer: Samantha Bielefeld – Solitude in Solidarity. People wonder why there aren’t more women in tech. All a woman needs to do is write – in Samantha’s case, starting a tech blog – and they get buried by the ranting underbelly of violent hate speech. We – all of us – have to stop tolerating this bullshit. It’s not funny. It’s not freedom of speech.
  • David Hedley: Clear skies forecast for Sunday’s lunar eclipse 
  • You Call this Progress? The narrative that we’ve been under the most profound change ever is broken. My grandfather saw more fundamental technological and social changes than we’ve seen in the last 50 years. He sailed from England to Canada as a child – basically an indentured servant sold as an orphan (although his parents were alive and well, but couldn’t justify the cost of raising another child). He saw the start of powered flight, commercial transatlantic flights, moon landings, satellites, probes sent to other planets. Also, morse code to daily mail delivery to teletype to computers to 100 channels with nothing on. (he died in 1980, so missed the internet revolution). Toefler was right about future shock, but was wrong that we are the only people to have experienced it.


The puppy is growing like a weed. Almost 2 pounds now. Yeah. Still pretty tiny. But she’s ambitious, and doesn’t know that she’s little…

bella has skills

2015 week 38 in review


What a great week. Started off by planning my goals for the year. It’s going to be an epic year, both personally and for the department, and it’s great to see things laid out (and with serious progress made across the board).

We had our Educational Development Unit ePortfolio retreat, where we started putting together the content for the department’s ePortfolio. We’re tying our activities to our EDU Strategic Plan, and making everything visible as a live ePortfolio. Lots of great ideas. Collaboration across the entire EDU. So good.


Early plans for our 2016 University of Calgary Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching. This will be the fourth annual conference, and it keeps getting better every year. Some great ideas brewing for the next one. Can’t wait! And, it’ll be the first one to take place in The New Building™, so it should be interesting just for that.

Beakerhead. The official blurb is “Beakerhead is a smash up of art, science and engineering, where everyone is welcome!” – it’s a cool, public, all-hands, city-wide event that turns Calgary into a centre of weirdness and awesomeness for a week each September. There were a few events on campus this year, including a workshop rehearsal of Clem Martini’s in-progress script for The Extinction Therapist. Fantastic. Weird. Thought-provoking.


And an event on Bionic Fliers, where Festo came to talk about their biomimicry work, and show a prototype of a drone designed after a dragonfly – 4 fully articulated wings with 13 ? degrees of freedom. Amazing. And it flew. Briefly. Who knew, that the altitude at Calgary would cause issues for a flying prototype that works right at the edge of what’s physically possible for flight? Awesome. Lots of things learned through that process. Can’t wait to see next year’s model.

Festo's flying dragonfly drone

Then, my team volunteered (or was volunteered – #mwahahaha) to help with a school visit in our Taylor Family Digital Library. 80 grade 8 kids came to campus to play with various Maker kits provided by our Doucette Education Library. Arduinos. Snapcircuits. Mindstorms. And lots of other stuff. We worked with a group to plan, record, shoot, and edit a greenscreen video. None of them had ever done that, so it was fun for all.


And finally, we got a tour of the new “active learning classroom” in our Haskayne School of Business. It’s a brand new room – construction was completed only a couple of weeks ago – and it’s fantastic. 10 collaboration pods, each handling 6 participants comfortably, so a class of 60 students can use the room for intense small group collaboration. It’s really fantastic. Can’t wait to see what people do with it – it’s almost physically impossible to just lecture in the room, so it’s going to be used for much more interesting and fun things.


Now, I need a nap.




  • Jason Kottke: Children of Men: Don’t Ignore the Background
  • Introducing Peace, my privacy-focused iOS 9 ad blocker – Marco.org ios9 safari content blocker by Marco Ament, powered by Ghostery.
  • Dan Frommer: The most popular paid iPhone app right now is an ad blocker – Who knew? People are fed up with invasive advertising. And then, this happened…
  • Marco Ament: Just doesn’t feel good – Marco killed Peace. I bought that ad blocker, and then Marco had a change of heart and pulled the app because he didn’t like blocking ads that his friends serve on their sites. He’d like to kill the evil ads (defined loosely as “ads run by people I don’t know”), while keeping ads running on his friends’ sites. Can’t have it both ways. Adblocking in iOS9 has made the web much better, uses less data, sucks less battery, and doesn’t invade my privacy (as much). Advertisers don’t get to do that to me ever again.
  • Don’t Let Your Stressed-Out Boss Stress You Out It’s stunning how quickly your stressed-out boss can turn you into a stressed-out team member. This is partly because of the contagious nature of emotions. They spread like wildfire among people—and even faster if one of those people has some control over our fate, as bosses do. Another reason our boss’s stress becomes our own is that many of us are already close to stressed-out ourselves. We too have been sacrificing and giving up a lot for a long time, and the cracks are showing. It doesn’t take much to push us into a bad place.


This is the 52nd of these Week in Review posts. Wow. A whole year. I wasn’t sure if I’d find it useful, or if anyone else would. Turns out, yeah. Both. I find it invigorating to take an hour each week to think about what we’ve done, what I’ve read, and about other stuff that’s happened that week. A personal snapshot, but it seems to be useful to at least a handful of folks as well. Awesome. I don’t know if I’ll keep doing this – one thing I’ve realized, when looking at the archives, is that the number of non-week-in-review posts has dropped off. I need to fix that. Time to get back to blogging. Probably not to a Bava or Cogdog level, but more than simple documentation posts as well.

2015 week 37 in review


We did the interviews for the Technology Integration Specialist position – hoping to be able to make an announcement early next week. Super excited to get this role up and running, so the Learning Technologies Coaches Program can start ramping up.

One thing that surprised me – in filling out the paperwork, the form asked me the gender of the applicant. Not a difficult question, but my initial reaction was “no. that’s a stupid question. I’m not filling that in.” – and I thought about it, and couldn’t think of a good reason why I should be providing that information about an employee. Anyway. I left that field blank just out of principle.

Our Online ISW project team met to plan things. We’ll be adjusting our online ISW program, refining the content, and redeveloping it as an open online resource for others to use. We’ve got a lot to start with, and are working with some really fantastic grad students to get things rolling.

Had a quick Skype call with David Porter and his team, to discuss how we’re using the Swivl robot camera mounts in the EDU. They’re working out really well for us, and I’m planning to buy another six-pack (if I can find the Canadian source – Swivl Global HQ didn’t respond, and buying directly through the Swivl website makes them rather more expensive, without specific Canadian shipping options. Free Trade and all that.)





I rode 3 days this week. Felt great, but I’m not sure if I’ll be trying to ride every day. Might try dialling things back a bit. But then I’d miss things like this on my commute…

sunrise by bike

2015 Week 36 in Review


It was a crazy week. I think the EDU was offering all programming simultaneously – Instructional Skills Workshop, Course Design Workshop, D2L Work Sessions, Curriculum Review orientation, all at the same time. It was great to see so many people coming together in the EDU. Space planning is interesting, and we had to shuffle a few bookings to make room for everyone, but it worked out great. I got to wear a few hats, which is always great – and we had a couple of instructors working in the Faculty Design Studio. Can’t wait to see what they make.

full house for Curriculum Review

I sent out the communication packages for the Learning Technologies Support Program this week, so people in all faculties can start planning what they want to do, and how they want to hire their Coaches.

And, we’re hiring again – Online Learning Environment Specialist – an extremely important role, working with instructors to support their integration of various learning technologies. 





I rode my bike 3 days this week. I skipped Thursday, after riding home into some fun headwinds Wednesday evening. And I took Friday off to make it an extra-long-weekend. Feeling stronger, and am hoping to keep riding until the snow piles up. I don’t think I have winter riding in me anymore…

2015 week 35 in review


It was a week that had the full range of highs and lows as a manager. We finalized the plan for a large project, with funding and timelines, and everything is go. Awesome. The posting for the Technology Integration Specialist, the person who will be largely running that project for the next 2 years, closed Friday, and the interview and hiring process should happen pretty quickly now. Things are moving along extremely quickly on that now.

And, we are saying goodbye to a valued and important team member, who has decided to go back to teaching in the classroom – his experience as a teacher was one of the things that made him so important in our team. He’s going to leave a really big hole in the team, and we’ll be posting the position ASAP.

The Learning Technologies and Spaces summer research project wrapped up as well – still putting the final touches on the project website (which will also be used as the hub for the Big Project), and then we’ll be sharing that widely. Lots of great work there – talking with students, instructors and staff about their experiences with learning spaces and technologies at the UofC. The video produced by our summer research assistants is online already:





I picked the week that smoke from the Washington State fires smothered the city to start riding to work again. Still, worth it. And I was able to blame my slowness and lack of lung capacity on the smoke, rather than on my being horribly out of shape. Winning.

smoke in the valley