Learning Styles


We know that everyone is unique and we understand that everyone learns differently. In this course the one Forum topic that I love is the discussion about learning styles. The idea of Visual/Verbal/Kinaesthetic Learning styles is one we can all relate to.

While most of us ascribed to the idea that we learned differently depending on what we were asked to learn. The question of brain/body connectivity was brought up. Was our ability to adapt our learning styles physiologically based? Was it neuroscience based?

Then Jennifer Barker, a neuroscientist responded: “I’d argue that the use of multiple sensory systems during learning is also the fundamental underpinning to ‘active learning’, the efficacy of which is supported by evidence, and at least gets us partway to ‘engagement’ (the ‘motivation’ bit of that may be a whole other kettle of fish…).  Which (finally!) brings me to my main point here: Rather than trying to identify an individual’s learning style, I’d argue instead that ANYONE learns “best”, regardless of subject matter, if as many of those ‘styles’ as possible are accessed.

I think she has best answered the question we were all asking. Trying to access and focus on individual learner’s style means helping them access as many of those styles as possible.

Here is an example of Learning Styles viewed as the”Theory of Multiple Intelligences”:



Perspective forms experience


Any woman who has used a VCC washroom is probably familiar with this sign posted ( or rested in this case) inside. I must admit, it took me by surprise at first glance, as I had never seen a sign quite like it before. My next reaction was my brain flooding with questions.

This sign made me realize was that I had never really given much thought to how others used a washroom. What it also made me realize was something that was completely obvious yet obscured at the same time. How someone’s approach to something I had used and taken for grated all my life was not so similar to mine… and how it made their experience so different than mine.

It was a symbol of how ones perspective forms their experience.

I teach photography classes to students of all ages. They all have different needs and expectations. Even when I think I am giving them a simple technical assignment, most of my students seem to want to find ways to make it their own..or try to. It is the most delicate dance I do as a teacher… allowing there own creative perspectives to be fulfilled within the technical goals they must master to do so.

As I read the forum and blogs during this PID program, I become engaged and motivated to learn from my fellow students. Their perspectives are informing my educational experience in ways I had not expected.

Fears we bring to the learning process

Study Shot Edit

As I read through the Forum Discussion postings for the first week of the class, I am struck by the diversity of opinions about life-long learning. Some (including myself) respond by saying  they believe in and practise life-long learning.

Some speak honestly about their reluctance to dive back into the education process because of past education experiences where they lacked autonomy.

Jeremy makes a great point about having to overcome fear and self-doubt as a part of the process. Discussions of these same fears come up with almost every student I’ve spoken too. Not only must we try and learn new and challenging ideas, we must do it in a new environment, with new tools and approaches.

I began this program a year or so ago fearing the idea of doing a blog. I literally did not see the point other than to convey to my instructor my progress in the course. When I began the 3240 online course, most of the forum discussions were about the frustration with learning the new technologies and how my fellow students saw them as an intrusion into their classrooms rather than helpful tools.

By the end of that completely self-directed course, you could tell who had embraced the new learning and who had not… and you could tell the few who had not were not as participatory in the process as those who had fully embraced the new tools and approaches.

I believe the Heutagogical approach as defined in first posting by the forum leader Will Parker as,”In a heutagogical approach to teaching and learning, learners are highly autonomous and self-determined and emphasis is placed on development of learner capacity and capability with the goal of producing learners who are well-prepared for the complexities of today’s workplace.” defines us all in this course. It helps set us up with some tools for life-long learning by giving us a “Flipped Classroom” model, video instruction and a platform for discussion of the subjects… new tools to move our teaching forward.

Does mastering this new way of learning make us all engaged, self-directed, life-long learners? That, I believe, depends on us overcoming our initial fears and self-doubts… in my case, it is one blog post at a time.

3250 Begins


Instructional Strategies has begun and I find myself excited and overwhelmed. Online courses take a dedicated effort. Daily consistent nurturing is the key. It is a condensed and challenging way to not only make you think about your own teaching while you learn new ideas, but to engage with others in thought provoking discussions. 

It is also required that we make public our efforts to learn. Not an easy thing for private people to put themselves out for scrutiny, but as you can see by looking at this blog, it can be done.

Good luck to all of us! I look forward to the discussions.

Evolution in All Things

As I come to the end of my 3240 class, I look back on the wide array of teachers I had as classmates and what their approaches to their disciplines taught me. They come from all walks of life, from a Cornell grad with a culinary degree to a massage therapist. From a hairstylist to an English teacher with a love of poetry, it was a diverse crowd.

1360893088_writing8This is where some of us started, metaphorically speaking. Using pen and ink to communicate, reluctant and fearful of new technologies and their implications for the future. I too, love ( as those who know me)… no really love… pen and ink. I do calligraphy and write letters on a consistent basis to my children. I’m such a nerd that I even have wax and a seal with the initial V on it and use it on every letter I write. All these tools are portable and can be used just about anywhere.

typewriterI love all forms of communication, especially written. I own a vintage Hermes baby typewriter and have given one to each of my children. They have their advantages over writing with pen and ink but are obviously not terribly portable and require lots of accessories and maintenance to keep working efficiently. A step forward in technology only applies if it works with your needs.

old computerNever had one of these, but something close. Wow this first incarnation of a portable computer was expensive and practically useless, unless you worked in an office or a lab. This is a tool that few of us had …or even needed.

imac-medres-600x416I actually still have this computer in storage, and it still works. This was more like it… fast, small, portable? Sort of, it had a handle built in. Much better to communicate with. This little baby came just as the internet was starting to explode. This was the beginning of mass communication for me and many others.

Apple_MacBook This is what my new computer looks like. Fast, loaded with apps and programs. Highly portable and ready for anything school or my photography throws at it. Just finished a Skype conversation with my 2 children in different cities. Working on the last assignment for school and editing photos at the same time. This is a multi-tasking, communication and work tool that is a large part of our lives in the 21st century. It is a wonderful tool that we use without thinking much about where we came from, and how quickly we got here. We have all evolved during this course, whatever our background and experience, to see this as a teaching tool as well.

Owning Our Mistakes

There is a discussion in our “Media Enhanced Learning” forum about how to handle mistakes we make as instructors. I love the honesty and openness this forum allows as some admitted that they wouldn’t own up to a mistake all the time. I believe that is a human and honest admission.

Black Chair1 copy In photography, mistakes account for at least 50% of what we do.

Black Chair2 copy When taking a simple image with no direction…what is wrong and what is right?

Black Chair 3 copyWhich is the bad image?

Black Chair 4 copyWhich is the good?

The answer is simple… it’s the image that the client wants. Without clear direction, we must resign ourselves to making mistakes and trying constantly to make sure we get the image they want. This means being open to them seeing you as not perfect, not able to read their minds and not having the same vision as they do.

But have faith! We all make common assumptions and that usually leads us to all make the same mistakes. Here is a great blog post on 8 common mistakes we all make and how to avoid them. How many do you make?


Perspective in All Things

When teaching photography, the topic of perspective comes up…a lot! This is the subject of much discussion amongst photographers.

There are the technical people who think Aperture is Everything. Your fstop is the most important control on your camera as it not only controls light, but perspective.

Lamp Mirror 1 DES copyGiven the light conditions, this shot could not have been taken without a keen eye and use of my fave fstop f8. But there is another aspect to perspective as well, the creative side, what your eye sees and what your own visual perspective brings to the shot. I wanted to bring into focus the texture, lightness and reflective nature of the objects.

Mailbox 2A copy The texture and charm of this mailbox against the brick could not be captured without getting close and choosing a larger fstop.

Some subjects just demand their own perspective…

Filmore's copy Here the architecture of the building demands it’s own perspective.

james copy This portrait demands a closer perspective.

There is no right and wrong when it comes to what you see. There is right and wrong when you are thinking of to how use the camera to photograph it.

Online Tools for Creativity Outside the Classroom

There are many online tools for teaching in a classroom. Here is a handy reference link to 100 of the most popular for 2014.


The majority of these online teaching tools are used for document management and control and lecturing resources. As an instructor who rarely teaches from a classroom, what becomes obvious is that the institutional teaching system, even armed with the latest technology, is reluctant to stray far from the usual curriculum format. In out text, Jose Bowen speaks of the need for institutions to adapt their product away from the “sage on the stage model”, to a unique and more hybrid model:

“Most of the growth in higher education will occur in hybrid courses…where we can increase both learning and convenience”.p 236.

Most of the tools listed in the link above are great for institutional and instructor convenience, but the idea of convenience Jose Bowen speaks of is a student centric one, not an institutional based one. The one change in student demand he speaks of repeatedly in the book is that they are expecting a portion of learning from home, not solely in a classroom, a hybrid model as part of the curriculum.

In teaching creative endeavours, there is an onus on the visual. So I am constantly using tools that offer as much access to the visual as possible. Evernote, FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr and other social media tools offer great convenience for my students and myself. If my students are combining the visual with story writing, there are many blog options, Weebly, Blogspot, WordPress, MailChimp all offer a place where my students can put up their work for me to access. But what of creative online tools for my students to use? Here are a few that offer students a place to share and collaborate on creative endeavours.

imagesMindomo: http://www.mindomo.com/

is a great mind mapping site where you can mind map a project idea, concept or anything from the creative to the practical. It gives students that prefer a the visual to the verbal an easy way to draw out their ideas and concepts. Here is a great example of a mind map:


Another wonderful site for the creative is Moovly:

download http://moovly.com/

with this site you can create animations to teach any idea in a fun and engaging way. I love the gallery of videos they have. The images range from the visually simplistic to the complex, but all are engaging and entertaining ways to communicate an idea, concept or message. Here is one of my favourites made with stock images and templates.


Making use of these creativity driven tools will help those of us who teach outside a classroom to create a truly hybrid course model for our students.


Bowen, J.( 2012).Teaching Naked, How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. San Francisco, CA. John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Flickr Most Open about Copyright


When students ask about copyrighting their images, I refer them to Flickr. There is so much information online as to who owns what and how to protect your images, that it can get very confusing.

Flickr is one of the best sites to showcase your work and stay protected. They are open and honest and actually have a resource on their site to explain what options photographers have when putting their work online. They also have a dedicated page to explain the Creative Commons license and it’s options. It is a simple, one page resource that ups their credibility, engenders trust and sets a level of online integrity that few Social media sites can match.

Here is the link to their Creative Commons page:


What is most interesting is that it keeps a running count of how many photographers have chosen which level of copyright protection. Far and away the most used license options are the:

Attribution-NonCommercial NoDerivs License and the Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike License.

These licenses allow the public to share their images without adjusting or editing them. These 2 license options represent 160,000,000 images of the total 249,000,000 images recorded on the site.

These are not your average, run of the mill images. The quality as well as the quantity are astounding and represent some of the best of the best.

I believe that photographers are a sharing bunch, but these statistics on how generous we are were a revelation to me.  I believe that when you are honest and generous with your site users, they will feel comfortable enough to reciprocate in kind.