Connect don’t Protect

Tansi classmates,

The above line “connect don’t protect” stood out for me as I perused the content for this week. As I listened to the video by Steven Johnson, I spent a lot of time thinking about connecting ideas to create a new an innovative process, tool, space or resource.

When discussing the concept of protecting ideas, Johnson says: “we should spend at least as much time, or even more, valuing the premise of connecting ideas and not just protecting them.”


From this, my thoughts went to the importance of creating a workspace that fosters creativity, innovation and learning. In my EAHR 811 class (Foundations of Training and Development) we are talking about different organizational development practices including organizational learning and the change process. One key idea that has stuck with me is that the organization’s culture is driven by the organizational values. To me, this means that if an organization does not value learning and innovation then the culture will not be a workplace culture of learning and innovation. If a culture is not one of learning and innovation, I could see it being a culture of protecting ideas and not sharing resources.

My classmate, Ashley, made a great point in her blog this week about how staff meetings typically do not offer the opportunity to share resources or ideas. Not to say that her organization does not value sharing but sometimes (even unintentionally) the focus on learning and innovation gets lost in the logistical factors of everyday work. To me, this is the risk of focusing too much on performance and productivity and not enough on learning. If organizations focus more on learning then performance and innovation come as a result of that learning.


I believe that in order for organizations to remain relevant and competitive they must engage in sharing, innovation and resource sharing. I agree with the points that Steven Johnson made in his video and I argue that organizations must create a space that fosters creativity, sharing and growth that will help move their organizations to growth and allow their employees to reach their maximum potential.

As many of you work in K-12, do you feel that you have time to connect and collaborate with your coworkers? Do you feel that there is an environment that fosters collaboration?

For those of you who do not work in K-12, do you feel that your organizational values focus on learning and development? If so, does that lead to innovative practices? Also, if the values do not focus on learning and development, what is the workplace culture like? Is there still room for innovation?

Posted in Weekly Reflections, Reflections | 2 Comments

Want to see me speak Cree?

Tansi Classmates,

I have been building up the confidence of offer you a video of me speaking Cree. Here you have it folks!


Image via: GIPHY

Please view this video with very little judgement and lots of grace:

(In the video I say “Hello, My name is Colleen. I am from Regina. I am a student.”)

I am thankful for all of the resources that Bill Cook has put online and that he was willing to share his resources. The quizlet (that I mentioned here) and the Online Cree classroom have been my go to resources. I have also accessed the 100 Days of Cree in an online book which has offered learning Cree words in themes ( there will be more to come on the 100 days of Cree book).

Following up on my work last week,  I have been working on my numbers. Here are the numbers from 21-50. After 20, the numbers go from their base (20,30,40,50) with the numbers 11-18 following the base number. For example, number 20 is nistanaw and number 21 is nistanaw-peyakosāp which means 20-11. It was a bit confusing for me at first because 20-11 in my mind is 31 but it is just 20-11 not 20+11. Once you reach 29 it is kêkâc-nistomitanow or almost 30 (kêkâk means almost). Again, I find that writing them out helps me comprehend and remember them a lot better. Check it out: 20-50.JPG

Now for the preverbs. In Cree, preverbs can be used to change meanings of verbs. Most cannot be used alone but are inserted between the Person Indicator and the rest of the verb. Two or more can be used at one time (source).

A sentence is structured as follows:

Independent mode

The person will represent what we would use as the subject pronoun in English (at least this is how I understand it). I studied the subject words and blogged about them when I leaned about the basics and when I learned about family words and kinship. This table of the independent mode formula includes the person and the endings: IM Formula(source)

Following the “person” is the tense of the verb (for now I only know present tense) and then comes the preverb. A list of possible proverbs can be seen below.

Preverb list


After the preverb comes the root of the verb and then the ending. I know this sounds so complicated but do not fear! I will share some examples.

If I use the verb “to write” (which is masinahikê in Cree) and I want to say “I am trying to write” my sentence would be as follows:

ni- kakwê-masinahikan (I-to try to-write)

Now, we take a minute to celebrate because I have learned to write a sentence in Cree!


Image via: GIPHY

Before we get too excited, there is an additional rule that is important to remember when writing. It is called the t-connector rule. The t-connector rule states that you cannot have vowels side by side. In order to separate the vowels you have to use a “t”. However, this only applies when you are using first person, second person, first person plural (we), and second personal plural (they). The t-connector rule does not apply to third person third person plural. With this rule in mind, let me walk you through another example.

If I use the verb api (to sit) and I want to say “I sit” then I will have to use a t connector because the “ni” in the pronoun “I” will create a double vowel between the “i” in ni and the “a” in api. Therefore the sentence would be as follows: nitapin. “ni” is the subject pronoun, the “t” is from the t-connector rule, “api” is the verb and “n” is the ending.

One final rule is the ê/î to â rule. This rule states that if the verb ends in ê/î you have to change it to â. This rule only applies in the 1st, 2nd, 1st person plural, and 2nd person plural. For example, if I want to look back to my first example ni- kakwê-masinahikan (I-try to-write) you will see that the verb (masinakikê) changed to masinahikan instead of “en”.

Full confession is that I secretly love grammar. I have enjoyed leaning about grammar structures and I feel so accomplished now that I can write sentences! Stay tuned for more!


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The Big “But”

Hi classmates,

As I reviewed the open educational resources this week (many of which are fantastic) I couldn’t help but think about the big “but.”


What is that big but? For me the big “but” or the big disclaimer is that we have access to open resources but will employers and/or universities recognize time spent studying these courses? If the answer to that question is no, then do open educational resources really offer a more competitive advantage to those who may not be advantaged enough to pay for a university education?

In adult education, researchers talk a lot about offering credit for lived experiences. Adults have a vast knowledge base for their work experiences and lived experiences that younger adults may not have. To me, the credit for lived experiences and credit for OE courses is a similar discussion. The student has acquired knowledge (albeit in a non-traditional way) but they still deserve to have that knowledge recognized. Going forward there are many implications for higher education (HE) to adapt to OE trends and policymakers will need to embrace these changes and create appropriate guidelines around credit for OE courses. If not, then I believe that the HE institutions will have a difficult time remaining competitive.

Moving to the review of an OE platform, I looked at OpenLearn with OpenUniversityOpenLearn

I had no trouble navigating this webpage. I was able to discover the large library of topics. I like that they had “Skills for Work” and “Skills for study. These are some of the skills for work topics that were available:

work skills .png

I was drawn to the work resources because they could be fantastic for PD opportunities (to save money) and they would also be great for those who are searching for jobs and trying to grow their professional skills.

In terms of learning based on your interests, there is a vast library of topics to explore. Furthermore, there are various mediums to explore the content in. For example, you can watch videos, listen to audio, tv. etc. See the full list to the right: types of resources

I took a look at the French content when I was exploring the personal interest learning section and I was quite impressed. I can definately see myself using these resources in the future. I really like that each subject has clearly defined learning objectives, reviews and an overview of the course content.


Overall, I consider this to be a fantastic resource. Having OE available is advantageous to HE as educators can tap into free online resources to augment learning opportunities, save money on resources and offer supplementary material. Furthermore, as mentioned in my previous post about intergenerational learning, I think this content would be excellent and easy to use for people of any generation. In addition, it could provide valuable and free PD opportunities for any organization looking to provide learning opportunities that don’t come with a huge price tag attached to them.

Has anyone ever received credit for an OE program?
Has anyone ever taken an OE course for PD?
Does anyone use an OE platform for personal interest exploration or personal learning?





Posted in Reflections, Weekly Reflections | 1 Comment

“The Air we Breathe is Sacred”

Tansi classmates,

Since my last post I have been inspired to learn more about the culture of the Plain’s Cree. My inspiration came on two different occasions: the first was walking around Wascana Lake and the second was at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

When I was walking around Wascana Lake I saw the Teepee outside of First Nation’s University. It had just snowed and it was such a peaceful and beautiful morning. I was reminded of the power of our history and the importance of the land to our First Nations   People.

Second of all, as my kids and I walked around the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, (don’t you guys love that place?) we stood looking over the exhibit that shows a buffalo jump with an incredible painting of the prairies in the background. The speaker described the land and traditions in both English and Cree and I, again, felt moved by the incredible history and culture that we are so fortunate to have in our province.

Something that I have discovered during my Cree learning journey is that there are not a tonne of resources to learn Cree. Furthermore, there are not a tonne of social media resources to help learn Cree and First Nation’s culture. I will share some of what I have found below.

I found several resources on YouTube that talked about the earth, the land and the creator. Check out this YouTube channel for Cree teachings. This one has Cree words of the day in addition to cultural resources. I really enjoyed watching the videos and hearing traditional teachings. Here is one video for you to see. This video shares a Cree teaching called “The Sound of the Universe and the Creation of Mother Earth”

Sylvia describes: “Even the very air is so sacred and so life-giving.” This is such a powerful statement to me as human beings are dependent on the air to survive. To the Plain’s Cree, the air is sacred and therefore human beings are filled and dependent on “the very air of the creator.”

How does this relate to learning the Plain’s Cree language? As I was researching, I came across the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre website. When introducing the Cree language, the website reads as follows:

“Today, First Nation people believe that language is their identity and it is what keeps the culture strong. When there is no First Nation language, there is no First Nation culture. Language is the lifeblood that feeds the striving identity of First Nation people. Once the language is lost, there is no hope of retrieving it. The plain and simple reality is that there is no motherland where First Nation people can go to retrace and relearn their language, for this is our motherland.”

As a non-FN person, I believe this journey will help me to be an ally with FN people who are working to preserve their language. With a better understanding of language and culture, I can support and be aware of the issues related to language preservation.

Finally, I will leave you with an update of my vocabulary that I have been working on. Here are the numbers from 1-20:

IMG_7895.JPGDoes anyone else find that they have to write things our to learn them?

Look at those numbers guys. Super long! Not easy to learn!

Does anyone have good cultural resources that they use in their classroom? I would love to hear about them!


Posted in Learning Project | 10 Comments

So Many Questions!

Tansi classmates,

I love the idea of open education. The idea that quality education could be open and available to all? Who doesn’t love that idea? It all sounds idyllic but, for me, it has so many more questions attached to it.

As I was preparing to write this post I did some reading on Open Ed. This is one quote that seemed to best describe my sentiments as I was preparing:

“Does “open” mean openly licensed content or code? And, again, which license is really “open”? Does “open” mean “made public”? Does “open” mean shared? Does “open” mean “accessible”? Accessible how? To whom? Does “open” mean editable? Negotiable? Does “open” mean “free”? Does “open” mean “open- ended”? Does “open” mean transparent? Does “open” mean “open- minded”? “Open” to new ideas and to intellectual exchange? Open to interpretation? Does “open” mean open to participation — by everyone equally?”(Farrow, 2017)


Via Gipy

Thinking about open education makes me think of Paulo Friere. He wrote: “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world”  (Freire, 1970).

I believe that traditional education, such as a university education, that is only accessible to a certain percentage of the population can bring conformity to the dominant discourses of power as it does not emancipate or bring freedom to marginalized groups. Farrow (2017) argues that through the creation, adaptation and localization of open educational resources we can facilitate new ways of perceiving, categorizing, mapping, and connecting the relationship between theory and practice of education. Farrow states: “By democratizing the processes through which educational materials and processes are designed and delivered, open education allows a greater plurality of voices to be heard and to contribute, and the experiences of groups who are often marginalized may be better heard”

Larry Lessig and the other content we reviewed, emphasize that the law restricts us from creating and generating accessible resources as large amount of content is borrowed/adapted from other material. As Larry Lessig states: we need to be able to live life without breaking the law! Farrow (2017) argues: “Openness has a close association with freedom – giving permissions to join a course, to remix resources, to read a journal, and so on – and arguing that commercial providers must adopt certain licences or practices is anathema to this core element of openness.”



Considering the way that we use technology today,  there is potential for education expand to marginalized groups that may never had access in the past. Furthermore, it offers a the opportunity to hear more voices and perspectives. However, in order for this to happen, there must be pressure from the people to challenge the dominant discourses of power to allow for common sense in the law, as Larry Lessig argues.

Do you think copyright laws are going to be less restrictive in the future?

How have copyright laws affected you in your classroom? Do you find them to be very restrictive?

Have you every taken advantage of an open educational opportunity such as a MOOC? Do you believe this is the future of education? Will a university degree be obsolete in the future?

Like I said, so many questions! 🙂

Posted in Reflections, Weekly Reflections | 2 Comments

mêkwâc | Right Now

Tansi classmates,

As you know, I have been working towards learning Cree. First I will provide an update as to the progress that I am making and where I am at mêkwâc (right now). After that, I will write about the tools that I have used in my learning this week and the progress that I have made.

In terms of my learning, I feel that I have developed a good understanding of the foundations of the language and the technical rules. I am working from this Online Cree Classroom right now and I feel a bit overwhelmed with learning to construct sentences. I am learning that there are different modes  such as the Independent Mode and the Conjunct mode. There are prefixes (as discussed in my last post) but there are also pre-verbs and 9 conjunction paradigm modes to memorize. I don’t feel confident enough about this information to blog about it yet but I am working away at developing an understanding about it by reading from the Online Cree Classroom and other online sources.

Apart from that, I am happy with the progress that I am making. I would say that I am a little more realistic about how far I will get with the language than I was in the beginning. Isn’t learning humbling?



When I say that I am more realistic about my learning I mean that I know that I will not come out of this class being able to speak Cree. I will, however, finish this class with a basic understanding of the structure, greetings and with some basic vocabulary. When I look back to my initial reasons for learning Cree, it was because I wanted to develop an understanding of the language and the culture. Furthermore, I wanted to develop an understanding of the languages that are unique to the land that I live on and that I have grown up on. Considering these goals, I know that I am on track. My last post, for example, was an excellent opportunity to learn both cultural practices (kinship/ wâkôhtohwin) in addition to language (family vocabulary). Furthermore, I can now identify syllabics from the Cree syllabics table, which is something that I could not do before I embarked on this learning journey. In addition, I know how to greet people in Cree and I know the necessary prefixes to use depending on who I am talking to.  I also know about the different Cree dialects and the regions that they are spoken.

Going forward, I plan to tackle some of the more complex grammar structures (such as those discussed above) because I consider that to be an important first step towards being able to move from basic vocabulary to forming sentences. Apart from that, I would like to make it through the numbers, days of the week, common verbs, and other words that are common to cultural practices. I will be happy if I can form simple sentences by the end of this semester.

This week I have worked on learning words and phrases. I downloaded an App called Cree FHQTC by the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council. I also downloaded another App called Cree Words .

Within the Cree FHQTC App, there are different categories such as those you can see here:


When you open up the categories, you can see different phrases in English.

When you click on them you can see the Cree word and hear the pronunciation. It also has categories for games and quizzes. The phrases category, for example, is posted on the left. The english phrase that is highlighted in orange is shown in Cree in the largest grey box at the top. When you click on it you can also hear the Cree word pronounced.

The other App called “Cree Words” was not as helpful, unfortunately. It had a similar categories as the Cree FHQTC but it doesn’t have the word written out in Cree. Having the pronunciation is great but at this point in my learning I need to have the word as a visual in order to see how it is written and understand the prefixes and the formation of the word. These images show the Cree words App:

If the cree words would have been written I would say that I would have used this App a lot more, but I stuck to the Cree FHQTC.

This week I covered the phrases, words and food categories. Next week I plan to continue with numbers, time and distance. Having read ahead I know that there are particular rules surrounding time and distance so I am preparing myself for that.

I encourage everyone to check out the Cree FHQTC App. It is easy to use and it has very practical words. It is also something that kids would love to use if any of you would like to use it in the classroom. I hope it is useful to some of you!


Thanks for following along.

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“A hashtag is not a movement”

If there could be a message that you take from this whole blog post, let it be “GO LOCAL.” What does this have to do with social media activism? Let me explain.


If I were to place myself on the spectrum I would call myself a believer in social media activism. Despite the title of my blog, (which I also do believe) I think that social media has the ability to unite people for a cause. There are many examples (the bucket challenge, #metoo, #blacklivesmatter) that we have discussed in our last class. These are important, but also have limitations. As Kara  said in her blog, these campaigns tap into real feelings in our society which is important but what happens after the hashtag?

I believe in social media activism is because of the grassroots potential that it has. For example, through social media this week, I leaned that there was a Rally Against Poverty in Regina on October 17th.Screenshot

In addition, I learned that this week, is Man Up Against Violence Week at the University. There is also an event titled “A Quest for Respect- Exploring Indigenous Spirituality” at the Knox Met church on November 1st. These are all great, local events that are shared and grown on social media platforms.

For these reasons, I do believe in the power to use social media to unite people for a cause. In particular, when this is a local cause.

A friend of mine (and an awesome person) Blair Roberts (go follow him on Twitter @btotherock) is an advocate for homelessness in Regina. I have seen him raise a lot of awareness that has led others to participate in events, write letters to our municipal and provincial governments and to just become aware of the state of homelessness in our city in general. It is hard to really connect and practice real activism when things are happening in other parts of the world (not that I don’t think that it is important or valid) but I think a lot of the time we have to look at how we can make a difference where we are. I am thankful that Blair has taken to social media to create awareness about homelessness and what needs to be done locally to make a difference.

I shared this article on Twitter this week. There is a quote in the article that states: “But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing into your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show.” The article goes on to say that the author of the quote, Shondra Rimes, encouraged her listeners to go and volunteer some hours. I think that instead of or in addition to hashtagging we need to make an effort to see how we can actively make a difference. This may be in the form of making a donation, but I also think we need to GO LOCAL and reach out to others in our community who are are working to make a difference to make positive changes in our community.

Locally, I have seen a lot of awesome social media activism. For example, the “I Will Help Regina” Facebook group was created to help new immigrants to Regina with furniture, food, clothing or whatever people could help with. It is now a group with 4,913 members where people offer assistance and ask for assistance for anything that ranges from food to rides to clothes to baby items. Perhaps others would not define this as activism but since it arose out of a desire to help settle Syrian refugees at a time when there was a strong opposition to it, I would argue that this is activism. Apart from that, there are a tonne of local activities, such as those that I mentioned above to fight for a cause, to make a stand and to help our community grow.

To conclude, I believe in social media activism because it brings awareness, but most importantly, it is a platform to inform others about events in their community and ways to get involved to work towards meaningful change.

Do any of you know of some great local initiatives? Did you learn about them on social media?

Posted in Reflections | 18 Comments