Jacob Goldowitz is one of the Learning Designers at Douglas College, and was a big part of envisioning and organizing the Better Together – Partners in Learning Conference May 2-6, 2022 at Douglas College. The conference sessions were delivered in-person, and virtually. Stay tuned for more episodes
This month, Steven met up for a virtual hallway chat with Tracy Ho, the Organizer-Advocate and Ombudsperson for Douglas Students’ Union. Tracy shared her insights based on student experiences taking courses during the 2020 emergency education delivery. We discussed things we learned and hopeful indications for the future.
This week Steven and I met up for a virtual hallway chat with Jovian Radeshwar, a Faculty Member in the Department of Political Science at Douglas College. We were also joined by our invited co-host, Rim Gacimi. Rim is a recent graduate from the Bachelor’s of Psychology program at Douglas College. Rim was an honours student and research assistant to Dr. Lisa Smith. Her work aims to better understand social behaviour and inequality using empirical research methods. Rim is also interested in socio-political discourse and was once a student of Dr. Jovian Radheshwar.
Jovian is a creative and enthusiastic instructor, who does not shy away from tackling everything under the sun when diving into international politics. We caught up with Jovian to chat about some of the ways he’s approaching the design of his online courses this fall. In addition, we wanted to hear his thoughts on how anti-racist pedagogy can help us navigate the chaotic world we find ourselves in.
If you want to read / watch more, check out some recommendations from Jovian:
This week Steven and I met up for a virtual hallway chat with Kira Tomsons, a Faculty Member in the Department of Philosophy at Douglas College. Kira is an experienced and innovative online instructor who enthusiastically delves into new techniques and methods for engaging students in virtual learning environments. (She is also pretty good with stick people drawings!) She shared with us some of the ways she is setting up her courses for Fall 2020. In addition, Kira reflected on how feminist care ethics can help us consider how to care well in these novel times.
If you want to read further, Kira has some suggestions:
I’ve enjoyed working with and conversing with Florence Daddy a few times, and was pleased when we had this chance to record an interview.
Background I am grateful for the opportunity to have lived in 3 continents. I was born in Ghana- West Africa, lived in England where I did most of my post secondary education and then moved to Canada in 2003. After University, I trained with Price Waterhouse in London to be a Chartered Accountant. I quickly realized that I did not enjoy auditing and through many volunteering opportunities with youth in inner city London, I discovered my passionate and love of teaching. Therefore, I decide to choose education and teaching as a career. In the last 17 years, I have had the opportunity to work as an instructional designer-supporting faculty in developing curriculum for different programs and supporting faculty in adopting appropriate teaching and learning pedagogy for their context in which learning takes place. In addition, to that I support faculty in using technology to support teaching and learning and I think we met each other attend various Educational Technology User Group – (ETUG) workshops. Given my personal experiences, I’m passionate about accessibility, inclusion and diversity issues. I’m certainly aware of the numerous barriers that can prevent certain groups of students in accessing post secondary education. Growing up in Ghana I quickly became away of my status and privileges. I witnessed true poverty where my family provided for many children. However, in Western nations we are given the impression that there is no poor person and the social security system is a buffer. As I engage with students I quickly realized that is not the case so I develop a passion for open education practices and advocates how the use of open textbooks and resources can benefit both faculty in terms of having control over your teaching resources and materials and helping reduce the educational cost for students.
“How can we respond, in our roles, to the increasing calls for change? Especially in regards to post-secondary education?” It is important to decide what is important to you about teaching and your pedagogical belief and identity. I want my students to have a positive learning experience and especially in the current environment where a lot is changing around us and the change is happening so quickly. I have to take a step back and reassess my purpose and my role as an instructor. By doing that, I’m able to figure out how best to use all the tools and resources available to meet my needs and to adopt an appropriate pedagogy for the student to learn given the context and learning environment. In my practice, I get students to think about the learning environment as a community and the importance of building relationships. I like referring to the image on the text book “Pulling Together: A guide for Indigenization of post-secondary institutions. A professional learning series”.
Different cultures emphasize the importance of family and community and I try to use that belief to our classroom and learning experience. I emphasis the strengths within a learning community and I promote learning through collaboration and get students to appreciate the contributes of everyone to our learning. So, as I think about my discipline in the light of all the calls for actions I’ve certainly considered the changes that I can make, for example, by bringing indigenous perspectives and knowledge to our conversations as we discuss leadership.
I use examples of indigenous entrepreneurs and highlight their stories, how Indigenous businesses are set up… to give back to their communities. Even if it’s for profit, it’s not always individual profit but share. Let these be reflected in the textbooks and materials that students are reading, along with other ways to use stories from minorities and ethnicities. Faculty can create their own materials and resources reflecting inclusivity and diversity by engaging in open education. We can help change the narrative, and consider the impact on students who may have financially challenging situations by creating and adopting more open educational resources and strategies.
This week Steven and I met up for a virtual hallway chat with a Douglas College student taking courses for the first time online this summer. Among other things, Charlene is a mom to twins and has her sights set on a career as a dental hygienist.
This week Steven and I met up for a virtual hallway chat with Eamonn O’Laocha a Douglas College Faculty Member in the Department of Business Management. Among other things, Eamonn is working with the Douglas College Facilitating Faculty Online Group and kindly shared some of his observations about the challenging path facing faculty. In addition, Eamonn spoke to some of the work he is doing to address tech inequity and access to education.
This week Steven and I met up for a virtual hallway chat with Seren Friskie. Seren is an Indigenous Psychology student, mental health advocate, community organizer, and activist living on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish People’s. She kindly and generously shared with us what’s it like to be an online student, as well as some of the important work she is doing to research and support better mental health outcomes for vulnerable and marginalized communities. We highly recommend you check out her interview to see things from a student point of view.
To learn more about some of the work that keeps her busy, check out the links below:
This week Steven and I met up for a virtual hallway chat with Dr. Sarah Hogarth Rossiter. Sarah shared with us what’s it like to be a contract instructor (on short notice) at Douglas College for Summer 2020. In addition, we chatted about some of her thoughts around the importance of critical thinking under COVID-19 times.
with hosts Lisa Smith (Sociology)& Steven Bishop (Learning Design)
With the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, the Summer of 2020 is profoundly different for Douglas College faculty, staff, and students. Winter 2020 ended abruptly with a move to on-line teaching for the remainder of the term. For folks teaching summer courses at Douglas College, for the first time ever, all course instruction will be on-line. Dare we say that the phrases, ‘I’m scrambling…’, ‘I’m freaking out…’, and ‘when will this be over’, have certainly become common enough! We are just beginning to realize the vast and far-reaching impacts of this virus on individuals and communities across the globe. Many members of our community are grappling, both directly and indirectly, with the fallout of this massive social upheaval.
For instructors there is an imminent and ongoing need for technological support; however, the nuts and bolts of navigating on-line teaching are not the central focus of this podcast. This podcast is about hearing from DC faculty, staff, and students, as they navigate through the on-line realm in these novel times.
We had many questions at the outset of this podcast: What was it like to move everything on-line within a week? What things did you try, but found didn’t work? How do you build a sense of connection and community when teaching in on-line spaces? How do you cultivate presence as an instructor when teaching on-line? How do you manage the complex patterns of inequality that continue to shape how students gain access to education? Are we aware of all the ways our students are impacted by COVID-19 (emotional, physical, and beyond)? What kinds of things do you consider when making choices about content delivery? What is it like to instruct from home? To learn from home? To work from home? What expertise can you share with us to help us understand the social changes that are unfolding? What are your hopes, fears, worries for this time?
Even though the questions are complex, the format is simple. Guests are invited for virtual hallway chats. We record the conversation and share with others. We chose the hallway chat model to replicate one of the benefits of the close quarters we inhabit as HSS Faculty. We have the privilege of ‘running into’ each other throughout the term. We find these conversations rich opportunities for learning about the work of our colleagues, trouble-shooting small issues, or even delving into deeper reflection. For each chat session we will post any additional reading materials that are mentioned in the recording.
We invite you to listen, share, and create with us as we explore the depths of our new digital humanity.
The first podcast is an interview with Joseph (Joey) Moore, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Douglas College. He has research interests in environmental sociology, urban sociology, and social movements.
Hallway Chat 1: Joseph Moore (Sociology)
Steven and I were pleased to welcome Dr. Joseph Moore, Sociology, for our first virtual hallway chat.
In this chat, Joey mentions Arlie Hothschild’s book, The Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work, first published in 1997.
Check out his co-edited collection, Sociology of Home: Belonging, Community, and Place in the Canadian Context
“What would you do if you suddenly had to deliver your face-to-face class online, and with minimal preparation time?” This was the question Michelle Jickling, Instructional Designer and E-Learning Developer for Douglas College’s Training Group, and Steven Bishop, Douglas College Learning Designer, discussed in the first of a series of episodes exploring digital literacies.
We used Blackboard Collaborate online meeting software to model the solutions we were proposing, since we were both at different locations. Here are the topics, images, and links discussed during the session: Top Five Essentials for going from face-to-face course delivery to online delivery:
Organize and collate the (existing) essential deliverables into a logical pattern (e.g., navigation information, weekly content folders, and assessment descriptions).
Decide what kinds of communication are most practical (e.g., course messages, email, synchronous online meetings, and asynchronous discussion forums).
Work backwards from the (existing) means of assessment to develop the assessment tools, Grade Center, and communication of grades and feedback to students.
Set up the course for basic delivery (e.g., create content areas, folders, items; upload files).
Deploy Blackboard tools as appropriate for all of the above.
Student communications: synchronous meetings may be limited due to bandwidth, or access to reliable online services.
Means of assessment: other than proctored examination, Blackboard assessments would primarily be useful as open-book quizzes and formative assessments.
Instructional presence: an essential consideration not addressed in the list above.
Today’s students are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression at record levels, caused by everything from moving away from home (or country), to social expectations, to work pressures, to academic pressures. Without intervention, the weight of all this can be overwhelming leading to various mental health conditions that can negatively impact their academic performance.
On January 20, Rebecca Gagan, Founder and Director of the University of Victoria’s Bounce program, came to Douglas College to facilitate an interactive workshop to discuss her work and Douglas College’s opportunity to intervene at an early stage to help prevent crisis-level mental health issues. By changing the way we understand and talk to students about their struggles, we can create a community of support, helping students before they become overwhelmed by building positive coping skills that will change the course of their academic journey.
The genesis of UVic Bounce
Rebecca’s work in this area started in 2015 after she received a scholarship in teaching and learning from UVic’s Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation (LTSI). She studied her first-year writing classes to understand how students could become more resilient through short in-class writing interventions. Her study in turn led to the creation of a website for the Faculty of Humanities for a video initiative called “UVic Bounce.”
Using videos in which alumni and faculty speak openly about their successes and failures during their university experiences, students will see that their own struggles and failures are an important part of their learning experience. By normalizing and de-stigmatizing the challenges that students face, UVic Bounce will make it easier for students to share their struggles and to seek the support that they need.
Rebecca started the ball rolling by playing one of the videos in the Bounce project. A hush fell over the room as we watched and listened to the story playing out on screen. At times it was hard to watch, but by the end, my heart was full of optimism. Listening to the stories of senior professors and administrators talk about their own struggles while studying underlined that all of us (even truly successful people) can fail. On the flip side, those same people can rebound to success, when given the proper support and encouragement, which is exactly what happened with the video participants. You can bounce back.
Some rich discussion followed including having participants reflect on a time when they felt particularly troubled, alone, or anxious while at school. In other words, what did that feel like and how did they overcome that challenge.
Rebecca provided some concrete examples of ways staff, instructors, and administrators could be there for students by simply telling their own stories, thus becoming vulnerable, bridging the distance between them and their students.
But, enough from me. Here is the full workshop recording. Sit back, grab a cup of tea, and prepare to be amazed at our collective resiliency.
Our sincere thanks goes to the Douglas College-Wide Faculty Professional Development Committee and Academic Technology Services for funding this workshop.
We would like to acknowledge that we live, learn, work, and play on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples of the QayQayt and Kwikwetlem First Nations.
On September 23, Eva Brownstein, documentary filmmaker, and Jake Costello, Studio Director for CBC’s The Early Edition, led a workshop at Douglas College on incorporating documentary and news story-making elements techniques into courses. Eva and Jake help others tell their stories, nurture stories, and reveal meaning buried in information through film and radio media. The workshop was mediated by Steven Bishop, Douglas College Learning Designer.
We started with a brief discussion of two premises:
We have been using Story since before the beginning of civilization (15,000 years or more if we consider the earliest known cave paintings as comprised of story elements).
Learning relies on the ability to imagine a past, and a future. Storytelling and story receiving are coeval with the conception of time.
“Between the continuous barrage of information and madness, stands only story. Eva and Jake are skilled story makers; they each play an important part in informing others about the meaning of events in our world. As Douglas College instructors and people transmitting knowledge to others, we hope to learn from their experience how to shape information and fact into story. It might not seem apparent that producing news and crafting documentaries involve similar skill sets to lesson planning and curriculum delivery. This quote from Yuval Harare speaks to me about how we are all involved in creating and receiving story. After listening to news (let’s say CBC’s Early Edition), I feel informed. After watching a documentary, I feel moved. In both cases, I care about what I have just experienced. The root of the word “education” means to care, to nurture. That is what Eva, and Jake, bring to us today: story as education.” from introduction by Steven Bishop
“…the last thing a teachers needs to provide today… is more information for they already have far too much of it. Instead, people need the ability to make sense of information, to tell the difference between what is important and what is an important and above all to combine many bits of information into a broad picture of the world.” Yuval Noah Harare in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Listen to a recording of the first half of the workshop
Read the transcript for the first half of the workshop
Michelle Jickling, who is currently working as an Instructional Designer and eLearning Developer with the Training Group at Douglas College, and I sat down for a conversation about the essentials of helping subject-matter experts and instructors with course development. We specifically addressed some of the initial concerns with translating the expert’s knowledge to an online environment, such as the Blackboard LMS currently used by the College.
Our discussion touched on:
Starting from scratch: storyboarding, assessing learning needs, organizing existing content, reviewing the learning goals
Meeting desired outcomes vs. delivery of information
Scaffolding into advanced knowledge
Iterative processes and updating content
Synchronous and asynchronous modalities – how best to meet the student where they are
Modern educational and life challenges for students
Relevancy in course design and assessments
Balancing an expert’s knowledge with time constraints (the 80:20 rule)
We would like to acknowledge that we live, learn, work, and play on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples of the QayQayt and Kwikwetlem First Nations.
Dylan Le Roy is a Student Affairs and Services Counsellor at Douglas College, and provided a much-needed “Managing Uncertainty with Gratitude” session for the Better Together – Partners in Learning Conference May 2-6, 2022 at Douglas College. Dylan’ sessions was delivered in-person, and streamed to remote participants as well.
Dr. Rick Hansen The Neuroscience of Lasting Happiness What is living you? The Practice: Give over to good. Why? In every moment, you and I and everyone and everything else – from quantum foam to ﬂeeting thoughts, intimate relationships, rainforest ecosystems, and the stars themselves – are each a kind of standing wave, like the ever-changing though persistent pattern of water rising above a boulder in a river.
Tree of Contemplative Practices – “….the roots symbolize the two intentions that are the foundation of all contemplative practices: cultivating awareness and developing a stronger connection to God, the Divine, or inner wisdom.”
I just completed my Blackboard Academy certificate on Fundamentals of Digital Teaching and Learning, and thought the course was well organized and an excellent and up-to-date review of the topics, which include: > What we know about learning > Introduction to digital teaching > Digital teaching approaches and the LMS > Designing e-learning courses > Developing e-learning content > Principles of learner assessment and feedback The instructor, Cynthia Crenshaw, was super engaged and encouraged me to get the most out of the course.
I was asked to take the course to learn more about the Ultra Base Navigation which the College is in process of transitioning to; additionally, I was pleasantly surprised at how the course served as a review of ideas and practices that I am quite familiar with in my daily work. The timing was interesting too—to take a course during an avalanche of work associated with helping an institution transition from in-person to remote learning is a bit crazy! So I started looking at the course as a resource to help in the planning of workshops, in the curating of content to support new-to-online instructors, and in many other ways in my daily work. The discussion posts from other participants contained valuable insights, ideas, and links to resources. Taking the time to post my thoughts in the Discussion forums served as a welcome reflection time too. I used the assignments to review a course I am designing, and found the prompts useful in that process.
Last month, Steven and I met up for a virtual hallway chat with Joseph Thompson, a Faculty Member in the Department of Psychology at Douglas College since 2019. Joe shared with us some of his experiences with online teaching this past Summer 2020, as well as some of his plans as he steps into the role of Facilitating Faculty Online (FFO) for HSS. Joe also discussed some of the ways his research can help us understand the process of building expertise, as it relates to the transition to being online instructors.
Join the conversation by sharing your comments, observations, and suggestions with us!
Until next time,
Lisa and Steven
Digital Humanity is recorded on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples of the QayQayt and Kwikwetlem First Nations.
Joe studies experimental psychology and is not a clinical psychologist. For a explanation of the difference, see:
Joe does not want to give the impression that intelligence tests have always been used ethically or that scientists are incapable of bias. For a brief discussion of the history of racism in intelligence testing see
Benjamin, L. T. Jr. (2007). A Brief History of Modern Psychology. Blackwell.
For more information on the ethics behind the use of assessment tools, see
American Psychological Association (2017). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. American Psychological Association. Retrieved Dec 11, 2020 from apa.org/ethics/code.
For background on Transfer, see
Kimball, D. R., & Holyoak, K. J. (2000). Transfer and expertise. The Oxford handbook of memory, 109-122.
For the study behind Joe’s reference to basketball, see
Keetch, K. M., Lee, T. D., & Schmidt, R. A. (2008). Especial skills: Specificity embedded within generality. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 30(6), 723-736.
For the notion that chess could serve as a model organism for cognitive science see
Simon, H. and Chase, W. (1973). Skill in chess. American Scientist, 61. 393–403.
We have only glossed over the messy process by which psychologists use science to improve their psychological tests. For further reading on the history and philosophy behind this process, see
Slaney, K. (2017). Validating Psychological Constructs: Historical, Philosophical, and Practical dimensions. Palgrave Macmillan