[Faculty of Law at U Alberta runs Aboriginal Law Speaker Series]

The 13th annual Aboriginal Law Speaker Series commenced yesterday. Organized by the Aboriginal Law Students’ Association, the topic of this year’s speaker series is Indigenous Legal Traditions and Canadian Aboriginal Law.

Today we were lucky enough to have University of Ottawa Faculty of Law professor Dr. Larry Chartrand share his knowledge on the subject. Dr. Chartrand discussed the importance of incorporating Indigenous elements of law into what we presently understand to be the law in Canada.

The Canadian government takes pride in being a bijuralist country which recognizes both civil and common law systems. Dr. Chartrand spoke on the very Eurocentric nature of the myth of Canada as a bijuralist rather than multijuralist nation. He explained that this myth “denies the relevance and legitimacy of Metis or Cree legal traditions” as well as other Indigenous legal traditions and systems.
Ethnocentric views, such as the doctrine of reception, threaten to prevent law students from understanding the impacts of colonization and embracing Canada’s rich multi-juridical history, Dr. Chartrand cautions. He calls upon law schools to educate the lawyers and judges of tomorrow on aspects of Indigenous legal systems so that we may apply them in relevant legal disputes. Law schools “need to consider how they can better ‘Indigenize’ the law school curriculum so that it is inclusive of all legal traditions within its sphere of influence,” which may involve offering courses such as “Indigenous Peoples’ Law” alongside teaching the civil and common law systems. Some schools have already began to implement such changes.

Dr. Chartrand is one of five speakers who has spoken or will be speaking at the ALSA event this week. An excellent seminar was delivered yesterday by Dr. David Arora wherein he discussed harvesting wild mushrooms. Later this week we welcome Dr. Leroy Little Bear, Aaju Peter, and Dr. Gordon Christie who will also be presenting on Indigenous legal traditions and Aboriginal law.


[how some organizations are using snapchat]

This is what Mashable says about their (ongoing) snapchat experiment. Read below the jump break for more examples like from Huff Post, The Verge and NPR. (via Nieman Lab)


Dasha Battelle, Mashable visual storyteller:

Mashable took an early interest in Snapchat. We hopped on the ephemeral bandwagon just over a year ago to establish a new channel of communication with our audience. Our goal was to further our understanding of the platform and investigate an emerging avenue for mobile content distribution, as we felt that Snapchat’s strengths lay in its simple, visual communication and raw, real-time experience sharing. While it has been a tricky platform to navigate as a brand (lack of analytics, editing tools, etc.), Snapchat continues to provide our audience with unique access to our content and our culture.

Our Snapchat stories have featured a broad array of subjects. We’ll often cover live events on the platform, or create original narratives that tie-in to editorial themes on our site. Other stories have included product reviews, photo roundups, and news updates. Each story is a compilation of still images and short video clips, so it takes a fair amount of planning to deliver strong visual content and relevant, interesting information; brainstorming and storyboarding go into putting together a successful story. We try to keep in mind that genuine energy and personality go a long way on Snapchat.
We were also excited to see Snapchat launch its latest product development, Discover, earlier this year. We think there’s tremendous opportunity for brands there and look forward to seeing Discover take off.


[the good, the bad, and the ugly of moocs]

What are MOOCS you may ask? Well, for those not yet participating (millions currently are!), MOOCS are Massive Open Online Course. While the vast majority of these kinds of courses are free, offering top-ups or expert selections of knowledge, some, with payment, will give credit to students in the forms of diplomas, citations or certificates.

I've been reading quite a bit recently about MOOCS, not only because of my lecturing position but now especially with the task of creating three MOOCS to add to the University of Alberta's tentative beginnings (we now offer two MOOCS).  As with any teaching and perhaps, for my current operations, critically important to e-learning, is the need to balance students' perceived value of the course. I often think of myself, not wanting to "give up" a certain time-frame to be "live and online" with a group of students in a class if we are not collaborating or conducting some sort of peer work. I would rather turn off, and regroup with the necessary tasks completed. Reading a blog post at Online Learning Insights, this idea of value is highlighted, with the author/student across several ideas such as content, application activities and objectives. There are some useful tips here that I will certainly heed as I craft my three MOOCS.

Have a read:

How (Not) to Design a MOOC: Course Design Scenarios From Four xMOOCs

designThis post examines four MOOCs completed as a student then de-briefed from a course design perspective—I share insights into what worked and what didn’t for the purpose of helping educators create better online learning experiences.
I recently completed two MOOCs on the edX platform that are part of a mini-series on education policy. The courses are great examples of how higher education institutions misuse the MOOC format by using traditional teaching methods that end up falling flat. I debrief the two MOOCs from a course design perspective and share why they were sub par, uninspiring. I also describe two other MOOCs that provided exemplary learning experiences. The two pairs of MOOCs provide instructive examples of contrasting course design approaches.
This post follows “How to Make Bad Discussion Questions Better: Using a Case Study of an edX MOOC” the first MOOC of the mini-series “Saving Schools: History, Politics, and Policy in U.S. Education”. I used actual discussion questions from this MOOC’s forums as examples of how not to write questions to foster student discussion. I rewrote the questions, providing better and best formats that would be more likely to encourage meaningful dialogue.
The second edX MOOC, “Saving Schools: History, Politics and Policy in U.S. Education: Teacher Policy” wrapped up this week (December 4). Both MOOCs followed an identical course structure that included: recorded video lectures that relied on the interview format featuring one (sometimes two) faculty member(s), two assigned readings per week (from the same source), one discussion question each week, and a final exam. This format is typical of xMOOCs; one that tries to mimic the in-class experience.
Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 11.36.00 AM
Click to enlarge. Screen shot of instructions for the final assignment, a digital artifact, in E-learning and Digital Cultures. At the end of this post my Digital Artifact created for the course assignment
Exemplary MOOCs
The other two MOOCs used a non-traditional design approach. They took advantage of what the MOOC format could offer by acknowledging its uniqueness and providing content from a variety of sources outside the MOOC platform. They also utilized a range of assessment methods, and included social media that encouraged interaction. Both MOOCs, Introduction to Sociology and E-learning and Digital Cultures (from Coursera), inspired and promoted thought. The learner was a viewed as a contributor, not a recipient.
Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 11.54.46 AM
Introduction video of Professor Duneier introducing his course on Coursera (2012). Duneier pulled the course from Coursera after concerns over licensing his course for other institutions use.

Read the rest of the article here.


[kindle cookbook freebies]

I don't know about you, but I love books and I especially love them when they're free. Now, these may not be as nice to flip through, being digital, but they are free and I've already downloaded quite a few for bedtime reading!

I'm not sure how long Amazon will keep these kindle books free (their usual price seems to be around the $7 mark) so I'd head over right away.


[social media citation at the university of alberta]

Check out these great social media classes run at the University of Alberta. I'm teaching a few of the classes like the Online & Mobile Marketing, Effective Social Media Communication and Digital Storytelling and Narrative and Copyright and Privacy Protection coming up in March and April. You can see more about the citation and courses at the U of Alberta Extension site.

Social Media

Get Social Media Savvy and Watch Your Business Grow

Empower yourself to utilize social media in a strategic, effective, and innovative manner. The University of Alberta's Faculty of Extension is pleased to offer two citations in Social Media: one focusing on strategic marketing, the other on writing and communications.

Each citation is comprised of six courses. Students who successfully complete one citation can receive the other by taking three additional courses.

February & March courses



Trends in Social Media

Feb 9 to 27
& In-class 
Feb 19 & 20 (Thu & Fri)
9:30 am - 4:30 pm
As technology changes, the platforms, methods of communication, and strategies also change. This course will address current and emerging trends in social media. You will be introduced to the 'next wave' of social media technology and the requirements for ongoing effectiveness.


Analytics for Social Media

Feb 23, 24 & 25
Mon, Tue & Wed
9 am - 4 pm
It's important to measure where your web traffic is coming from, how much web traffic you are receiving, and which communication messages are most effective at driving users to your desired destination. There are several ways to use analytics in social media, and this course will explore specific approaches such as: Google analytics, web search optimization, and ROI analysis.


Writing and Editing
in the Digital World

Mar 2 to  20
& In-class 
Mar 12 & 13 (Thu & Fri)
9:30 am - 4:30 pm
Designed for those who find themselves having to write in multimedia platforms, and for writers already within the online realm, this course will look at a variety of delivery platforms. The primary role of the class will be an involvement with the multimodal text itself: writing, editing, and critiquing narrative for multimedia projects. Issues related to quality of content will be carefully looked at, as well as quality of writing specific to the online environment..


Online and Mobile Marketing and Commerce

Mar 9 to 27
& In-class 
Mar 19 & 20 (Thu & Fri)
9:30 am - 4:30 pm
Learn the skills needed to strategically market across various online platforms. This course will address how to implement best practices for web marketing, mobile marketing, affiliate marketing, website design, e-commerce, and other internet online marketing opportunities.