Tag Archives: Online


Welcome to Martin Buck’s blog.

photo of Martn Buck
Martin Buck

Here you will find postings I have made about different professional and schedule development activities I have been involved in over my recent time as a college math instructor at Camosun College. You will also find posts at my Google Plus account. See below for a link to that.

I have been an instructor at Camosun College since 1987. In that time I have been an active participant in and evaluator of the use of educational technology to help faculty, staff and students gain digital literacy skills.

In 1995 as an outcome of my master’s degree, I began Learning Webs, a project to develop and deliver online instructional materials for adult upgrading students. These are currently being delivered both online and in a blended mode in partnership with local community learning centres.

My passion is helping create a ” . . . world made transparent by true communications webs (Illich, Ivan. Deschooling Society, 1971, p. 157).”

In my spare time, I like to read fiction and biographies as well as restore vehicles. I recently built a shop to facilitate that passion. You can read about the summer 2011 project at http://www.carbucks.ca/?p=11. Next up is an 83 Honda Magna V65. At the time it was claimed to be the world’s fastest production motorcycle. While I still have a need for speed, that bike is now up for sale, as I has been sold so I can focus on more practical machines. In that vein, I also have two Triumph TR8s, an ’80 that needs a new water pump and paint job and an ’82 that is in ‘collector plate’ condition.

MOOCs in the news

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) seem to be all the rage with college administrators In North America, particularly the United States of America. However many faculty aren’t so sure about them.

72% Of Professors Who Teach Online Courses Don’t Think Their Students Deserve Credit

For a different, more faculty driven model, see


Free Resources for Educator Excellence (FREE) for Developing, Integrating, and Delivering E-Learning Solutions

I attended a presentation at the E-Learn conference animated by Dr. Robert Moody of Fort Hays State University, USA. See below for the blurb on this. His presentation is available online at http://goo.gl/G988y

E-Learning Solutions (ELS) became widely available in 1997, and its attractiveness and use have increased significantly ever since. This software provides instructors who exclusively teach online with the resources to make course materials like syllabi, lecture notes, tests, asynchronous discussion boards, and live chat available online in one, easy-to-manage location. Online students can use these ELS sites to access course materials, submit assignments, check grades, as well as interact with instructors and other students. Among the most notable are Blackboard, WebCT, Desire2Learn, ANGEL, and eCollege. These vendor-driven software solutions have been extensively adopted by higher educational institutes throughout the United States. In fact, many have also been adopted by K-12 educational curriculum providers to supplement textbooks and other educational materials. This tutorial will provide insight and the presenter’s reasoning behind his departure from Blackboard, to creating his own unique E-Learning Solutions using several free open source digital tools.

Some of the tools he mentioned are listed below.

First ones that I’m already familiar.

Google Apps

There were several that were new to me.

Ning is a cloud based tool for creating your own custom social networking environment. See http://Ning.com. Dr. Robert uses Ning as his Blackboard replacement.

Screencast-o-matic is screen capturing software. It is supposed to have a feature set similar to Camtasia. The latter costs $200 and up. It will let you record videos up to 15 minutes in length.

Engrade.ca “is the Canadian version of the popular US-based online classroom community tools. Engrade.ca is hosted on Canadian web servers to comply with Canadian laws concerning government data storage.” I wonder if it is the open source grading solution I’ve been looking for.

Voice Thread was also mentioned and recommended but not discussed. Flash Meeting, a video conferencing system was also discussed. It won’t work on the iPad as it Flash based. It records the conference as well. You can have up to 30 people.

Blended Learning: Prospects for Transforming K-12 Schools

The first keynote speaker at the E-Learn 2011 conference was Barbara Means of SRI International, USA. She spoke on the above topic. More info on her is available at http://ctl.sri.com/people/displayPerson.jsp?Nick=bmeans The blurb about her presentation is below.

Elementary and secondary schools were slower than private industry and higher education to embrace online learning options, but budget crises have done what technology evangelists could not. Estimates of the number of blended learning courses taken annually U.S. students have topped 3 million, and online options are no longer limited to course recovery, summer school, and Advanced Placement. This talk will consider the emerging research base on blended learning as part of mainstream practice in K-12 schools– its effectiveness, implementation, and implications for equity.

I also attended a small group circle led by her on this same topic. Below are a few things from that session.

She says that one third of American high school graduates do not have the English or math skills to succeed in post secondary education.

In the group was Christian Ellis from the Ho’ Ola Leadership Academy at the Kapolei High School spoke about the online option they offer students. Christian’s contact info is at http://sites.google.com/site/khscounselor/contact-information. The Leadership Academy is “Hawaii’s first educational effort that uses Hawaiian cultural practices to help students reach academic success.” See http://www.midweek.com/content/zones/west_coverstory_article/offering_a_new_lease_on_learning/

We were told that Alabama, Idaho, Michigan and Florida are all officially moving to online education in their K to 12 system.

Barbara Means mentioned a Canadian who has done research in this area. Robert Barnard Concordia University. More info on him is available at http://doe.concordia.ca/faculty/?page=faculty_list&categoryid=5&facultyid=10.