All posts by franzi

The secret distance-learning university of Iran

FREE   Documentary – Discussion – Food – Live Music

The Baha’is of Iran have been forbidden to study or teach at universities. They responded by organizing a secret distance-learning university.  Some of its students now attend grad school in Canada and the US.

Come and watch with us To Light A Candle, a compelling documentary by the independent Iranian-Canadian journalist and documentary filmmaker Maziar Bahari.

Mr. Bahari was working for Newsweek during Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution, when he was arrested and jailed 118 days. To Light a Candle emerged from his exposure to the circumstances of the Baha’i community under the Iranian regime.

Friday, 27 February, 2015

  • 4:30  Live music and refreshments (music provided my Dr. Mora-Diez and moi)
  • 5:00  Film
  • 6:00  Discussion with Dr. Monica Sanchez-Flores
  • 6:30  Closing

At TRU’s IB 1020   (Map)

Through interviews, secret footage shot by citizen journalists, and rare archival material To Light a Candle shows how a small minority has responded to systematic persecution through non-violent resistance and educating their youth.

Sponsored by TRUFA’s Human Rights Committee, Kamloops Immigrant Society, Baha’i Community of Kamloops

More information on the film and the campaign go to:

Heartfelt thanks to the 62 individuals came out to celebrate Education Is Not a Crime day with us at TRU by watching Mr. Bahari’s moving documentary. Across Canada over 90 communities showed this documentary that same evening. More screenings are coming.

Listen to Michael Enright’s powerful interview with Maziar Bahari, broadcast on during The Sunday Edition on CBC Radio on March 15, 2015.

Nela and I
Dr. Nelaine Mora-Diez and I are entertaining the crowds as they arrive with “Where have all the flowers gone”, “How many roads”, and “Let my people go.” Great fun.


Sitting is the new smoking

Ward Elementary School in North Carolina filled a classroom with donated stationary bikes and invited students to read and pedal.

Result:  “Students who spent more time in the Read and Ride program achieved 83% proficiency in reading while students who spent the least amount of time in the program had significantly lower scores, with only 41% proficiency.”

As it has been said before, sitting is the new smoking. In that spirit, I brought a little rebounder into my office. I close the door, crank up some Bon Jovi on YouTube and get energized again.

Cringe factor 10.

But that is not enough. Standing desks should be provided to all employees whether their doctor already has a reason to write a prescription for it or not. Let’s be proactive about our health; our lives may depend on it.

What do you do to stay healthy at work? How do you interrupt the slow poison of the comfortable chair?


Integrity creates workabilty

Without integrity, nothing works.

I view integrity not as something that is either good or bad, right or wrong, but rather as a state of being whole and complete that results in increased levels of workability.

Collaborating with the members of my course design team is a complex dance. Everyone is asked to give her or his word to timelines and project requirements. In the interest of workability, I request that all members keep their word and if they cannot keep their word, that they honour their word.

What does this look like?

  • When I give my word I give it in the context of “I will make this happen”.
  • However if it turns out that I cannot keep my word, I can always honour my word:
      1. As soon as I know that I will not be keeping my word, I inform the relevant parties.
      2. I give a new timeline, or say that I will not do it at all.
      3. I clean up the mess I created.

Please be aware that we human beings have a very strong need to be admired. You could say that we are wired to be admired. Being asked to honour our word if we cannot keep our word may feel like a threat to this need to look good. Thus, we may experience the sudden need to ignore the issue and cover up.

Please don’t surrender to this temptation. Instead, communicate with the relevant parties in a straight-up manner. I promise that there are no “repercussions” or “punishments” meted out. In fact, people who honour their word if they cannot keep their word, actually gain the admiration of others, rather than lose it. Counter intuitive, but true.

Bottom line: Operating from this model of integrity gives all of team members permission to hold each other accountable in a straight-forward, matter-of-fact way. No blame, no shame. Just workability.

For more background and much more depth on this new model of integrity, please read Michael C. Jensen‘s (Economist, Harvard) interview, “Integrity, Without It, Nothing Works” below.

Integrity Jensen

Why ePortfolios?

I’d be delighted to welcome you to my workshop at Thompson Rivers University’s Teaching Practices Colloquium on
Monday, February 16, 2015.

Deeper Student Engagement: An Intro to ePortfolios

Discover how ePortfolios can help your students gain a deeper and broader understanding of their field of study. An ePortfolio can be defined as a purposeful collection of contextualized digital artifacts that demonstrates evidence of progressive learning, including planning, experiences, reflections, and synthesis that can be shared electronically. ePortfolios focus on both the process and the product of learning. With their emphasis on reflection and assessment, ePortfolios offer opportunities for more effective and meaningful, even transformative learning to occur.

The use of ePortfolios in higher education has been steadily increasing over the past decade. Research shows that campuses with sustained ePortfolio initiatives correlated with higher levels of student success, as measured by pass rates, GPAs, retention, and graduation rates.

This session provides you with an overview of the opportunities and challenges ePortfolios offer for your course and program. You will leave with concrete ideas on how to implement ePortofolios into your teaching and/or personal career.

Is online learning legitimate? Perception vs. facts

A recent US study revealed that almost 71 % of academic leaders see online learning as a crucial part of their long-term strategy.

Yet only 28% of the faculty value online learning and find it a legitimate educational model ( I would not be surprised if our Canadian numbers stacked up similarly.

Sadly, as is so often the case, perception rules, regardless of the fact that study after study shows that there is little or no difference in learning outcomes between the varying delivery models.

This was confirmed by a recent meta study that showed that students who participate in online or hybrid courses performed the same or only marginally worse than students in face-to-face classes.

The study’s independent researcher acknowledged that more robust research is required in this area, in particular examining the differences in cost between the various delivery models, their impact on outcomes, and graduation and retention rates.

For now, we Instructional Designer need to be aware that the dominant context for online learning among our f2f teaching peers is that online learning is but the ugly stepsister to the traditional classroom-based model of teaching and learning.

This brings up the question: Who do we have to be to still be effective within this context?

SME Resources

Welcome to the course development team.

I look forward to designing with you a rigorous, state-of-the-art, impactful, and beautiful course with you.

To get to know the Open Learning course development process, please visit my wiki, SME Resources, to help you get started and to address any questions you may have.

I look forward to our collaboration.

signature franzi

Experiencing experiential learning

Learning is experience.
Everything else is just information.”     Albert Einstein

Young Albert
Young Albert


Together with my colleagues, Kelly Warnock and Ken Monroe, I presented an interactive, hands-on workshop on Experiential Learning for TRU’s students, staff and faculty.

Watch it here:
Part 2:

The PowerPoint can be viewed here:


Of castles, robots and Sleeping Beauties

waking upThe banner of my blog may take you by surprise.  My initial banner was a refreshing but rather ho-hum, nondescript image of a tropical beach. Yawn.

Then I decided to step up my game with this mighty castle, and a smooth robot kissing  a Sleeping Beauty. You are welcome.

But it’s not just about providing my readers with a cheap thrill – for this banner is highly symbolic:

The castle is none other than Château de Chillon on beautiful Lake of Geneva. In its damp walls I spent many hours as a teen exploring and gathering memories with dear friends. This thousand-year-old fortress builds the backdrop for the awakening of Sleeping Beauty – moi.  Let me explain:

In 2001 my son was born. After 10 years of service in the public and private school systems as a classroom teacher (K-12) and administrator, freshly minted with a Masters Degree and a Doctorate in Education,  I withdrew from teaching to spend a generous amount of my time with my baby, and to grow my counseling and coaching business.

ffto November 19, 2013, my first day at Thompson Rivers University’s Open Learning as an Instructional Designer. When I resigned from my position as a Vice Principal for five elementary schools at the turn of the millennium, Google was only 3 years old, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were not invented yet, and I had to ask my husband to get off the phone so I could check my email. (For those readers too young to remember: back then, the internet ran over the phone line – it was called dial-up internet. Think snail speed and unreliable.)

What I quickly realized is that the world of education had changed dramatically in my decade-long absence. As a business woman I was of course comfortable with web design, blogging and social media, but I was largely unaware of the effect technology had on learning.

This blog is dedicated to my awakening into this brave new world.

P.S. Why Sleeping Beauty? It’s my favorite fairy tale and my Masters Thesis was all about the uses of enchantment.