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10 Things We Learned (or Loved) in 2017

10 Things We Learned (or Loved) Last Year

2017 was a big year at Onlea, we hired new staff, saw some of our original employees move on to new challenges in their lives. We even welcomed back an old project manager in a new role, President! We launched new apps and projects and generally had a lot of fun helping our clients teach the world. In classic flipping the calendar style, here’s my personal reflection on what we learned (or loved) here at Onlea in 2017.

--Jeff Woodward, Director of Client Productions

  1. We learned that over 100 years ago, Einstein was totally right. In 1905, a relatively (pun intended) unknown patent clerk working in Switzerland posited a theory that there are absolute laws of physics based on the fact that the speed of light is constant and everything else is relative to it. We’ve been learning all about this as part of the Astro 101: Black Holes MOOC we’ve been working on with Astrophysicists from the U of A and they were super excited this September when it was confirmed that the LIGO Observatory had captured evidence of gravitational waves from a neutron star collision in another galaxy. This evidence confirmed that Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity was in fact, true. Not bad for the guy with the funny hair.

  2. We also learned to knit, and to love it. We’re blessed to have a plethora of diverse and talented people as part of our time and one of our weekly traditions is a Friday afternoon “show & tell” where we share some of our outside interest and sometimes one of our team members even teach us a little something. In the past year we’ve had Mandarin lessons, learned how to do cut ink printing, and yes one afternoon this fall we all sat around and learned to knit from Veronica, one of our more fibre-y inclined staff. Some of us took to it more than others but I suspect at least a few family and friends of staff got scarves or socks for Christmas this year.

  3. We learned how to make a pinhole camera so we wouldn’t go blind watching the eclipse. Edmonton, where Onlea’s offices are located, wasn’t in the Zone of totality for the eclipse in August but we were close enough that we all got pretty excited for the morning. We even put on a special playlist that coincided with the timing of the event. Our resident expert maker of things Mymy fashioned an excellent pinhole camera out of a Triscuits box so we could experience the coolness without burning our retinas off. Here’s some VERY detailed instructions from NASA on how to build your very own pinhole camera should you ever want to, and you should.

  4. We discovered the UpsideDown, demodogs and all sorts of other creepy stuff that we loved when we watched Stranger Things as a group every Friday at lunch.

  5. We discovered Mouthphones, and strangely everyone in the office really wants me to get one for 2018. I don’t get it.

  6. We learned that people really love our courses. In 2017, 2 of the courses that we’ve produced for the University of Alberta were selected to Class Central’s Top 50 Online Courses of All Time. Dino 101 and Mountains 101 are both massively popular and hugely successful MOOCs. Mountains 101 also won an Ember Award as the top MOOC produced in Alberta in 2017.

  7. We loved that lifelong learning is such a passion for so many people and we were lucky to share teaching moments, big and small, with people like the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of their Past Imperfect exhibit, with the Coursera and their specialization in Software Design Architecture, with the Pride Centre of Edmonton in learning proper pronouns for non binary people, and many more.

  8. We learned that great ideas can come from anyone in the organization. One of the best things about being a smaller company is that everyone who at Onlea has a voice, and that was reflected in our work, our marketing and our presence in the community this past year. We incorporated suggestions from everyone from our President to our summer intern into our courses, blog posts, apps and presentations over the past 12 months. It feels pretty great to be part of something like this, we’d suggest you try it sometime.

  9. We didn’t learn any fancy lightsaber tricks when we saw Star Wars in December, but we did learn what happened to Luke Skywalker and the rest of the gang. We also ate a lot of popcorn that day.

  10. We learned that the best is yet to come in 2018. Our year ended with a bang, and in 2018 we’ll be releasing MOOCs on Black Holes, Problem Solving using Video Game programming. We’re also working with Bow Habitat Station to help educate young (and old) visitors about the dangers of invasive aquatic species in Alberta lakes and rivers. We’re also seeking out leaders and experts in many fields and asking them to share “the one thing they would teach the world”. Stay tuned for that and so much more in 2018.


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Jeff Woodward

Jeff Woodward

Production Director at Onlea