PD activities

Liberating structures


I recently had the pleasure of participating in a Liberating Structures workshop in Vancouver. Liberating structures can be defined as “microstructures that make it quick and simple for groups of people of any size to radically improve how they interact and work together” (Lipmanowicz & McCandless, 2013, p. 21). At the core of Liberating Structures’ philosophy is the idea that small and simple shifts in our routine interactions can make it possible for everyone to be included and engaged.

During the 2 1/2 day workshop, I tried out a variety of approaches that I can use in my facilitation, teaching, small group interactions, and individual activities. Several of the approaches were new, while others I had encountered before –usually, in a slightly different way than they were presented at the immersion workshop (see here for full description of all the miscrostructures).

I have been thinking about what made some of the microstructures feel more purposeful at the immersion workshop as compared to in other settings where I have used and/or encountered them (or variations of).  I’ll use 1-2-4-all as an example because of it’s likeness to think-pair-share as I think about the differences and similarities:

  • The invitation: During the LS workshop, participants were encouraged to pay close attention to the invitation (one of the 5 design elements in all the microstructures). Though the invitation in think-pair-share is just as important as in 1-2-4 all, I have tended to create the wording ‘on the fly’.  I have typically used “Reflect on…”, “On your own, think about…”. Now I am paying more attention to how I choose my words for even a ‘simple’ activity and writing these out before hand.
  • Purpose: The invitation (and all other design elements) are closely linked to purpose. The importance of purpose has always been top of mind, and the point was made over and over during the workshop.
  • Sharing in foursomes: In think-pair-share, I sometimes ask pairs to join and discuss in fours before we begin to report out in the large group.  In 1-2-4-all, the foursome piece is key to the activity because the purpose of this activity is to provide a venue for expressing thoughts, gathering diversity of input and building meaning-making among the group.  When doing 1-2-all, and the foursome piece is left out, I think there is less opportunity to achieve the purposes described previously.
  •  Sharing an important/valuable/worthwhile idea to the large group: What made this step most useful for me was that our facilitator instructed (“invited”) us to consider and come to some agreement (as a foursome) on: “What is one idea that stood out in your conversation?” He also suggested that only those ideas that were important and valuable to the whole group be shared with the whole group. In doing so, he made me think carefully about what I wanted to share and why.

Thank you to Leva Lee and Tracy Kelly from BC Campus‘s Professional Learning, UBC CTLT and others who organized this worthwhile event!  See here  for two related posts on Liberating Structures by Tracy Kelly.

Academic Writing

Professional Growth: Academic Writing

I have a strange fascination with academic writing. I love to read about it, learn about it, and think about it. Actually doing the writing is also part of the work (but I wouldn’t quite call that part a “fascination”!).

I have a regular writing practice which involves 30 minutes/day for 5 days week. I normally manage that by waking at 5 am, writing first, and then moving on with my day. I especially enjoy working on a piece of writing with others. Some of my favourite writing-related resources can be found here.

In addition to writing for peer-reviewed publications, I have a blog and publish posts in LinkedIn.

Below is a list of workshops/webinars I have attended to grow as a writer:

  • Providing Effective Feedback on Writing Assignments. Offered as part of the CTLT Institute, this 2 hour workshop provided us with techniques for being able to be more efficient and effective when we provide feedback to students on their writing.  Facilitators: Jackie Stewart and Meghan Aube. Loads of great follow up resources here.
  • 30 Articles in 30 Days. Punchy 4-hour webinar offered by Emphasis on Excellence. This was fun and inspiring and engaged the participants creative writing work.  This was a reminder that almost everything we do/think/consider can be written up and be of value to others. (April 22, 2016)
  • Blogging for Academics. In this webinar, Mark Leccese offered some advice for bloggers. Key ideas for me: (1) finding your voice is hard; (2) consider blogging for other blogs.Offered by the Text and Academic Authors Association (February 2016)
  • An Introduction to Academic Blogging. In this webinar, Dr. Lee Skallerup Bessette, spoke about her own path into blogging and some of the lessons learned which may help others as they start to blog.  This webinar prompted me to start blogging. Offered by Academic Coaching and Writing (May 2015)
  • Go Organic! Growing Your Writing Process From Seed to Harvest. In this webinar, Dr. Cassie Premo Steele  used metaphors and images of the four seasons to teach us about moving our work from “the seed of an idea…into a sustainable harvest”. Offered by the Text and Academic Authors Association (January 2015)
  • Leverage our Experience: Write More, Publish More, Stress Less.  Facilitator: Dr. Dannelle Stevens. Pre-conference workshop offered at POD (November 2014).
  • Habits of Highly Effective Writers. October 29, 2012. Facilitated by Dr. Helen Sword from the University of Auckland.
  • From Academic Researcher to Commercial Writer (Workshop offered as part of the Graduate Pathways to Success Program. Facilitator Simon Clews. Wednesday, October 19, 2011)


Pro-D prior to 2014

Teaching and Learning Professional Growth (2014-2016)

  • Festival of Learning (2016).
    • Social Media Profiles: Web Visibility Matters and Web Authorship Incubator. Read my blog post related to these sessions here.
    • Assessing Team Processes in Learning Teams
    • BC-TLN Networking Meeting.
  • BC-Teaching and Learning Network Fall Event. A 1.5 day event during which I attended the following sessions: “Evaluation of Teaching and Learning Centres” (Eric Kristenssen); “Curriculum Myth Busters” (Sarah Bowers and Gina Bennett); “Intercultural Fluency” (Theresa Southam)
  • Teaching in a Blended Learning Environment (completed July 2015). 6-week course for instructors who are teaching and considering moving to a blended teaching and learning environment. Facilitators: Lucas Wright and Joseph Anthony.
  • Case Writing and Editing Workshop. Given that cases will be an important element of the new curriculum in the new undergraduate program in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, I attended this workshop via webinar. Facilitator: Dr. Barry Mason. (March 10, 2015).
  • WordPress and Camtasia for Teaching. I attended various drop-in clinics to help me as I put the course I was teaching (EDST403: Education, Knowledge and Curriculum) into WordPress (November 2014-January 2015).
  • PulsePress Demonstration (October 22, 2014). Presenters: Paul Cubbon (Sauder) and Lucas Wright (CTLT). Organized by Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • Midterm Evaluations of Teaching: Challenges and Opportunities (September 18, 2014). Presenters: Various
Teaching- and Learning- Related Professional Development Prior to 2014
  • “Getting Started with Connect” (online workshop, November 2013) [I have also been attending the Connect drop-in sessions offered through the Educational Technology Support Office.]
  • The Flipped Classroom in Higher Education. (January 30, 2013). Presenters: Matt Yeldin, UBC Dept of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Drew Paulin and Paul Cubbon from the UBC Sauder School of Business.
  • POD Conference (Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education). October 24-27th, 2012. Seattle, WA.
  • Facilitating Student Peer Review, Evaluation and Assessment (May 28, 2012). Facilitators: Joanne Fox and Andrea Han
  • All the World’s a Stage: Teachers as Actors (May 30, 2012); Facilitator: Greg Bole
  • Team Based Learning (April 10, 2012; part of the CTLT Course Design Community of Practice). Facilitator: Jim Sibley
  • Course Design Institute (December 12, 14, 16, 2011). Facilitators: Various
  • Facilitating for Faculty Learning (October 27th, 2011; as part of the Fall Universities-Colleges-Institutes Professional Development Meeting, Langara Campus). Facilitator: Janice Johnson
  • Copyrights Considered (March 29, 2010; part of the UBC library graduate workshop)
  • UBC Learning Conference (October 29, 2009)
  • Zotero Workshop (organized by SLAIS and GSS; March 5, 2009)
  • Portfolio Community of Practice (October 2008 – ongoing monthly; 1 hour meetings)
  • The UBC Learning Conference (October 2, 2008. Learning Goals session only)
  • The Right Question at the Right Time (TAG, May 28, 2008). Facilitator: Janice Johnson
  • Storytelling Web 2.0 (February 28, 2008). Facilitator: Alan Levin. Brown-bag session sponsored by UBC Faculty of Land & Food Systems’ Learning Centre.
  • Introduction to WebCT (June 5, 2006/e-Learning Institute)
  • Digital Storytelling (TAG, May 29, 2006)
  • Starting and Ending: Substance and Style (TAG, May 17, 2006)
  • Positive Space Workshop (UBC Positive Space, March 6, 2006)
  • PowerPoint 2003 (TAG, 2005) [full day]
  • An Experiment in Listening (TAG, 2005)
  • Leading Discussions…Effectively (TAG, 2005)
  • Bringing Breath, Voice and Passion to your Teaching (2005) [full-day]
  • Teaching Large Classes (TAG, 2004)

TAG = Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth

Introduction to Process Design and Facilitation (Parts 1,2)

Part IWhat do I need to know before I design or facilitate (about myself and what’s going on around me)?”

This workshop introduced some of the key ideas and approaches of a Process Consultation framework, which I can apply to my teaching, facilitation, or professional practice.

(Learning Objectives, from the advertisement) By the end of the workshop, successful learners will be able to:

  • Explain what “process” is and begin to notice how it appears and affects your environment
  • Begin to use information about context and process to understand and effectively influence those situations
  • Appreciate the way that an intentionally designed process can help achieve goals

Main take-aways (Workshop 1 Notes in PDF):This workshop was an opportunity to consider how our prior knowledge and experiences influences what we observe and, therefore, affects how we interpret a situation. When people are looking at a situation from different perspectives, there may be a “framework mismatch”. Therefore, in any process, we need to carefully consider the beliefs, assumptions and processes operating in the background.

We did a useful activity in which ‘the client’ talked about an issue (in my case it was about the work with the Fac Dev Working Group) and the consultant asked questions (did NOT jump to solutions–this was about getting context and establishing empathy). The consultant made a mental list of the top things that stood out and why; later, the consultant had a conversation centered around “these are the perspectives and questions I want to share to help my client understand/resolve their concerns”

Part II: “How do I design a process based on the discoveries I’ve made?”

This workshop provided an experiential guide to designing processes for professional, teaching, and learning contexts, informed by your own specialized knowledge and understanding of how people work.

(From the advertisement) By the end of the workshop participants will be able to:

  • Answer the questions: “what is design?” and “what is design thinking?”
  • Design a process for their particular context (e.g., a meeting, workshop, event, learning experience, culture change, etc.)

Main take-aways (Workshop 2 Notes in PDF): In this workshop, we continued to work in the process design piece. We used the image of an iceberg to consider things that were more obvious and all the other less obvious factors in a situation (again, I was working with the FDWG issue).  We were asked first to visualize the ideal, then to consider why there was a gap between what is and what could be.  We looked at the mental models that might interfere with goal achievement and talked about the “secondary processes” that operate along with the primary process.  At the end, we used a design template to help articulate the broad goal/the objectives and the activities that can support these objectives (we also considered what is the cost of meeting the objectives).

Instructional Skills Workshop

Professional Growth: Instructional Skills Workshops + Narrative Skills Workshops

Workshop participation

Workshop participation

I have been an Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) facilitator since 2004.

As part of my involvement with the ISW network, I have participated in various ISW-specific professional development activities. These include:

  • Flexible ISW ProD session (January 13, 2015. 2 hours).
  • ISW Institute and 35 Year Celebration (September 26-28, 2014)
  • Narrative Skills Workshop (July 10, 2013) Glynis Boultbee. See here for a summary document of the NSW by Glynis.
  • ISW Joint Professional Development Day (October 22, 2012; December 3, 2008; February 25, 2008; May 17, 2007; December 6, 2006; December, 2005; May 18, 2005)
  • Workplace Fairy Tales: An exploration (May 2, 2007) Glynis Boultbee
  • ISW Fall Institute (Bowen Island, November 24-25, 2006)
  • Bowen Island Retreat for new facilitators (Fall, 2005)
  • Facilitator Development Workshop (5 days, June 2004)
  • Instructional Skills Workshop (3 days, April, 2004)


Creative Commons Licensed Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ideaconstructor/9293826708/