Archive for the ‘Learning Portfolio’ Category

Badge System Design

July 21, 2011

POST-it Notes from P2PU Badges Mtg II (July 18-19)

In the agenda building process, Post-it notes were grouped by the participants into clusters and the clusters given titles. Two of those clusters are reproduced here as they may shed light on design questions or framework ideas for an upcoming white paper funded in part by Hewlett Foundation via P2PU
Nils Peterson editoral comments made while posting these notes are show in [ ]
  • How to learn from mistakes of educatational games. Build on theoritical framework instead of trying things in a hit or miss fashion
  • What are the types of “power ups” that getting badges can unlock? ie. teach a topic
  • Define the informal learning space where badges can play a role for identity, process, participation, achievement, etc.
  • Foreground the educational outcomes over the technical whizbangs.
  • How can others learn from your badges?
  • What can badges tell us about who we want to be (model identities)?
  • How do I see patterns in other people’s careers [badge collections]? How do I learn from that?
  • Is the assessment [criteria] public?
  • Is displaying evidence for obtaining a badge is optional? [seeing the evidence could be useful to other learners]
  • [Badges should be] Pedagogically agnostic: but can there be values? [Possible values might be:] Language and culture, building the tools, and building the community.
  • Are there different badge considerations for different ages? How can one sytem support life-long learning?
  • Are we scoping badges just in the learning and EDU context?
This heading was also the topic of a breakout session. The original post-its were augmented with new ones and organized into a structure
Guiding Questions:
  • What makes a good badge system?
  • How do you know if you have a good badge system?
Responses were classified into 4 groups. Group #1 was giving higher weighting
Group #1
  • Learning objectives are being met
  • How are assessment criteria made public?
  • Do peers learn from doing assessments?
  • Does system record what learner is =NOT= good at doing?
  • What to do with “failed” applications for badges
Group #2
  • Is the system used for long periods in [the learner’s] life?
  • Does user advertise their badges in Facebook, etc?
  • Do learners participate voluntarily?
Group #3
  • Does the system have a user community?
  • Does it have learners using it?
  • Does it have robust assessors?
  • Is awarding of badges automatic or does it require human judgement?
  • Why will peers assess each other well? [assumes system facilitates peer assessment]
  • Are badges better to mark a learning process completed or an assessment passed?
  • [Does the Community reflect on the utility of the assessments?]
Group #4
  • Has robust assessment instruments/ criteria
  • How to assess the system without distrubing it == Portfolio==

SODO Moscow web strategy

December 26, 2010

At the urging of Karen Lewis (“you need a web page”) and after checking around and having the real estate broker alert the property owner, I launched SODO Moscow site. You can learn more about SODO there. This post is a place to pull together my web strategy thinking.

Karen’s suggestion to work in public fit what I had been learning at WSU in my work with student ePortfolios (see Learning Portfolio Strategy: Be Public). Another part of working in public is to work where the community interested in your problem is already working. For this project, Facebook seemed a logical place. I created a FB group SODO Moscow after exploring the idea of creating a new FB account and using its personal page or creating a FB page. I choose the group approach because it seemed to allow its members the most equal footing in a collaborative space.

One of the things we learned at CTLT was that a learner’s portfolio needs to deliberately build “Google Juice” around its problem to attract a community of collaborators (why else work in public?). The decision to use Facebook worked against gaining Google Juice, because Facebook is a private island that Google does not index. The SODO Moscow blog in Blogger was chosen as a Google friendly place to be the public anchor for the project.

Updating my resume to reflect who I am

December 7, 2010

WSU is providing me the opportunity to reflect on who I am and what I want to do, and importantly, how to communicate those ideas. As I previously noted, a resume (here) spanning 30 years of work is poorly suited to either communicate the themes of that work or to span the transition in that work from print journals to blogs and wikis. For example, here is a whiteboard where I tried to capture a timeline of the ideas and problems I was working on across my work life and personal life from 2000 to 2008.

Left end of whiteboard timeline small Right end of whiteboard timeline small

The last two years, working on the Harvesting Gradebook, has had me thinking about the impact of the Internet on learning and higher education as presently constituted. My focus swings between learners getting feedback to aid the learning and learning being credentialed (assessment for and of learning).

I am not formally credentialed for almost all the work I’ve done in the last 30 years — my credentials from that work  and are community based.

Jayme Community CredentialJacobson created this graphic to help describe four different model implementations of the university. I now see the bottom right element of that graphic has a problem (reproduced at left). Regarding credentialing it says “the employer gets what they help design.”

But what if the learner is trying to join a community that hasn’t designed credentialing criteria? What if the learner is trying to forge a community around a problem?

That is my situation. I have a variety of experiences, but they are not specific to the new “sustainable Moscow” work that is my passion. I need a way to create a CV that converts my experiences into credentials that a new community values.

I’m in the clouds

April 14, 2010

Moving from a laptop to the iPad is moving me into the cloud. The iPad is not a local storage device, so I don’t create documents there. I create them here, on the web, which means I’m naturally more focused on creating for the web.

This realization, and a conversation today about how to organize our office study group (aka Design Circle) has me re-reading my previous post (a manifesto) for changing our unit’s web strategy.

Our study group met today to look at Gary’s summary of the three broad strands of the curriculum we invented for ourselves two weeks ago. Gary suggested that we each might study within the three strands differently, or with different emphasis.  In addition to the topical strands, we discussed a “course question” We didn’t nail down one question today. Perhaps with more time we can, or perhaps we should not, preferring instead to have personal questions that overlap, much as our roles and interests are personal but overlapping. And with our course questions in hand, what products do we anticipate creating as evidence of our learning accomplishments? Again, these are likely to be individual or small team. For example, Gary and I need to create a presentation for a conference April 28. And how will we assess our evidence of learning?

Thinking about our study group, and the different member’s differing needs/desires/strategies for storing and sharing documents, I concluded that we are (or need to be) embarking on creating our Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) rather than a singular unit resource.

But that makes a new problem, if we are a group of individuals, how do we do something as a collective unit? We probably also need a unit resource where we post to the web our various learning products.

A common store could hold our work products, but what about our reading lists and recommended readings. We already have a group in Diigo for sharing bookmarks. I get a digest from there of what others have bookmarked, but have not gotten systematic at re-Diigo-ing the items that ring my chimes. The result is I’ve read something, but I can’t find it, so I can’t recommend and share it.

But I could re-Diigo (like Re-Tweet) the links I read and value, and that would have an interesting effect, we’d know when several people valued the same item:

A Diigo Bookmark

This is the information about a bookmark in Diigo. Note that 3 people have saved this link.

This way we can find our own stuff, organized the way we want to tag it, but we can also learn of one another and our overlapping reading interests:

Three people bookmarked and tagged this linkWho is George? I might want to follow him, or look at other things he tags as “Teaching Innovation.”

I also am guessing that we could combine the RSS from several Diigo users so that the common items (those with more than one “vote”) come through a filter. This would make a means to vote on the most important readings and a way to “de-clutter” the recommended readings that we are collectively sharing out.

Web 2.0 and Textbooks

February 25, 2009

Trent Batson has a piece in Campus Technology where he is exploring howWeb 2.0 Finally Takes on Textbooks. It reminds me that back about 2005 Dave Cormier posted an idea he called “Feedbook” that imagined a course got its “texts” via RSS. The instructor would subscribe the feedbook to several sources (blogs,, etc) and the aggregation would be fed into the course’ online space.

Fast forward. Yahoo Pipes is a very powerful aggregator that would would make Dave’s idea simple and Diigo is a social bookmark tool that supports highlighting web pages, groups, and discussion along side the page that is bookmarked. The combination would make a very rich feedbook. Students could be contributors to the feedbook via Diigo bookmarks.

Awhile back I went exploring in with the question, “could Amazon be an alternative to a Learning Management System?” What I wanted was a place for a learner to find community interested in a particular problem, build a portfolio of expertise and reputation, and engage in discussion. Amazon will do it and you don’t need to buy anything. Further, students would be in a position to critique traditional textbooks or to build collections of resources that could supplant a textbook with more primary sources. The only limitation I found on this idea was that the items had to be for sale by Amazon.


November 14, 2008

I have been struggling with how to understand and implement a Web 2.0 resume. Today it came to me that I need a new Diigo tag – “me.” I’d put this tag on stuff that is mine or about me: blog posts, pages, photos, etc. Then I would be able to get an RSS of “me.” Further, I can readily share me in different resumes for different audiences by combining tags in Diigo. [The syntax looks like: ] You, the reader of “me,” can gather evidence from the forward- or backward- looking evidence of my effectiveness. I can use tags like me+reflection to mark more reflective steps in my work. Because it’s a feed of things I’m tagging, it stays as current as my tagging.

This “feed resume” is analogous to Dave Cormier’s “feed book” and it extends thinking about my blog as my portfolio or any other one space as my PLE. It serves as both a tool to present myself, and as a vehicle for a reader to walk (via Diigo) other things that I tag and other communities that tag the things I tag.

In the case of things I write that others tag, it is a way of measuring the social capital of those things (and me). See for example what is happening around this article I co-authored in JOLT. Showcasing myself is one of the things a resume purports to do.

It seems that this same thinking can be extended to “we.” In this case, the tag to use would be for my group, in this case the Center for Teaching Learning and Technology. This thinking also makes me extend my previous suggestion about the implementing a Web 2.0 organization website with the idea that we would collectively use a WSUCTLT when we are tagging us. Which clarifies a difference. I’d been thinking about our Diigo group (CTLT and Friends) as a place we’d put stuff we found interesting AND stuff by us. This “we” tag idea lets there be a clean separation. The group is a way to share stuff we find. The “we” tag is a way to build the unit’s portfolio.

Power of Me tag

Diigo-ing a page and adding the me tag becomes an invitation to say what your role is, or claim is, to the page. It lets you build a portfolio of things on the web that are otherwise not obviously yours. It also invites that you write a reflection (in your blog) about the lessons you learned in your involvement with the page you just me-tagged.

Implementing Obama’s 100 Hours of Service Plan

November 10, 2008

At the Obama/Biden transition site,, there is description of a universal voluntary service plan. This includes an idea to “establish a new American Opportunity Tax Credit that is worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year.” And a goal to expand service-learning in the nation’s schools with “a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year.”

That sounds exciting, but the downside in fraud and corruption is easy to see. To see the problem, look at who can certify my 100 hours of service to the Feds for my tax credit and what I might be doing for them to earn that certification. Beyond those limitations, where is the motivation for the 101’st hour of service? Where is the motivation to quality service? How does this service get leveraged into even greater gains?

Its still a great idea and there is a simple, and powerful, extension to it. We have been pointing at examples, and building some ourselves (see below). It requires a partnership between the school (its teachers and curriculum), the problem being addressed, and the community in which the problem is situated. Here is an example of real problem solving in service to community in a high school in Minneapolis, MN. Expeditionary Learning Schools/ Outward Bound are consulting with schools along similar lines.

For example, a school could set a goal to harness the interests and expertise of the school’s community (students, staff, parents and alumni) to address real world problems encountered by communities both locally and globally. Its curriculum would be designed to collaborate with community members – institutional, local, or global – to identify a problem, explore solutions, develop a plan, and then take steps toward implementing that plan. Students would engage these challenges as service learning. The outcomes of their work would be readily documentable using ideas like Gary Brown’s Harvesting Gradebook. But more than just documenting the student work, the process would have transformative impacts on the educational institution also, far more profound than the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) or the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standardized testing.

The importance of this strategy is its immediacy. It can be launched rapidly (its already started), it can target needs in communities without a large bureaucracy to decide what the needs are. It can tap local resources and world resources at the same time. It scales well.


Harvard Program in Networked Governance “The traditional notion of hierarchical, top down, government has always been an imperfect match for the decentralized governance system of the US. However, much of what government does requires co-production of policy among agencies that have no formal authority over each other, fundamentally undermining the traditional Weberian image of bureaucracy.”

United Nations Volunteers “The paper argues that volunteering, like social activism, can be purposeful and change-orientated. Volunteering can be directed at influencing agenda-setting, policy-making, decision-making and representation, and is also an important mechanism for promoting empowerment, personal transformation and social inclusion.

The paper also highlights the complementary and supporting roles that volunteering and activism play in fostering participation. For example, social activism plays an important role in providing leadership, defining areas for engagement and mobilising individuals.”

EDUCAUSE Tower and the Cloud “The emergence of the networked information economy is unleashing two powerful forces. On one hand, easy access to high-speed networks is empowering individuals. People can now discover and consume information resources and services globally from their homes. Further, new social computing approaches are inviting people to share in the creation and edification of information on the Internet. Empowerment of the individual — or consumerization — is reducing the individual’s reliance on traditional brick-and-mortar institutions in favor of new and emerging virtual ones.

Land Grant 2.0 “Dramatic shifts in the economy associated with the rise of globalism call into question the traditional ways in which land-grant institutions have defined their roles in contributing to economic and social well-being. Since the assets most needed for global economic viability – a base of innovation, talented people, and ubiquitous connectivity – are core strengths of universities, it is fair to ask how these institutions can more holistically engage with economically distressed regions to build critical innovation economy competencies.” see also University of Illinois Global campus.

WSU ePortfolio Contest “The goal of the 2007 – 08 WSU ePortfolio Contest was to harness the interests and expertise of the WSU community to address real world problems encountered by communities both locally and globally. It called upon contestants to collaborate with community members – institutional, local, or global – to identify a problem, explore solutions, develop a plan, and then take steps toward implementing that plan.” See also specific winners: Margo Tamez, Kayafungo Women’s Water Project

ThinkCycle This is the thesis to study the (now-defunct) ThinkCycle project exploring “How can we create an environment that encourages distributed individuals and organizations to tackle engineering design challenges in critical problem domains? How should we design appropriate online collaboration platforms, support learning, social incentives and novel property rights to foster innovation in sustainable design?” This concept can be broadened out beyond the engineering domain to other problem domains. An example is National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, that says of itself, “The NCIIA works with colleges and universities to build collaborative experiential learning programs that help nurture a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs with strong technical and business skills and the tools and intention to make the world a better place.”

A final example is Talia Leman, at age 10 organized fund raising for Katrina relief, and has since started to help other children become social entrepreneurs. In this NYTimes OpEd notes “Frankly, these kinds of initiatives have a mixed record in terms of helping the poor in a cost-effective way. But they have a superb record in enlightening and educating the organizers.” which may be exactly the outcome that is most important from some of these efforts. The Times piece also points out some other efforts along similar lines.

Building the Planet’s Center for Teaching and Learning

July 24, 2008

The following is an invitation to Centers of Teaching and Learning (CTL)

We are looking at updating our website. Again.

The last revision used Oracle tools to make a site that was readily modified by the whole staff — an attempt at content management to eliminate the webmaster. It worked to an extent. We also moved some of our content into the university wiki — an invitation to the campus to contribute to our efforts. But our staff still say they can’t find the stuff they want to help our faculty.

More recently we have been thinking about Web 2.0 strategies for learning, summarized here. This has me thinking about how our CTL could be working differently. Further, I suspect that all CTLs are working on roughly the same problems — assessing learning outcomes, accreditation, large classes, integrating the newest technology, course evaluations, advancing our own professional development, etc — AND all are understaffed for the amount of one-on-one effort required.

We recently enjoyed the help of a post-doc with expertise in survey research who made a collection of public domain survey instruments, with annotations and some bibliographic references about each. We also have our own collection of course evaluation instruments and another collection of rubrics. Each is filed in its little cubby somewhere.

One of the requests for our site redesign was have fingertip access to these surveys. And make that collection available to faculty who might wish to write their own surveys using the survey tools we support.

A large amount of the work of our CTL has no need of secrecy. As a public institution none of it can really be kept secret, but discretion is often advisable around data associated with instructors and programs. Some materials we use have licenses that restrict our posting them on the web.

Sticking with the obviously public content, how do we (all the world’s CTLs) use Web 2.0 tools and Learning 2.0 strategies to collaborate on the common problems we are addressing? I recently wrote a letter of advice to a Web 2.0 Learner. It offers some clues.

The Invitation
Join us in creating the world’s CTL. You will need to work differently and think differently, but my hypothesis is that, by changing some habits, you can learn to work more effectively.

The Strategy
1. Use Google. Someone else might be working on your problem. There are multiple ways to search using Google, including Google Alerts that will run a search and email you when it finds new results (works very well for highly targeted searches). Google’s Blog search and Alerts each produce RSS. You can also get 3rd party RSS feeds of regular Google searches.

2. Teach Google. Google learns from us. (Thanks Michael) The strategies below are all about using and storing links to teach Google.

3. Use Wikipedia. Google privileges Wikipedia highly in its search results. Find your topic there. If Wikipedia knows less than you, “Be Bold.” Not everything can be in Wikipedia, use it to point to additional key resources and communities, this teaches Google and since Wikipedia is where a novice is likely to start, it invites people to your community and resources.

4. Find your community online. Join them, use their tools. Can’t find a community, create a community space. In any case, tell Wikipedia where the community is.

5. Empty everything that does not need to be private from your file cabinet, hard drive, and file server onto the web. Put everything at URLs where it will remain stable over time. If possible, put copies where your community can edit them. Tell Google by linking to these resources.

6. Bookmark online, not in your browser. Use the bookmarking tools and tags your community uses. Post information about which tags in these systems are useful in your community spaces and Wikipedia. This helps your community and it teaches Google.

7. Blog. When you have on a problem invite the world to think about it. Report your solutions, too. Make links in your blog posts to the resources you found. Keep a blog roll of resources that you find valuable. This helps you, your community and teaches Google.

8. Comment on other blogs. Provide both feedback and guidance. Add links in your comments, these teach Google.

9. Write reviews that synthesize and link several resources or your current solution. Post this review where your community can best find it, which might be your blog, your community’s space or Wikipedia.

10. Create custom Google searches. This can focus the search experience for your faculty and community. It also teaches Google.

Possible Objections
Wikipedia can’t be trusted. If the Wikipedia pages you need are wrong or are changing, garden them.

I don’t have time for this. Make this your work, not extra work

My stuff is not good enough to be online. Get over it. If you dare share it with anyone, put it online. Refine it as you go. Keep both versions, blog about what you learned and why the new version is better. This is your learning portfolio, it helps you earn credibility in your community.

I don’t have a web server. Where I can put my stuff? Use free online resources.

Proposal for our CTL Website
This discussion started from a need to revise our unit’s website. It proposed that we collectively create a planetary CTL web resource. Given the above, what should our campus CTL site contain?

As a starting hypothesis, and to be blunt, our website should contain only the things that keep our budget from being cut.

That means the site needs an Intranet where we can securely share with select members of our campus the data and reports related to our collaborations with them.

We may also need a public repository where we can dump our files online.

The site also should provide information about the problems that our unit is working on, and who the partners are in this work, and the value this work is providing to the University — what have we done for you lately? This might be a learning history or a showcase portfolio. This information should be rich in links and other clues to find more information. Some of the links should be fed into the site as RSS from the activities above.

The site should provide one-click access when that is politically valuable, but it should not strive to be an A-Z index, rather our site should have a custom Google search, and hints about what problems that search has been optimized to address.

Our site might have public resources if they are politically valuable to us, but we don’t want turn our site into a content silo, rather the preference should be to link to resources stored elsewhere. We should strive to collaborate with other units and host resources in the most appropriate places (For example, campus-centric technology help in the campus help resource. (And we should remember to make our custom Google search look there.)) We should also collaborate with our communities and put resources on off campus sites if that gives the resources more global value.

Faculty should find the resources they need by browsing our site.
Maintaining links and resources takes time. Unless having those links is protecting our budget, we should spend time on things that are more essential. Further, we are probably better off assuming (or helping) faculty use Google than being information architects. Social bookmarking is quick and has other payoffs. Feed the results of your social bookmarking to your website. Use search.

I don’t want to put our content in places we don’t control. Wikipedia is based on the hypothesis that “we are smarter than me.” Its seems to be working.

There won’t be much left on our site. So? See the hypothesis about protecting budget and political value.

Our technical and web staff won’t have jobs. Keep your staff focused on your intranet needs.

Authentic problems weave together many strands

March 14, 2008

At work we have been working on some case studies of learning portfolios and among our observations are that the authors are using the portfolio (or some might say Personal Learning Environment (PLE)) as a means to work on a problem facing themselves (and some community) and they are weaving together multiple modes of thinking, such as art, politics and science.

I’ve been writing about my explorations of a mud oven I built and have found the fringe edge of a community exploring cob building, mud ovens, baking and the arts therein. The quotes below struck me as a demonstration of the weaving of multiple strands while working on a problem.

A home of this community is Kiko Denzer and Hand Print Press.

Here is Kiko’s statement from the Introduction to Dig Your Hands in the Dirt:

“Art is…”

Art is many things, but here what I mean by “art” is that kind of experience by which humans learn.

Working with mud, sand, and straw is a way to teach geology, engineering, physics, history, drawing, composition, and design. It is also a way to teach social skills, like cooperation. But more important than just what it teaches is how it teaches…

The artifact below will be dated when you read this, but look at the weaving of art, craft, food, science (emphasis mine).

Circa March 11, 2008, by email:

What follows is a schedule of hands-on workshops on how to make wood-fired ovens out of earth, good sourdough bread, and natural plasters to sculpturally enhance any building; also a list of slide presentations on earthen and natural building. These are offered by Kiko Denzer, and others, as noted. Feel free to share/forward the info; or let me know if you’d like to be removed from this list. (We also have a possible APPRENTICESHIP opportunity for the right person(s). More about this at the end of the email.)

Below are dates, locations, and information specific to each workshop. Registration info and a general description of the workshops are at the end.


April 12-13
Ovens & Bread
Philomath, Oregon, Gathering Together Farms
Gathering Together Farm is a local, community-sponsored farm. We’ll be building an oven for their public restaurant and event operation. Limited number of openings available. $175, includes lunch.

MAY 26-27 OR May 31-June 1
Ovens & Bread
NE Portland, Oregon
A residential oven in a neighborhood setting. Probably bi-lingual, English/Spanish! Limited openings. $175, includes lunch.
(This is also a good time to make mud in Portland, during the annual Village Building Convergence, featuring speakers, events, and natural building projects around the city. See for more.)

June 9-13
Earth & art for your home: design, sculpture, & decoration with natural materials
Coquille, Oregon, at the North American School of Natural Building, with Linda Smiley and others
Natural plasters, paints, and finishes to design, sculpt, and help finish an existing cob cottage. We’ll start with a review of the principles of design, site analysis, 3-dimensional space and spatial dynamics, and practical beauty. Then we’ll get muddy; work will be interspersed with discussion and demos covering technical, design, and materials issues, including a full range of earthen and lime plasters, clay paints, and sculptural mixes. Explore and experiment to gain practical experience to apply to your own design problems. The site features a broad array of earthen and natural buildings and related techniques. Contact the school at 541-396-1825, or see fee and registration details online at

July 10-20, or 26-27
Ovens & Bread
Pringle Creek Community, Salem, Oregon
Registration is limited

August 23-24
Ovens & Bread
near Burnt Woods, Oregon, at the site of the future Oregon Folk School

Sunday, March 16
Building community out of the mud, at the Community Built Association CONFERENCE,
Asilomar center, Monterrey, CA
A conference of public artists, park designers, and community builders. Founded in 1989, the Community Built Association is a not-for-profit association of professionals who work with local communities and volunteers to design, organize, create, and reshape their own physical environments through the creation of parks, playgrounds, murals, or sculpture. Or contact Leon Smith:

May 30th, noon
Mud 101: Earthen building and other arts
A slide presentation at Portland’s Green Home Show
Portland Expo Center, Portland (

June 1-8
Oven demos & presentations
Ashland, Oregon:
Demos and presentations will accompany a special workshop for students and members of the Willow Wind alternative school community. For more info, contact or call 541-438-4300, after April 31.

How Workshops work:
If you can make mud pies, you can build with earth. Good material is often underfoot. Practical, beautiful, dirt cheap, and faster than you think, mud is also sculptural, colorful, and rich, whether you make ovens, benches, garden walls, or houses. And you can do it with your kids! “Mud ovens” were the original masonry ovens (brick is, after all, fired clay). The ovens we make bake beautiful bread (and anything else), and perform as well as the fancy $4,000 Italian ones. You can build a simple one in a day, learn about cob and natural building – and make the best pizza and breads.

Workshops cover everything you need to know to make an oven and bake anything in it, as well as Hannah’s simple approach to naturally leavened, “artisan” breads. Kiko & Hannah have taught at Bob’s Red Mill, Andrew Whitley’s Village Bakery (UK), the King Arthur Flour Company, and at the Bread Baker’s Guild of America’s “Camp Bread” in San Francisco. Kiko is an artist/ builder and author of Build Your Own Earth Oven (bread chapter by Hannah), & Dig Your Hands in the Dirt: A Manual for Making Art out of Earth (Hand Print Press). Hannah baked professionally for organic bakeries in the UK, and is also an organic gardener and massage therapist. We don’t have a conventional oven — every other week, we bake 25 pounds of whole-grain sourdough in a mud oven. It’s a staple food. Our philosophy for workshops is that we all participate, we all learn, and we all teach. Groups are generally interesting, diverse, and fun. We also believe that the cooking (and growing) of food is essential to true culture. Our hope is that , by working, cooking, learning, and eating together, we maintain the living fabric of a peaceful community and culture.

FORMAT: Both days combine oven-making with bread-baking, adjusted to suit participants. By the second day, we’ll have a “temporary oven” to bake in, and a more permanent oven to finish. We start working at 9 am, and are done by 5 pm.

ACCOMODATIONS are not provided, tho some hosts may have space and and facilities for camping.

FEES: $175 per person for two days of hands-on learning, lunches, and snacks. For those with limited, low, or fixed incomes, we can and do reduce fees; please inquire.

TO REGISTER for the “earth and art in your home” course in Coquille, call 541-396-1825, or goto

TO REGISTER for all other courses: Send a check or postal money order for 50% of the course fee, payable to Kiko Denzer, at POB 576, Blodgett OR 97326. Note your first and second choices for workshop dates. Registration fees are non-refundable unless we can fill your space immediately. 20% discount for full pre-payment by 3 weeks before your chosen workshop. When we get your payment, we’ll send confirmation and other info.

MORE INFO/QUESTIONS: Please call 541-438-4300, or email

BOOKS: The new oven book features a super-insulated design, Hannah’s bread chapter, a chapter on mobile, community, & “rocket” ovens; plus lots of new photos & drawings and completely revised & updated text. Price is $17.95, shipping is free (check or money order to Hand Print Press, POB 576, Blodgett OR 97326. Look inside it (and other titles) at

OTHER COURSES (Please note: separate instruction/contact/registration info):
SEE,, &/or do a websearch for your local area (“natural building,” “earth” or “cob” or “clay ovens” etc.). In CA, look up Emerald Earth, the Permaculture Institute of N’n CA (PINC), and many others.

APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITY: This is a home-and-community based invitation to share in and learn from the life of a family that is trying to live, learn, grow, and eat as close as possible to their (rural) home, inspired by a vision of “every man (& woman) ‘neath their vine and fig tree, living in peace and unafraid” — and in community with their (urban and) rural neighbors. Projects include gardening, infrastructure (greywater, etc.), plastering, repair/maintenance of cob buildings, rural community events (including a local folk school start-up), ovens, art & sculpture projects, bread & other food prep, watching out for noisy boys (2 & 5 yrs), playing in the creek, a small publishing business, etc. Asking 4 days/wk of help, cash contribution for room and board, plus (reduced) workshop fees. If you’re interested, write and tell us about yourself and your interests.