Brenda’s Learning Project -Final post – December 8, 2021 -EC & I 831

Pathway to lifelong learning

For EC & I 831, my digital learning project’s goal was creating Spoken Word poetry. My desire to learn to write poetry was enmeshed with my desire to communicate ideas with the potential to transform or make people stop, think, and feel. My poetry writing project focused on Spoken Word poems intended for performance and typically about community, issues, and social justice.

Coming from a place where I really had very little knowledge about poetry’s construction, I chose to enroll in Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop. I felt that the structure and schedule of the Coursera program would keep me focused on poetry in a concrete, linear fashion.  I could complete this structured course while cruising the wide variety of more informal online sources of information about poetry. Sharpened Visions is a beginner level class which I believed that I could use as a springboard to the more complex task of writing profound, meaningful poetry.

What did I learn about poetry?

Through Sharpened Visions, I learned about poetry.  I now can better appreciate poetry and how rhyme, imagery, and rhythm support mood and meaning. I know that assonance, alliteration, and consonance create patterns of sound to provide aural pleasure.

Rhythm results in combining stressed and unstressed syllables. Iamb meter is a line where an unstressed syllable follows and stressed syllable in a rising rhythm. Trochee meter is a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable creating a falling rhythm as in a chant: ” Double, double, toil and trouble.”

Although I did not achieve my goal of writing and performing Spoken Word poetry. I wrote 10 poems over the six-week course, genuinely applying the literary devices. Even after this course, I will continue to read and listen to poetry,  appreciate the poet’s clever use of language to paint a beautiful word picture.  I will keep writing poetry and experimenting with imagery, rhyme, and meter. 

What did I learn about MOOCs?

Participating in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) was a first for me. There were 68,000 students enrolled in the course from around the world. The peer-review portion allowed me to interact with 12 of those students, albeit very briefly – a novel experience. Coursera was the OER that I reviewed for the blog and shared what I learned about the Coursera and how it might be applied to others.  I was able to take a closer look at the wide range of courses offered. Before taking EC & I 831 – I knew very little about MOOCs and how they worked; now, I would confidently recommend Coursera and will be revisiting this OER as a lifelong learner.

What did I learn about learning online?

Strong technical skills are necessary for a seamless digital demonstration of learning and knowledge translation. The learning activities of EC & I 831 let me practice my technical skills and become more comfortable interacting through social media.  My virtual communication skills also got a great workout through the major learning project. I learned the power and pleasure of learning through blogs, videos, audible podcasts, and YouTube. I accessed poetry apps and sorted through a plethora of  online resource materials.  Although I have completed 80% of Masters-level courses by distance, each class challenged me differently. This last year, and in EC & I 831 in particular, I have had an opportunity to blog,  compose through Padlet, record with Loom, and voice over a PowerPoint. I participated in a professional learning network using Discord, Twitter, and WordPress blogs.  I discovered poetry through YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram and used an editing program to create a YouTube presentation. Indeed, I have expanded my repertoire of technical skills.

What did I learn that I may apply to education?

Because of my experience completing the major learning project, I now would strongly encourage learners to try the OER Coursera.  Asking students to demonstrate understanding through the application of digital media such as Flipgrid, Padlet  seems to be logical in the era of Web 2.0.In addition,  educators should consider the power of a self-directed online learning project to enhance digital communication, bolster critical and creative thinking, and practice habits of life-long learning.

A teacher cannot assume all learners have the same access to the internet or the same technical skill. I have worked in adult education for the last four years. Not all adult students have mastered the digital literacy technical skills. Teachers must provide challenging opportunities for students at various levels and in a safe, non-judgmental environment with student growth as the objective, building on their strengths and developing transferable technical skills. 

Teachers must also continue to build personal technical skills and seek sharing opportunities through professional learning networks. School divisions needed to support ongoing professional development  targeted to enhance the application of digital media to curriculum.

A unique learning experience

I am thankful for the challenging opportunity  EC & I 831 Social Media and Open Education presented.  This immersive experience was both theoretical and practical. The major learning project was a chance for me to reflect on my learning style, step out of my comfort zone, and explore the world of digital media. I plan to apply the skills and knowledge to my personal learning journey.  For my students, I vow to intentionally integrate social media and open educational resources to enhance their learning experience.

Thanks Alec. Thanks to the students of EC & I 831 Fall 2021. Best wishes. 

Brenda Ives

A Sharper Vision

By Brenda Ives

I completed the Coursera Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop. The last assignment was revising one of my draft poems for peer review. Putting all that I learned about sound, rhyme, rhythm, enjambment, metaphor and imagery to give the poem greater punch. I also applied the suggestions from peer reviews. The poem I selected to revise and submit for a final peer review was ” My Favorite Aunt”. It was a good process for me to have another look and improve the work.

Peer Review

I was not the great fan of peer review in this course. Some of the poems I was asked to review were very difficult to positively critique. In about half of the poems I reviewed, my peers had not applied the literary device learned that week. This made it difficult to provide a review because I do not know much about poetry and that is why I took this beginner course! Everything I learned about poetry comes from the Coursera lessons. I do not know why the poems submitted to review were not as assigned, but my guess is that with many international students perhaps some meaning was lost in translation. Two of the peer reviews of my poem were obviously completed by adding random letters into the comment fields, just to fill those fields with something to allow the reviewer to press send. To complete the workshop portion of the course student must review at least 2 poems with comments.

On the other hand, when my peers did submit a poem written within the parameters of the workshop assignment, it was a great opportunity to revisit the lesson and the literary device and then judge how effectively thar person applied the device to the poem.

Practicing Poetry

Creating poetry takes thoughtful energy. I admit I have been distracted from practicing poetry writing for good reason. I needed to complete the Summary of Learning for EC & I 831 and a Critical Activism instructional plan for EC & I 822 . These are the last two classes I need to successfully to receive the Masters of Education, a goal I have worked toward for the last five years. With those 2 assignments checked off the task list I can focus on a little poetry reading and writing. Stay tuned for my wrap up of this Major Learning project. I leave you with two poems. A lipogram that I wrote that only uses the letter ‘e’ . Yes this is an actual genre of poetry writing. The second is a short poem from the app Poetry out loud.

Verse in Key of E

By Brenda Ives

Eden seeks Steven.

Fresh beef essence,

Deep decent gent,

Yet rebel street presence.

Steven meets Eden.

Meek mess, ever.

Teen queen lesser.

Me merge? Her? Never!

Eden prefers Steven.

She senses strength expressed.

Steven rejects Eden.

He vents. She’s been a pest he detests.

Eden tells Steven,

She feels the velvet breeze

Deepened creed, strengthened need.

Steven’s the effervescent bees’ knees!

Steven heckles Eden’s tender decree.

Senseless Eden expects Steven’s cheer.

Heedless, Steven severs the weld Eden sees.

Steven freezes her. He frees her.

Brenda’s Summary of Learning

Here is the link to my summary of learning video presentation for EC& I 831.

The Four Commonplaces of Curriculum

This course was definitely an immersive experience– understanding AND participating in social media  for teaching and learning. While most of the teachers in the class immediately dove in with great abandon, I was more like a tourist on the shore overwhelmed by this vast ocean of blogs, microblogging, collaborations, content curation and media sharing. I benefited from the open sharing of tips and resources in  the EC & I 831 professional learning network. This knowledge will surely enhance student learning.   I will complete my M ED in Curriculum and Instruction in DECEMBER (yeah)!  This summary of learning, about the theoretical and practical understanding of social media for teaching, learning, and professional development, is framed, in the four commonplaces of curriculum: student, milieus, subject and teacher. Shout out to Joseph J Schwab and EC & I 804!

Students/ Learners

Let’s begin with the first commonplace of curriculum– the student the learner;  How does digital media and help students become better citizens?

Social media is an integral part of learners’ life from an early age. This is a video of my 7-month -old granddaughter, Millie interacting with her environment – the first snow.  She is also interacting with her mom’s iphone while the phone records her interacting with the first snow. Millie is enjoying both experiences. In EC & I 831, I learned Digital communication and social media can help learners connect, create, and entertain. We discussed digital citizenship and the issue that the internet never forgets.  Mistakes can be an opportunity to learn but if your mistakes or anti-social activities are recorded – they are a forever-record that may hinder relationships and block opportunities. With apps like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, it seems we never  run out of ways to embarrass ourselves or deflate our body image.

We discussed digital citizenship and the need to protect students and our society. Teachers in partnership with students should: Advocate for and practice safe, legal and responsible use of information technology;  Adopt positive attitudes for the use of tech that supports collaboration, learning and productivity;  Demonstrate responsibility for lifelong learning; ans Be Leaders in digital citizenship.

A Commonplace learner

The learner was definitely the focus of the EC & I 831, I was one commonplace learner in this course. My tendency to over- analyze and my lack of dexterity in adapting to the speed of instant messaging made my participation challenging. Thoughtful blogging is more my style.  I am really proud of the fact that I experience learning by MOOC in the Coursera Poetry workshop. Setting up a blog  to reflect on my digital media journey was a great learn- to- do- by- doing activity.


The next commonplace for curriculum is the milieus. – I am just going to talk about the Digital milieus where we work, live and play. “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”  was coined by a contemporary of Marshal McLuhan – John M. Culkin. We talked about how digital technology has created an environment that is changing our society. Social media algorithms detect our preferences to keep us online clicking on information, or worse yet, misinformation – influencing our decisions /accelerating division. Digital devices and social media can be tools to dehumanize and divide but also connect and strengthen community. I learned about the creative commons and online educational resources and the movement for the digital milieus  to reject the commodification of knowledge and embrace a culture of sharing and collaboration.  So refreshing and hopeful.  

We also talked about activism and the personal risks for students and teachers.  Social media affords an opportunity to gather a collective voice to change our world to be a better place to live, work, and play.


A third commonplace to consider in delivering curriculum is the subject. Connected learners have access to any subject matter and infinite sources of information. Just GOOGLE it, while, social media allows for collaboration, building knowledge and learning skills.  Teachers are freed from the chains of banking education, that is, just filling up the student with the facts and figures of the subject matter. Digital media can be adapted to suit the individual interests of learners.  One topic of particular interest to me was the epistemic discussions. What is knowledge? Who decides what is knowledge? How do learners create knowledge? So interesting in the context of digital media!


Finally,  the teacher is the 4th commonplace for curriculum. We are most prominent in the digital landscape of education. Teacher competence enhances student learning and EC &I 831 has increased my skills and understandings. Using digital applications to interact with other teachers has changed my view of social media. Before this class I considered Facebook or Instagram to be fluffy,  friendly, entertainment or twitter a place to check out controversial ideas. Now I am convinced that social media is a serious contender for professional development of teachers.

This teacher did actually take that swim in the ocean of social media. Although I may have been busy keeping my head above the water to respond to all of your fantastic blog posts and cool advice on Discord and Twitter.  I  admire your skill and energy in creating, adapting and sharing to enhance learning. I have learned so much following and reading your twitter feeds and blogs.

Teachers are truly Masters of Remix.  You, no I should say, WE select and adapt digital media tools to suit our students, the subject matter, and the context or milieus in which we live, work, play and learn.

Thanks Alec and thanks to all the fellow teachers in EC & I. Best wishes in all your future endeavors. Take care.

We are social beings that desire connection – with our world, our community, our families, our friends and our students. Digital media connects us.

  “social media” by Sean MacEntee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Learning with Coursera

This is my review of Coursera, an open education resource (OER) with 82 million users worldwide. I am one in a million or (82 million) of Coursera users. I completed the 6-week course called Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop as a foundation for my major learning project for EC & I 831.

First, this blog will provide an overview of Coursera’s broad subject reach, proven approach and popularity of their Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) offerings.  I then briefly recount my experience completing Sharpened Visions answering the following questions. Is Coursera user friendly? Was the course well-organized? Was the course high quality?  I will conclude the blog discussing Coursera’s usefulness for teachers.

What is Coursera?

Coursera is a huge MOOC. According to its website: “Coursera partners with more than 200 leading universities and companies to bring flexible, affordable, job-relevant online learning to individuals and organizations worldwide. We offer a range of learning opportunities—from hands-on projects and courses to job-ready certificates and degree programs.”

Coursera was launched in 2012 by Stanford University computer science professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, according to Wikipedia. The first MOOCs were created by four universities. Today, Coursera has 150 university partners creating courses providing online education worldwide. Coursera’s 2021 statistical report is summarized in the list below.

Coursera by the numbers

  • 82,000,000- Learners enrolled Q1 2021
  • 3000 – University level courses offered
  • 11 – Topic areas
  • 150 – University partners creating courses
  • 50 – Non-profit, government and business partners accessing learning services
  • 17 – Languages available to translate materials
  • 90% – Percentage of courses that may be audited for free
  • $61 – Tuition per course to obtain a certificate of completion
  • $12 – Tuition per guided course
  • 1000- Guided projects that last less than 2 hours
  • $400 – Price of yearly subscription to access 90% of the courses
  • $2000 -Tuition for university credit certificate course
  • 25 – Fully online bachelor’s or master’s degrees
  • $9000 – $50,000 – cost to obtain a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree

I chose Coursera’s Sharpened Vision: A Poetry Workshop as the foundation of my major learning project. Ultimately, my goal is to write and perform spoken word poetry. In this section, I will review Coursera from my personal experience as a learner in this specific course.

Is Coursera user friendly?

Selecting a suitable course and registering for Sharpened Visions was quickly accomplished online. Once registered, I was invited to set goals to encourage time management and complete the course in the estimated 12 hours/ 6 week time span of Sharpened Visions. The course syllabus and student expectations were clearly described in six short introduction videos.  Sharpened Visions could be downloaded to access offline. Although I submitted assignments on my laptop, the course materials were also accessible on my iphone and could be downloaded and available offline.

The ideas in Sharpened Visions were both easy to understand and challenging to learn. Concepts were laid out in bite-sized chunks, presented via short video, by an engaging instructor. The workshop portion of the course involved submitting a draft poem for peer review and reviewing other student written poems. The criteria for writing and reviewing the poems were clear to me.

Is Coursera well- organized?

Sharpened Visions was well-organized in 6  weekly sections.  I just clicked on each week to view the videos, then read the transcripts,  reviewed the summary video, completed the quiz on the concept learned, and applied that concept to my own poem.  When I completed the lesson, I was notified of the percentage of the course completed and the approximate number of hours remaining in the course.

Was the course high quality?

Sharpened Visions was created by a credible university, the California Institute of the Arts. University of Minnesota assistant professor and poet, Douglas Kearney, facilitated the course. His video presentations were highly engaging. In addition, browsing the list of over 3000 courses created by 200 recognized universities, colleges and training organizations from around the world, I was impressed by the variety and quality of the offerings. McMaster University, the University or Toronto and the University of Alberta are three Canadian university MOOCs offered through Coursera. According to their own website, Coursera consistently receives high ratings from learners, an average of 4.5 out of 5.  

Would Coursera be useful for teachers?

I think that educators could benefit from the Coursera OER. Teachers in rural, remote or small schools are at times assigned to teach subjects that may be beyond their subject or skill level expertise. They may not have had specific training or experience delivering the assigned subject. Although Sharpened Vision was at a beginner level – completing this course may even help a high school ELA teacher with the poetry unit.  

Coursera also offers guided project-based courses are very short and specific to a certain skill in computer applications such as using Excel.


Another course that I think would be helpful to teachers/ schools implementing reconciliation is the Coursera called Indigenous Canada. This course was created by the University of Alberta.


Coursera offers a tremendous variety of courses and most are free! Many schools forced to slash budgets due to government funding cutbacks, have decreased or eliminated professional development funding. Strategically tapping into Coursera could strengthen teacher skills and knowledge without the expense of tuition fees, conference fees, travel and accommodations.


Teacher time and energy to complete an online course may also be scarce in these times. Interaction with other adult learners to unpack complex concepts and enhance understanding is optimal. Authentic interaction, building trust and developing relationships among students, instructors and mentors is something that is noticeably absent from a MOOC. Establishing a professional learning network may address this limitation. Using Indigenous Canada as an example, perhaps a group of school staff members could enrol concurrently and then meet to share their learning journey.


In conclusion, Coursera’s MOOCs are quality open education resources because courses are created by accredited universities with qualified instructors facilitating learning. Many of the courses are free or relatively inexpensive.  Coursera is worth considering for the purpose of learning skills,  preparing for a new career, upskilling an organization or even earning an advanced certificate or a degree.

Learning Project Post#3 -Old school poetry

Dust if you must by Rose Milligan Poem Wall Art Rose image 1

I dusted off a copy of “A Book of Good Poems”. This was published in 1959 and sells as a vintage book on Etsey for $30 US. I rescued this book from a box of books my mother-in-law was about to give to the Salvation Army. Inside the front cover it is stamped with: “This book is property of the Tisdale School Unit #53.” My sister-in-law was a fan of poetry and maybe she took it home to read and then forgot to return it. At any rate, since Tisdale School Unit does not exist – I don’t think anyone is looking for “A Book of Good Poems”. I remember this reference book when I was in high school when poetry was a mystery to me. I am enjoying this book of classic poems from British, Canadian and American poets. The anthology includes works from Geoffrey Chaucer to Carl Sandburg. As I intend to perform my own spoken word poetry, as a practice, I have selected a poem from “The Book of Good Poems” to read aloud on video. This is probably take 5 or 6. It was quite a nerve-wracking process for me to make this video production and it is actually just a video of a book and recording of my voice. I am seeking guidance from other YouTube experts on advice on how to create an interesting selfie poetry video.

Off Course(era) – Quick detours

I am following Instagram #buttonpoetry and #slampoetry and enjoying the photo examples of inspiration. Now #poetrytok is something different. Faces of sweet young women recite love sonnets, poems of youth experiences, and dialogues reflecting on oppression through the patriarchy. I actually do not care for TikTok. The short videos are mesmerizing but the people on those videos don’t look like me, dance like me or talk like me. I am thinking of creating TikTok poetry but… my authentic self is a – grey-haired Grammy from Saskatchewan? Maybe using this medium is a way to step out of my socially constructed identity to project my poetic self.

Please enjoy this TikTok poetry. Note: This is not me.


“For once I wanted someone to be afraid of losing me” 💔 written by @keiravanderkolk #poet #spokenpoetry #poetry #spokenword

♬ original sound – Christi Steyn
TikTok professional poetry reader

Coursera guidance – I’ve got rhythm

I am 78% complete and in my Week 5 of 6 of Coursera. Sharpened Vision describes the aural pleasure of rhythmic patterns in sounds and syllables. The rhythm of the poem. The stresses and the slacks have been important components for English language poetry since Chaucer to the present day. Coursera complements instruction with online aids to help students scan poetry for common traditional meter patterns. This additional video from YouTube helped me understand iambic and trochaic forms of poetry.

Just for fun Slam Nation

I have been preparing for my spoken poetry debut by listening to some very serious slam poetry on some very serious subjects. Frankly some of the language makes me blush and the poets are so angry.

I found this 1998 documentary of the genre of spoken word poetry called Slam Nation. Judging by the official trailer, Slam Nation looks and sounds like the Emmy award winning video would be very entertaining. I am intrigued but will wait until it is available through open access.

Taylor Mali, one of the poets featured in the trailer, performed the poem “What do Teachers Make?” There are several renditions of Mali’s performance of this irreverently humorous yet poignant poem on YouTube. I have selected a version of Mali speaking the poem where the YouTube includes the written words in a very colorful visual. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading my blog.


P.S. Does anyone know how to make a video with this cool font style?

Open Education and the Culture of Sharing

The November 2, 2021 EC & I 831 class presented by Dr. Couros provided some deep, digital-media food-for-thought about open education resources (OER) and the culture of sharing. Thank you, Dr. Couros!

This blog unpacks the serious epistemology of open education. It begins with a discussion of the about knowledge sharing and one of the biggest free social media apps, Facebook. Next, I explore the genius, activism and generosity of Aaron Swartz. Because I am more of a social analysis nerd than a technology geek, I have chosen to discuss Mike Wesch’s anthropological research on mediating human relationships through media. Finally, the blog will provide a quick tour of some free OER applications discussed in the lecture which piqued my interest and satisfied my desire to learn more about the practical and free resources.

Friend, follow, and share

It is important that a discussion on sharing knowledge begins with the epistemological questions. What is knowledge? Who controls knowledge? and how is knowledge controlled? And I think as educators we need to critically examine what free means when gathering resources gleaned freely from our digital world?

According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s mission is “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” This free app does connect people but with some caveats of concern. In October 2021, Facebook CEO announced that Facebook aspires to merge that virtual world with a full fledged economy where avatars of people go to work by meeting with other avatars in a virtual reality created office space. Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook is now Metaverse is disturbing given the recent revelations that Facebook and Instagram knew that their free app continues to harm people and society.

Facebook is still providing other companies access to its users’ personal information , says the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Facebook knows Instagram is toxic for teen girls according to a September 2021 Washington Journal. Facebook’s role in the spreading of misinformation with Covid 19, hate, racism, incitement of violence and mental health harm to users is recently revealed. reported that in a CBS interview, former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen alleged, “The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook. And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests like making more money.” Facebook has been using algorithms that encourage people to click on information that will interest them. Hate and anger is an emotion that consistently engages people for longer periods of time. Facebook was purposely feeding people hateful, negative information and misinformation that would keep them engaged for longer periods of time increasing their exposure to buy at the Facebook marketplace.

According to Business of Apps, Facebook is a free app with over 2.8 billion users and $85.9 billion in revenue in 2020, $40 billion was generated in U.S. and Canada. Facebook is collecting our personal data, as knowledge they use to sell to others. In addition, Facebook uses the knowledge of our patterns of social communication to to build knowledge for the purpose of keeping users at the platform for longer periods of time to increase profit.

This controversy is related to the ethical epistemic questions. What knowledge is important? Who created the knowledge and for what purpose? How is Facebook using knowledge gleaned from the people using their platform? Social engagement and virtual community knowledge-building is free on Facebook. How is knowledge is distributed? What knowledge has been distributed and for what purpose? It is clear that Facebook willingly distributed misinformation /false knowledge to increase engagement with more users remaining on Facebook longer. Thus, their paying clients that sell their products and services on Facebook have more potential customers, therefore also increasing Facebook’s bottom line. The free services do connect people to community and build knowledge but society does pay the price. Misinformation and distribution of hate increase profits and power for Facebook. I believe the culture of abundance, the gift culture in our capitalist society may be rather rare, at least on the multinational corporation scale. What do you think? Should we trust Facebook as a knowledge broker? Would our community connections and relationships suffer if we quit Facebook?

Sharing is Caring

Dr. Couros’s reference to tech wizard, Internet Hall of Fame inductee , hacktivist, Aaron Swartz contrasts with the Facebook’s idea of free user access to build a marketing platform and increase profits. A computer programmer, Swartz created knowledge and freely shared his skill and knowledge to actually build the internet. He then advocated for public access to all internet knowledge. In 2013 he tragically died by suicide. Before he died, he faced the possibility of jail time for allegedly downloading research publications from JSTOR to share with the world.

I found this story of the generous, sharing tech genius Swartz to be an unusual narrative and contrary to my understanding of the internet movers and shakers. I admit that I make the assumptions that all tech companies and their creators are building knowledge to advance wealth and power. The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz is now on my list of documentaries to watch. I am curious about this generous, young social justice, warrior soul of Swartz whose character and values seem to contrast with the values of the wealthy powerful tech billionaires.

Aaron Swartz

Media: Mediating Human Relationships

In An anthropological introduction to YouTube, Mike Wesch describes the internet web as something linking people in ways we never could before is such. He makes a chronology of the how YouTube emerges throughout the internet. Wesch’s anthropology students conducted participant observation research using the cultural community of YouTube.

To participate by sharing knowledge and experience through YouTube requires a lot of self reflection because, as Wesch contends, we know ourselves through our understanding of how others see us. I can relate to this personal awkwardness in communicating on social media or video especially if you do not know your audience or students personally. I also understand the benefits from an open educational resource of YouTube. There is knowledge gained from others, connecting with interesting people and the enjoying the entertainingly playful nature of this medium.

Wesch described the cultural inverses evident in YouTube. He said that in today’s world we express individualism, independence and commercialization. At the same time we value the opposite; community, relationships and authenticity. I think that Wesch’s analysis tells a cautionary tale about the problem with YouTube and Facebook today. Open educational resources build knowledge and connection. Digital technology has accelerated learning and community. There is a vast number of people freely accessing digital information, whether that information is good, bad or ugly. Commercialization that is tapping into our human values of community, relationships and authenticity and making a lot of money for a few while for internet knowledge brokers like Facebook, Google or YouTube.

Give it away now

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is MimiEunice_03.png
Credit: Nina Paley

Open source software has accelerated accessibility in participation, creativity and communication. Following the November 2, 2021 class, I was curious to check out free applications and spent an inordinate amount of time exploring these applications.

In your thirst for knowledge, be sure not to drown in all the information. ~Anthony J. D’Angelo

  • Open Office is still a available! That was the first word processing program that I accessed way back in 2000.
  • Blender brings 3D tech tools free and open sourced. Cool.
  • Deep Fake is an open source tool that switches out faces. Now these apps are available and popular for IOS and Android phones. lists 11 Best Deepfake Apps 2021
  • Da Vinci Eye is a free app that can help the budding artist make art from a photo or art piece. This Da Vinci Eye video demonstrates using the app to draw a large picture. My husband Don uses chalk pastels to draw portraits of people and pets. The process involves printing out a photo and then using that print to create the portrait. This might be the ticket for Don to eliminate the printing step. I am going to encourage him to try.
  • Creative Commons has over 2 billion items for sharing! I did not know this. Why did I not know this? This is mind boggling. There are 8.7 million species on earth according to BBC news. I searched Creative Commons for videos of Dr. Couros and listened to a couple of videos that he has shared for the world to see. Fantastic!
  • According to Wikipedia, “Pexels is a provider of stock photography and stock footage. It was founded in Germany in 2014 and maintains a library with over 3.2 million free stock photos and videos.”
  • is a non- profit library of millions of books, websites, music, recordings and videos celebrating 25 years of operation. I made a little cruise to this website and stayed too long browsing poetry, music and cartoons. Did you know that the first animated cartoon, “Fantasmagori”, was created and filmed in 1908? I did not know that.
  • is home to billions of high resolution images shared by their individual members or organizations. Flickr was created by Canadians. Flickr’s purpose and history is documented on Wikipedia. I was fascinated to learn the twists and turns from its inception to its various iterations and the history of who acquired then sold this tech company.
  • I also found this really practical YouTube video by of all people- Mike Wesch. In Making Super Simple Videos for Teaching Online Wesch states: “The hard part is actually getting the confidence to talk on camera.” He invites viewers to check out the whole series as new videos posted every week.

The Networked Teacher

The Networked Teacher – Credit: Alec Couros

Dr. Couros’ graphic that has been shared and modified by others around the world certainly illustrates the topics of ECI 831 and the ideas presented in this lecture.


There is a certain satisfaction in sharing original resources or lesson plans with other teachers. Way back in my teaching career in collaboration with other teachers, the Saskatoon Tribal Council and author illustrator Vera Trembach, I created a kindergarten curriculum resource called “Community” that recognized the context of children living in a First Nation community. We were recognized by our peers and received the Roy C. Hill provincial award in 1991 at the AGM of the STF. Today I would imagine that these resources could be shared digitally. I am thinking of creating that PDF and sharing with others. That might be an interesting project.

Concluding thoughts of this long blog

Offering something for free, as a loss-leader, is a well known marketing ploy to entice customer to purchase that subscription or upgrade to services. Free sites such as Facebook strategically engage users to stick around for the commercial to market products. On the other hand, exploring Creative Commons and has helped me to understand that the internet is more that just a marketplace. Free public access to resources and supporting a culture of sharing seems to be fundamental to expanding knowledge and connecting humans. Indeed, Open Educational Resources are vast, powerful tools for educators to enhance student and professional learning.

Thanks for reading.

Brenda Ives

Teacher activism in Alberta

I have relocated to Alberta from Saskatchewan and as I am a Master of Education -Curriculum and Instruction, I cannot help but notice the criticism of the Alberta Ministry of Education following the March 2021 release of the draft curriculum for students K – 6. The official communication from the Alberta government is that the curriculum focuses on four learning themes: literacy, numeracy, citizenship and practical skills. Sounds reasonable, right? According to educators the draft curriculum is anything but reasonable. Immediate reaction to the curriculum by educators and the community was that the curriculum was Eurocentric, dismissive of Indigenous peoples past and present, focused on rote learning and not based on child development principles. These criticisms were amplified through mainstream media and social media. This is a story of collective activism by Alberta school boards, the Alberta Teachers Association, Support Our Students, Indigenous organizations and individual teachers. The goal for this collective action is scrapping a curriculum that is deemed harmful to students.

School boards refuse to pilot Alberta Curriculum

It is significant that 56 of 61 Alberta school boards are refusing to pilot the curriculum and the social media activism by organizations and individual educators. The Edmonton Journal reported that in a May 20, 2021 letter to the Minister of Education Adrianna LaGrange, Trisha Estabrooks chairperson of the Edmonton School Board explained the board’s position.

“It has errors, examples of plagiarism, and content that is not age-appropriate or reflective of Alberta’s diversity.” Estabrooks wrote. “First Nations and Métis leaders, curriculum experts, educators and parents agree that the current proposed curriculum is unsuitable for today’s classrooms,” Put simply, this assignment receives a grade of ‘incomplete.'”

Alberta Teachers Association ( ATA) launch a media campaign

The Edmonton Journal October 12, 2021 wrote about the Alberta teachers mounting a media campaign against the Ministry of Education decisions. At a press conference, Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) president Jason Schilling said that conditions such as funding cuts and “a dangerous and regressive, draft kindergarten to grade six curriculum amount to an attack on public education in the province.” Here is a document that that explains the ATA position on the draft curriculum.

Support our Students

Support Our Students Alberta is a non-partisan public education advocacy organization with chapters across Alberta. We are run by passionate volunteers and community donations.”

SOS is a non partisan organization that was organized to address issues of public education in April 2021 when the final draft of the curriculum was released the group penned a letter to Premier Kenney and MLA’s. The letter outlines the unacceptable process of curriculum development, the inappropriate content of the draft curriculum and actions necessary to remediate to support student learning. Activist supporters can sign a petition, download or forward a letter to email a message to your MLA, subscribe to a newsletter, read a blog, download a lawn sign.

The SOS website has a link to a game that lets provides statements of inappropriate outcomes for specific age group. It has action items to write a letter to the MLA or sign a petition. This is not just for teachers but involves parents and other organizations.

Teachers take to TikTok and Twitter

Teachers and parents have taken to TikTok and Facebook to brutally criticize the curriculum. This TikTok created by an Alberta teacher uses Wordle to demonstrate the inappropriate subject matter for elementary social studies. Check out @nicolewareham1 on TikTok. She effectively uses this medium to criticize the K- 6 curriculum.

This teacher expresses her disdain for the writing errors in the document.

Below is a discussion on inclusion of indgenous perspectives.

This is a comment on the process of creating the K-6 curriculum.

A teacher on twitter re-posted a cartoon from the Dorchester Review whose editor, Christian Champion was also curriculum advisor for the draft Alberta K-6 curriculum. The cartoon’s message is clearly racist and Eurocentric in ignoring indigenous peoples perspectives to colonization.

Scrap the Alberta K-6 draft curriculum

Alberta is not known for it’s progressive activism yet clearly teachers are willing and able to participate in criticizing the Ministry of Education. I wondered why and how this is possible given that those that we as professionals may have issues with the education system but we rarely bare our anger and desire for change in a public forum fearing backlash or reprimands from our employer. This was different. Teachers were asked to review the draft curriculum and promptly panned the document as unacceptable in their professional view. Teachers’ criticisms were echoed by community groups, the school boards and the Alberta Teacher’s Association. I think that this social activism by teachers is collective activism. Teachers are backed by the power of school boards and the Alberta Teacher Association and buoyed by the influence of indigenous organizations and community groups. Collective activism packs a bigger punch that just may achieve the goal of scrapping the terrible Alberta K- 6 draft curriculum.

Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop – Coursera and me

” ….the the best writing happens after the first draft.”

California Institute of the Arts (n.d.). Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop. [MOOC]. Coursera.

I am on week three of Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop. The structured nature of the course has kept me on task and I feel I have a better understanding the mechanics of poetry and the literary devices of poetry. I have also had practice applying these concepts to my creative writing. This blog entry will document my learning project activities and accomplishments specifically using Coursera and I will even proudly share a couple of poems I created.

Coursera learning schedule

Each week:

  • I watch Douglas Kearney, Assistant Professor at the Univeristy of Minnesota, introduce a poetic structure via video. Doug uses a poem by an established poet is used to exemplify that poetic structure.
  • I complete a quiz on that poetry concept achieving at least 80%.
  • Doug provides two poetry prompts via video.
  • I write my own poems based on the prompts.
  • In weeks 3, 5 and 6 I will submit my poems for peer review.
  • In weeks 3, 5 and 6 I will also participate in reviewing the poetry of others.

I did a little research on my instructor, Doug Kearney. He is an American poet, dynamic performer and librettist. Below Kearney’s photo, I have provided a link my instructor reading one of his poems.

Douglas Kearney reading “After Charlottesville”

Write on

I have introduced myself to the 65,000 other participants across the world. It is interesting to see read the variety of background and reasons why they are interested in learning about poetry.

I have created three poems using the prompts provided. They are: a Found Poem, a Descriptive Poem that paints a picture without the messiness of paint. and a poem that includes imagery and abstraction. The first poem to be submitted for review is due on October 25th.

A Found Poem takes a piece of prose and breaks it into lines and stanzas to enhance its meaning and rhythm. A descriptive poem describes all physical aspects of an object in miniscule detail. A poem that includes imagery and abstraction begins with a title – “the (concrete noun) of (abstract noun)”. My poem using imagery and abstraction was entitled: “The Fire of Fury.”

In week three the first poetry writing prompt is: Write a conceit whereby the entirety of the poem is makes two very dissimilar things have a relationship of similarity. Find two things that seem very different and make a poem that argues for their similarity.

Because I actually do not understand the level of abstraction and imagery in a conceit, I selected the second prompt for this week. Doug prompted students to build a poem out of one set of images that are interrelated. “My Favourite Aunt” is the title of this poem where I describe my aunt through features of modern architecture. This is the poem I will submit for peer review and it is due October 25th.

Show and tell

Here are a couple of my draft poems that demonstrate the application of the literary devices. Although the ideas are simple and the language is basic, I am pleased with the results and am enjoying the process of learning. I am submitting “My Favourite Aunt” for peer review. Stay tuned as I will let you know how that goes.

My Favourite Aunt
by Brenda Ives

My favourite aunt is a mid-century modern masterpiece.
Simply streamlined, a minimalist without ornamentation,
Her portrait features a palette of
Olive skin, pumpkin-colored hair and turquoise eyes.

A stripped-down utilitarian who prefers
Function over form, she is expansive, an open concept,
Married only to the great outdoors.
State of the art circa 1963, she is
Currently trending as my inspiration.

My thoughts on the process and questions

I am finding the course has a reasonable pace for me as a beginner. The lessons delivered with enthusiasm via video by Doug, are short, bite-sized and easy to understand. By applying the literary devices to the creation of a poem, I feel I am satisfying my need to understand poetry with my desire to create.

My EC & I 831 prof, Alec Couros mentioned that the MOOCs delivered through Coursera typically cost a million dollars to develop. Wow. Dr. Couros, how are the on-line or blended courses developed for the University of Regina? Here is a question for fellow students in EC & I 831: How are the blended or on-line courses developed for Saskatchewan K-12 students?

Pathway to Poetry

My goal is to write and perform poetry. For the major assignment for ECI 831, I have decided on option B – to learn something complex, worth learning and of great interest to me. I am intrigued by spoken poetry with a social justice message. This blog post documents :

  • my assessment of my experience and skill in poetry writing and reading
  • my digital exploration of poetry resources
  • my chosen pathway to poetry
  • and finally my Poem #1

Down the garden path of childhood verses: self- assessment

I don’t recall studies of poetry or creative writing from high school English. I just don’t think I connected with our teacher or the Shakespearean sonnets. I realize that everything I learned about poetry was from elementary school. I remember memorizing poetry to recite to the class. Why does one poem in particular stick out in my mind? Someone by Walter de la Mare is particularly memorable. We also had choral speaking competitions at the music festival. I remember dressing in a black skirt and a white shirt,  lining up shortest to tallest, walking on to the big stage at the Tisdale Civic Centre, while Miss Pearce in haystack hairdo, stood down at audience level conducting while our Grade 3 class recited in unison.

Do children memorize poems nowadays? Do you have any poems committed to memory from your school days?

My internet exploration and discovery

These past few weeks I have been cruising the internet, fishing around on Google, YouTube and websites to find the pathway to achieve that lofty goal of writing  and performing poetry. There are some excellent videos that can provide short lessons on the structure of poetry, different forms of poetry and examples of poets reciting poetry.

Becoming overwhelmed by the vastness of digital advice, and realizing  my tendency to get easily distracted by the bells and whistles of the world-wide web, I narrowed in on a few digital tools and sources that may be helpful in my quest to write and perform poetry.

  • delivers a poem a day to read via email – so I may learn from the published poets
  • B-Rhymes is a free rhyming app to help me sweeten the melody of my poetry
  • YouTube poetry teachers and poets will help me to understand the structure and components of poetry
  • Websites such as Penny Kittle provide dynamic examples and specific guidance with spoken word social justice poetry. Thanks James Jones.

My chosen pathway is…

Coursera – Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop

Ultimately, I signed up for free “self- directed, on-line experience”. Sharpened Vision: Poetry Workshop is delivered through Coursera and brokered from the Californian Institute of the Arts. For $61 I would have received a certificate upon successful completion of the course but I opted for the free course. I will have access to the curriculum and participate in all the activities. I just won’t have a fancy certificate to frame.

I have just started and the course seems like it is structured to keep me on a productive poetry path to believeing that: “The best writing happens after the first draft.” I am excited. I have never taken a MOOC.  The course creators seem to have a good recipe to guide the success of their 65,000 + students taking this beginner poetry wiriting course. I am also confident that my poetry writing will improve with Coursera’s MOOC’s guidance.

Have you ever used Coursera or other MOOCs? What did you think? Were you satisfied that theplatform helped you achieve your learning goals?

Poem #1: My first few stumbles

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is catty.jpg
My assistant – Belinda

Poem #1 is the grande finale of this blog. I wrote then created an audio file of Poem # 1 as a record of my first few stumbles toward my goal of creating and performing meaningful and dynamic, spoken word poetry.

Please listen. Critics, feel free to rate it as corny, cringy or cool or just a valiant beginner’s attempt.

Brenda Ives

Poem # 1: Poet? You know it! by Brenda Ives

Am I right? To say I’ll write

A poem sententious, ernest, not pretentious?

Am I sane? To feel the pain

And put to words the world absurd?

I’ll explore curiously and write so seriously.

But seriously?

This voice of mine has too much rhyme.


Hickory Dickory Dock

TikTok and me: What in the world!

by Brenda Ives

This is a late addition to the assigned blog post on a social media review. I am (much too) slowly building confidence in understanding social media and applying skills to blogs etc. Here is my blog on TikTok – what it is and how it might be used to enhance learning.

Yes. I downloaded the TikTok app to see if there might be something educational or useful to a teacher or students in this entertaining app. I am definitely older, much, much, older than the 16-30 age demographic that typically use the app. Still, I am curious to learn about the TikTok craze.

Photo by cottonbro on

At first I glance I really disliked the videos – but soon I was scrolling for over an hour watching video after video. The videos are so short, strange and seemingly senseless choregraphed to annoying music.

Belinda, my cat

TikTok first gave me a taste of funny and not-so-funny cute cat videos- which I was able to relate to because I have a very cute calico cat. The next minute I was watching over-enthusiastic educators and silly, sarcastic teachers. Finally, I landed on therapy videos! Yikes – two hours on TikTok and I am already seeking help?

What is TikTok and how does it grab our attention?

Tech and Learning‘s Luke Edwards descibes TikTok  as a social media app, where users create and edit videos of three to 15 seconds, or string together videos of up to 60 seconds – if recorded in the app. Longer videos can be uploaded from another source. Jay Tolentina of the New Yorker Magazine describes how TikTok holds our attention: “in esscence it is an enormous meme factory compressing the world into pellets of virality and dipensing those pellets until you get full or fall asleep.” The app’s artificial Intelligence is a “machine learning system” that watches you watching the videos and takes you to those places where you stop, look and listen.

Using TikTok in the classroom

Edutopia had an interesting article about teachers using TikTok in the classroom. The article contends that TikTok can be useful to enhance learning for the following reasons:

  • Bite sized lessons – Teachers can create mini lessons in video on TikTok. I watched a 30 second videoand learned an Excel tip on creating a yes/no drop down. That was a very useful lesson! The photo below is a capture from a 60 second grammar teacher’s TikTok lesson.
Courtesy of Claudine Sanders James
Claudine James uses TikTok to teach the basics of grammar to more than 900,000 of her followers.
  • Increased particpation of students -Assign a TikTok video post as a supplement to a written assignment or as a stand-alone digital assignment. The use of TikTok may be seen as something novel and therefore engage student interests. Using a familiar medium that is relevant to the times could increase participation of students.
  • Connecting with students – If teachers take the time to create and post on TikTok, perhaps students will get to know teachers better. Teachers also can follow student accounts to learn more about their students, their interests and their creative talents.
  • Just for Fun -This is a creative platform that students can relate to and probably already use for fun.


Photo by Frans Van Heerden on

Teachers are cautioned to:

  • set up a closed group on TikTok so only those invited can see the images uploaded by students.
  • turn off the dual function so that people can’t comment
  • know that students may stray from the task
  • be warned of the “TikTok Challenges” to harm school property and school staff
  • critically examine the power of algorithmic interests and how the algorithm may shape young minds

TikTok: to use or not to use. That is the question?

If TikTok enchances learning while minimizing potential harm to students, then yes, teachers should consider using TikTok.

Personally, I would not use this app in the classroom with children 18 years of age or younger because the risks to privacy, exploitation and cyber bullying. I would use this app with adult students however. Adult students are probably better at staying on task and understanding the underlying manipulation of the algorithm. I think that the bite-sized lessons could increase participation and student engagement in the curriculum. I also think that adult students could also use this platform to demonstrate creativity and really have some fun.

One more thing

TikTok Celebrity? Jagmeet Singh

What about Jagmeet Singh? Why the heck would a respected leader of a federal party engage in making videos on what some think is a very goofy TikTok. Was he just craving the attention? Judging by his profile stats and the demographic of TikTok users, perhaps his plan was to reach the young voters who have not cemented their political preferences. Maybe he is on to something with 848.8 K followers and 8.1 M likes. Perhaps social media such as TikTok can facilitate fan and voter engagement.

What do you think? Are there serious, legitimate uses to TikTok or is it just a medium for celebrity influence? Can the magic of TikTok be applied to the classroom?