Saying YES to creativity

IMG_2308I’m not big on making new year’s resolutions, but one…um…commitment I’m making this year is saying YES to invitations to be creative.

Doing graphic recording in public spaces is a great way to plant seeds for these invitations: people see you doing it, they think it’s neato, and they invite you to do stuff because they want some of that neato in what they’re doing. Right on, I say!


etug@RRU+first graphic gig = best day evar!

On friday, the fall etug workshop was held at Royal Roads. We have been waiting a

Supplies! This amount of felt-ery always makes me happy inside

Supplies! This amount of felt-ery always makes me happy inside

loooong time for this day, and it was a great event all around (as always).  Lots of good friends, ideas, connections, and fun.

An extreme highlight was working with Jason Toal, Hilda Anggraeni, Leva Lee, and Melissa Jakubec on doing a graphic recording of George Veletsianos‘ keynote. My first “real” graphic gig!

It was SO fun! And I feel I’m just starting to understand a bit about how powerful this whole thing can be. Thank you Nancy White and BC Campus for bringing this to our etug community. Looking forward to doing much, much more of this!  (I’ve got about 9, 990 hours to go…)

Beyond Efficiency and Effectiveness...

Beyond Efficiency and Effectiveness…

Learning that's good for the soul...

Learning that’s good for the soul…

The Neverending Painting


Hmmm…never ending painting?! (this is a “blind contour” drawing/self-portrait)

My creativity coach has me working on a “never-ending painting” – the idea is, you have to make a substantial change every week (for at least 3 months).

This is an exercise in non-preciousness (sometimes we protect or covet an area at the risk of the whole) and “going with it” (don’t always have to have a plan).

I have created a gallery to document it as it evolves.

Visual Facilitation

visual-facilitation-toolkitLast week, I was extremely lucky to take part in this incredible workshop with Nancy White and Michelle Laurie. What a blast! I’m grateful to the good folks at BC Campus (still, again…) for the good work they do to make learning and resources available to people like me.

In addition to the topics/learning (which I am very excited about – basically it’s what I want to do when I grow up…), it was amazing and instructive to see such incredible facilitators at work. I have never been part of such an ACTIVE, participatory workshop. We were all exhausted and exhilarated. It was a good example of how much we all (secretly or openly) want to play and have fun, and be connected to our creativity.




This is part of the cover of my creativity journal

It’s all about creativity lately.   The ball started rolling when I was introduced to a friend of a friend, an artist and therapist looking for a guinea pig to develop an approach to creativity coaching. What a great arrangement! I get to be coached (which involves various fun “homework”,  reflective journalling, and getting feedback), and in exchange I give her feedback, and help her to think through some of the issues of online/course design for developing this into a course down the road. It’s great – I’m  working away on weekly assignments that have me painting and drawing my face off.

It’s interesting how this plopped in my lap once I had created space for it (by building my table and changing my office into a studio space).  It’s also interesting how so many people I talk to seem starved for a creative outlet, but may need a nudge, and the opportunity to realize it’s not necessarily about product.  I think she’s really onto something with the creativity coaching.   As the rains of fall/winter descend, I’m looking forward to many dark and cozy afternoons in the studio!

Staycation 2013: Art excuse removal = fix the room

I took an art class recently and the topic of “what stops us” from being creative came up. I earnestly shared with the class that I really didn’t have the right space.

The room erupted in raucous laughter.

Kindly, been-there-said-that, understanding laughter, but laughter nonetheless.   I guess that ol’ chestnut is high on the list of excuses, and in my case, I admit, it’s getting pretty worn out – I’ve been trotting it out for quite awhile.  So, I fixed my room. This mainly involved ditching the desk and building a counter-height table, and I also laid down a $16 indoor/outdoor brown carpet (so my oh-but-I-have-light-carpet excuse is no longer valid). The table is centered in the room so i can move all the way around it, and the cubby holes are full of now-organized and easily accessed supplies: paper, paint, pens, pastels, photos, etc, etc.


Aaaand done…!


Before: my office/room

Staycation 2013: I built a table!

Inspired by this great post, I decided to build myself a counter-height art table (main  modification was to skip the additional legs – didn’t need it for height).  Here’s how I did it:

First: assemble supplies. I got all my stuff from the local Rona, Walmart, and Home Hardware (Corona from the liquor store).


First, I got a bunch of stuff

I started with the shelves I wanted (3 x 3 cube shelves in Espresso). Unfortunately the pre-made table top from Rona (in the picture) turned out to be too narrow (needed 3 ft), but I saved a ton of money by returning it and getting a piece of laminated particleboard cut to the size I needed (3 x 5, plus I now have extra 6 ft long piece  in case I ever want the table longer).

Next, build the shelves (takes awhile, but is easy). Then plop the table top on and start to get excited because the end is already in sight.

Next, attach table top and finish rough edges.  The brilliant tip from that blog I mentioned is using VELCRO DOTS to attach the table. They guy at Rona insisted that I follow this protocol:   stick velcro dots together, then peel off plastic from one side, stick it to the shelf, then peel the other side (so one side is now attached and the other is sticky side up) and place the table top exactly where you want it so the dots always line up perfectly.  Worked out fine. To get a nice edge, I ironed on a strip of laminate with a regular household iron. That was a bit of a pain, but worth it.



Finally, move in! There is a LOT of storage in 18 little cubes, and those cloth bins are a bit pricey, but seem worth it because they fit and add a punch of colour.


MOOC, alors

Earlier this week,  I said to someone, “I’m so over MOOCS…”.

Having participated in a couple in 2008-9 (they were okay, actually I took some comfort in the lack of strong learning design – what “they” were doing in MOOCS was different from what “we” were doing in regular, online university credit courses. And “ours” was better). With the growing public interest in MOOCs, I was hopeful they would create interest in online/blended learning, but I was a bit worried people might get a poor impression of online learning if they hit on a “bad” MOOC.

Anyway, later this week, I got an email from my Director with a link to the Design Thinking Action Lab . Her comment was the timing is “ripe and right” to consider taking this MOOC.  We are in the process of significant innovation and overhaul in how we support learning design, including developing an exciting new physical and virtual space.  So I checked it out, signed up, and so far, I’m very impressed.

At my institution, we have a long tradition of supporting robust learning communities.  It’s one of the key features of our well-articulated Teaching & Learning model, and the “cohort experience” is one thing our alumni say repeatedly was a critically important highlight of their learning journey.

In my experience of early MOOCs, I felt learning community support was lacking – in the overwhelming volume (coupled with the overwhelming volume of other messages we all get from other sources), it was easy (for me, anyway) to stay unconnected to people.  I just wanted to get through the course/content.

But this MOOC (so far) seems different.  There is a huge focus on developing “learning squads” in week 1. There are 70 (!) “catalysts” (mentors, with experience/expertise in Design Thinking) to help support the learning community. There are a number of short, inviting media pieces to help bring you in, with more to come each week.  The instructor is very present. The course is well organized. Expectations are clear. The intended use of a variety of free 3rd party tools for creative collaboration is clear and well supported with tutorials and explanations. And, so far, I have to say, the online environment itself (NovoEd) is very easy and, actually pleasant, to spend time in. This course does not lack learning design.

So this is great, and I’m looking forward to my MOOC experience. And then a few thoughts bubbled up (blinding glimpse of the obvious):

  • the students are (or will be) watching.  And their expectations of their courses (learning design, engaging, authentic activities,  technology support/integration, use of a variety of tools and media,  etc), will increase.  If this MOOC continues as well as it’s begun, and others too, this will raise the bar for all -  (yet another)  great example of the “positive pressure” created by being “open”
  • MOOC = OER. The 5-week MOOC I’ve been talking about  is geared around learning a concept/process (in this case, design thinking), everyone applying it to the same problem (so we can all give and receive feedback, have a shared experience, learn from others, etc), and then applying it to our own problem.  I can imagine a scenario where an instructor adopts this MOOC as an OER, and have it comprise, say,  the first half of a 10-week course.  We should be looking at ways to integrate high-quality, media-rich MOOCs in such a way.

A couple personal technology goals for 2013


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Manage passwords in a more secure and sane way.  I have seen a few articles around lately that suggest the password is dead (i.e., not a secure system anymore).  Security aside, the sheer number of passwords I have (I estimate 50 or so) is just unmanageable, which leads me to dumb practices like writing them down on a piece of paper and/or using bad-but-easy-to-remember passwords. So that’s one thing.

Manage all my stuff in a more sane way. I have 2 PC laptops (personal, and work) and an iPhone and iPad. So, my documents, photos, music, etc are kind of everywhere:  on various devices, and in DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud, bla bla. I want one cloud solution to rule them all.  Right now, it feels like a barrier to creativity and productivity to have stuff all over the place.

I’m asking my network for their ideas, we’ll see where we land on these.