iPad Workflow for Updating Grav via GitHub

10 February 2017

Through my day job, I’m regularly exposed to innovative work happening in educational technology and open educational resources. Some of the time, a project peaks my curiousity enough that I can’t help but dabble in the technology myself. As of late, this led me to installing a CMS called Grav to create an “online course hub” that can be used with GitHub to create an open, collaborative platform on the web. Here’s what I’ve learned.

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Chasing the Impossible Past: How a Band Moves on From Its Masterpiece Album (Dan Ozzi) →

Two of my favourite bands released albums at the start of 2017, and both were followups to critically acclaimed records. This article really captures a lot of my feelings about where each band is at in their careers:

In a small stroke of fate, the Menzingers and Japandroids, two bands that five years ago struck lightning in their respective bottles on either side of North America, released new albums on the same day last week under the same parent label, Epitaph Records. With the releases of each, After the Party for the Menzingers and Near to the Wild Heart of Life for Japandroids, the two bands now find themselves in the same predicament: How does a band move on from the album that many will forever consider their masterpiece?


As a result, Near to the Wild Heart of Life takes greater risks. After a familiar, quick and dirty rock banger to kick the record off, they gradually introduce a few new elements into their repertoire—some synths, more introspective lyrics, and even a sweeping seven-and-a-half-minute ballad. They may not have completely reinvented what it means to be a Japandroid, but it’s clearly a deliberate effort towards evolving. After the Party, on the other hand, sees the Menzingers maturing a bit, tackling the problems that come with hitting one’s thirties, but musically, delivering more of what put them on the map.

Linked on 9 February 2017

Does Open Pedagogy Require OER? (Clint Lalonde) →

Originally posted as a comment on Clint Lalonde’s blog.

An informative and timely post, Clint. I’ve been thinking about the preoccupation with licenses since I listened to Rolin Moe talk about it at Open Ed ’15. I think that meaningful learning can happen on the open web regardless of what the license is. However, I think that open licenses just make a lot of that work easier — whether it’s archiving, derivative works, annotation, or any of ways that digital projects, at least in the humanities, often take shape. And if students think about how inconvenient it is to work with proprietary materials in their projects, then they should also realize how inconvenient it will be for someone else further down the line to build something based on their work. In other words, the problem gets skirted down the road, which somewhat defeats the purpose of open.

However, if a student wants to build a comprehensive digital project — basically a website — from lecture materials and PDFs from free and open scholarly databases, but the product can’t be “open” in its license, that work certainly isn’t disposable and is a valuable learning opportunity.

I would venture a guess that over 90% of the faculty and champions working in open education now were classically trained, without much technology or knowledge of “open” as it exists now. And yet those people have the skills and education to undertake these projects now, so we should also be careful about the divide between “disposable” and valuable work. Not a single paper I wrote during my BA or MA is on the internet, but I still have the skills that I learned from doing that work, and I’m grateful for the old-school lectures and assignments I had because they taught me how to think.

Basically, there are many ways to learn, and we shouldn’t let an agenda affect how we think about learning that’s happening already, even with the frustration of noticing that students’ work could contribute to knowledge systems used by the whole world.

Linked on 4 February 2017

Music I Liked in January

2 February 2017

In my year in review, I mentioned that I want to listen to more music in 2017. It’s been some time since I’ve kept up with current releases from bands I enjoy, but anticipating albums is a familiar experience for me. I’m happy to report that this subtle change to my “media diet” is a welcome one.

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2016 In Media And Culture: A Year In Review

10 January 2017

One of my quirks is an obsession with trying to perfect my “media diet.” I’ve written before about the problem of Total Noise and how it affects our world in countless ways. As we close the book on 2016 and look forward to 2017, it’s something I continue thinking about as a central and representative aspect of modern life. It’s not a problem I can solve for everyone, but it’s something I can work on in my own life by reflecting on the information and entertainment I consume and why.

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Race Report: WFPS Half 2016

22 October 2016

Race information

  • What? Winnipeg Fire & Paramedic Services Half
  • When? October 16, 2016
  • How far? 21.1 kilometers
  • Website? http://wfpshalfmarathon.com/
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Thinking About Writing And Code In Education

15 September 2016

Lately, I’ve been investigating a few different solutions for public-facing course websites. Why does it interest me so much? I spent several years in the classroom as a student, and a few more as an instructor. My growing interest in basic web “hacking” and “development” (I put those in quotes because I’m ignorant of both) has led me to imagine what a course “optimized for the web” might look like. This is an entire field of study, of course, and I’m fairly new to it. Most of my contributions include shallow assessments and blanket statements like “This is cool” and “All courses should be like this!,” but curiousity is how I learn, so I’ll continue fumbling blindly through the darkness until someone tells me not to. 

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Bookmarked: Brain Pickings

28 May 2016

The “tyranny of choice” is an appropriate way to describe our society’s relationship with information and the internet. I plan to eventually write about why the problem of Total Noise is among the most significant intellectual challenges faced by educators, students, parents, … (this list would never end) in today’s world, but for now I’ll refer to an essay called Deciderization 2007 by David Foster Wallace, still the best thing written about the impact of Total Noise on everyday life.1

  1. In case the descriptor is insufficient, here’s what should come to mind when I invoke “Total Noise” to describe our culture: that “undifferentiated mass of high-quality description and trenchant reflection that becomes both numbing and euphoric.” 

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