cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

My pal Todd Conaway invited me to be a speaker at his school, Yavapai College, in Prescott, where they are running a three day faculty institute (Todd claims when he started, this event ran fo 6 days, that is hard core!). Yavapai is a multi campus system that serves the county of the same name.

I faintly recall attending a regional conference at this campus in the mid 1990s when I was a young mullett headed kid at Maricopa, but I hardly recognized it. I was told they had a major buildout since then. It’s quite modern with a lot of well done architectural design touches, and reflects much fo the college’s focus on community and fitness.

Todd asked me to do a round of Amazing True Stories of Openness- the audience was really into it, but I think I may have had more fun then they did. This was a brand new version,with new stories collected, and a bit nore background as a set up on the original idea for the web envisioned by its creator, Tim Berners-Lee. The slides and resources are available

As always when I do this, I wonder about the balance of playing the videos- what good is a presentation where I just go up there and play videos? There are more than 50 now on

Kudos to the amazing Thatcher for covering the session in video

I told three of my own stories that set up the idea for me, then paraphrased ones from a subset I made just for Yavapai, including three added by faculty Joane Oellers, Curtis Kleinman, and Jennifer Jacobson. Putting together a collection from the whole is something new I added, I had pegged a few Maricopa colleagues to do new ones since this was a community college audience.

I also sved some room at the end to ask about the barriers to sharing- I used a copy of the shared whiteboard responses I got when I did this session in March for ETMOOC:

Barriers to Sharing (click for full size)

Barriers to Sharing (click for full size)

It really struck me how much these barriers all stem from self-doubt, a sense that their stuff is not worthy in their minds. Being humble is one thing, but this goes beyond modesty, this is pervasive from what I have seen in sessions elsewhere. Most everybody pre-judges their own work as somehow less interesting or value. I don;t know what to do with this, but I am really intrigued to talk more about this. It paralyzes open sharing into not happening.

I also organized for the first time a list of rather general suggestions:

  • Start Small. It need not be a lot of things shared, and it need not even be things you made. It can be ideas, teaching activities, gradin strategies.
  • Make it Useful It should be something that goes beyond what you do in class, something that adds value fo your students first. Quite a few of the newer examples are ones where teachers are recording extra content, tutorials (or in one case, reading the text for students who might not be able to afford it). This alone is helpful to your students, and that could be it locked inside an LMS. But it takes no more effort to make it available to the world, and help others at really no extra effort. This was Curtis’s story, where the videos he was recording for his Yavapai Spanish students helped a man in Australia learn Spanish on his own.
  • Be Yourself Put some personality into your stuff, come across as human. We have enough academic pomp and third person narratives. Let’s be human!
  • Find Your Comfort Level (and go Beyond) I feel rather strongly about this- there is no learning or growth without stretching, and this is a pretty low risk way to extend your skills or abilities. Don’t just do what you know how to do, nudge yourself up a notch.
  • Participate With Others It’s not just a matter of sharing out, and sitting back and waiting for the magic. The juice for the machine is when you participate in the space of other people, give feedback, connect through social media.

I did manage to broadcast most of this to , but dont have a recording. But Thatcher Bohrman was video recording.

And as I like to do, I asked for a volunteer to stand up and share a story on the spot. I appreciate David, a new adjunct faculty member, explaining why he chose to release his dissertation under an open license and becoming the newest story added:

And then the unexpected happened. Dean Stacey Hilton, who I have to really thank for sponsoring my visit, had read my bio, and was curious about what “pechaflickr was”… so I fired up a round, and Stacey along with Ian and ?? Suffi ?? all played it as good as I have ever seen, doing a moving talk about Donuts. It was so over the top, it glowed!

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I had such an excellent day. There was a lively copyright/fair use session led by Thatcher and ?? Mike. At lunch retiring photography teacher Tom Gerczynsk was recognized by a Fellowship award. We might have overlapped because he taught at Phoenix College back in the 1990s. Hearing his down to earth teaching philosophy, seeing the video of s students out in the field learning their craft, and seeing how many of them came out to support him was moving. Plus Tom has incredible chops as a pro photographer, his images of commercial private jets are stunning.

Also ran into Paul Smolenyak who I had worked in a project back in 2000- this was his idea of creating a multiplayer game to help students learn about the ideal gas law. Great to see him again- his summer hobby is being a guide on Grand Canyon river trips.

And I caught a fantastic session by Curtis Kleinman on Why do my students STINK at Problem Solving:

You can blame the liberal media if you want, but let’s face it, it’s you! Students often are not good problems solvers because you (and I) set them up to fail with poor instructional design, especially when students are learning concepts for the first time. This session will look at research in Cognitive Load Theory and its arguments against constructivist instructional approaches such as Problem Based Learning, Discovery Learning, Inquiry Learning and other minimally guided instructional approaches, especially amongst novice learners. The session will also consider a few easy ways to improve students’ problem solving abilities through sound instructional design.

It was so refreshing to be among passionate teachers who are doing incredible work with students that never would see the light of The Chronicle of Higher Education or a TED Talk. These are relationships and experiences students will never get in a MOOC or some Walmart model of online education. The whole day did wonders to clean the foul stench of MOOC bullshit I’ve been reading lately.

So thanks Todd, Thatcher, Stacey, and everyone else I met and forgot their names for a fantastic day i Prescott. As always, I feel like I get more out of these events than maybe I can give (oops there is the self effacing reflex) (guilty).

Oh yes, and if they every ask you to play badminton… oh forget it.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Better late than never. Thank you for being there and sharing and hanging out with us for the day!

  2. Alan – well, we really enjoyed you. Todd and I had a Leadership session on Friday, and I used your “story” idea for a class video (with sunglasses) that turned out just wonderful – thanks for the idea!

    I’m using the Pechaflikr in next class for the first-day for a fun way to build class camaraderie. What a hoot that session was. We forget sometimes that having fun and being silly will take you places you never imagined.

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