Open as a Practice

I have been to a couple of events lately where I have been introduced as an OER expert. While this fuels my ego, it is uncomfortable because I see myself, not as an OER expert, but as an OER practitioner and advocate.

I have been reflecting on this idea of experts vs. practitioners. Wondering what makes one an expert in a field? I prefer the term practitioner because it means that I am constantly in the practice of Open, meaning I haven’t figured it all out, I am continually in practice.

When I look out into the field of Open and take note of my mentors (Mary Burgess, Kim Thanos, David Wiley, Nicole Allen, Cable Green,  Paul Stacey, Richard Sebastian, David Ernst, Sarah Cohen) I notice that they are all in the practice of open. They work at it EVERY DAY and yes sometimes they fail and sometimes they succeed, but what matters is that they continue to practice open. Practicing open means to be in the practice of sharing (processes, information, knowledge, resources), as well as to be in support of one another. To practice open means to be open advocates of each others work regardless of the “open silos” we put ourselves into.

Practicing Open and being practitioners of open, means in my view, to support the notion that open is an ecosystem. Whereby the Open Ecosystem is comprised of open access, open data, open education, open government, open licenses, open scholarship, open science, and open source software.


An Ecosystem is defined as a “system, or group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment; thus they interact as a system”. The key part of the definition is “interact as a system”. But what I see out in Open Ecosystem, what seems to be a reality we don’t often speak about, is that sometimes we do not interact as a system. If we continue to place aspects of our ecosystem in a pecking order or one versus another, we are not acting as an ecosystem. We are not interacting with one another to change our environment, i.e. to make open the default. For example ,I sometimes hear the statement or phrase, “open pedagogy vs. open textbooks”. What I don’t understand is why we create these distinctions that one is better than the other when we are all a part of the ecosystem, and in particular the sub-ecosystem of Open Education.

Our open ecosystem will be effective and enduring when we all practice open, when as leaders, mentors, and advocates of open we acknowledge that we are a series of interconnected elements that work together to make open the default. We may fail at times, but we get back up and practice again, and through practice we will see success.
Rather than case ourselves as experts  in the ecosystem let’s regard ourselves as practitioners. Let’s constantly be striving for improvement and practice our philosophy of open; sharing, improvement of access, better student learning outcomes, academic freedoms, increased knowledge.

Riffin’ on the Open Textbook

There has been a fair amount of riff on the open textbook after #opened15 and I feel I would by shying away from the conversation if I didn’t provide my own input into the conversation.

The open textbook movement began as a response to student’s financial burden to education. It was and still is about providing students access to education in an affordable way. Open Textbooks has been the initiation into open that many faculty and institutions need. Why? Because, textbooks are tangible, textbooks are already a known concept, and open textbooks fundamentally reduce student cost. Yes, they are static. Yes, they are still in the exact format and structure of a “Regular Textbook”.


…open textbooks has sparked a wider conversation and a call to action from various attendees to begin to use open as a pedagogical movement in their institutions vs. open as a static tool. Prior to open textbooks I am not sure that faculty, students, and administrators had an idea as to what open education meant. How did it impact them, as individuals and as an institution? What did it mean to remix a piece of content?

For each of us, we come to open for different reasons. For Robin it is about access. “I care about access, broadly conceived: access to ideas, access to pathways to contribute to knowledge, access to research so that we can collaborate and build.”

For Tom, it is about creation of OER. “I need to get more students and professors involved in creating OER material that’s closer to primary source/research material than textbooks. We have bits and pieces of it going on but if I’m going to advocate for considering OER as more than textbooks, I need to make sure we’re doing it often, across a spectrum of content areas, and in inspiring ways.”

Yet for students, it is about cost. We have to remember that although we may be at the stage in open where we need to start talking and implementing open pedagogy many in the movement still care deeply about reducing student costs, and those are our student leaders. Students care about access and for students access to education means reducing financial barriers.CPUDnkOVEAAzO-Q.jpg_large
As OER thought leaders it is our role to take open to the next level, not by dismissing the open textbook but by taking action on what can be done to further the education of our students. As Amy Collier suggested in her talk, perhaps we stop talking about a system where open is good and closed is bad. I suggest the same when it comes to open textbooks. Fundamentally we have to keep in mind that we are all in the initiative to serve the common good and to change the way in which our institutions and classrooms pedagogically operate.


That is the question that we (BC OpenText) often get asked after a presentation on open textbooks.

  • How can I encourage my faculty to adopt open textbooks?
  • How do I create open pedagogical assignments?
  • How do I advocate on behalf of students to the administration that open textbooks are necessary?
  • How do I enlist the support of my administration?

It’s the question that as open education leaders we try to answer as best as possible, but unless we are in the trenches of the institution it is hard for us to understand the lived experience of institutional politics and academic freedoms when it comes to choice of textbooks.

I fully support the question of how because it is often asked by the keen advocates of open. The person who has set up an open textbook display in front of the campus bookstore or self-printed open textbook pamphlets to drop off at academic departments. The person asking the question how doesn’t want to be a solo-preneur in their institution. They want to create a team of open advocates or even better an institution dedicated to open.

This question of how is why I am fascinated and inspired by the blog posts that are written by those who directly respond to the how. For example, Richard Sebastian’s recent blog post on how to make adoption really really easy, or Rajiv’s post on actual examples of open pedagogical assignments and activities. Another favorite is the e-interview with Robin DeRosa who articulated how the team at University of New Hampshire established an OER Ambassador Pilot Programme. We need to continue to celebrate the do-er’s and the people who are showcasing the how.

Others are also interested in this conversation and will be presenting at OpenEd in Vancouver.

Yay! We found the perfect open textbook, now what? Irwin Devries and Naomi Cloutier

Developing an OER Campus Action plan, Nicole Allen and Nick Shockey

Finding Inspiration

I’ve been following a lot of people on blogs, twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and via their podcasts for quite some time. I have been inspired by so many of their stories that this morning I want to share some of those inspiring people I follow.

So here it goes…

Travelcorx. As many of you know, Corinne Whiting aka Travelcorx is one of my best friends. We have known each other since Kindergarten. We refer to each other as life long friends, soul sistas, and consider ourselves to be members of the sensitive souls tribe. What I admire about Corinne and her writing is that it is so honest and real. About 4 years ago she decided to quit her full time job in Washington, DC and move out to Seattle, WA to become a freelance writer. She took a chance and she would be the first to admit that it was hard. Many doubted her decision. What about her 401K? Savings? Retirement? Healthcare? And she doubted it as well, BUT what I LOVE LOVE LOVE is that she followed her heart and her dream. Her day to day inspires me greatly. She has worked so hard to become a freelance writer and I receive emails, daily, that say how thankful and busy she is with projects. If you are looking for a blog to read that provides an honest insight into the day to day of an extraordinary freelance writer, check her out at Weave Your Story.

Early Bird Fitness. Another friend (yes I am promoting friends first), who has really inspired me lately is Kyla. She is an avid runner and is taking on her first Marathon. I have been following her Marathon journey on her blog, Early Bird Fitness and what inspires me greatly is that she is taking the Marathon training on!!! Insane right? I have trained for two marathons and have had to have the support of my group in order to make it through some of the long training runs. Kyla is making it happen solo. There wasn’t a training group scheduled for her Marathon event so she decided to lead the Frontrunners Half Marathon group and then tack on extra mileage after each run. Amazing. I am so proud of what she has accomplished in her running and I have no doubt she is going to kick ass in Ottawa in May. If you are a runner, or someone who is inspired by fitness stories you should check her out at Early Bird Fitness.

Rich Roll and Julie Piatt. I just came across the Rich Roll podcast via listening to the Good Life Project interview with his wife Julie Piatt. Their new book The Plant Power Way is coming out next week and I pre-ordered a copy. Rich Roll is an ultra athlete and he and his wife have been plant based eaters for years. Their recipes sound amazing and I am really looking forward to adding some new recipes to our daily meals. We went back to eating meat in January and since then I just haven’t felt awesome. I miss the plant based diet and I think what resulted in my change back to meat was my lack of interest in cooking. I needed a fresh start with a new set of recipes and I am hopeful that this new cookbook will set me on track. If you are interested in reading about Rich and Julie’s lifestyle  you can check them out at: Rich Roll’s website or listen to his podcast.

I have many more inspiring podcasts and blogs to share, but for now you can tuck into these and let me know your thoughts. If you have ones you would like to share, let me know! I’m always on the hunt for new inspirations.

Side note:  if you are running the TC 10K on the weekend in Victoria, BC I will be running as well! Looking forward to getting back into events after the accident.

the accident

On Thursday February 26, almost two and a half weeks ago I was in a bike accident. Fortunately I didn’t collide with a car. I managed to collide with a small rock or a piece of debris scattered in the bike line. It was quick but I knew exactly what was happening. My front tire slipped on the debris, I swerved to the right (out of traffic) into a curb, hit the sidewalk and flipped over the handlebars. It all happened in a matter of seconds. A matter of seconds that would result in weeks of recovery.

I knew immediately that I was hurt. My head throbbed, I was nauseous and my right arm was in excruciating pain. I somehow managed to grab my phone from my pocket and called Jeff. I later learned, from Jeff, that the phone conversation went something like this. “I’ve been in a bike accident. I have to check my pulse and call the ambulance”. Huh? Oh right, the results of my first aid course. Check for pulse, call ambulance.

At the same time that I was speaking to Jeff, or I should say describing my first aid procedures, two men stopped on the side of the road. I handed the phone to them and fortunately they took over. Yah, for good Samaritans.

Within minutes an ambulance arrived and so did Jeff.

The result? A broken collarbone and a mild concussion. My helmet split in three places. My clothes were cut off at the hospital. My collarbone had a complete break. The X ray showed a split (hole) the width of my index finger. What was once one bone structure was now two. The orthopedic surgeon visited me in emergency and suggested surgery. It would be the fastest way for recovery. I was sent home for two nights with Oxycontin and Tylenol 3.

Two days later I arrived back at the hospital for surgery. Five hours post surgery I had my new bionic shoulder. 12 screws and a plate almost the length of my collarbone now inhabit the right side of my collarbone and shoulder.

The accident, rest, and recovery has filled me with immense gratitude.

Grateful for:

  • My helmet. Always wear a helmet people. It saved me.
  • Jeff and Ryder. Life savers in so many ways.
  • Friends who came to our rescue. Calling, texting, bringing meals, sending gifts and care packages, taking Ryder for play dates, stopping by for visits, buying groceries. (Tracy, Emilie, Emily, Mom and Dad, Shrawan, Corinne, Rhiannon, Farley, Vivian, Kyla, Meghan, Brownwen, Jane, Leahanne, Robyn, Clint, Michelle, Denise, Brad, Mary, Lauri, Monique/Adrian/Dennis, Sue, Tara, BCcampus, Westshore Triathlon)
  • Health. Being healthy and fit pre accident has resulted in a speedy recovery. Within two and a half weeks I am back to almost full mobility, have been going for walks, riding the recumbent bike, and regaining energy.
  • Work. The people, the environment, the support.

Thank you.

Miracle morning- making it work mornings

It’s Day 6 of Miracle Morning, almost one week into the morning routine. I managed to wake up at 5:00 am on the weekends and complete my SAVERS- which felt great. I still feel pretty shattered by 8:00 pm and as a result I am almost uncommunicative. Don’t expect me to make any important decisions post 7:45 pm.

I have to admit that I am experiencing some frustrations. It’s the challenge of having a 2.5 year old who loves his mornings. I know that some people would say “well, perhaps this is something you need to pause for a little while- wait until Ryder grows up a bit and can sleep a bit longer in the morning”. Um no thanks. Neither Jeff or I have used Ryder as a reason NOT to do things. Then there is the other camp who would say “wake up earlier, so that you still get your time”. (Insert image of me wanting to throw up). Waking up before 5:00 am feels to me like suggesting an all nighter. Not appealing.

So for now, I am making it work in different ways. If I can do a meditation, affirmations, and visualizations before Ryder wakes then I know I can slip in a yoga session later and write while he is eating his cereal. It isn’t ideal but it’s a work around that I have to accept right now.

Quick update to Miracle Morning…

Okay I know, two posts in one day, in fact within hours of the other. I am not being overzealous, rather I want to put a bit of clarification on the miracle morning scribing. I will not be posting on the blog EVERY day. I spoke with my sage aka my sister and she recommended that rather than writing on the blog everyday I should take the opportunity to journal and then post reflections every few days. I definitely don’t want to bore others with my mundane thoughts of what I was doing at a certain time, but want this to be an opportunity to record the journey of a new practice.

Miracle Morning Day 2

Day 2 and I managed to wake up naturally, which to be honest was a fluke. I know my body hasn’t already gotten into the habit of rising at 5:00 am but it was still nice to be able to start the morning with ease. Ryder did wake up again through my yoga practice, but Jeff was able to take over until I finished the session. If the last two days are a representation of how the rest of the 30 days will go it seems that I will be able to get in the SAVE part of SAVERS, but have to fit in the RS part while Ryder is having breakfast.

All day yesterday I did have a different energy. I was more alert and awake throughout the day. I will admit that the evening was a bit harder. At swim practice I did have a vision of falling asleep while floating on my back during backstroke. The water just felt calm and my body was at ease.

So today’s scribing is a bit shorter- Ryder’s letting me know his shirt is wet and his hands have oatmeal on them. Kids these days.. what’s wrong with a wet shirt and oatmeal on your hands :)

Miracle Morning Day 1

Important announcement: My sabbatical from the blog was generously sponsored by my inner critic. The inner critic assisted in a writing lull that had me second guessing what I had to share with others from parenting to work. The inner critic has decided to cease sponsorship.

I just finished reading the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and it was just the kick start I needed. I have been wanting a morning routine that was just for me for awhile. A morning routine that doesn’t involve an abrupt start by an alarm, a rush to get Ryder ready, fed, clothed, brushed, and out the door. Having spoken about meditation in the past and wanting to make a practice of it but failed, I knew I need to just take control and give myself a challenge. I work best when presented with a challenge as well as a “how to guide”.

This morning was my first morning trying the Miracle Morning method. Here is how it works.

Wake up at 5:00 am.

Have a glass of water.

Splash water on your face.

Go into an area of your home where you have set up the proper tools to start your morning.

Follow the SAVERS method.

S: Silence (sit in meditation- I did it for 5 minutes- repeating inhale abundance, exhale love)

A: Affirmations (thanks to Louise Hay I have a card deck of affirmations. Yesterday I went through the cards that spoke directly to the affirmations I am looking for).

V: Visualizations (I sat on my pillow and visualized what I want in life- at this point in my life I visualized a SOLD sign on our home and a new home with a view of the water).

E: Exercise (Yoga- I have wanted to get back into yoga but the timing of my yoga classes – in the evenings – make it difficult to get out. I downloaded the app FitStar Yoga and started with an 18 minute flow- loved it!)

R: Reading (5 minutes from Pema Chodron’s Start Where You Are)

S: Scribing (Writing in a journal, but because I want to be held accountable I am going to write in the mornings on the blog as my journal)

So how was Morning 1? Honestly it feels great. I absolutely loved knowing that the morning was for me to set up the way in which I want the rest of the day to flow. I loved getting a yoga practice in before 5:30 am. I have to admit that I was interrupted at 5:15 am by a waking Ryder (he is still on Austin, Texas time). Fortunately Jeff hadn’t left for swimming so he was able to take Ryder while I finished up my yoga flow.

The goal is to try this for 30 days- which means a full review on March 20th. I know I need this as well. I need the morning silence, the practice of meditation, and the energizing flow of yoga first thing.

So here we go….

This is the everyday (not staged)

Lately I have been scouring the internet looking a home design blogs. Perhaps it is the nearing of the fall that makes me feel like a change is needed or maybe it is just my can’t-sit-still-too-long personality. Regardless, I have been oohing and awing over a million pages of home decor sites. From Design Sponge to Apartment Therapy I find myself spending (way too much) time wondering how to get that particular look and researching ways to reinvent and reorder my living room.

In the midst of having that excited-for-change feeling I also find myself in my own swirl of thoughts, once again believing that the grass is greener elsewhere. Homes seem to be immaculate. Style and design appear to come as easily as walking to many of the bloggers. Books are neatly piled on coffee tables. White couches are covered with lovely textile pillows. Kitchens… oh lordy, the kitchens.. don’t even get me started on their amazingness.

To give my head a good shake I reminded myself that these photographs of beautiful spaces are staged. The lighting is filtered, the white space made even whiter with overhead lighting or perhaps a professional photographer’s set up. The books are carefully chosen to go in a particular spot on the coffee table. Tables are set with great care and colours aligned to match the wall colours. These are just glimpses. Not the everyday.

Inspired by Momastery’s post “Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt“, I thought I would share both the glimpses and everyday life around here. (Excuse the poor photography skills. Something is wrong with my DSLR these days, the lighting (well I didn’t do any staging for this), and my IPhone camera seems to have developed a blur in the corner).

Glimpse 1: My office. Paintings, tea, vision boards, lovely lighting.


THE REAL VIEW: Yup that is a bike beside desk. I share the office with my husband who uses it as a training space. It’s tidy but cramped.


Glimpse 2. The play area. A painting that hangs above our son’s play area and colourful pillows line the baseboards.


THE REAL VIEW: Toys and paper. Not neatly placed but in their true form. Being used and loved.


Glimpse 3: Ryder’s room. Printed off various colourful bike images and have created a couple of collages.

photo 1

photo 2

THE REAL VIEW: A boy’s room in a bit of chaos. Don’t call social services.