Epiphanies with Terry Greene

Terry GreeneFireside Guest: Terry Greene

Anyone who describes reuse of their material like this gets all my votes: “You can reuse any content published here as long as you give me cred, especially street cred if you know how to do that. I don’t.”

Terry has created some truly remarkable places on the internet. His Gettin’ Air podcasts have not only an incredible amount of people, but most all the recognizable names in the field of open education. And anything to do with technical stuff in education. His Open Faculty Patchbook is such a powerful idea, and so closely resembles the work we do in our LC here at Bothell. It is what we want to create here at Bothell. We are on that path.

Most recently, his Liberated Learner project has received well deserved attention. Here is the story behind it.

For our fireside chat, Terry shared the genesis story behind the Liberated Learner story with us.


There were a lot of interesting things in this chat and I haven’t had time to properly digest and edit it, but I would like to make a contribution today, so I’ll summarize a few thoughts.. First, what an open, genial speaker. I can see why he has become a persuasive participant and organizer of eLearning and open education learning. His story telling method drew me in. Secondly, like our other speakers, once he started in the process of open pedagogy, he realized that there were others just like him, wanting to improve pedagogy praxis and student access and engagement. As he joined in, he found materials he could use and a helpful network that he could both contribute to and be mentored by. 

I found it inspiring that one of the things he first organized was an open faculty patchbook. All of us create materials and/or courses that can be really valuable, so finding ways to share them is helpful. Instead of being a compilation of best practices, the book ending up being a collection of first-person stories. I thought this was valuable because the stories could tell us more about how innovations are implemented–large or small class? Upper or lower division?

Terry is now working on “Liberated Learner”. One key component is getting students involved in the co-design, with each institution involved having 2-3 codesigners. I really liked the student codesign part but also thought the DEI in student recruitment should be systematically built in. I am including my uncurated notes on this below.

 Open Learner Patchbook. It was harder to get students to participate.

  1. Student co-design was the missing part
  2. Each institution involved had 2-3 student codesigners
  3. People involved Dave ComierGuilia Forsythe
  4. Design sprint: paid 100 students $100 to contribute stories. People would attend on Monday & Friday, then choose from Tues, Weds, Thurs. Tell story before they write it. Student. What is your wicked problem? How did you solve it? What was the turning point?
  5. Shared the stories in a splot: https://wicked.liberatedlearner.ca/
  6. Student codesigners went back and pick the best
  7. Learner, Navigator, technologist, collaborator.
  8. From Sarita: the Support all Students site


Epiphanies goes international with Terry Greene!

Our conversation with Terry pulled together thoughts I’ve been mulling over since we started this series:

  1. The open ed community moves fast!
  2. Community colleges have been leading institutions in the movement. We’ve already heard about the Maricopa Millions Project by Lisa Young–a move to create OER (open education resources) to save millions of dollars in textbook costs. Our own Todd Conaway created 9x9x25 when he was at Yavapai College, in which faculty wrote nine posts over nine weeks, each 25 sentences or more. Terry’s work on the Open Faculty Patchbook began when he was at Fleming College; on this site, people contributed stories about how they used different approaches to teaching.
  3. Start where you can, and see where it goes. Over time, the work becomes more student- focused. The Liberated Learners project expands on the ideas that framed the Open Faculty Patchbook–but here, students create content for other students (a video about the project is here). The Wicked Problems section of the book are personal accounts about challenges that come up for so many students, e.g. a single mom of four kids trying to find a quiet place to study, neurodivergence, being able to afford (or not) the technology required for school, etc. The essays state the problems–but also each individual’s approach to finding a solution. This project reminds me of the guide that Sarita Shukla’s students at UWB have been developing to Support All Students. I look forward to spending more time with the Motivation and Engagement section.
  4. Work the network. As we saw with Claire Major Howell writing Teaching Online, and with Todd’s 9x9x25, people like to contribute small pieces. Terry leveraged contributions by some folks to encourage others to contribute to the Open Faculty Patchbook
  5. Have fun: bring in music references, snowboarding puns, and whatever other creative endeavors complement your work.


Todd has been doing a very good job of lining up guests and sending out a briefing email to get us all familiar with their work before they join our meetings. Terry’s work seemed pretty great, and I immediately took away something from the latest patchbook post (Patch Thirty Nine: The Colleague Swap), which provides some good guidelines for students to conduct peer review of persuasive writing. Then, during and after the meeting, I checked out Liberated Learners and immediately decided that I would include it in my syllabi as a good resource for students to manage their own learning (and to how to be organized and proactive, how to find answers, how to maintain healthy habits and minds, etc.). Both the patchbook and the LL project provide great insights into practice with topics we all sort of know we should be covering but just aren’t entirely sure how. The custom playlist for studying the LL project is amazing and something I’ll be asking my students to curate as well!

Zoom screen with participants.


Listening to Terry share how he started and where he currently is on this journey to make the web a place of sharing and enabling was powerful and illuminating.  The entire conversation was sprinkled with so many nuggets of creative work including Ontario Extend, Open Faculty Patchbook and the Liberated Learners Wicked Problems. The central question that students addressed and was showcased via the Wicked Problems site was around challenges that students experienced with online learning and the small and large ways that students addressed these challenges. The pivot to online learning makes the source of this experience – challenges  with online learning — a lived reality for faculty/students and staff at any institution of learning. Further hearing about how students process their own learning and how they navigate these challenges was refreshing. I think the approach to the project where students are seen as change agents capable of taking charge and affecting change was particularly powerful. I drew inspiration from the content as well as how this project placed students’ voices front and center. On another note, I found the site organization refreshing and drew inspiration from it. I hope to be able to infuse some of these elements in my own work with students.

There were two big thoughts going through my mind as I heard Terry speak; first, that there are so many amazing people doing amazing work and this work needs to be shared! I think in the absence of sharing, we are left with our single stories of what the web might be and are limited by our own imaginations of what is possible. Seeing Terry’s work broadened my own horizons about what is possible. The second thought was about the importance of building community and network of colleagues doing such work. This is a theme that has been present in our conversations with the amazing guests that Todd has invited to our little learning community thus far. Far from diminishing its importance, I think this elevates how central the idea of collaborative work is to any space. Overall, such a wonderful learning experience!


Terry reminds me of how much there is to do in our little space in education. He also reminds me of how wonderfully powerful our faculty are and how little of that power and knowledge ever gets shared beyond small meetings or unplanned encounters. His work to help faculty share the ideas they have and the ways he has literally “woven” the available technologies into the human aspect is remarkable to me. The entire notion behind the “patchbook” so clearly finds itself in the world of craft and art and allows the users, and creators, to embrace the space and the art of teaching. 

Here at Bothell we have so far to go, and so many options to share. Two years ago I was so excited to get like 15 faculty who said they would create a book called “What I learned About Teaching and Surviving a Pandemic” or something like that. It was loosely based on the idea we crafted in Arizona some year ago. That however, along with so many other ideas we had were destroyed by our loss of a team member and poor choices in reorganization. We lost a lot during these last two years and I hope to be able to bring back some of the brilliant work we had been doing. Terry reminds me of what is possible. That feels exciting. 

Our group here has benefited by seeing possibilities. We have sat in the sunlight that amazing educators create and happily shared with us. We saw possibility and learned that we are the ones that must do these things. Waiting for the administration to do them will not work. We have to bring them into this work. Most of them were not teaching when some of these ideas were available or needed. 

I look forward to next year with this community and seeing if we can broaden the messages we have heard and also discover others.

Want to Learn More?

Here are Terry’s podcasts with a hundred and fifty amazing people.

Listen to “Gettin’ Air with Terry Greene” on Spreaker.

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