Author Archives: Brooke

OER, OEP and Me

This week’s assignment options encouraged the evaluation of open education resources (OER) and the consideration of open education practice (OEP). This course has been an introduction to both OER and OEP so I decided to “remix” our assignment approaches to make a blog post that was useful for me. A post where I could dive into my research on OER and OEP and take a reflective look at if I am using these practices and how I can improve. In this post, I am going to discuss:

  • What is an OER?
  • What is an OEP?
  • Highlight some of my classmate’s blog posts and discussions of the pros and cons of OER and OEP.
  • Examine OEP (and the use of OER) and my teaching practice.

What is an (OER)?

I found a few different definitions including:

  1. “OERs are any type of educational material freely available for teachers and students to use, adapt, share and reuse” (University of Pittsburg, 2019). Further, OERs save time and money, improve access and democratize learning. The BC OpenEd Campus provides a similar definition and examples of OER.
  2. “OERs are any resources available at little or not cost that can be used for teaching, learning, or research” (7 Things You Should Know About…Open Educational Resources).
  3. “OERs are teaching, learning or research materials that are in the public domain or released with an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation, and distribution” (Hatzipanagos & Gregson, 2015). Hatzipanagos & Gregson (2015) also identify that OERs as useful, specific/contextualized and practical.
  4. The 5 Rs of Open Education:

    OER Infographic: Open Educational Resources can be used for free and without permission.
  5. A Quick Guide to OERs (thanks to Kyla):

  6. And lastly, this following video description below:

What is OEP?

  1. 7 Things You Should Know About…Open Education: Practices describes OEP as “the use/reuse/creation of OER and collaborative, pedagogical practices employing social and participants technologies for interaction, peer-learning, knowledge creating and sharing, and empowerment of learners”.
  2. Our guest presenter from last class, Dr. Verena Roberts describes OEP in the following way: “Open educational practices (OEP) in K-12 learning contexts can describe an intentional design that expands learning opportunities for all learners from formal to informal learning environments. Individualized open readiness can be demonstrated contextually, as a result of teachers and students co-designing for personally relevant learning pathways where learners can collaboratively and individually share their learning experiences, that encourages communication of meaning through multiliteracies, that blends curriculum and competencies and that promotes community and networked interactions with other learners and nodes of learning from multiple cultural perspectives in digital and analog contexts” (Roberts, 2019).

  3. Further, two infographics helped me to think more about OEP. Roberts & Blomgren (2017) propose the following indicators of OEP in K-12 teaching practice:

    My classmate, Amanda, tweeted this infographic which highlights some key elements of OEP:

Highlight: Primary Grade Relevancy, Pros and Cons of OER and OEP

This week Dr. Couros asked us to consider the benefits and drawbacks of OEP. After reading some of my classmate’s blog posts — instead of repeating what has already been said — I’d like to highlight their great work. Dean did a really nice job of highlighting some of the benefits and drawbacks of OEP here. A number of people discussed the issue of OER being relevant to primary students including Catherine and Daina. Catherine provides a succinct discussion on the pros and cons of OEP while Daina dives into MERLOT, an OER resource and explores how this site, like many others, pose a barrier for primary teachers/classrooms/students in that the audience of the site seems to be directed towards high-school and post-secondary students. I explored MERLOT in our group discussions during last class with Daina and can relate, as a primary teacher, with her concerns. Daina questions the relevance of sites like MERLOT which require a lot of digging for good resources when, as teachers know all too well, that time is always a big concern. Riley expresses similar sentiments in his blog post and says what I think many of us are thinking, that “most teachers probably agree with the principles of OEP” but that often time constraints of planning often lead people to use resources that they can quickly and easily access. Commenting on Daina‘s blog, Dean questions whether we (the education system) will overcome the challenges we currently face in terms of relevancy for the primary grades. Brad and Amanda provide a message of hope for OER/OEP in their blog posts this week as they discuss how they have incorporated open resources and practices into their classrooms. My hope is that in having these discussions in our EC&I 831 class, individual blogging on this topic and the discussions that result in the comment section will lead to a change in the relevancy of OER for primary grade students and allow myself and my classmates to be reflective of our own practices as we dive into incorporating the principles of OEP in our teaching.

Now that I know a bit more about OER, OEP, let’s dive into how this relates to my personal journey as an educator.

OER, OEP and My Teaching Practice

In our class discussions over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about how OER and OEP fit into my work as a primary teaching especially since much of our discussion has focused on content for high-school and post-secondary students. But, as I have discussed in past posts (here and here), I think much of what we do in primary classrooms sets the foundation for the amazing work — the “passion projects” (like the home construction project Dr. Roberts discussed in class last week) — we see happening in the older grades.

In Dr. Roberts Open Learning Design Intervention (OLDI), she highlights four iterative stages:

  1. Building Relationships – (I discuss the importance of this in my blog post with the example of a STEM project in my classroom). This is also a great jumping off point for diving into OEP as I think this is something that all teachers consider an important aspect of teaching. OEP calls for a deeper look at building a community of learners and challenges the traditional role of the teacher as the disseminator of information.
  2. Development of Digital Literacies – Some examples of this in my classroom include collaboration using Google docs and Seesaw, and using Media Smarts lessons, CommonSense Ed’s Digital Citizenship Curriculum and Google’s Be Internet Awesome Curriculum to learn about online consent, digital citizenship, digital safety and many other important topics. Often, my unit planning involves a “remixing” of resources which you can “retain” and “reuse” (The 5 Rs of Open Education) but many of the resources I use are protected by copyright.
  3. Find Your Yoda – This stage focuses on interactions, collaborations and connections between learners and informal learning environments and experiences. One way my students participate in this stage is through our classroom garden project, Little Green Thumbs, where my students plant, grow and harvest produce year round. Last year we also collaborated in an inter-school project which allowed Gr. 3 and Gr. 11 students to meet their learning outcomes!<>

  4. Be A Yoda – This stage focuses on learner reflection, sharing, and the creation of personal learning networks. In my classroom, this (so far) looks like the work we are doing using Seesaw via sharing our work with our families and classmates and becoming connected to other learners through students commenting on one another’s work.

I have provided a few examples of how OLDI / OEP has looked in my classroom in the past. There are other examples of course, but I have lots of work to do, now that I know more about OER and OEP. As the saying goes, “when you know better, you do better”!

How can I improve my teaching practice to reflect some of the principles of OEP?

  1. What is lacking in my practice as it relates to OEP is moving our learning outside the four walls of our classroom. Part of the reason this isn’t currently happening is because my relationship with social media. Stepping out of my comfort zone in this regard will help me work towards teaching with participatory culture and networked learning in mind.
  2. My classmate Daniel discusses the transition from formal to informal learning in OEP. This is where many teachers struggle, often out of fear and lack of resources, to seek change in their practices. Trying something new is always tricky! In my teaching practice, I seek to include collaborative and cross-curricular projects when I am able. The pressure of meeting outcomes can, at times, get in the way of other possibilities.
  3. As I mention previously, I am often using resources with copyright. As I learn more about OER and dive into some of the resources like the ones that OER Commons has to offer, I hope to find more open resources that are applicable in my primary setting.

When I think back to the two OEP infographics above, I have a lot of work to do in order to move towards the OEP practices that I know are important to teaching 21st century learners. I feel like I have only dipped a toe into the waters of OER and OEP but I am happy that this course has allowed me to explore something new and provide me with an ideal to work towards.


Week 5 – Learning Project

This week I am continuing to improve on the songs I have been working on:

However, this week was more about refining my work so far.

Successes this week: 

  • I have been using a basic ↑↓↑↓↑↓↑↓ strumming pattern. This week I was able to work on 3 new strumming patterns (1. ↓↑↓↑  ↑↓↑ 2. ↓ ↓↑↓↑↓↑ 3. ↓ ↓ ↑↑ ↓↑) which made the songs sound more interesting especially when a note would repeat several times which is the case, for example, in “Stand by Me” where 4 G chords are played in a row several times throughout the song. The different strumming patterns help to differentiate where one G chord ends and the next one begins.
  • In addition to the four songs above, I have been working on learning the chords to play “Good Riddance” by Green Day thanks to the recommendation of Brad on the Google Classroom he created for his students. The song is broken down for beginners in this video by McCormick Guitar Lessons.
  • I tried out a new video editing program, WeVideo, thanks to some help from Catherine. I have really enjoyed getting to know a new program this week. It seems to me that there are quite a few more options for creativity that I found lacking with iMovie.

I continued to work on some some next steps in Yousician, my Udemy course and Youtube lessons with Marty Music but as I mentioned before, my focus was to improve on the songs I have already been working on.

Challenges this week: 

  • I tried to create some musical scores to show you my strumming patterns using a program called Noteflight which allows you to create your own sheet music. If anyone has suggestions for other websites that do this, please let me know. Noteflight was the first one that popped up which is why I ended up using it. It wasn’t very user friendly right off the bat and I am having some trouble getting the scores to look how I want. I will continue working at it but any suggestions would be helpful.

Weekly Vlog Update:

More to come next week!

Week 4 – Learning Project

16/365 Guitar“16/365 Guitar” by matthewgriff (EmmGee) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


  • In my face-to-face lessons this week, I received a few new things to work on. First, I worked on some rhythm counting in a few different strumming patterns using eighth notes, quarter notes, and whole notes. This allowed for some diversity rather than basic up-down strumming on repeat. More to come on this in the following weeks. My instructor also gave me two new songs to work on, “Baby It’s You” by the Beatles, and “Sloop John B” by the Beach Boys. In the Beach Boys song, I had to learn about using a capo which is a tool that is placed on the neck of the guitar to shorten the pitch of the strings allowing the musician to play in a different key while using the same chord fingering as they would without the capo. For example, “Sloop John B” is written in A minor but I don’t know all of the A minor chords yet so using the capo allowed me to play the song in the key of G major of which I know the chords. My instructor said that many musicians use a capo in order to play more difficult songs using easier chords. I didn’t include this in my vlog post because I got my capo late in the week so I will include it in the next update.
  • A few weeks ago, my classmate Brad suggested some resources for me to use including allowing me access to his Google Classroom for teaching high school level guitar. I worked through some of the warm up songs and instructional videos in his beginner module.
  • Udemy – This week I worked on a lesson called Staccato vs. Legato Technique which is important for my playing of “Baby It’s You” by the Beatle which includes both staccato (short, sharp) and legato (smooth) notes. I also continued to work on the dexterity exercises from last week using the legato technique.
  • I worked on the next lesson on Marty Music’s Youtube channel: Beginner Acoustic Guitar Lesson 2 – The A Major Chord. In this lesson, he combines Eminor (from lesson one) and the A chord and encourages chord switching with a variety of strumming patterns and rhythms. Further, he encourages using the Asus2 chord (from lesson one) to embellish your improvisation with Eminor and A chords. Marty says that there are 5 basic chords to learn in the beginning and “they make up over a million songs and a lot of them are the biggest hits you’ve ever heard”. This is encouraging and also daunting! My classmate Matteo, a guitar player and teacher, commented that guitar is an easy instrument to learn but a difficult instrument to master.
  • In Yousician this week I worked on completing Level 2 of each section: Lead, Knowledge and Rhythm which nicely compliment the lessons I am doing face-to-face, on Google classroom, Udemy and Marty Music. I was able to move on to some Level 3 work. Now, when I got back to perfect songs from Level 1, they seem so easy!

Successes this week:

  • I improvised/played the music for my vlog intro/transitions! I didn’t need to use royalty free music this week because I simply created my own!
  • Yousician is really sticky with playing chords correctly and last week I felt stuck because no matter how much I slowed down the tempo of the songs, I was struggling to play all of the chords correctly or enough so I felt successful. One of the downsides with Yousician is that it cannot see your form but only listen to the notes you play and therefore cannot provide correction. So even though it told me I was playing the note or chord incorrectly, it couldn’t help me improve which is where the other resources, particularly the Udemy course came in really handy. This week, I felt a lot more confident in making chords and having less muted notes due to my thumb/finger positioning. I was able to progress further in Yousician because I improved in making the chords correctly.
  • I am improving with chord switching and strumming but this continues to be a work in progress!
  • Feels great to be able to play along with some of the songs at their intended tempo.
  • I was able to use some new features in iMovie this week but there are some things it cannot do that I’ve been wanting to add to my updates so I might need to look at a more advanced video editor if possible.

Challenges this week:

  • Working on smoothing other transitions between chords but there has been a big improvement since week one and week two.
  • Working on speeding up the tempo in the songs I play.
  • Although I have improved in making chords, I still struggle at times, as is expected. Especially when switching to C and D chords. These seem to be the toughest for me!


Weekly Vlog Update: 

Week 3 (Part 2) – Learning Project

If you read my previous post, then you’ve already heard about some of the new resources I explored for this week.

Success this week:

  • With the help of my Udemy lesson, I have improved somewhat on making my chords and chord switching due to improved hand/finger positioning. I am still not perfect but a lot better than week one.
  • I am becoming slightly faster at switching between chords.
  • Improving speed on “Stand by Me” and “Helpless“.
  • Did a bit of improvisation using Em/Asus2 chords thanks to my lesson from Marty Music.
  • Shortened my vlog update down to ~5 min.

Tech Successes this week:

  • My face-to-face instructor showed me how to adjust the tempo of a YouTube song so I can slow it down while learning it. If anyone is interested, I can make a short tutorial. He also has a neat program called the “Amazing Slower Downer” which allows for further customization of the tempo but this is a paid program so I just stuck with the YouTube option.

Challenges this week:

  • Still need to one perfecting my chords and becoming faster at finding and then switching between chords. This one is going to be an ongoing goal.
  • The previous goal will allow me to improve my tempo in the two songs I am working on.

Tech Challenges this week:

  • I wanted to add some creative image overlays to iMovie but the overlay option wouldn’t allow me to rotate my image or make my image the size I wanted. I’m wondering if there is another video editing program that allows for more creativity.
  • I’m learning two songs, but due to COPYRIGHT I am unable to play the backtrack for you in my iMovie which (is so lame!) is why you’ll hear me doing some humming in “Stand by Me” just so you can better hear how the song goes with me just playing the basic chords. I use the backtracks every time I practice so it is unfortunate that I can’t do the same on my vlog.

What’s next:


  • Keep working on the skills I am currently working on. There is lots that needs more work and perfecting.
  • I will continue to work on my Udemy course, Yousician lessons and Marty Music lessons in addition to my face-to-face lesson on the weekend.

Week 3 (Part 1) – Learning Project – Exploring New Resources

Continuing with the Old...

Face-to-Face Lesson at Music in the House

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  • This week my face-to-face guitar instructor introduced up-down strumming to my practice. These are supposed to be natural feeling but so far I have felt awkward doing them. He asked me to work on strumming down the whole chord but only strumming up the first three or four strings.
  • He also gave me chords to practice two different songs, “Stand by Me” by Tracy Chapman and “Helpless” by Neil Young as these songs chords which I’ve learned in previous weeks.
  • Our lesson is only 30 minutes long so by the time we review the homework from the previous week and do a few run-throughs of the coming week’s practice, it’s time to pack up and go!


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  • I’ve been working on reaching level two in all three of the sections: Lead, Knowledge and Rhythm. I hoped to be moving on but I was feeling some frustration in the Rhythm section where I was working on chords and continuing to have difficulty playing the chords without hitting a mute or dead note.
Starting with Something New...

Marty Music

“The real key is not natural music ability, its the desire”

  • Marty Music

This week I started using some new resources. The first resource was instructional acoustic guitar videos from Marty Music. I began working on his Beginner Lesson Videos Playlist with my first video being the one below, Your Very First Guitar Lesson – Eminor and A sus2. He starts out with an encouraging message. He says that it is important not to give up until you get over the first hump of guitar playing which he quantifies as the first two months. In those first two months, he recommends giving yourself 5 minutes a day and not deciding that it’s too hard. He proposes that your 5 minutes of practice can often become 20 minutes or an hour if you have a breakthrough in your skills.

A lot of this was review since from the beginner lessons I have taken on Yousician and Udemy. However, I learned a few new things from Marty in this video to apply to my practice:

  1. Marty describes strumming as painting on the strings. I have taken many art classes and so this painting stroke is something that feels natural to me. I am going to work on the “painting stroke” to help me with my strumming this coming week.
  2. In his first lesson, he teaches two chords: Eminor and Asus2. I already know the Em chord but Asus2 was new to me. The end of the lesson was Marty instructing to practice the Em chord and Asus2 chord in a variety of combinations using strumming prior to watching the next lesson. See my weekly update for beginning progress on this.




The second resource I used was a Udemy course – Complete Guitar System – Beginner to Advanced which was recommended to me by my classmate Brad Raes who is also working on a guitar learning project however he is much further advanced than I. He offered to meet up with me in our Zoom room two weeks ago to offer some resources and advice.

The Udemy course is taught by Erich Andreas. This particular course has been taken by 123,298 students with a total of 34.5 hours of instruction separated into 47 sections. Each module is then broken down into a series of lessons and each lesson has an attached PDF(s) that reviews the content of the lesson, provides music to play along to, background information and other important tips. The beginning modules and lessons included a lot of listening time (95 minutes to be exact), which included lessons to set yourself up for success and several lessons on musical theory, prior to any playing.

This week I worked on the following modules/lessons and have included some of the highlights:

Section 2: Beginner – THE CORE – Module 1

Lesson: Definitions You’ll Need to Know

  • half and whole steps, sharp (raise a note a half step), flat (lower a note a half step)
  • distance between 2 musical notes (or pitches) is called an interval
  • chord – 3 or more notes played at a time – we like them to sound pleasant but it doesn’t have to, mostly commonly chords are major or minor (happier vs. sadder)
  • arpeggio – break up a chord in any order

Lesson: Proper Posture and How to Hold the Pick – Erich describes the lesson on posture on of the most important lessons in the series.

Section 3: Beginner – THE CORE – Module 2

Lesson: Introduction to the Physics of Sound

Lesson: Basic Picking Techniques and Basic Fretting Techniques – In this lesson, Erich suggested using a sharpie to put dots on your finger tips to make sure you are playing on the correct spot. If you can see the dots, you are playing incorrectly. Playing on your fingertips stops the musician from playing muted notes in a chord which is a problem I have been struggling with a lot. Erich gave the following tips to work on which I also believe will help me to not mute any strings in my chords. First, the thumb position should be loose and behind the neck of the guitar (I have been playing a lot with my thumb on top of the neck). By keeping your thumb on the back of the guitar neck and playing on your fingertips, your hand is then in a C position with space between your hand and the neck of the guitar. Additionally the top knuckles should be curled instead of flat. I tested out these tips while watching the lesson and I immediately noticed a difference in the quality of my chords.

Lesson: Naming the Notes on the Fretboard and How to Read Tablature – I learned the names of the strings and how to know which note you are playing on each fret. I hadn’t learned this in my face-to-face course, or in any of my other online resources.

Section 4: Beginner – THE CORE – Module 3

Dexterity Exercise 1 – This was an interesting exercise where the musician is required to play finger 1-4 on each string starting with the e string (thinnest) to E string (thickest). Once you are able to play this quickly and confidently. Then you switch up the fingering to any variation of 1, 2, 3, 4 for example you could play 1, 2, 4, 3 on each string or 2, 1, 3, 4. There are 24 variations of this exercise. Erich asks for you to spend a minimum of 2 hours on this exercise before moving on to the next lesson so this is where I ended for this week because I wanted to start practicing this dexterity exercise.

Follow this link to view my weekly vlog update.

When We Share, Everyone Wins

The Foundations of OE, OER and the Creative Commons

In class this week, Dr. Couros presented a description of Open Education as described by Smith and Casserly (2006) in that “open education is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Worldwide Web in particular provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse knowledge”.

Further, the video Why Open Education Matters describes Open Education (OE) as “education for all”, “a global movement that aims to bring quality education to students and teachers everywhere” where the “basic idea is to put top notch learning materials on the web that anyone can access for free” and that teachers are able to revise, adapt and improve upon to meet the needs to their students and give them “exactly what they need to achieve their dreams”. In OE, barriers to learning are removed and schools are no longer limited by where they are or how much money they have.

Why Open Education Matters from Blink Tower on Vimeo.

At the core of the OE movement is the sharing of open education resources. Open Education Resources are “materials in which an individual can exercise give rights. Known as the 5 Rs, they are: retain, revise, remix, redistribute, and reuse” (see David Wiley’s discussion on Open Content). My classmate Nataly’s blog showcases an infographic of Wiley’s 5 Rs. Jensen & West, 2015 argue that “The five Rs are possible when materials are in the public domain or are made available with an open licensing tool such as a Creative Commons license”.

According to this video, the ideals of the Creative Commons, “community, collaboration and sharing, are at the heart of human advancement”. The Creative Commons ideals connect with the 4Cs of 21st Century Learning, which I have blogged about in previous semesters. My classmate Dean also recently shared with me the 7Cs of 21st Century Learning as described by one of his colleagues in the Regina Catholic School Division.

The ideals of both the Creative Commons and Open Education movement alignment most significantly with the 4 Cs of 21st Century Learning and are crucial for the development of 21st century work skills and digital literacies. It only makes sense then that this would be the model of our education system, however this isn’t the reality.

The mainstream education system in North America is founded on individualism, self-reliance (Source) and “the idea that evolution is nothing more than a selfish struggle for survival” (Creative Commons). The Creative Commons describes this notion as “utterly, spectacularly incomplete” and proposes instead that “sharing is at the core of successful societies” and education systems. The Creative Commons proposes that “when we share, everyone wins — the giver, the receiver and our communities”. This is the moral imperative that I believe is at the heart of Dean Shareski’s discussion on sharing in education. My classmate Melinda discusses some examples of digital kindness and sharing in her blog post this week and suggests an ethical responsibility to share online. She agrees with Shareski when he says, “the benefits of a shared idea can be golden to someone”. Within the global digital community, you never know the extent to which your contributions can have a profound and positive affect on individuals and communities. As the Creative Commons similarly proposes, “with just a few sharers in the mix, they can inspire an entire culture of sharing”.

Content Control and Owernship

While the ideals of OE, OER and the Creative Commons are built on the foundation of education being accessible and equitable to all for the purpose of a collective betterment, this week’s exploration into the story of Aaron Swartz, the Internet’s Own Boy, allowed me to realize that our current practices in North America regarding copyright, content control and ownership, and public access (ie.sharing) and basic civil liberties stand in stark contrast these aforementioned ideals. We are currently standing amidst a censorship mess that has many asking questions about who controls knowledge and how knowledge is controlled.

The OE, OER and Creative Commons movements cannot be fully realized in a world where these two paradigms continue to collide. The Creative Commons questions, “if sharing is at the core of successful societies, then why do we have some of the most restrictive copyright laws in history?” In his video, Laws that Choke Creativity, Lawrence Lessig discusses this time in history as an era of digital prohibition characterized by a “growing extremism in the response to this debate between the law” and the use of technology to nurture amateur creativity rather than suffocate it. Society has been gifted the most amazing tool, the Internet, and its potential cannot currently be fully realized due to the legal restrictions of copyrighted content.

“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations”. – Aaron Swartz, Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto, Sept. 28, 2008

Through a variety of projects, Aaron Swartz’ life’s work was focused on disrupting the billion dollar business of the US legal system to achieve public access to court documents and similarly to achieve public access to academic journals from digital libraries such as JSTOR. Swartz argued that many people, due to financial or geographical barriers, are “locked out of our entire scientific legacy” and rather “the entire wealth of human knowledge online…should belong to us as a commons, as a people, but instead it’s been locked up and put online by a handful of for-profit organizations”. According to Swartz, (and I agree!) this type of system does not serve public interest. Lessig argues on Swartz’ behalf that instead of using our collective “technological knowledge to advance a public good”, instead our society is caught in a web (both figuratively and literally) of corporatization and monetization of knowledge. Swartz’ described this current state of society as “private theft of public culture”. To begin addressing these issues of content control and ownership, we must return to the ideal of sharing.

The Benefit of Sharing & Remix Culture

The documentary, the Internet’s Own Boy, reminds us that Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the Worldwide Web as we know it, gave it away for free. This act of sharing is the only reason the Internet exists today. This example of probably the most profound example when we think about how sharing benefits the giver, the receiver and the entire community.

The documentary, RIP: a Remix Manifesto, takes us on a journey of how all aspects of digital culture is built upon a cultural artifact that preceded it. (One example of this can be seen in the Star Wars example featured in Everything is a Remix). Dean Shareski’s (2010) statement “I am a giant derivative” (Sharing, a Moral Imperative, 2010) reflects this sentiment of remix culture discussed by many works that were assigned this week including the Remix Manifesto and the works of Lawrence Lessig.

Earlier in this blog, I discussed David Wiley’s 5 Rs of OERs in which remixing content was one of the rights exercised in open ed resources. Remixing does not refer to “taking other people’s content in wholesale and distributing it without the permission of the copyright owner [but rather] people taking and recreating using people’s content, using digital technologies to say things differently” (Lessig, Laws that Choke Creativity). Essentially, our current system of copyright laws (and others like the CFAA) squash creativity. This is what Swartz and many other hackers like him were fighting for, for the right to creativity without the criminal implications of piracy, for the purpose of making the world a better place, for the chance that anyone, either individually or collectively, on the web can be innovative for the purpose of societal, and global, advancement and betterment.

(I should mention that my argument is not to do away with laws that regulate digital behaviour entirely. There are obviously people on the Internet doing things that are considered criminal behaviour. But that in the situation of Aaron Swartz, discretion should have been exercised. The legal snare in which Swartz found himself did not need to play out in the way it did. A brilliant mind was tragically erased from our world due to legal punishments that did not match his actions.)

In one segment of the Swartz documentary, a story is recounted of a teenager who was able to make great gains in pancreatic cancer detection. The only reason this young person was able to discover what he did was because, for a time, he had access to the academic journals that Swartz had made available from JSTOR. The person recounting the story of this teenager says “without access, the person that might come up with the thing that’s got your number on it may never find that answer”. I think on the most basic level, this story is speaks to the great benefit and power of sharing. 

Siemen’s Theory of Connectivism

Foundational to OE, OER, the Creative Commons and, digital learning and sharing, is a relatively new theory of learning coined connectivism. In summary, “connectivism is a learning theory that explains how Internet technologies have created new opportunities for people to learn and share information across the World Wide Web and among themselves” (Source). If connectivism is new to you and you decide to look further into it, I think you will find that Dr. Couros and many of our classmates in EC&I 831 are teaching with connectivist theory in mind.

One of the basic tenets of connectivism is that “the health of the learning ecology of the organization depends on effective nurturing of information flow” (Connectivism: a Learning Theory for the Digital Age, Siemens, 2004). To me, the nurturing of information flow means the protection of and celebration of user-generated content with the deep-seated understanding of a remix culture. Further, my classmate Curtis discusses the role of “collective teacher efficacy” and the positive correlation with student achievement. The idea of a collective of teachers by definition seeks to disseminate the idea of individualism in education. As Curtis discusses, in order for a school to be effective, collective teacher efficacy means a collective sharing (of skills, resources, etc) for the betterment of all students and the ecology of the school. This idea of collective is what OE, OER and the Creative Commons is all about: everyone has a role to play.

At the end of the Creative Commons video I linked earlier in this blog post, the narrator puts out a call to all of us, to YOU, to join in the sharing, because “the effort to build a more connected commons is nothing short of transformational”.

How will you become part of the collective, the commons?



Side Note: I also wanted to talk about how Teachers Pay Teachers, which is used by many teachers I know, including myself, feeds into this prohibition era mentality of copyright law and individualism. As I worked through our course content this week, TpT kept popping up in my mind. I might be able to discuss this in another blog post as I feel it didn’t really have a place within this post, but for now, you can check out my classmate Amy’s blog post as she was able to explore this topic further.

Week 2 – Learning Project

Image preview

Making some progress!

Before you watch (I can’t believe I am making this disclaimer): I didn’t anticipate my dogs
being SUCH A BARRIER to my video making but that is proving to be the case. I love them but it is really tricky to edit them visual and audibly from my recordings. So, if you hear any strange sounds in my video this week and any other week for that matter, it is the sound of two German Shorthaired Pointers playing together. GSPs make a very unique sound LOL!


Now, back to the business at hand…

Successes this week:

  • I’ve memorized all of the chords that my instructor has given me including: G major, C major, D major, A major, E major, A minor and E minor.
  • I’ve improved a lot with chord switching this week which means switching quickly and accurately between different chords. One of the “workouts” on Yousician is a chord trainer where you need to play a minimum of 12 chords in 45 seconds to receive 1 silver star (the lowest score). This might not sound like a lot but it is really tricky when you are a beginner. I did these chord training workouts upwards of 30 times before receiving 1 silver star. I still have a lot more work to do but for now I’m counting this as a win.
  • I practiced a LOT which I am really proud of. When I was a kid, my parents often forced me to practice piano and I was worried that I would be keen at the beginning of learning to play guitar but practice less frequently as time went on. So far, this hasn’t been the case and since this is a self-selected “passion-project“, I hope I stick with the practicing.
  • With all the practicing I did, I mastered many beginner songs on Yousician and achieved many of the skill training on Level 1 and 2.
  • I figured out how to do “picture-in-picture” and “video overlay” on iMovie thanks to some tips from Amanda and this tutorial.

Challenges this week:

  • Some chords are still tricky for me to play. It seems I always have a dead note on C major and D major chords. My face-to-face instructor said to play the chord and if it sounds funny, pluck each string individually until you figure out the dead chord. You will see me doing this in the video. I’ve also tried adjusting my thumb and hand positioning and tried lifting my fingers higher off of the fretboard. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don’t. I’m inconsistent. If you have any tips or tricks, please comment below.
  • While I am getting better at chord switching, you can see me in the video looking back and forth between the string I am strumming and my finger placement on the strings/frets. I have gotten a lot faster at making and switching chords but I still think I’m pretty slow.
  • While I have been practicing a lot, I have not been great at recording myself through the week. I always sit down to practice for enjoyment and procrastinate the recording part. I want to get better at showing my progression throughout the week by recording more frequently rather than doing a cumulative review of the week by recording everything I work on in the same day.
  • Tech troubles: I was having a hard time thinking about how I would show myself placing the guitar and following along with the Yousician app on my iPad screen. What I ended up doing was recording myself playing the guitar using my iPhone and iPhone tripod and simultaneously using the screen recording tool on my iPad to record what was happening on the app. This seemed like a great idea in the beginning but when it came to editing, I had two separate videos. When I needed to delete parts out of either video (dog noises mainly!!), it became really tricky to align the videos again so that my playing matched the recording on Yousician. In some parts of my weekly update I am happy with how the videos align but in other parts it is obvious that the timing is off.

What’s Next:

  • Next week I plan to continue work on the new skills my face-to-face instructor gives me and explore some of the other online resources that I’ve found.
  • PLUS! Brad and I met up on Zoom earlier this week and he shared some great resources that I will be working with. He’s all about that bass when it comes to learning guitar!
  • Stay tuned! As always, your comments and suggestions are welcomed!

Yousician Seems Yousful for Beginners – Week 2 of Learning Project

I decided to take full advantage of my free trial with Yousician this week. I didn’t get a lot of feedback about Yousician on Twitter or my blog posts so I’m guessing that means that not a lot of people have given it a try which I understand because it’s a bit pricey.

I made a video to give you a preview of some of the features the app offers and how I have been using it so far.

This guy gives an informative, but also hilarious, review of the app. He is much more experienced than I am and has used a variety of other tools to compare with Yousician like Rocksmith and Guitar Tricks.

As a beginner, Yousician seems like it will be a useful tool. Because I wanted to take advantage of the free trial and get a feel for what the app is all about, I went heavy on Yousician as a learning tool this week. However, it is not the only tool I am using for my learning project. Stay tuned in the next couple of days to see the other resources I have been accumulating to improve my skills as a beginning guitarist.

Week 1 – Learning Project

Link back to my UPDATED learning project outline: Crunch Time – Making a Decision about my Learning Project

My first face-to-face guitar lesson was on Saturday, Oct. 12 at Music in the House, Regina. It is an old house in the downtown Regina area. When you walk in, you see multiple rooms featuring an instructor and a student and your ears are met with the muted sounds of many fingers working on a variety of instruments. When I walked in the door, I looked to the left to see and hear someone learning to play the drums, a few steps further down the hallway, another student learning the guitar before reaching the room where I was to meet my instructor. There were other rooms that I didn’t make it to yet but so far it seems like a quaint little place where students of a variety of age and ability meet with their instructors to learn their instrument of choice.

Upon arrival, I hauled in my borrowed-from-a-friend guitar which my instructor quickly tuned for me while listening to my answers about what I hoped to achieve from my lessons. My instructor proceeded to describe the anatomy of the guitar and handed me a pic (and taught me how to hold it). My instructor taught me about how strings, frets and fingers are numbered and had me practice playing a variety of notes by calling out something like “third string, second fret” (which you play with your second finger). My lesson wrapped up with learning G, C, D, Em and Am chords using tablature which I am to have memorized by next lesson.

Halfway through my lesson, I expressed that I was having difficulty seeing the strings which meant that my borrowed guitar was too big. Something I didn’t think about before my lesson! This led to a quick trip to Long and McQuade, Regina to rent an appropriately sized guitar which was much better for practicing on this week.

This week I also tested out my free Yousician trial. I am still deciding whether this app is worth the investment. But so far, I am enjoying it. If you have used Yousician before, please let me know what you think! I’d appreciate some feedback before making the purchase.

I quickly personalized my learning in the following ways and got started with the lessons.

Images Source: Yousician

The app teaches you to play using Missions and Workouts. This week I worked on the Play Strings and Play Frets missions. The app listens to you play using the microphone and gives feedback via text prompts, stars and other ways which I will highlight in next week’s post.

This was part of the very first mission. But the third mission, the app had me playing multiple strings and frets.

I had to practice this one a few times in order to improve how many stars I received.

After I realized that Yousician tracks your progress, I updated my daily activity goal to 30 minutes.

Images Source: Yousician

I have been following along with Catherine, Daisy and Amanda and really like how they are setting up their learning project using iMovie and WeVideo so I thought I’d give it a try too. Check out my first iMovie video to see some of my progress throughout the week:

I really like iMovie as you will see in my iMovie review this week. Not only did I have to learn some guitar skills this week, I also needed to learn to use iMovie. However, I ran into a few difficulties which I intend to improve upon for the next project update.

  • I found royalty free music using Youtube’s Audio Library but didn’t think about how I would be unable to play the Taylor Swift music (doh!) that my instructor had me practicing in order to switch between the C chord and Am chord. Therefore, part of my video doesn’t have the audio I want. For next week, I will have to practice playing all of the chords of the song on my own in order for it to be included in the video.
  • I have to figure out a better way to show you what I am learning on Yousician for the same copyright issues as I mentioned above.
  • I am pretty slow a plucking away on the strings so I think I’d like to use the fast-forward option that Catherine and Daisy used to cruise through the boring parts or speed up some of my playing to make it sound more coherent.
  • I recorded quite a bit of footage of myself practicing this week but I think I need to have more of a plan in terms of the layout of my vlog so that I am not just recording myself at random but with intention. Purchasing an iPhone tripod with the assistance of my classmates was a game-changer.

If you have any comments about Yousician or other tools you have used to learn to play guitar, please let me know!


Create, Edit, Present – an iMovie Review

For this week’s blog post assignment, I decided to explore iMovie. I decided to try out this tool because it is one that I have always wanted to be able to navigate well and additionally, I am hoping to use this is an video editing tool to document my learning project. I started out by watching this tutorial which I found to be very helpful as I am an  iMovie beginner.

Overview: iMovie is a video-editing tool for Apple users. You can choose pictures or video clips to create your movie and add titles, music and several audio and visual effects.

“iMovie is a video editing tool developed for iOS and macOS that can create a complete storytelling movie, with credit rolls and studio logos, using photos and videos. iMovie can be used by iOS and macOS users to make videos commemorating special memories, moments and sceneries and then share them with their family and friends, or even with a client. Users can also exercise their creative side by producing Hollywood-like trailers, either from scratch or by using the themes and templates available and then customize them to make their unique video. This video editing application is easy to use, supports 4k video resolution and the finished product can be played from any apple device and projected to a screen. It can also be shared to any video sharing platform or to the social media”.


Highlighted features:

  • Voice-over abilities.
  • Picture-in-picture feature (I’m going to try this out next week)
  • Ability to fix shaky video
  • Ability to crop photos and video
  • Ability to add filters, and adjust white balance and make colour adjustments to photos and video.
  • Green-screen capabilities using 3rd party apps such as Touchcast or Chatterbox.


  • It’s free!
  • You can work on the same project from a variety of different Apple devices.
  • There are many keyboard shortcuts to use (my fave!)
  • Once you figure it out, it’s really easy to use.
  • You can import projects from other iOS apps such as iTunes, Photos, Garageband, etc.
  • It is very easy to download and share your work to social media platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and Vimeo or simply email your work to whomever you wish!
  • Students can work collaboratively on projects.


  • Although it is has capabilities on all Apple devices, it can become tiring to edit on iMovie using an iPhone or tablet. A device with a larger screen is much preferred.
  • The layout of iMovie isn’t initially very user-friendly. When I hovered my mouse over the different icons, it didn’t tell me what they were. The only way I found out was by watching Youtube tutorials and by trial-and-error.
  • Younger student would have difficulty using this tool. The review of iMovie by Common Sense Media indicates it is best suited for grades 5-12.
  • Unfortunately, my school division does not have Apple products and therefore students are unable to use iMovie. Instead, students in my division use WeVideo.

Things to be aware of:

  • If you try to use copyrighted music or images from the Internet you will be unable to upload your video to any public platforms and images will show up blurry. Therefore, it is best practice to always use original content or make sure you have permission via purchasing to use copyrighted content. YouTube’s audio library is one place to acquire royalty free audio to use on iMovie.

Personal Applications: 

  • Creating and sharing memories from any event!
  • I am thinking of using iMovie to create a video of my daughter’s first year in photos/videos.
  • Can also be used in entrepreneurial ventures.

Classroom Applications:

The list of classroom applications for iMovie is endless but I will highlight a few ideas. With each idea, there are many cross-curricular opportunities as well. For example, creating a how-to video could connect projects in writing, math, science, social studies, art and so on.

  • Creating a review of any kind. In my classroom, a favourite would be creating a book review.
  • Create a book trailer
  • Many opportunities for ELA representations…add audio/visual to reciting a poem, illustrate a story, record an interview.
  • Create any kind of presentation related to any subject area…a book report, a science report.
  • Creating a how-to video
  • Create a book summary
  • Digital storytelling opportunities
  • Create a summary of learning on a unit of study
  • Visual representation of nearly any classroom project
  • Self-reflection or process or learning videos
  • This interesting article gives some classroom applications of iMovie at every level of Bloom’s taxonomy.
  • Opportunity for teachers to use in a flipped classroom scenario.
  • Opportunity for teachers to record lessons / instruction for the purpose of differentiation.

What are some ways that you have used iMovie?