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.
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
A conversation with
Angela Heino, Learning Strategy and Quality Coordinator in Health Sciences, and
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) faculty at Douglas College.
is one of two instructors in the BSN program currently teaching N2215:
Leadership and Interprofessional Collaboration (IPC) course. This class
encourages reflection on various aspects of leadership and IPC while providing
students with the opportunity to engage in the lived experience of
interprofessional education (IPE) as well. In this course, students explore the
roles and responsibilities of team members to both patients/families as
well as to the other members of the health care team. This process draws on
various viewpoints and acknowledges the diverse knowledge and
skill-sharing required of a successfully integrated team. Students learn
strategies for facilitating interdependent collaboration, explore ways of understanding conflict
constructively, and how they as individuals can help to create a healthy
SWITCH event brings students together from different programs (BSN, Psychiatric
Nursing, and Disability and Community Studies) to work on an ethics-based case
study. Then the students converse on three different health related topics
selected because of their timely, and complex, nature such as: vaccination, the
legalization of cannabis, and medical assistance in dying. The students do a
“speed switch” and within this relatively brief time frame, each student
briefly shares their own views on the topics. The goal is that students learn
to appreciate distinct and diverse world views, build awareness of their own
assumptions and biases towards these topics, as well as exchange ideas in a
respectful and professional manner. This
unique event allows every voice at the table to be heard, and boosts the
collective intelligence of a team.
well-attended morning event looks and feels like a conference, and includes a
hot breakfast. After this term’s event, the students were able to provide
feedback through an online survey on how SWITCH benefited their learning and
how they plan to take what their learned forward into their practice.
also involved in the planning and organization of this Winter’s event included:
Jennifer Kane (BSN), Tracey McVey (PNUR) and Aaron Johannes (DACS).
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.
Chief Bob Chamberlain of the BC Union of Indian Chiefs
As the elected Vice-President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Chief Chamberlin takes an active role in the defense of Aboriginal Title and Rights and is committed to overcoming the challenges and impacts of fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago. Further, he frequently engages in lobby efforts at both the provincial and federal levels to ensure the protection of First Nations water rights and safe drinking water for our communities.
Gordon Christie, Professor of Law, Peter A Allard School of Law
Professor Christie is of Inupiat/Inuvialuit ancestry and researches in the areas of Aboriginal rights, Aboriginal title, indigenous self-determination, and the Crown’s duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal groups. Professor Christie’s research also focuses on the intersection between indigenous law and Aboriginal law that has developed through Canadian jurisprudence on section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
Julian Napolean, Dane-Zaa and Cree from the Salteau First Nation in Treaty 8 Territory and Member of the Working Group on Indigenous Food Security
Adrienne Peacock, Faculty Emeritus, Douglas College, Department of Biology
After graduating with a Ph.D. in Zoology from UBC, Adrienne worked as a consultant to an environmental group and then, for over twenty years, taught biology, ecology and environmental science at Douglas College.
Reverend Emilie Smith, Rector of St.Barnabas Anglican Church, New Westminster
Dave Seaweed, Aboriginal Students Coordinator, Douglas College
Please message the organizers with any accessibility concerns. Best entrance from campus parking lot or Royal Ave for those with mobility concerns. Barrier free washrooms available.
(Posted at the request of Stephen Crozier, Douglas College)
There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. ~Edith Wharton.
Douglas College acquired a new piece of edtech a year ago called the Lightboard. But just what is this lightboard thingy?
Basically, it’s a piece of illuminated glass, on which instructors can write their lessons/lecture notes–just as they would a whiteboard or blackboard in a traditional classroom. The real magic comes into play when the video camera reverses the image, allowing the instructor’s writing to read properly from left to right.
The benefits of this technology are clear:
Instructors face their audience (students) directly through the glass. [No longer is there a need to turn your back to the students to write on the board.]
Students, in turn, see exactly what the instructor is emphasizing.
Lightboard sessions are recorded; therefore, the instructor leaves with an MP4 file that can be uploaded to their Blackboard course space or shown to the class by playing it from the instructor computer.
Instructors do not need to learn new technology or develop new skills. The Lightboard is fully supported by the ATS team.
Using this technology is particularly gratifying to convey difficult concepts, sensitive topics, etc. The recording can be played and replayed as many times as necessary for students to master the content.
Check out this video showcasing two Douglas College instructors and a student discussing the benefits of the Lightboard. And, if you’re interested in finding out more, please contact us.
Wow, it’s been such a busy month. Between work and personal commitments, doing the holiday baking and decorating, gift shopping, trip planning, it’s no wonder folks get stressed at this time of year. So, I’m looking forward to a few days off where I can kick back and reflect on the year that’s been and the new one still to come.
From Steven and I at the Douglas Educators Network, we wish you health, happiness, and hope this holiday season. Check back with us in January. The new year awaits!
Recently we held a workshop at Douglas College titled “Creating emotional safety in learning spaces,” which was facilitated by Leva Lee of BCcampus; Sandra Polushin, CFCS faculty; and Steven Bishop and Hope Miller from the Learning Designer team of Academic Technology Services.
And how did we land on this topic? Well, it started over a year ago when Ross Laird presented a two-day workshop titled “Storming the Ivory Tower.” As one plank of his 10-plank framework, emotional safety is a critical component of teaching the whole person.
Our goal in running this workshop was really to start a dialogue at Douglas College about what emotional safety means and how it impacts each of us in our various learning environments. None of the facilitators professed to being an expert in the field of emotional safety, but they were willing to guide the discussion around this important topic.
To that end, the facilitators used Liberating Structures activities to generate thoughts, ideas, challenges, and solutions, as well as to model how such topics could be tackled in learning environments. Two hours flew by as participants completed three activities–Impromptu Networking, Drawing Monsters, and 1-2-4-All–each activity building on the insights gleaned during group work.
I’m happy to report that feedback from participants was very positive. They liked the format and saw the benefits of using Liberating Structures to delve into topics such as emotional safety.
But, did we succeed in creating an emotionally safe space for participants to come together, share, tackle tough topics, and problem solve? Absolutely.
I am getting better at answering the question, “What you are talking about is important, but what does that have to do with technology?” This question is probably more implied, and probably more personal and internal, than one I am asked by others directly. My job title is Online Learning Designer, a role that involves:
supporting faculty with their use of the college’s Learning Management System (LMS)
collaborating with educational and informational technology staff to ensure currency and quality of online learning environments
instructing faculty in the design and production of online learning objects
providing “exceptional client-centered service on a consistent basis to all stakeholder groups”
Depending on what one thinks technology means, there is lots of room for interpretation of the above functions. Because the environment is technological (e.g. digital, computer-based, online), there can be an assumption that the primary work is within prescribed technologies. Ursula Franklin, defines a prescriptive technology as that which “Each step is carried out by a separate worker, or group of workers, who need to be familiar only with the skills of performing that one step. This is what is normally meant by division of labour.” (Franklin, 1990)
Franklin also identifies holistic technology as “…associated with the notion of craft” and involving decisions that can only be made while the work is in process, by the artisan themselves. Holistic technology is endangered in our modern, compliance-based, and prescriptive technological environment, where one misplaced character in a line of code causes failure, and where algorithms decide what information we are fed on our smart phones and computers.