People of different backgrounds gardening, planting flowers in a window planter together.
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Weeknotes: May 23–27 2022

On digital gardening, challenge function, service, inclusion and data ambiguity

ksenia cheinman
5 min readMay 27, 2022


I booked a time weekly in my schedule for personal reflections about the week and recognition of my team. Sometimes, one or the other intention doesn’t get fulfilled, so I finally decided to try weeknotes. This is an experiment.

I will use the following structure:

  • Gestures of care
  • What we’ve accomplished as a team
  • What I learned
  • What I’ve been thinking about
  • Questions to ponder

Gestures of care

A meaningful week is a week where we practice acts of kindness, care, and generosity. Here are some that I would like to remember from this week:

  • I believe that we bring our whole-selves to work. This can mean being flexible and ok with changing the purpose of a meeting, when a situation calls for it. For example, when global news are tough, letting the worries that preoccupy us that day — as people, as humans — take over the conversation to let us share how we cope and find something positive
  • Giving your employees explicit permission to not just deliver what is desired/asked for, but to actually tell the whole story! In a presentation about the new direction of the Accessibility team, my Assistant Director used a term “Perform a challenge function”. While the context was different, I love it, I think that’s a great way to refer to the above permission as well — Permission to perform a challenge function in government, we need more of that!
  • Taking the time to index and add meaningful metadata to resources shared by the community via GCshare is an act of care. It also involves, following up with those who contribute resources to let them know when their resource was added and sharing a link. Someone’s social profile I stumbled upon recently described them as a Digital gardener; somedays, I feel like one too!
Screenshot of a resources added to an open educational repository collection. Features an image of blooming flowers on the cover.
This resource is one of the new additions to GCshare. It is such an excellent tool for reflection and I am so thrilled that the RECOVER team was willing to license it under a Creative Commons license!
  • Connect with a person I admire about burnout message they posted, to see if they would like to chat
  • Care for self this week meant saying “sorry, I can’t finish this today, I scheduled a time for it tomorrow and will get back to you then” and asking to reschedule a meeting that came in unplanned or became one-too-many in my calendar

What we’ve accomplished as a team

Nothing is done solo, everything is a collective effort and I am so grateful for the support I get from my team and the near-by teams.

  • Improved Matomo analytics experience by masking data about users that is private and unmasking the search filed, so we can see what people are looking for
  • Analyzed and affinity mapped user stories to improve search performance of the learning catalogue
Screenshot of 4 collaborative boards in Miro with sticky notes grouped in different ways to indicate relationships between concepts.
We went through 28 users stories to target which ones dealt specifically with search performance and to map them against different parameters to see what narratives would emerge. It was fascinating to see similarities and differences in approaches.
  • Provided feedback on design iterations and discussed effective testing strategies (thanks for the opportunity Oyin)
  • Working through readings for our second UX book club focusing on the mission and objectives of our organization — a great team exercise to get aligned on and/or critically discuss what the priorities are. And using to discuss articles as a group.
  • Made a connection with the Client Services team that collects lots of user data and defined next steps for collaboration between our teams! This is going to be an opportunity to explore Data conversations in practice (thanks so much for sharing this Dan Barrett).

What I learned

Everyday, we learn new skills, ideas, and ways of doing things better. We also learn about other people, the world, and hopefully ourselves.

What I’ve been thinking about

Ideas and realizations that emerged.

  • Inclusive hiring — as part of our readings for the UX club, we were looking at a database that tracks departmental information called InfoBase and the map showing the School’s current geographical distribution made me reflect on how thrilled I was about our team’s geographical distribution and how it was contributing to regional diversity. My team is spread out across 3 different time zones, between Vancouver, Toronto, and Halifax.
Map of Canada showing where all of the Organization’s employees are located, with strong majority in the NCR — the National Capital Region (aka Ottawa and Gatineau). With BC, Ontario (outside of NCR) and Nova Scotia highlighted as areas where my team is.
  • How I got into content design (question from a LinkedIn connection)
  • How I may have left someone behind due to assumptions and what I need to do to remedy this
  • About how government work and Performance management could benefit from being centered around 3 axis: Professional work, Research, and Service. In the Open Education Cross Canada Coffee Chat event from the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, Brenda Smith, an Open Education Librarian at the Thompson Rivers University, reflected on her role includes the Service element. This reminded me that in academic libraries, the 3 elements described above are present in performance expectations. This got me thinking about — Where in our work are we doing Service — something that benefits the community (we are publicly-funded after all!)? Where are we doing research that supports the discipline we work in? Is it all just ‘work’?

I would love to see Research and Service being integrated into government job outcomes across all levels!

Question to ponder

Topics I want to keep on exploring and learning about.

  • How do you help organizations meaningfully interpret data and show its subtleties?
  • How do you encourage leaders to tell multiple possible stories about the data?
  • How do you model that behaviour at the working level?
Twitter thread I posted to get some ideas from the community and got some amazing resources in the comments as a results, including this gem about Data conversations from Dan Barrett.



ksenia cheinman

:: digital content specialist — passionate about open learning + inclusion + collaboration + systems + stewardship + learning design + reflective practice ::