Free Range Edtech

Category: What’s New?

Hey, what’s happening around the OpenETC? We will let you know.

Hello Co-op

I am ungraciously late in responding to the Welcome to the OpenETC post written a month ago by Tannis Morgan, but as we know, Pandemic Time is warped. Thanks for the warm welcome to my role here as OpenETC Community Coordinator.

In blogging, I never start until I have a title and image in mind, this is a riff on the default post in most WordPress installations, itself a nod to an old tradition in computer programming.

I’m not writing here to talk much about myself, Tannis said a lot, and Google has the rest, but I will toss my calling card site with maybe the most ideal domain name (that’s a long story) at – that is a WordPress site used in a non-blog post format, and I hope to relay more that there are many many more ways to use WordPress than a series of reverse chronologically ordered posts.

I have had long running collaborations with BC educators, in fact that was my first experience as a young, green instructional technologist maybe in 1996 when I was invited with a colleague to do a workshop at Douglas College and two laters got an invite back for the provincial organization that was the predecessor to BCcampus.

All of this just says I am old.

I was fortunate to have spend 5 months as an Open Learning Fellow at Thompson Rivers University, thanks to folks like Brian Lamb and Irwin Devries who made that possible. That was the egg laying for these SPLOT things you may hear me yammer about.

But being colleagues with Brian and Gran Potter and Tannis got me a backdoor into the OpenETC and access to these platforms. I should say this is a fantastic opportunity for any teacher or student in BC to have access to these platforms, free from the commercial ties that you sell some of your soul to use similar hosted platforms.

When Tannis approached me with an offer to take on this role, it took nanoseconds to say yes. In our initial conversation I had an insight, that mat or may not be meaningful to you (whomever you are reading this). The WordPress service offered here is technically no different from the “free” service at, and the functionality of Mattermost is similar to what you can get at

But this was a difference that popped into my head. At these free commercial sites, you actually have no awareness or even think about who your “neighbors” are on the shared service. But at the OpenETC, even if you never give it a thought, you might take into account the other few thousand WordPress sites here are all people interested in education, learning, art. Even if you do not interact, there is an affinity amongst people who use OpenETC services.

One of the reasons I did not leap out of the gate is that when I teach media, like audio/video/image editing, before they start creating media, I want my students to spend time reading/listening to a range of examples so they can get a sense of what is possible.

Similarly, on becoming this “OpenETC Community Coordinator” I’ve been rummaging around the blogs, the Mattermost Spaces, the Web Apps, just wandering and taking in the place.

I do have ideas of some things to start/introduce here, but I take my lead from what folks here want and need. A big part of my work is going to be championing the idea here of “Contributions Not Contracts.” This means spreading the spirit that there are small things everyone here can do to contribute, not in cash or technical magic, but ones that can help other.

This quasi-planned startegy means encouraging more participating in, asking/answering questions, sharing ideas in the Mattermost space. This is the best place to ask for help. I regularly here directly from people who ask a question but do not want to ask in public “so I will not sound stupid.”

Here is some truth I learned long ago. If you have a question, I bet there are 10,100 times as many people with the same question, all of them not asking because of this fear.

So I will be publically “stupid” often just to break the ice ūüėČ

Mattermost is great for help when you need it, but the answers float quickly away downstream. So we have some thoughts about the ways OpenETC members can contribute by helping curate those useful tips, and ideas. And we are also going to open up some new ways to shine light on the excellent work we see happening here.

I was going to build a new WordPress site for sharing the “OpenETC Community Coordinator” coordinating, but it makes the most sense to do it right here. We will share these newsy and blabby posts around, and soon will add a signup form to get updates.

You see, I rather like blogging, and while many have giving it, I see it as more vital and important now than ever to be publically writing. When I teach, it’s always part of my approach to have students reflect (openly or privately, it’s the writing that matters).

Okay, what’s next? I have that one ready– shortly I am going to reveal a first low barrier way to contribute something valuable here.

You should also know that I firmly believe that all of this edtech work should have a sense of fun, joy, and often whimsy to it. There’s enough seriousness happening around us, and while we should not ignore it, we should also not let it steal away from our humanness to be joyful creatures.

So reply here with comments, ring me in mattermost or in twitter or send me a postcard in the mail. I want to know more about what everybody is interested in, what you want to do with these platforms (heck also what they cannot do).

One more caveat. My position here is funded by BCcampus (if there is any value in this, please thank them, if not tell them to kick me to the curb). But it’s only for 1 day a week or my time, so I am split in many projects.

And I am the only one here getting a paycheck. All of the people who keep the lights on here- the leadership group of Tannis Morgan, Grant Potter, Clint Lalonde, Brian Lamb, Anne-Marie Scott are all doing this volunteer basis. And do not forget that Troy Welch, who fixes the leaky server and tends to all the updates and bugs, is also a volunteer. They are a great group to be roosting around here in the Co-op Coop with.

Stay tuned here for more stuff.

Welcome to Alan Levine, OpenETC Community Coordinator

In the past three years, the OpenETC community of users has grown considerably, as more faculty and staff in BC higher education are exploring teaching practices using WordPress and Mattermost.  This growth signalled the importance of future planning, and led the OpenETC administrative team to create a high-level, three year roadmap. In 2020, BCcampus provided a pilot funding commitment to support the roadmap.

As part of the roadmap, one of the pre-COVID goals was to develop the OpenETC community by providing more resources and fostering a growing culture of mutual support and contributions.  As many of you know, the OpenETC model is a little bit unusual… there is no 24/7 helpdesk, there is no IT department or vendor behind the scenes.  OpenETC runs on community contributions, not unlike a take one, leave one box at your local charity shop.

However, it is important to do this right, and we felt that we needed someone with some dedicated time to model and nurture the community in this direction.  We are thrilled that Alan Levine (@cogdog), SPLOT creator extraordinaire, has come on board to lead the community building over the next few months.  Alan has long been part of the ETUG community, and you may have also come across his work with BCcampus in helping with the BCcampus H5P Kitchen project.  In addition to having fantastic technical and photography skills, Alan is a well-known online community builder and we will be drawing on all of his expertise to help us with this next step.

So what exactly can you expect in the next few months?  As the OpenETC Community Coordinator, Alan will help us ensure a sustainable community is built around the OpenETC in keeping with the OpenETC model that is founded on co-operative principles.

Some of things that Alan will be doing are:

  • Running sessions¬†for educators¬†to introduce the¬†OpenETC¬†and how the model works
  • Running sessions to demo various aspects of the¬†OpenETC¬†toolkit¬†and its application to teaching and learning
  • Monitoring and responding to Mattermost chat channels (Town Square, WordPress, etc), supporting community members to solve their own problems
  • Communicating planned changes to the¬†OpenETC¬†toolkit
  • Soliciting feedback via focus groups, polls, running pilots etc on aspects of the¬†OpenETC¬†toolkit
  • Gathering and coordinating contributions back to¬†OpenETC
  • Showcasing exemplary open education practices
  • Identifying and developing (and helping the community to develop) various self-help resources as required.


This is an ambitious list, but our goal is to make the OpenETC as efficient, sustainable, and collaborative as possible.  There is no OpenETC without the BC post-secondary community who share, contribute, and support each other and together we can build an alternative for open ed tech supported teaching and learning in BC.

Do you have any feedback on this list?  How do you see the priorities of this role?  Feel free to leave your comments.

Code of Conduct and Terms of Use

A few weeks ago we posted a draft Code of Conduct for users of the OpenETC. We asked for your feedback on the draft code and received a number of excellent suggestions on the draft. We gathered your responses as annotations via Hypothesis and as comments posted to our draft Etherpad document.

From your comments, we have made the following changes;

  • Split the Code of Conduct into 2 separate documents; a Code of Conduct and Terms of Use document to better reflect the intent of the content.
  • Added contact forms to each of the documents to enable people to contact someone on the OpenETC administrative team with questions or comments.
  • Clarified the Terms of Use language to remove the word “blasphemous” from the Limitations on Content section of the Terms of Use guidelines.
  • Explicitly noted what OpenETC applications and services the code and terms apply to.

We have posted a revised Code of Conduct and a new Terms of Use document that applies to the three main services offered by the OpenETC, WordPress, Mattermost, and Sandstorm.

We will continue to revise these documents as required and make you aware of changes as the services of the OpenETC evolve.

Thank you for your feedback and being active members of the OpenETC community.

Thank you for your feedback on the proposed Code of Conduct

Thank you to everyone who commented on the proposed OpenETC Code of Conduct. We are reviewing the suggestions and are revising based on your feedback, which included the suggestion to break the Code of Conduct into a Code of Conduct document and a Terms of Use document.

A number of you also suggested some existing Codes of Conduct that we could look to build on which is an excellent suggestion. We are currently reviewing a number of other Codes of Conduct for online communities and hope to incorporate some of those into our second draft Code of Conduct.

For the time being, we have removed the draft Code of Conduct from the site while we revise it.

Thanks again for providing input.

Looking for community feedback on Code of Conduct

Two goals the OpenETC stewardship team are working towards in 2020 is to begin formalizing some processes and guidelines for educators and students interested in using the services of the OpenETC community, and to provide more pathways of engagement with the openETC for community members. High on our to-do list for this year are the development of governance documents, like privacy policies and a code of conduct.

In that spirit, the OpenETC stewardship group is looking for community feedback on a proposed Code of Conduct. When completed, this Code of Conduct will apply to users of any of the platforms or tools supplied by the OpenETC. We have posted a draft Code of Conduct that we would like your feedback on.

To enable your feedback, we have activated Hypothesis on the page, which will give you the ability to highlight and annotate specific sections of the code you may have questions or comments about.

A draft privacy policy is in the works and will be released in the coming weeks for your input.

While these types of governance documents can be dry reading, they are important in helping to define what kind of community we want to work towards developing.

Thanks, in advance, for your comments and feedback, and for working with us to make the OpenETC a valuable and respectful educational community.

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