Future Learn + 4 Universities + BBC= 4 Amazing WW1 MOOCs

FLBBC featured Image

FutureLearn has announced an amazing collaboration between 4 University Partners and the BBC which gives learners a chance to learn about World War 1 in a whole new way!  The BBC has opened its archives and shared multimedia content covering various aspects of the war and each university will present a different aspect of the first World War – from Aviation to the Treaty of Paris and more.  

Why The Focus on World War One?

2014 marks the centennial year of the beginning of the First World War. The war began in the Balkans, but it soon spread to become a European conflict, and developed into a world war. It was a war of unprecedented scale and brutality, with countless casualties. It also left a poisonous legacy for the 20th century and beyond, and many of the issues that were left unresolved in 1918 would lead to another world war in 1939. 1914-1918 was a period in history that has proved provocative and culturally resonant for the last hundred years.

The BBC’s Commitment to Education and Technology

This is the first time a major public broadcaster has contributed to MOOCs, according to Future Learn.  “The BBC is committed to education and looking at how we can exploit technology to best serve audiences,” says Sinéad Rocks, Acting Controller of BBC Learning. “This is a great opportunity to explore how we can do that as part of our WW1 season, and working as a content partner with these four universities to help deliver online courses will help us establish how we can contribute to the UK remaining a world leader in online learning. MOOCs are an interesting and exciting area, and I’m looking forward to exploring what role we might play,”

Simon Nelson, CEO, FutureLearn, said: “It’s our aim at FutureLearn to connect our university partners to other great centres of culture and knowledge, so I’m delighted to see the BBC and these four universities come together to create new learning experiences. The collaboration reinforces FutureLearn’s approach to online education, which draws on experts in great storytelling and academics to produce compelling courses for learners around the world.  And it’s the learners who are the real winners here, gaining access to the unrivalled resources of one of the world’s best known broadcasters, world leading educators, and each other, around an event as significant as the World War One centenary.”

 The New Courses


University of Glasgow – World War One: Paris 1919 – A New World Order?      (Starts 13 October)

The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 ended a Great War, but it also designed the post-war future. In 1919, world leaders assembled in Paris redrew the map of the world, partitioned and created countries, and ushered in a new era of international relations. The naivety of the peace-makers of 1919 has been justly criticised. However, in setting up a permanent ‘world organisation’, the League of Nations, they changed the management of world affairs forever…



University of Birmingham – World War One: Aviation Comes of Age                  (Starts 20 October)

This course will investigate how the early days of aviation gripped the imagination of the general public, galvanised industry and excited far-sighted members of the military.  Aviation evolved rapidly during World War 1 with modern and more effective aircraft soon replacing the very basic machines that took to the skies in 1914. By the end of war, air power wasn’t just being used for reconnaissance but in ways that are still recognisable today. When the war was over aviation had truly come of age with the opening of mail routes, exploration and record setting exploits.



University of Leeds – World War One: Changing Faces of Heroism                     (Starts 27 October)

Did the First World War make heroism meaningless or was it the conflict that gave it the most meaning?  Through discussion and analysis of art, literature, film and television, guided by our experts, you will explore the portrayals of heroism before, during and after the war. Drawing on rarely seen archive you will be curating a mini exhibition, exploring a war memorial and writing a review of a representation of war.  Together we will examine the changing faces of heroism from distant figureheads and brave warriors to the ordinary ‘Tommy’ and front-line nurses. The emergence of alternative hero figures, including anti-war campaigners and vulnerable, shell shocked soldiers, is also covered. 



The Open University – World War One: Trauma and Memory                                               (Starts 3 November)

You will study the subject of physical and mental trauma, its treatments and its representation. You will focus not only on the trauma experienced by combatants but also the effects of the First World War on civilian populations. In this three-week course, you will discover just how devastating the effects of the First World War were in terms of casualties across the many combatant nations and look in depth at the problem of ‘shell shock’ and how deeply it affected the lives of those who lived through it. You will also develop the skills to carry out your own independent research.  The war was not only experienced on the battlefield, however, and you’ll explore the many and varied ways in which civilians’ lives were affected by it, for example in the way combatant casualties affected the lives of loved ones who were left behind.

 Which courses will you add to your To Learn list?  




Around the World in 62 Days: Day 22-28

Around the World in 62 Days

Welcome back!  This week we visit Africa, the Caribbean and South America as we celebrate Independence and National Days around the world.  How many countries have we visited thus far that were (or are now!) on your Bucket List?  Have you kept up with where we’ve been in the past 3 weeks?  If not check out Days 1-5, Days 6-14, and Days 15-21!


July 23

Flag_of_Egypt.svgThe Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the north-east corner of Africa and south-west corner of Asia. Egypt has one of the longest histories of any modern state, tracing its heritage back to the 10th millennium BCE, which saw the emergence of one of the earliest and most sophisticated civilisations in the world. The Egyptian Revolution of 1952, also known as the 23 July Revolution, began on 23 July 1952, by the Free Officers Movement.  The revolution was initially aimed at overthrowing King Farouk, and grew to include such to abolishing the constitutional monarchy, establishing a republic, ending the British occupation, and securing the independence of Sudan. The revolution was faced with immediate threats from Western imperial powers, particularly from the United Kingdom, which had occupied Egypt since 1882.  Four years after the revolution, Egypt was invaded by Britain, France, and Israel.  Despite enormous military losses, the war was seen as a political victory for Egypt, especially as it left the Suez Canal in uncontested Egyptian control for the first time since 1875, erasing what was seen as a mark of national humiliation. This strengthened the appeal of the revolution in other Arab and African countries. The Revolution is commemorated each year on Egypt’s national day, Revolution Day, on 23 July.


July 25


Flag_of_Puerto_Rico.svgThe Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the north-eastern Caribbean.  Puerto Rico is an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands. The island was claimed by Christopher Columbus for Spain during his second voyage to the Americas.  Spain held Puerto Rico for over 400 years, despite multiple attempts to capture it. In 1898, Spain ceded the archipelago to the United States as a result of its defeat in the Spanish–American War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.  In 1917, the U.S. granted citizenship to Puerto Ricans, and later gave them the right to elect their own governor and a local territorial constitution. Under the tenets of the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act, residents of the island are still subject to the plenary jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress. Puerto Rico remains a U.S. territory, although its political status is a subject of ongoing debate among residents.


July 26


200px-Flag_of_Liberia.svgThe Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa bordered by Sierra LeoneGuinea and Ivory Coast.  Liberia is the only country in Africa founded by United States colonization while occupied by native Africans. Beginning in 1820, the region was colonized by African Americans (many of whom were freed slaves) who established a new country with the help of the American Colonization Society.  African captives freed from slave ships by the British and Americans were sent there instead of being repatriated to their countries of origin. In 1847, this new country became the Republic of Liberia, establishing a government modelled on that of the United States and naming its capital city Monrovia after James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States and a prominent supporter of the colonization.  Liberia was a founding member of the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity.

200px-Flag_of_Maldives.svgThe Republic of the Maldives and also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian OceanArabian Sea area, consisting of a double chain of twenty-six atolls. The Maldives has been an independent polity for the majority of its history, except for three periods in which it was ruled by outside forces – the final time was in the late 19th century.  On 16 December 1887, the Sultan of the Maldives signed a contract with the British Governor of Ceylon turning the Maldives into a British protected state, thus giving up the islands’ sovereignty in matters of foreign policy, but retaining internal self-government. The British government promised military protection and non-interference in local administration in exchange for an annual tribute, so that the islands were akin to an Indian princely state.  The islands gained independence  from the British Empire in 1965, and in 1968 became a republic ruled by a president and an authoritarian  government.


July 28

Flag_of_Peru.svgRepublic of Peru is a country in western South America. It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and ColombiaBrazil, BoliviaChile, and the Pacific Ocean. Conquered by the Spanish Empire in the 16th century, they established a Viceroyalty with its capital in Lima, which included most of its South American colonies. In the early 19th century, while most of South America was swept by wars of independence, Peru remained a royalist stronghold.  Independence was formally proclaimed in 1821, and after the battle of Ayacucho which took place three years after proclamation is when Peru ensured its independence. 


Now that you’ve learned a little more about global events, consider adding one of these courses to your To Learn List:


Just to give you a brief idea of how far we’ve travelled in the first 28 days:




july22 countries visited

Join us again next week when we will visit places like Vanuatu, Benin, Cooks Islands and Niger and many more!

Adventures in Gamification: Wrapping it up!

Adventures in Gamification Logo 2

Welcome back!!

Well, we’ve worked through the six modules that make up Gamification in Education.  We’ve learned a lot and had fun – but now comes the big question…how do we SHOW and TELL anyone what we’ve learned? By creating an e-portfolio to display your incredible learning!  During a previous course, I learned and blogged about e-portfolios as I searched to find one that best fit me – which is how I found Accredible…learn more about that here!

Gathering Your Game Pieces (This is Always the Trickiest Part)…

Using your Accredible Learning Profile is a great way to showcase your work and that is what I’ve done for this (and many other classes)!  Before you can begin, you need to make life a little easier for yourself by following these basic steps:

Gamification - blog 1

Step 1 -Did you use the blogging tool on OpenLearning?  It made it easy to take notes while watching the videos!  If you used that function, download your blogs now! (Or screen capture, or print as a PDF…there are ways to do it, regardless of technical ability and know how!)

Step 2 – Did you handwrite your notes?  Then start scanning!!  Showing that you did more than just watch the videos is important!  Even if your handwriting is slightly (or in my case – very!!) illegible, scan it into a document.


Gamification - pic 1 - group forumStep 3 – Did you participate in the forums?  Time to take a selfie – of your comment that is!  Try to get your comment without capturing the name and image of your classmate…if they haven’t given you permission to use their image, you should avoid it as much as possible!


Adventures in Gamification Logo 2


Step 4 – Did you share your learning in a personal blog? Perhaps sharing information, posing questions, solving said questions, producing gamelets for your readers?  If so, gather the links to share in your portfolio! (Also, please share in the comments below – I would love to read your experiences too!).



Step 5 – Did you answer any of the “homework” questions in a document or on paper (not the quizzes!!)?  You can add that too!

Step 6 – Did you try any of the lessons out on your friends and family?  Did you make any notes on their responses?  Put those together too!  This will allow you to show active demonstration of your learning!

Every single gamelet that was posted on each of the 6 weeks of Adventures in Gamification was tested by my kids (ages 7 & 9).  Every classroom game that was considered was practised first on them and (perhaps) also on my (ever so patient) flatmate who may never admit to playing hangman or reviewing history facts!  No one escaped testing out the ideas – my husband, my Mom, even my Nan (who had been a teacher).  We would try, discuss, debate, try again, etc, until we were (or at least I was) convinced that the idea could work in a classroom setting.  We all learned a lot about the Statue of Liberty for week 5!



Step 7 – If you took the course with a friend, did you by any chance record the conversations?  If you did a Google Hangout on Air, you could share the link to your video!

As an FYI – these can be a lot of fun to do – but as a lesson learned the hard way…test the set up before you record your entire broadcast.  Yep, I did one, we didn’t check and the entire hangout is of little ol’ me…it should have gone back and forth depending on who was speaking…Live and learn!  And now, I am sharing that lesson with you (but…not the video!!)


Basically, anything you’ve done to help study the material should be included.  With one MAJOR exception!  Please, do not upload your quiz answers!  Feel free to share images of your scores but not the questions and answers!  This is for 2 major reasons – one, it violates the terms of agreement for the course and two, you would be making work for Prof. Benjamin if he had to create new quizzes every time someone shared their quiz!

One last piece of advice when gathering your “game pieces” – don’t forget about the “mistakes”.  First, there is no such thing as a “mistake”, just an opportunity to learn even more the second time.  Second, if you can show a “mistake” AND how you learned from it, how you changed your thought process, and how you resolved it, then you’ve shown perseverance, motivation, and a truer understanding of the material.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

 …Setting up the Game Board…

Once you’ve gathered all of your work, you will want to upload it to an e-portfolio.  What I like best about Accredible is that it is easy to upload my work and to sort into folders.  There are 3 to get you started – “Course Materials”, “Notes” and “Assignments and Projects”, but you can add your own if you would like more!

Remember, you can upload any type of file – picture, document, video, podcast…whatever showcases your learning!

…And Playing the Game!

After you’ve uploaded and organized your material you still have a couple of things that you can do:

1) Share a link to your “Slate” via LinkedIn (which is a great way to keep your resume up-to-date!), Twitter or Facebook.  This will give the viewer an opportunity to find out the details on the course goals and what you did to achieve those goals.

2) Update your profile!  Add a picture or set the tone of your portfolio by updating the background to a style of your choice!

3) Search for your next course and add it to your “To Learn” Wall!  OpenLearning has a great selection of courses, so you are bound to find one (or more!) to suit your interests!

4) Find your course mates – by clicking on the Course Name, it will take you to the description page.  There you can see how many people on Accredible are taking the same course and how many have added it to their “to learn” list.  At the bottom of the page, you can see who has signed up for the course – and you will have the option to follow those individuals.  Maybe you came across someone who made some fantastic comments in the forum – why not write them a quick reference (This link takes you to my page, FYI)!  A quick note saying “Elizabeth offered some great insight and ideas when discussing the Hero’s Journey!  She completely changed the way I thought about the “call to adventure” and it’s role in game format.” adds credibility for that person, their work, and the course.

And the Winner in the Game of Learning is….You!

You’ve done the work and you deserve the credit for it!  By creating an e-portfolio you are offering a potential employer or school an opportunity to get to know more about you, your learning style, your commitment to furthering your education and professional development.  So share your work!  You should be proud of what you’ve done!  Let us know in the comments below which OpenLearning courses you are taking next!

Phew! You’ve done 6 weeks worth of coursework and now created your e-portfolio!  We’ve wrapped that up nicely…but I think our package still needs a bow to be complete!  Keep watching – Tom Benjamin, OpenLearning and Accredible have one more surprise coming up just for you!   


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Around the World in 62 Days: Day 15 – 21

Around the World in 62 Days


Welcome back!  Grab your passport and get ready to take off while we visit Slovakia, Columbia, Belgium and Guam this week.  The fasten seatbelt light has been lit and the Captain says we are prepared for take off.  Please pay attention to the following safety video, treat your flight attendants with kindness and enjoy the journey!


July 17Slovakia Declaration of Independence in 1992 (A Remembrance Day Only)

200px-Flag_of_Slovakia.svgWhile the dissolution of Czechoslovakia officially occurred on January 1, 1993, the Slovak Parliament adopted the Declaration of Independence of the Slovak nation on July 17, 1992 under Vladimír Mečiar.  By July 23rd, Mečiar and Václav Klaus (Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia) came to terms to dissolve Czechoslovakia.  It is interesting to note that there was a movement for either a tighter confederation of the two states or complete independence.  The vast majority of either state were not in favour of the dissolution and to this day there are still tight ties between the countries including both nations using either language officially as long as the speaker is using their native tongue.  Slovakia has since become a member of the European Union, NATO, the UN, WTO and many other organizations.


July 20


200px-Flag_of_Colombia.svgColombia – Declaration of independence from Spain 1810

In 1808, Charles IV of Spain was forced to abdicate the throne (along with Ferdinand VII of Spain) by Napoleon Bonaparte in favour of crowning his brother Joseph I as King of Spain.  This didn’t last long, which lead to the formation of the Supreme Central and Governing Junta of the Kingdom – which collapsed in early 1810 in favour of reinstating Ferdinand VII.  The news reached the Americas in mid 1810…a number of incidents occurred, including the breaking of a vase which eventually led to the independence of Colombia (known also as Gran Colombia to differentiate it from the Columbia of today).  It’s a fascinating history, and well worth the read!


July 21


200px-Flag_of_Belgium.svgBelgium Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld takes the oath as first king of the Belgians on July 21, 1831 after independence from the United Netherlands (Belgian revolution) on October 4, 1830. 

Formed from the “Southern Provinces” of the Netherlands, Belgium became an officially French-speaking nation once it gained its independence from the Netherlands.  Leopold I was not the first choice of King of Belgium (Louis, the second son of Louis-Philippe, King of France was considered first, but this was nixed by Louis-Philippe on the advice of Lord Palmerston, British Foreign Secretary).  Leopold was very nearly the Prince Consort of the United Kingdom (had Princess Charlotte lived, she would have been Queen), and then he was next offered the Throne of Greece, which he refused due to the perceived opposition to this appointment and his lack of desire in being imposed on a nation.  He accepted this offer to become King of Belgium, and took his oath on July 21, 1831.  Two weeks later, King William I attacked Belgium in an attempt to regain control.  Skirmishes continued for 8 years, and finally in 1839, both sides signed a Treaty recognizing the independence of Belgium.

Flag_of_Guam.svgGuam (Liberation Day, Americans landing on Guam 1944, the beginning of the Battle of Guam (1944)

Guam had been an American Territory since 1898. Captured by Japan on December 8th, 1941 just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbour, residents of Guam faced a 2.5 year occupation.  During this time they were forced to adopt Japanese culture, into forced labour amongst other atrocities.  On July 21, 1944 US troops recaptured the island. Guam is once again a territory of the US, has a democratic, self led government; representation in Congress; and pay some US taxes.


A few courses that you might be interested in reviewing this week:

The Captain has informed us that we are preparing to land.  Please return your seats and trays to an upright position and fasten your seatbelts as our journey comes to an end for this week – but please, join us next week when we will gather passport stamps from Egypt, Puerto Rico, Liberia, Peru and the Republic of the Maldives.  There are many more places to visit this summer, so make sure to come back every week to see where we will head next!

Adventures in Gamification: Week Six – The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia

Adventures in Gamification Logo 2

Welcome Back!

This week marks the last week of Games in Education – Gamification on OpenLearning.  I hope you’ve had as much fun on your Adventure in Gamification as I’ve had – starting from the Introduction, strategic uses of games,  how to apply games in education, using scenarios as levellers, to the Hero’s Journey.  We’ve covered a lot of topics, played a few games and had a bit of fun along the way! If you’ve followed along but not yet signed up for the course, you can start it at anytime.  Add it to your To Learn list or start it today!!

The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia



When using games one thing is really important – selling it in the first few minutes.  You really have just a couple of minutes to convince your audience that you have a great product that is of great benefit for them, that will improve their lives exponentially, regardless of their issues, place in life, financial situation, grades in school, etc.

You must become one with your inner Charlatan.

Picture yourself standing on stage or on a wooden crate, shouting out to all of the passing people about this great opportunity you have for them!


Attention! Attention!  Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages…step right up and prepare to be Wowed, Amazed and Dumbstruck by the sheer Brrrr-ill-iance and Geee-ni-us of this deceptively simple ed-u-cational deeeee-vice…the one…the only….the Gamified, Achievable, Measurable, Educational Device – or GAME for short!


Why your inner charlatan?

Simply because you want to take advantage of the Placebo Effect…AKA taking advantage of new “treatments” or “tools” while they still work.  The belief by an individual that something is going to work to make them learn or understand more, to become smarter, to get better grades is half the battle!



Tailor the Game to the Learner



As an educator or trainer, you probably have tools that get the job done.  Worksheets, quizzes, projects, exams.

What if you could tailor a game to your learner? What if you had a test that could tell you about your students’ personality traits so you could create activities that would work with their strengths and develop their opportunities?  Using Holland‘s RIASEC testing you could do just that…

But is that practical?  Perhaps not so much today on an individual basis, but in a classroom setting, you could determine overall opportunities and include opportunities to develop those skills within the grand scheme.


Gamification_techniques_5Custom Games

So what does this all mean?

It means start with what you have.  Keep it simple. Add layers as necessary.

A meta-game has it’s place, but when a gamelet will do, why bring out the big guns? Remember, we want to use the tools while they still work.  We don’t want to misuse games in the same manner in which penicillin was misprescribed.  Using a meta-game when a riddle will do is the same as using penicillin for the common cold. At best, it’s useless, at worst, it reduces the overall effectiveness when things really count.

In Summary

This week covered a lot!  To pull together a few key points:

  • Be a Charlatan! Sell the game well for the best buy in
  • Customize to the group
  • Size matters!  Use the smallest, simplest tool to get the job done!
We’ve now finished the course – but we will come back next week to wrap it all up!  We will do a final review of key points, the tools available on OpenLearning and show you how to tie a pretty bow around it all by posting your work to your Accredible profile!  


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Around the World in 62 Days: Day 6 – 14

Around the World in 62 Days

There are many celebrations happening around the world this week!  Check out these national holidays or independence days! You are bound to learn a lot!

July 6


Lithuania – King Mindaugas Day200px-Flag_of_Lithuania.svg

Also known as Statehood Day.  Celebrated Officially since 1991, this day commemorates the coronation of the only King of Lithuania, King Mindaugas.  Although the exact date of the coronation is unknown, this date was chosen based on the hypothesis of Edvardas Gudavicius in 1989.


Comoros – Independence from France in 1975 200px-Flag_of_the_Comoros.svg

A small island nation off the coast of Africa (with an estimated population of 798,000) has the unique distinction of being the only state to be a member of the African Union, Francophonie, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Arab League and the Indian Ocean Commission. The country has experienced several Coup D’etats since independence and this has kept about half of the population below the international poverty line.  The island of Mayotte is geographically a part of this archipelago, but is still administered by France.


Malawi – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1964Flag_of_Malawi.svg

Colonized by the British in 1891, Nyasaland joined the Central African Federation (CAF) and gained partial independence in 1953.  In 1964 (after the dissolution of the CAF), Nyasaland gained full independence and changed its name to Malawi.  Since 1993, Malawi has operated as a multi-party democracy and 2014 marks its next elections.



July 7



Cayman Islands – Constitution Day (First Monday of July) Flag_of_the_Cayman_Islands.svg

The Cayman Islands, located in the western Caribbean Sea, are a British Overseas Territory. They (along with Jamaica with whom they were combined) have been formally under British control since 1670 and were governed under Jamaica until 1962 when they became a separate Crown Colony.  The Cayman Islands have historically been a tax exempt destination as well as being a major world offshore financial centre.  Constitution Day has been celebrated since July 4th, 1959 when the first written constitution came into effect.  This year, Constitution Day will be celebrated with a “spectacular fireworks display”.


Solomon Islands – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1978200px-Flag_of_the_Solomon_Islands.svg

An archipelago in Oceania.  Inhabited for thousands of years, it was finally discovered by Europeans in 1568 when Álvaro de Mendaña found it.  Named for the biblical King Solomon.  In 1893, the United Kingdom had established a protectorate over the area.  Self government was achieved in 1976 and independence in 1978.  Part of a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the Queen of Solomon Islands.



Copy of July 9



ArgentinaIndependence from the Spanish Empire in 1816 200px-Flag_of_Argentina.svg

Colonized by Spain in 1512, a fight for independence was fought from 1810-1818 with independence declared in 1816.  Following the War of Independence, Argentina fell into a long civil war.  Eventually the country was re-organized and by the early 20th century, was ranked as the 7th wealthiest developed nation.  In the mid 1900s, Argentina fell into political instability and declined into an underdeveloped nation.


Palau – Constitution Day200px-Flag_of_Palau.svg

Palau established the world’s first Nuclear Free constitution in 1981.  This meant that no nuclear weapons could be used, stored or disposed of without first being approved by a 3/4 majority in a referendum. In 1994 “nuclear free” was dropped in order to become an associated state to the U.S. – a necessary move as this country of approximately 21,000 people does not have a standing military and rely on the United States for all defence.


South Sudan – Independence from Sudan in 2011Flag_of_South_Sudan.svg

South Sudan became an independent state in 2011 after an overwhelming majority voted for separation from Sudan.  Since independence, South Sudan has become a UN member state, a member of the African Union and signed the Geneva Convention.  Currently involved in a civil war (2013 – current), leaving some 800,000 South Sudanese displaced.



July 10

Bahamas – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1973Flag_of_the_Bahamas.svg

Made up of 700 islands, cays and inlets and a population of 319,000, the Bahamas became a British colony in 1718.  They became an independent Commonwealth Realm in 1973.  Queen Elizabeth II still heads this parliamentary monarchy.




July 11


MongoliaNaadam Holiday (Declaration of Independence from China, 1921) Flag_of_Mongolia.svg

Bolshevik Russia supported the establishment of a communist government and army in Mongolia.  With help from Russian troops, Mongolia was able to declare independence from China on July 11, 1921.  The events leading up to independence became the basis of close ties with Russia, which lasted for several decades.  Naadam is the main National Festival (it has been organized for centuries) but now honours the anniversary of independence. Activities consist of archery, horse racing and wrestling.




São Tomé & Príncipe – Independence from Portugal in 1975200px-Flag_of_Sao_Tome_and_Principe.svg

An island nation in the Gulf of Guinea (off the western equatorial coast in Africa) is the smallest Portuguese speaking country and the second smallest African country.  The 2 islands were discovered in 1471 and 1472, respectfully and the pair were settled in 1493 by the Portuguese.  July 12, 1975 brought independence to the islands. In 1990 they embraced democratic reform and legalized opposition parties, which led to nonviolent, free and transparent elections in 1991.

Kiribati – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1979200px-Flag_of_Kiribati.svg

In 1892, the Gilbert Islands agreed to become a British Protectorate along with other islands.  In 1971, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands gained self rule as a combined nation and separated in 1975.  The Gilbert Islands became independent in 1979 and became known as Kiribati.

North IrelandBattle of Boyne Day200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg

Fought in 1690 between the Catholic James VII & II and the Protestant William III & II, rival claimants to the English, Scottish and Irish thrones.  The battle took place on what was July 1, 1690 under the Julian Calendar, but is now known as July 11th.  The decisive Battle of Aughrim was fought one year later on July 12th, which is not the commemoration day of the battle.  The win by William kept James from regaining the crown.  The battle is also a key part of the Orange Order’s folklore.




July 13


July 13
Montenegro – Recognized as Independent at Congress of Berlin in 1878200px-Flag_of_Montenegro.svg

Located in South Eastern Europe.  The Treaty of Berlin formally recognized the independence of the de facto sovereign principalities of Romania, Serbia and Montenegro.  Proclaimed as a Kingdom in 1910 by Prince Nicholas (King Nicholas I) who had been ruling since 1860.  Since then they have joined Yugoslavia, become independent and are now a parliamentary republic.  The history of Montenegro is fascinating, complex and intriguing – well worth a read.  Bet you can’t read just one Wikipedia page!!!




July  14


FranceBastille Day and Fête de la Fédération
Flag_of_France.svgMayotteBastille Day
RéunionBastille Day
GuadeloupeBastille Day




MartiniqueBastille Day 200px-Flag_of_Martinique.svg





French GuianaBastille Day200px-Flag_of_French_Guiana.svg





New CaledoniaBastille DayFlag_of_New_Caledonia.svg




St Pierre et Miquelon  - Bastille Day 200px-Flag_of_Saint-Pierre_and_Miquelon.svg




Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 by the people of Paris after Jacques Necker was dismissed from the National Constituent Assembly on July 11 by Louis XVI.  This battle led to the abolition of feudalism in August 1789.  Starting on July 14, 1790, the French have been celebrating Fête de la Fédération.  A militay parade has been held each year since 1880 on the morning of July 14th.  It has become the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe.

Many former colonies still follow France‘s celebrations to capture and illustrate the French side of their interwoven histories.


ryanlerch_Green_-_Query_IconDid you know??

While busy celebrating Canada Day, I missed a few other special events – yikes!  Here are the ones that I know I missed!








July 1


Hong KongTransfer of Sovereignty to PRC in 1997 Flag_of_Hong_Kong_(1959-1997).svg

Known internationally as “the Handover, July 1, 1997 marked the transfer of sovereignty to the People’s Republic of China.  Although Hong Kong Island and Kowloon had been ceded to the United Kingdom in perpetuity, the “new territories” only had a 99 year lease.  The three territories grew and developed together and by 1997 it was impractical to split them up as the new territories were important to Hong Kong’s economic development.



Madeira – Autonomy from Portugal

A Portuguese Archipelago in the North Atlantic that was claimed in 1419 and settled in 1420, it has since become a popular year-round resort.  Following the democratic revolution of 1974, Portugal granted political autonomy on July 1, 1976 which is now known as Madeira Day.

(British) Virgin IslandsFlag_of_the_British_Virgin_Islands.svg

Commonly referred to as the British Virgin Islands (to distinguish them from the American or Spanish Virgin Islands) is a British Overseas Territory.  They became autonomous on July 1, 1967.



July 2

Part of the Kingdom of the NetherlandsCuraço was granted autonomy to a certain degree with its own parliament, although they are still dependent on the Netherlands for matters like foreign policy and defence.  The first elected island council was brought in on July 2, 1954.  On July 2, 1984, the council inaugurated the National Flag and National Anthem.



July 5 (1)


Isle of ManTynwald Day Flag_of_the_Isle_of_Man.svg

The National Day of the Isle of Man.  On this day the legislature (Tynwald) meet at St John’s – partly in the Royal Chapel of St. John and partly in the open air on Tynwald.  All bills that have Royal Assent are promulgated on Tynwald Day.  This event was first recorded in 1417.

If you’ve had fun learning about these countries this week, you might be interested in learning more through these courses:

Where we’ve been so far…

places weve been so far day 1 - 14

​Join us next Tuesday when we cover Days Fifteen to Twenty One in our Around the World in 62 Days series.  We will visit Slovakia, Columbia and Belgium…just to name a few! Let’s see how many more stamps we can add to our virtual passport together!

Upcoming NovoED Courses

novoed part 2
NovoED is the social online learning environment.  They are structured around a “Learn, collaborate and innovate” system in which you are organized into groups with whom you work on projects for the run of the course.  By doing this, you network with a group of individuals and you actually have a chance to get to know them.  So they offer all of the typical benefits of a regular MOOC with the added benefit of teamwork, problem solving, creativity and networking!


Some upcoming courses include:

Technology Entrepreneurship

Course Date: 14 July 2014 to 24 August 2014 (5 weeks)

Price: free

This course discussed the process technology entrepreneurs use to start companies which involves taking a technology idea, gathering resources such as talent and capital, marketing the idea, and managing rapid growth.

Estimated Workload: 10 hours per week.

 Mobile Health Without Borders


Course Date: 27 July 2014 to 31 August 2014 (5 weeks)

Price: free

This course focuses on cost-effective healthcare solutions using ever-expanding mobile technologies. The addressed themes are: 1) Global Health Challenges. 2) Mobile Health Opportunities. 3) Entrepreneurship in Healthcare.  This course will function like a conference, but take place over weeks instead of 2 days.  

Check out this great example of group work.

Scaling Up Your Venture Without Screwing Up

Course Date: 08 September 2014 to 12 October 2014 (4 weeks)

Price: free

In this five-week course, founders and managers learn to uncover and build on pockets of exemplary performance when scaling their venture.

Estimated Workload: Expect to spend between 4 – 6 hours per week on the course over the five-week period.

DQ 101: Introduction to Decision Quality


Course Date: 09 October 2014 to 15 November 2014 (5 weeks)

Price: free

This five-week online course covered the concepts of Decision Quality, introduced common decision traps, and fostered the basic awareness of skills and tools for reaching Decision Quality in business settings.

Estimated Workload: Expect to spend between 2-4 hours per week on the course over the five-week period.

Here is a sample of group work from this program!   

NovoED has some very exciting courses coming up over the next few months – and even more coming up soon after!  If you like MOOCs but feel you are missing the “human connection”, try NovoED!  The team group work might be just the thing for you.  Let us know which courses you decided to take in the comments below – and remember to add the courses to your Accredible To Learn list for course reminders.

Adventures in Gamification: Week 5 – The Hero’s Journey

Adventures in Gamification Logo 2

Welcome Back!

We are into week five of Gamification (Games in Education) from OpenLearning!  So far we’ve covered what are games and gamification, strategic uses of games, application in education and scenarios as levellers. This week we will learn about the Hero’s Journey before we cover our final week of the course – The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia.

The Hero’s Journey

What is the Hero’s Journey (aka Monomyth)? According to Wikipedia

In a monomyth, the hero begins in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unknown world of strange powers and events. The hero who accepts the call to enter this strange world must face tasks and trials, either alone or with assistance. In the most intense versions of the narrative, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help. If the hero survives, he may achieve a great gift or “boon.” The hero must then decide whether to return to the ordinary world with this boon. If the hero does decide to return, he or she often faces challenges on the return journey. If the hero returns successfully, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world. The stories of OsirisPrometheusMoses,Gautama Buddha, for example, follow this structure closely.

This structure is commonly used in myths, stories, 30 minute sitcoms and movies.  Walt Disney Studios have become experts in using the Hero’s Journey in their movies.  The video below reviews 5 popular movies from the 1990′s in relation to the Hero’s Journey.  See some of your favourite films again from a fresh perspective!

So how does this relate to Gamification and Use in the Classroom?

Well, besides the obvious use in literature classes, imagine inviting your students on a journey in which they worked through the various stages? How exciting would that be for them?

In K-6 classes, I can imagine this being super fun to create – a week-long journey that required completing tasks from various disciplines (math, geography, history, literature, etc) to gain the necessary boon (information) to resolve an issue in a mystical world and then be applied to the real world (i.e. by answering questions on a test or reflecting on what had been learned that week).


Perhaps you want to teach your class about the Statue of Liberty.Instead of telling the class that, you tell them they are going to solve a mystery about a world landmark – and by the end of the week, they should be able to tell you all about it.  But you don’t name the landmark.  In math, you give them special clues to solve that give the height or width of the landmark.  In geography, they solve problems that will lead them to places like Paris (where it was built), Philadelphia (where the torch was displayed during the 1876 World’s Fair), Boston (the city that nearly stole it from New York by making a play when fundraising stalled in NY), the Suez Canal (where it was originally designed to go – bet you didn’t know that!) In science, you cover metals, specifically copper (of which she is covered) and gold (which was planned). I could keep going….the ideas keep flowing!

We covered a lot more on the Hero’s Journey, but you will have to check it out for yourself!


Want to grab a learners attention? Use Superheroes!

By using age appropriate characters (real or fictional), learners may already have a “relationship” with the character and relate to them and their struggles.  They might be aware of gifts or special powers that the character has or is given.  They might even be able to see themselves as a superhero in your classroom metagame – with special powers being “granted” – perhaps for completing a gamelet (task or assignment) first or with the best answer.

There are so many things I could share about the wonders of using superheroes in your hero’s journey style metagame, but I really think you should take the course to learn more!

In Summary

  • The Hero’s Journey format is commonly used in stories, shows and movies.  Disney does this really well.
  • The possibilities are endless in using the Hero’s Journey in the classroom.  Remember: creating a challenge is a great way to get people to want to learn!
  • Known superheroes make it easier for your audience to buy into the story, empathize and start their own hero’s journey through your metagame.

Come back next week for Adventures in Gamification: Week Six – The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia!  From my quick peek ahead at the topics, it’s custom-made to suit the program!!



open learning 1



Around the World in 62 Days: Days One to Five

Around the World in 62 Days
Welcome to Around the World in 62 Days!  During July and August, we are going to explore Independence Day – not just in the United States, but around the world in 53 countries! Along the way, we will discover things about the country, their history, and with a little luck, ourselves.  Join us on this expedition every Tuesday this summer- no passport required!

July 1



220px-Flag_of_Canada.svg (1)

At 9.98 million square kilometres in size, Canada is the world’s second-largest country in the world (by total area). This North American country boasts a population of 35.5 million.  Canada gained its independence from Britain in a typically peaceful manner on July 1st, 1867 via the British North America Act.  The Canada Act in 1982 severed the final vestiges of legal dependence on the British Parliament.  Most communities will celebrate Canada Day by hosting organized, outdoor  public events such as parades, carnivals, festivals, BBQs, air and/or maritime shows, fireworks and free musical concerts – or some mix thereof. Citizenship ceremonies are frequently hosted for new citizens.  Ottawa, the capital of Canada, will host a televised event consisting of concerts and addresses by many Canadians, ending with a fantastic fireworks show.



With a population of 8.7 million and a size of 27,834km2, the African nation of Burundi will ,celebrate its independence from Belgium, which occurred in 1962. This day sees political leaders making speeches about past and future, military parading to tunes of marching band, gymnasts diving through burning hoops, and people indulging in traditional drumming and dancing.




Rwanda will also remember it’s independence from Belgium (1962) on July 1st.  Interestingly, they also celebrate a Liberation Day on July 4th.  Each date has its own significance and each should be studied carefully.  This African country has an area of 26,338 km2 and a population of 12 million.  John Kerry has issued a statement of best wishes for the 52nd anniversary of Rwandan independence – see it here!




Somalia, a country located on the Horn of Africa consists of 10 million people in an area of 637,657 square kilometres. July 1st represents the independence of both the former Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland and the unity of these two nations.  Somalia was formerly best known as the Land of Punt by the Egyptians and in the Bible. In recent history, Somalia has been associated with pirates, warlords and the militia.  First nation countries dumped their chemical waste in their waters, ruining the fishing industry and turning peaceful fisherman into pirates who, in turn, disrupted many international trade routes and singlehandedly increased the cost of wages, insurance and security for any company shipping near the Horn of Africa.  Independence day is celebrated with speakers from the government, musicians, invited guests and many others participating in ceremonies.  If you would like to learn more about Somalia, you should check out Analysing Global Trends for Business and Society for some fantastic insight!


July 3




Belarus is a European nation that celebrates Independence day on July 3rd but in this case, they are celebrating the independence of the country, but of Minsk from German Occupation in 1944.  The decision to celebrate Independence Day on July 3, the day of the liberation of Belarus from the Nazis, was made during the 1996 national referendum proposed by President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. The Independence Day celebrations also include military and civil processions, concerts, and other festivities throughout the country. The day finally comes to an end with a display of fireworks gracing the sky.  There are approximately 9.5 million people living within the 207,595 km2 that makes up Belarus.


July 4

United States


Independence Day in the United States is often portrayed as the quintessential celebration of life, liberty and freedom.  Although declared in 1776, Independence wasn’t completely gained from Great Britain until 1783.  The United States of America is 9,826,675 km2 – making it the third or fourth largest country in the world (it’s often debated whether the USA or China is in third place for size) and houses at least 318 million people – making it the most populous country celebrating its Independence this week!  The Fourth of July is celebrated in various ways around the country. Celebrations comprise of parades, BBQs, fireworks, carnivals, fairs, concerts, political speeches and ceremonies all in praise of the freedom and greatness of the country.


July 5 (1)





Venezuela is a South American country that will be celebrating 203 years of independence from Spain in 2014!  Consisting of 28 million people in an area of 916,445 km2, Venezuelans will be celebrating with fireworks, family gatherings, cultural shows, street parties, and parades.




Algeria is our last stop this week! This African nation is the tenth largest in the world – coming in at 2,381,741 km2! With 38.7 million people there is bound to be a diverse and interesting culture! Independence day is celebrated with passion – with Algerians taking to the streets and attending celebrations wearing the national colour – green!  There are military parades in Algiers and concerts and cultural events are organized in the national stadium.  Algeria gained its independence from France in 1962.


ryanlerch_Green_-_Query_IconDid you know?

Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, have, since the 1950s, celebrated both Canada Day and the United States’ Independence Day with the International Freedom Festival; a massive fireworks display over the Detroit River, the strait separating the two cities, is held annually with hundreds of thousands of spectators attending. A similar event occurs at the Friendship Festival, a joint celebration between Fort Erie, Ontario, and neighbouring Buffalo, New York, and towns and villages throughout Maine, New Brunswick, and Quebec come together to celebrate both anniversaries together.




Want to learn more about Global issues? There are several courses available that are of particular interest – to share just a few this week:

Join us next Tuesday when we cover Days Six to Fourteen in our Around the World in 62 Days series.  We will visit Lithuania, Malawi, Argentina, Bahamas and South Sudan…just to name a few! Let’s see how many more stamps we can add to our virtual passport together!

Canvas Courses Starting in July

canvas July

Canvas has four new courses starting in July! Check out the details below – and be sure to let us know which courses you have selected!

tech and the future

Technology and the Future This course focuses on the application of theoretical approaches to the strategic management of technology and innovation. Concepts, tools, and process will be explored through lectures, readings, team activities, and case study applications. Major topics include: The importance of technological innovation Dynamics of technological change Factors affecting technological innovation and adoption Organizational strategy and strategic management in the face of rapid technological change. Required Materials: The purchase of an e-book priced at $5.99 is required. Technology & the Future: Managing Change and Innovation in the 21st Century Author: Peter von Stackelberg Publisher: Jericho Hill Interactive Alfred NY, 14802 Available for purchase here.


discover your value

Discover your value This self-paced course provides participants with the opportunity to explore, assess, and document learning mastered through a variety of life experiences. You will be challenged to think holistically and critically about your skills, knowledge, and performance capabilities as they relate to college-level and professional-based learning. Participants will use social media to build personal learning networks that support collaborative learning and cooperative engagement.  For $150, you may submit your experiential learning portfolio for review at Bellevue University. If the portfolio is awarded at least one credit, you will receive two credits for completion of this course at no extra charge.


stats for mere mortals

Statistics in Education for Mere Mortals This short course will provide a hands-on introduction to statistics used in educational research and evaluation. Participants will learn statistical concepts, principles, and procedures by building Excel spreadsheets from scratch in a guided learning approach using short video-based tutorials. The course is designed primarily for two audiences: 1) educational professionals who would like to be more informed about how to compute basic statistics and how to use them intelligently in their work; and 2) first-year doctoral students who want a short and friendly introduction (or brush up) to basic statistics before taking full graduate-level statistics courses. However, this course would be useful to anyone who wants a good, short, hands-on, friendly introduction to the most fundamental ideas of statistics in education.


photo and film

Philosophy and Film (Starting July 21st) This class will engage some of the central questions surrounding the human experience through the medium of film. Film is not merely entertainment, but rather culture condensed into artistic works created to reflect both who we are and what we want to be.  Expect to enjoy thinkers such as Aristotle, Marx, and Kant; issues such as “Who am I?” “What is the good life?” and “What is the role of government?” and films such as The Hunger Games, Inception, and District 9. You will become more philosophically, cinematically, and culturally literate after taking this course.

Technology, Statistics, Self Discovery or Philosophy and Film, which of these courses will you add to your To Learn list? Be sure to upload your incredible work as the course progresses to showcase your learning and to perhaps make a new friend or study buddy via the Course Activity & Community! Happy Learning!