Storybook Favorites

I really enjoyed viewing past storybook’s of the students from this class. I found many that I loved, so picking a favorite was hard. The three favorites I chose were CZECH News 9, Not to Touch the Earth, and Welcome to the Water. They were all very different in both content and layout, which gave me an even better idea of what the final project could entail.

Question Book, When What Comes Next is Unknown: by Wikimedia Commons

First Favorite: Not to Touch the Earth written by: Jenna Morris

I didn’t know anything about the topic when first reading the post. The title really intrigued me, and the introduction made me want to continue reading the story. She did a very good job at drawing in the reader’s attention. I liked how she set up the tone quoting characters to introduce them. The layout was very well put together as well, and I think the picture that she chose pulled the reader in more, as it reminded me of something you’d find as a building was caving in from a dragon, or huge creature, slamming through chasing you.

Second Favorite: Welcome to the Water written by: Amanda

When I first saw this title I immediately thought of mermaids. Mainly because what under world life could be better, or more interesting,  than that? I have heard many different stories about mermaids, and was interested to see how this took a turn much different than the typical story. This post had my favorite style in the introduction as she asked the reader questions in a manner that put the reader in the position of what they were about to read. There was a very fine line drawn between mermaids and sirens, making it interesting to determine what outcome these creatures would had. I loved the pictures differentiating between the mermaid and siren as well. All in all, the style and techniques used in this post were my overall favorite, and probably more of the approach that I will take towards my Storybook.

Third Favorite: CZECH News 9 written by: Sydney Stavinoha

My roommate is actually a Meteorology major and obsessed with weather, so I first clicked on this post associating news with weather. Although this wasn’t what I first expected, I enjoyed the idea and content in the post. I thought the tone was interesting, as it was news based and toned as so. The introduction did a good job at giving the reader an overview of what can be found in the actual contents of the story.  It felt as if I was watching the news on T.V. and they were giving a brief overview of the news they were going to discuss that day, so I thought she did a very good job at sticking to her theme.

Wednesday, January 18

Today is Wednesday of WEEK 1, and you have two new blog posts for the Orientation today. I hope you will have fun with that! Here is a link to the Orientation assignments.

Class Procedures and Reminders

Canvas grace period. For those of you who didn't finish all the Tuesday assignments, there a Canvas "grace period" on Wednesday morning until noon. Canvas marks the assignment late when you turn it in after the due date, but there's no penalty in terms of points. It's basically a "no-questions-asked" extension the next morning until noon. You need to try to do the work on the due date, but there is a grace period the next morning for when life's surprises get in the way of your plans.

Blogs. The blogs are looking great... and there are so many of them now: thank you for all your good work on that! I'll keep commenting on the Introductions today as they come in, and I will try to get to all the Introductions this week, but if I don't finish this week, I'll finish up next week for sure. Meanwhile, tomorrow afternoon (Thursday) I'll put you all into blog groups so you can do the blog commenting assignment. More on that in tomorrow's announcements!

CAS Orientation. You may have received an email from the College of Arts and Sciences about an online orientation; you can just ignore that if this is your only online course, but if you are doing another online course, you might need to do the CAS orientation. For this class, though, I have my own orientation as you already know. :-)

The following items are for fun and exploration:

#WhyIWrite. Here's a graphic to inspire you if you are writing a story today; find out more at the Writing Lab.

Superheroes. And here's an unusual superhero to inspire you: spider-dog.

Word from Mythology. In addition to words from India, I'll be sharing words from mythology, like the word for today, which is the name of today's day: Wednesday, from the name of the Norse god, Woden, also known as Odin.

Featured Storybook. This project is from the Myth-Folklore class: The Tales of Garden Creatures. Cocoa and the other little dogs who live in the garden are at war with the pixies, trolls, and gnomes. These dogs have seen things going on in the garden that the humans do not even suspect, like when Cocoa is kidnapped by an evil, amorous gnome. Who will be brave enough to rescue her from the gnome kingdom?

Free Book Online: Today's free book is Buddhist Birth Stories: or, Jataka Tales translated by T. W. Rhys Davids. See the Freebookapalooza blog for links and the table of contents. For anyone who likes Aesop's fables, I am guessing you would enjoy the Buddhist jataka tales too!

Words of Wisdom: Today's saying is a modern neo-Latin proverb: Draco dormiens numquam titillandus, "Never tickle a sleeping dragon" (the motto of Hogwarts). Find out more at the Proverb Lab. Not all the Latin from the world of Harry Potter is grammatically correct, but this nice saying is quite correct!

Video: The video for today is something to inspire you in your writing for this class: We Need A Bigger Definition of Creativity. Find out more at the Writing Lab.

Growth Mindset: Today's growth mindset cat is for all of you who are blogging for the first time in this class: Do things you've never done before. You can find out more at the Growth Mindset blog.

Event on Campus: Interested in Tai Chi? You can do Tai Chi at Sam Noble Museum this morning at 9AM, with Pilates on Thursday and Yoga on Friday (details). Find out more about this and other events at the Campus Calendar online.

January 18: Kipling. Today marks the anniversary of the death in 1936 of the British author Rudyard Kipling, who was born in Mumbai, India in 1865 and who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, making him the first English-language writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and also the youngest person at that time to have received a Nobel (he was 42 years old at the time). You can read more about Kipling's life and career in this Wikipedia article, and here's a link to one of my favorite Kipling books: Just-So Stories.

Check out the Twitter stream for information and fun stuff during the day, or click here for past announcements.

Favorite Place

A thirty-minute bus ride from the hustle and bustle of the tourist attractions in San Juan, Puerto Rico down a windy beach road will take you to the quaint, beautiful town of Loiza. Unknown to tourists and comprised of mostly poor locals, the town makes up in character what it lacks in money. Artist Samuel Lind, born and raised in Loiza, lives and breathes his art, so much of which is influenced by his surroundings. His home is a two-story craftsman masterpiece made of only wood and with no air conditioning. Lining every wall in his home is his own art. From screen prints of vibrant Bomba dance halls to oil paintings of local children, the home embodies the spirit of Loiza. But more than that Lind’s residence and studio inspires. The aura of creativity and energy is so thick you can feel it entering your body as you breathe and when you leave, you are surrounded by gardens of green and neon flowers that could inspire your own masterpiece.

Samuel Lind’s studio in Loiza Photo by Lena del Sol Langaigne retrieved from


One Of OU’s Best Kept Secrets

When I first came to the University of Oklahoma as a senior in high school, I immediately fell in love. Everything about it from the people to the actual surroundings made me feel at home. I knew that OU was where I was meant to be, and I could not wait to come back again.

When I finally made the move to campus my freshman year, it took me a little while to find the perfect place to study and do homework. I have been a Gaylord student since I started college, so I thought Gaylord would be the perfect place to search for that perfect spot.

When I first went into Gaylord during my free time, I decided to explore a little bit to find that perfect place. I ended up finding the balcony, and I knew that it was the spot for me.

The Gaylord balcony is my favorite spot on campus for various reasons. First off, many OU students and even many Gaylord students do not know of this hidden treasure. You would be surprised at how many people look shocked when I tell them where I am at.

I love to sit up there and read a book, write a new blog post, do my homework, or study. There is something soothing about being outside and looking out to see God’s beautiful handiwork around me. You might think that it would be a distracting place, but I love it. I love to hear the sounds of cars driving by, people walking and talking and whatever else is going on.

There is something about being outside and being up above the ground on a balcony that helps me find inspiration. As a public relations major and the Editor-in-Chief for OU’s Odyssey community, I am constantly looking for ways to inspire my team and myself. The world is always changing, yet when I am up on the balcony thinking the world seems to pause. In that moment I can take the time to really think things through and get stuff done. That is a great feeling.

During Oklahoma’s nice weather days, I love to sit out there and enjoy the weather. During Oklahoma’s chilly weather days, I love to put on a lot of layers, grab a warm cup of Starbucks coffee or hot chocolate, maybe even bring a blanket and spend a little bit of time out there doing homework. During Oklahoma’s crazy severe weather days, I will be smart and do all of my work inside Gaylord because we know how bad those nights can get.

The best part is when I am on Gaylord’s balcony during a sunset. It is an incredible sight to watch the Oklahoma sky change colors as the sun sets and the moon comes up. Sometimes I have to take a break from whatever I am doing to just enjoy it.

If you are looking for that perfect spot, I highly recommend that you do some exploring of your own. I might be biased, but you should check out Gaylord’s balcony because it does not disappoint.



Our Most Important Canvas Training

Panda eating a pile of reeds that are sitting on its lap

Last week was the 19th Canvas Camp hosted at the University of Oklahoma. Looking back on its evolution from May 2016 to today, the dozens of courses developed by participating instructors, and the feedback I’ve received, Canvas Camp is an ongoing success.


Canvas Camp is intended to teach instructors how to use Canvas while they are producing their first Canvas course. Most of our time is spent exploring notable features, developing courses, and problem solving how to design courses in Canvas. All levels of expertise are welcome because Canvas Camp is flexible enough to scale and adapt to suit everyone’s needs—there’s always something to learn in our open-ended sessions! That being said, although this training is meant to teach several components of Canvas, there are many more pieces beyond what we introduce.

Canvas Camp occurs face-to-face in 2-hour sessions over 4 consecutive days. Demonstrations of Canvas, exploration of features, and discussions of course design all take place during this training, however the main focus is the development and completion of participants’ courses!

Before I jump into the design of this training, be aware that my curriculum for Canvas Camp is openly shared using a Creative Commons license and you are welcome to take, adapt, use, repurpose, etc. all of the materials without permission as long as you abide by the license. Additionally, feel free to reach out to me on twitter or via email—I’m always up for a video chat.

Canvas Camp website annotated Gif of home page

Canvas Camp Design

Canvas Camp was built around five main components:

  1. Teaching the technical skills to use Canvas
  2. Engaging faculty in course development
  3. Producing Canvas courses
  4. Reflecting on why the University switched to Canvas
  5. Learning Canvas as part of a community

1. Technical Skills

As with any new tool or software, there are varying degrees of digital literacy and technical expertise of the Canvas Campers. For individuals who possess high technical skills, the Canvas Camp website aims to empower them to progress through the Canvas Camp curriculum at their own pace. For participants who have just started to learn Canvas, the face-to-face sessions provide them with a safe space to ask questions, learn, and experiment on their own or in community with others (including the facilitator).

Canvas Camp is intentionally flexible in design to serve the needs of a wide range of technical expertise.

2. Course Development

Working with instructors over several days offers the opportunity to engage them in course design and discuss the pedagogical implications of their Canvas course decisions. This aspect of instructional design is intertwined with learning the technical skills of Canvas as the camp facilitators explain and discuss the ramifications of decisions made while developing courses. Depending on the feature or design in question these interactions might occur on a one-on-one basis, however there also opportunities to draw on the collective expertise of the instructors present—this often yields rich discussion.

As an example of how course development takes place, a significant shift in organizing course materials has occurred, in part, due to the popularity of Canvas Camp. I see many more instructors organize their course materials chronologically than topically like they did in the previous learning management system (LMS). Granted, both types of organization offer their own benefits and shortcomings. However, now faculty are being more intentional in this design decision. They are engaging with each other and the camp facilitators to pursue what is best for their students. For example, most of the faculty that participate in Canvas Camp opt to use the Modules feature of Canvas to arrange their content by week, unit, chapter, etc. This chronological presentation of material is intended to give their students greater levels of context for the materials they are studying during the semester.

3. Producing A Course

The notable draw to Canvas Camp is the promise to come away with a course, built and finalized. In most cases, we see faculty members complete 75-100% of their course. Sometimes instructors have completed more than one course during this professional development. Regardless, this is heavily marketed to bring people into Canvas Camp.

4. Why Switch To Canvas?

Arguably the most important aspect of Canvas Camp is engaging in discussion with the participants throughout the week. For example, after faculty members have wrestled with Canvas—learned and experienced its strengths and shortcomings—we ask them to tell us why they think the University decided to switch to Canvas. Inevitably, someone always brings up the monetary aspect, but after several minutes of discussion, faculty often suggest the change was made because “Canvas is better for the students,” “easier to use,” and/or “nicer to look at.” All of these reasons are recorded on the whiteboard at the front of the room to highlight positive aspects of Canvas. This reflection is crucial. If you hope to change perspectives about Canvas, give instructors meaningful experiences with the tool and follow up with reflection and discussion. In other words, Canvas Camp also functions a primer (and potentially a model) to tackle larger digital literacy questions related to educational technology and learning management systems.

5. Learning Canvas Together

Training is always more fun together! Canvas Camp benefits from diversity of disciplines, types of teachers, and the people present. The community aspect of this training is integral since participants must turn to one another when they have questions or need recommendations. In particular, this occurs when the facilitators are assisting other attendees. Overall, Canvas Camp is a wonderful learning environment to engage faculty in technological and pedagogical practices of Canvas, but this training shines when it empowers faculty to become both students and teachers to one another.


The reason Canvas Camp is our most important training at the University of Oklahoma is not only because it’s our most comprehensive, face-to-face training, but because it’s our most fun.

I know that sounds weird. I realize building courses can be tedious and far from fun. There’s just something special about Canvas Camp that I hope to bring into every other training program I build/facilitate. The comradely of learning Canvas in community paired with the feelings of accomplishment from completing courses is fun. The energetic discussion and informal instructional design that occurred during each session is fun. The creative challenge that coincides with building engaging courses is fun. There’s a lively spirit present with each cohort of instructors at Canvas Camp, and yes you guessed it, that makes it fun!

Beyond the fun of Canvas Camp, this professional development strives to do more than teach software. Canvas Camp aims to shift the culture of the University. Yes, there are many more components to such a process than a single training, but as of January 12th, 143 instructors now have greater confidence to build courses in Canvas (and you have to start somewhere)!

The discussion that happens on the final day of Canvas Camp is crucial for shifting culture. During every Canvas Camp, participants openly express their apprehension and frustrations with switching learning management systems. Giving instructors time to interact with Canvas and see how their courses look and behave in the system affords them the opportunity to naturally grow knowledgeable and comfortable with the change. Highlighting this perspective change during discussion while reflecting on the week of Canvas Camp, emphasizes and reinforces the cultural shift.

There are plenty more aspects of Canvas Camp I could touch on, but this is enough from me for now (feel free to reach out with questions). Instead, here’s a few testimonies from the participants of Canvas Camp:


What was the most valuable/useful aspect of this session?

gaining familiarity through doing.

Overall, the camp was terrific. I enjoyed engaging with faculty from other departments.

Very hands on and practical–lots of time to work directly on courses.

The balance of some delivered content, and some ‘free time’ for us to explore Canvas and explore our own content in it. But the free time had the facilitator present to answer questions. That was very helpful.

The most valuable aspect for me was learning the basic mechanics of Canvas. It is overwhelming for anyone trying to self-teach. I also like that the canvas instructors gave specific recommendations for how to optimize course use (ex: enter rubrics directly to use Speed Grader instead of uploading files, etc.)

No doubt: it was the instructor. A truly exceptional educator. He took his time, making sure everyone was able to keep up, yet kept things moving along. Very nice, articulate delivery, good organization.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Carsten Thomsen via Pixabay.

YouthStudio: Promoting Just and Equitable Community Engagement in LIS

I’m giving a talk tomorrow here at the Association for Library and Information Science Education conference during the session, titled “Community Engagement and Social Responsibility: Frameworks for Pedagogy and Praxis.” The title of my presentation is “YouthStudio: Promoting Just and Equitable Community Engagement in LIS” (link to PDF).

In the presentation, I introduce the YouthStudio model as a critical pedagogical, participatory design, and ethnographic action research framework to promote more just and equitable community engagement projects in library and information science (LIS). The presentation begins by describing the origin story of the YouthStudio model, which dates back to 2013 when Martin Wolske and I first presented our Community Informatics Studio (link to presentation) at the 2013 ALISE conference and later published the framework in a paper for JELIS with Beth Kumar.

I am grateful to Martin for introducing me to studio-based learning in LIS and for allowing me to collaborate with him over these years to develop a critical theoretical and participatory pedagogical model to advance more equitable and just learning spaces in LIS community engagement projects.

What Rochina Sparked

January 5th, 2017

I’m on the bus ride back from Guanabara Bay—I’m not looking at the screen or else I will get car sick, so bear with me! Let me start with yesterday before mocing onto today.

WE WENT TO ROCHINA! First favela! It was incredible! But honestly, shockingly, and admittedlky, it was nothing like I had imagined it being. Don’t get me wrong here, I didn’t just make up ideas in my head about what life was like in the slums of Brazil. I have read two books and been taught by two separate teachers about the favelas. Not to discredit the poverty of the favelas, but they were not even a fraction as mad as I had pictured them to be. First of all, the smell of sewage that is suppose to be a trademark of favelas was not too noticeable, at least to me. This is extra surprising because it is also the heat of the summer. The hottest of the hot, the most humid of the humid, and should be the smellieset of the smelliest. But the smell was only extra purfunctory whenever we were stolling by some of the little streams, distorted to an odd, cloudy white. That’s suppse to be from the extrament of the favela residents. Gross, right? Some people are trying to fix that, but most people aren’t and just don’t care at this point.

Besides the smell, the rest of the environment wasn’t what I expected either. One thing that Erika said describes this the best for me: it is much more of a community than it seemed before we actually saw it. I was imagining people in just horrific, paralyzing poverty. Although it kind of sounds like I’m discrediting the extremes, please know that I did not see everything, do not know everything, and cannot begin to claim that what I remember seeing and how it made me feel is at all correct. Let me give an example of this. While we were in class later, Alex brought up how horrible he felt about people living the way we experienced it, even with our status as gringos walking around the slums when we saw only a sliver of time of the life of a favela resident. He briefly mentioned how it made him want to do so much more. Oddly enough, it didn’t to me. I didn’t feel guilt and responsible to for their problems and to fix them. Erika responded to Alex’s comments by saying, basically, that we as individual people cannot fix all of the problems in the world. We have to pick our battles to make an impact. Maybe combating poverty isn’t my battle? To clarify, I’m not saying that I don’t think poverty is terrible and gentrifying and everything, it just isn’t the one of many dilemmas of the world that grabs at my heartstrings to leap to my feet.

There is another bit that makes me wonder about my sensitivity to strife and suffering. While I was in the favela, I wanted to photograph everything, besides the things that would have gotten me and my group shot, of course. I don’t know if it the photographer in me who has a deep respect for documatitive photography and the cost of its production, or the little kid in me who grew up hardened by life-changing and mindset-altering obstacles that indelibly shaped me. As everyone says, probably a little bit of both. So I felt no shame in wanting to photograph the favela, its people, and its conditions. It is another element of life to me, why should it be “respected” so much to leave that stone unturned to the eyes of the outside? I do understand a point that was discussed later, how exploitative photography does little good while it stirs up muck. However, whenever I saw that picture of the shriveled girl and the vulture I did not think it fell under that category. I had never seen it before, but the moment I looked at it for the first time I could feel the power of the moment the photographer had captured. I think that’s why I see it differently than some of the others—I judge the image from the eye of an artist gleaning the weight of that image. Some of the questions that popped up about the negative connotations of the photo, to me, make the photo of the suffering, that took place at both the photographer and little girl’s expense, more powerful, visible, and moving. The photo is an utter success at an astronomical price, but it did its job and brought attention to the situation at hand—the consequences of immeasurable poverty previously unseen to the world.