End of session slowdown

It has been nine days since I posted and those days have been woefully low on innovation, at least as far as work was concerned.  The demands of the end of the session managed to overtake just about everything else. Working on the final drama performance in class, preparing for testing in the SALC, working on final grades and trying to wrap up a job search have all taken precedence.

I don’t anticipate that the first few days of next week will see much of an improvement.

However, I have had time to continue working on the updated and improved IEP system and, in my personal life, I finally found the courage to publish an original song. This week was a week for celebrating small victories in the 20% world!



Thanks, Twitter for keeping the creative fires burning!

I was feeling like I was in a lull, that the 20% flame had been reduced nearly to the point of nothing and that I was going to fail in my quest this week…..and then I spent just 30 minutes on Twitter tapping into my PLN. I am so glad that I did! Not only did I find a few new resources for the SALC for students to use, I was also reminded of our SALC satisfaction survey and I logged in to find that, over the past year, the SALC has become increasingly used for learning English – Yay! The printing of papers no longer dominates!


This led me to recraft the survey to include all of our new software, resources and staff so that it was up-to-the-minute.

Not exactly innovation, but it was a push to do something that I wouldn’t otherwise have done today – and I’m so glad that I did!

Week Four – movin’ right along

As you can probably already tell, it’s been two weeks since I blogged about the 20% experiment. I will say that much of the last two weeks has been spent on innovation – I’ve been updating and improving the system by which we complete education plans for students in the SALC, I’ve been working on the iBooks readers and have been doing a wide variety of new activities in class (new improvs, new methods for scriptwriting, new assignments and rubrics that are student-designed).

And, of course, much of the last two weeks my focus was also on preparing to submit proposals for TESOL 2013, one of which is related to this experiment and the blog. No matter what the final outcome of the experiment, I’d like to share it with others. Shaking up the routine is rarely a negative thing. So, essentially, in the last two weeks I was doing so much innovating that I didn’t have time to blog. That’s a good thing!


Week 2 of the 20% experiment

This week has given me the time required to start following the 20% rule in the SALC as well as in my class. I’ve really started renewing my focus on giving students the skills they need to become autonomous learners. If you think about it, if I successfully do my job at a certain point the veteran students will no longer need me but will be able to identify their own learning goals and find the materials necessary to achieve those goals.  My time would then primarily be spent creating resources and interacting with students who are new to the process of self-access.

Following that idea, the first workshop I’m going to offer this session will focus on the hows and whys of blogging (both video and written). I will be teaching the students how to set up a blog and why it is beneficial to their learning. I think many of them automatically assume that their teachers are responsible for telling them how they are doing (mostly via grades).  This workshop will stress how they can monitor their own progress over time and decide for themselves whether they are making adequate progress.

I have a few classes that plan to attend the workshop, so I’m excited to see their reactions.

As far as class goes, the open syllabus model is working brilliantly – the students are very focused on the learning outcomes and attendance has really never been higher. I am very pleased with the way this experiment is moving forward.


The first few days

Three days into the 20% innovation challenge and it is going excellently in class, but not as well outside of class. I am really struggling to find the time to innovate each day outside of the classroom.

In the classroom I am probably hitting 50% or more innovation, including the prep time. I would love to think that this somehow averages across my day, but it doesn’t really. I suppose technically I am still spending 20% of my overall time innovating, but it is all getting stuck in one area.I have yet to be able to spend much time on SALC development.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that week two of the session will be a bit more calm….


The 20% Innovation Challenge

I am challenging myself to live by what I am calling “The Google Rule” for at least the next session (eight weeks). I think I’m also going to turn this experiment into a TESOL proposal.

Essentially, the Google Rule boils down to devoting 20% of my time at work to innovation.  This presents a challenge on several fronts. Here is where I see my own personal challenges being likely to develop:

1) I estimate that I probably spend about 5% or less of my time innovating as things currently stand. This is due mostly to administrative responsibilities and teachers “paperwork” – things that I absolutely cannot put off, avoid or delay. Challenge number one is most decidedly going to be finding the time for that additional 15%. I will likely work more as a result, but I’m hoping to also discover ways to work smarter.

2) Developing new ideas takes a level of concentration that I don’t normally get the luxury of having. It will be a challenge to really set aside a block of uninterrupted time to focus on these new ideas. Assuming I work an 8-10 hour day, that is anywhere from 1.5 – 2 hours a day.

3) I think the EASIEST place to innovate is going to be the classroom. This session I plan to use an open curriculum model in which the students drive the course. I think this will automatically create a 20% innovation model for me as I adapt to their wants/needs and create new projects to accommodate that. The more difficult place to innovate will certainly be the SALC, particularly considering the issues mentioned above.

Part of increasing to 20% innovation will be taking the time to reflect here on the blog. This is something that has been all to easy to ignore in the past – despite the fact that I send myself weekly reminders to update, it’s a task that can always go to the back burner. We’ll see what happens when I send it to the front.

Wish me luck!


Open Education – SALC feature on QR codes

Word spread around campus regarding the way we at the SALC were trying to use QR codes to enhance reading (mostly thanks to Nadia Redman!) and Mathieu Plourde, who works on Sakai and runs an open education blog here at UD, came over to talk to me and make a video. While I universally detest being recording and watching myself on video (doesn’t everyone?), the video does accurately highlight the way we are using QR codes and linking them back to our on-site resources. Thanks Mathieu for covering the QR code story!

Open Education Blog