Friday, July 26, 2013

Teacher Summer

Call this last month what you will! Days filled with blog abandonment, lack of time, days ending in total fatigue, too many things to do in one day, weather too lovely to be on the computer, wearing too many hats. Call it what you will; I have not blogged in a month. I was doing quite well during the school year, but this summer has not been so great for the blogging. Or the practice of writing in general. My backpacking article on my trip to the Olympics is scheduled for this fall issue of Adventures NW Magazine, so I'll have a nice reminder of the last essay that I wrote. It feels like a long time ago already. A different life then, indeed.

So what's been going on you ask? Well, quite a bit. I'm teaching one course (as usual) this summer, and I've started working for our eLearning department as we transition to Canvas, our newest learning management system. I'm getting paid to talk to interesting people, research and solve problems with teachers and technology while collaborating with people who care about the future of online learning. That's a quick summary of my Mondays-Wednesdays. On Thursdays, I'm working from home to create a course for our Title III grant. There is simply not enough time to do everything that I want to do. This position came quite unexpectedly, and I had put off completing some other work thinking I'd have plenty of time this summer. This position started a month ago, and I've been playing catch up ever since. You'll hear no complaints from me. I feel so completely lucky to love what I'm doing. 

I'm in the mix for a new position at my college, and should that happen, then I'll start a new blog if I get the job. Even if I don't, I'll still be very happy with the different hats that I get to wear. This blog for ETMOOC has been a grand experiment of trying out blogging for the first time. I'll later refer to it as my "starter blog" when I create something new. I've done some writing, of course. I've written new cover letters, resumes, and participated in phone interviews. It's been unexpectedly busy summer. I've never had what I used to call a "teacher summer." You know, those mythical summers where teachers don't work for three months? Me neither.

I chose this photo of my dog so that I can remember this moment of his summer. We call this activity "Belly Sunning." And this PNW summer is one of the finest I have ever seen. Elroy spends his days going between sun and shade on our deck. We've created this lovely outside office on our deck where the mister, the dog, and I spend our afternoons as the sun sinks west.

We use our new espresso machine to make coffees that we sip in the shade. We read and work, and he moves from ideal spot to better spot in the sun. My neighbor's tree shades the sun during the hottest hours and the sun shines in rays through the branches. Squirrels run along the fence to steal my berries, humming birds zip around from flower to flower, bees hum on the lavender, and various birds fly from the pond east of our house to the lake. Sea planes fly towards the bay.

My dog sleeps through it all, and this is photo captures his favorite spot. Summer is his season. I'd say it was my season as well, but if you know me well, you know how much I love a powder day in the mountains and muddy cylcocross races. Those days already feel like they are around the corner. Just like August.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June Hiatus

Beloved Blog,

I am taking a much needed break from blogging, and everything else that involves a glowing screen.

After two full weeks of contract work, followed by finishing up spring quarter, I am giving myself a little hiatus from work. A bit of a recharge before summer quarter is in order. I spent an entire morning reading and drinking coffee. I haven't looked at my calendar in days! Glorious! I'm spending my days reading, writing (with pen and paper), gardening, running on trails, riding my bikes, watching movies, sunning with my dog, and staring at the damage the slugs are doing to my garden. When I return, I'll blog about things to come, an award that I won that still makes my jaw drop, and how this summer is a bridge to new things to come. Happy June!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Feels Like Work, Only It's Not

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hindrik/3624307661/
It's the last week of the quarter, and I have a major project due in my grad class in less than a week. I'm trying to get all of that work done while working my more than full-time job. This past weekend, I did some training to become a trainer for a freelance job, so I'm kind of behind on everything this week. I felt so burned out yesterday after work that I couldn't get anything done. Me and the mister sat on our lovely deck with the dog. We watched the sun dip ever closer to the northwest while various birds flew in and out of our yard. Some of my flowers are starting to bloom and I'm reminded (once again) of how much I love my daisies, zinnias, and lavender plants. There is a constant party of bees on the lavender.

It was a hot afternoon in the PNW, so we toasted a cold beer to the end of the quarter. I am reminded of my research about teacher burnout. Taking a mental break helps keep everything in perspective. Indeed.

Still the many things to do on my list remains. Ever stare at your list and not know where to begin? Usually when I get that feeling, I write in my journal, but today I'm turning to my blog. I'll join the millions of other bloggers who blog about blogging. (I'm pretty sure I used to make fun of bloggers, so that's a story for another time).

Here are two things that are valuable to me about this blog:

1. I've been able to record my thoughts about projects that I am working on, so blogging feels like work, only it's not. With conference presentations and now my graduate project, I've been able to cull ideas and thoughts that would have been buried in my personal paper journal. Unlike my paper journal, I blog knowing there is an audience (not that big of one, mind you, but I do have some readers). My journal feeds the creative writer in me. This blog, albeit something I started for a MOOC, has grown on me. It's become part of my writing practice. Who knew?

2. I've connected with people I have never met, who I don't see enough, and I've become a part of a larger network of learners. Teaching, especially as adjunct, is an isolated profession. I've worked at my college for almost a decade, and I have just recently met people I wished I had talked to years ago. This blog has helped me make some valuable connections.

Here are two things I wished I had known before I started blogging:

1. My URL includes the name of the MOOC I joined, and my title has a built-in timeline. I'll need to create a new URL next year. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, but I wish I had not chosen a year in my title. I also don't always blog about Ed Tech. Honestly, I thought I would delete the blog after the MOOC.

2. I wish I had started blogging at the start of my grad program. I have so much to use from my last two classes while I've blogged, but my paper notebook that I started in 2010 feels like an anchor. I just get lost in looking at my old work. It's easier to put together ideas by scrolling through my blog. Who knew? My experience has made me think a great deal about what my students are going through when they use a LMS to gather their portfolios. The current LMS I am using as a teacher is a nightmare for students to find their own work, so I empathize. It's not an easy medium to navigate for reflective writing. Blogging, on the other hand, encourages the type of reflection I try to teach my writing students.

So what's going on for June? Once I complete the quarter as a student and as a teacher, I'm going to focus on some time off before the summer quarter begins. I really want to write an article about the presentations I've done this year, and I need to keep researching. So I did some clicking around, and I signed up for a Mini-Course on Web 2.0 Tools through the Powerful Learning Practice. They send participants emails everyday for two weeks about different web tools in order to start a personal learning network. So far, I know everything they have sent me, but I like their format for the trainings. They send a short engaging invitation email about the tool, several links on how to get started, some examples, and then a question to consider for tomorrow's email. It's also free (or I wouldn't be doing it). I can see this idea working for a small cohort of teachers trying out new ideas for teaching. It's like work, only not really.



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thank you, NW eLearn!

http://bit.ly/y7B8H7
I did some major self-promotion today!
I have uploaded my PowerPoint slides from my presentation on http://atlconference2013.wikispaces.com/home

Scroll down to the bottom, and you can download the slides. Feel free to contact me about anything I talked about, and I really appreciate all of the kind regards listed in the chat. I have one more presentation on this topic, and then I have to write a paper to be published before everything I am researching is obsolete.

This my favorite slide about "how technology came into our classroom." It cracks me up, so thanks to the person who posted "Hahaha" in the chat.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

For The Birds


http://bit.ly/18xHv9q
One of my favorite little stories to get teachers to think about technology and its use in the classroom, is to talk about the great Alfred Hitchcock film, The Birds.

When I was in college, my film professor used the scene of Tippi at the school to teach POV shots. We'd clap every time there was a film cut from Tippi to her POV. It was a pretty cheesy tactile exercise, but I understood POV and cuts from that point on.

Remember how the birds start coming one by one by jungle gym? They appear ever so slowly until there are so many, it's quite scary. Hitchcock uses real birds (and some puppets) to set up that suspense.


Then remember the scene where the birds are attacking the children as they run from the school?

If you have not seen this movie, I demand that you get off the Internet right now, and watch this movie. Then return to my blog. Pronto.

To our modern day eyes with all the green screen CGI, the bird scene is pretty dated, if not silly. The blood on the little girl's face is ketchup-like, and she could use some acting lessons. Is that fishing line on that bird puppet? The sound, however, is grating, if not terrifying. Tippi's face fills us with fear. We want her to protect her perfect green suit and her incredible blond hair. We forget that the special effects are dated, and we're scared. If we are good students of history, then we'll remember that at the time of this movie's premier, this scene was cutting edge. Audiences were terrified!

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Our modern day eyes can forget the out dated special effects, and we're right back into the story. The content is good, and the story fills us with wonder. You never quite look at a group of birds the same way. You may even want to go to Bodega Bay, CA. You eye all fire places with suspicion forever more (or maybe that's just me).

So how does this connect to technology and teaching? It might be a stretch, but I like to have teachers think of themselves as Hitchcock, and the technology is what you use to tell a great story, to teach a good class, to share your learning. Why not try to do something that you haven't tried before and see how the audience reacts? If your content is good (like a quality film script), then the audience will be engaged.

Maybe the technology you use could be that spark for your students to learn something. Something new may take flight.

Friday, May 24, 2013

NW eLearn Webinar

http://www.flickr.com/photos/elycefeliz/2533827320/
Thanks to the lovely folks at NW eLearn, I am honored to share my research via webinar. Just as a fair warning to my readers, one of the audience members at the ATL conference said my presentation was like "learning on Red Bull." I think Red Bull tastes like melted Sweet Tarts and it gives me a headache, but I think she was sincere in giving me a compliment.

Another person told me later (as I was stuffing my face with the free food), that my presentation helped her see that "she could do it, too."

                                                My goal is to give you wings, not a headache.

I am doing a webinar on May 30. I'd love it if you could join me.


Monday, May 13, 2013

The Trenches of Curriculum Development

What does 12 days of sunshine, five bike rides, four runs, two days of gardening, two classes, one project, one conference, and one graduate class equal? Zero time for blogging.

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I've just got to let it go that I can only get to this blog when the spirit moves me. I'm thinking of cancelling my Twitter account, so I am slowly shedding some of the practices that I picked up with the ETMOOC. Still, in terms of life-long learning, I think what I have accomplished with just trying new technologies is part of the success of that MOOC.

Just jumping into it all and seeing what sticks makes it worth it. Twitter just feels redundant since I'm actively using Diigo. Maybe I'll change my mind. Do I tweet a Diigo tag then Pin it and then blog about it? Geez. It's just too much. Especially when all I want to do is ride my bike.

Today, it's easier to work because it's windy and rainy (I hate riding in the wind).

In four hours, I will sit for my oral defense for M. Ed. I've spent the last two days making lists, reviewing notes, thinking about what I'll say, and trying to memorize names and publications (I'm awful at that, by the way). When I started this program three years ago, we were told to keep a binder of all of our work for our portfolio. My paper binder is no longer an option, and now I've got to figure out how to make this giant puzzle of my learning come together. I'm pretty confident I can talk about it tonight, but how I can summarize it all into a portfolio is a bit mystifying. Also, I've got to create an "applied research proposal" and this is the nail on the coffin of my future as a graduate student. I can't stand the idea of "proposing" anything that I will never execute any more. I've spent way too many hours on the theory and I'm ready for the practice. I suppose a doctoral program would allow me to actually do the research, but I think I'm just going to give it a go on my own.

Thinking about more graduate work is no longer exciting. It's totally exhausting. I started this whole odyssey back in 2007 when I didn't get the full-time job that I really wanted. Since then, I've been on search for something new. For a time, graduate school has been just that something new I needed. With two classes to go, I'm ready to pass the finish line. Motivation is tough to come by, but I must keep on.

On a positive note, I found one quote from a course that I took in April 2010 that actually matches some of my current interests with the Title III grant and my work with the eLearning department. It's pretty hilarious how I weave scathing institutional critiques with my own reflections on teaching! Who am I kidding? What terrible writing! I know better. I teach better writing skills than what I produced in this class. (Note to self: do not take this tone into your oral exam).  I have this two paragraph rant about how a full-timer got "release time" to develop an online class the same quarter I wrote a class during spring break (without pay). So it goes.

Here's my quote:
"In the future, I hope to advocate for more professional development support for adjuncts who teach OL. They are often the ones in the trenches of curriculum development with very little support and funding. They do not have the option to ask for release time nor can they opt out of teaching a class one quarter because they aren't satisfied with the content. The institution gets a real return-on-investment when it supports teachers who use technology. I'd like to be that person who helps those teachers."

Well, here I am three years later, and I'm doing exactly what I hoped for. Amazing. But I still have to graduate.

When I get the time, I'll post more about what I learned at the ATL conference, my work with OER, and some of the very cool projects I am working on this summer.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pleased to meet you!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/madame_furie/2624297545/
Hello Assessment, Teaching, & Learning Conference folks!

Welcome to my Personal Learning Network!

Thanks for attending my presentation today. Here is the blog that I mentioned in my presentation, and once the conference is over, I will post my presentation wiki here.

Hope to hear your ideas!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Choose One Thing

My title for today's post is what I've been preaching these days about technology. I've been telling teachers who are overwhelmed by technology to choose one thing and try it. Share with your students that you are trying something. See if they have better ideas about what you are doing. It's odd to hear myself advocating "one thing" because I have a hard time doing just that--choosing one thing. If you know me, you know that I often choose the hardest route. The most difficult path. The most challenging task. I like to spice it up. That way of thinking and learning takes its toll, and sometimes I need to slow down.

Like today.

I really needed to ride my bike and sort things out while spinning some pedals. I wanted to do a long ride. It's that time of year where I need to start logging longer rides to make the summer more fun. If I do fifty miles now, those killer rides when the weather is nice will be easier. But today, I was tired. It's been a really full week, and I needed to take a break. The ride I chose was long enough (34 miles) that it felt like a workout, but short enough so that I didn't get off the bike feeling demoralized by how hard the ride had gotten since I last did it. Fitness must be maintained or I suffer with the memories of how easy the rides/hikes/runs used to be. Right now, I'm doing just that. The days of inactivity in front of the computer do not contribute to fitness. Today, I just had fun trying to pedal smooth. Making no sudden breaks or sudden accelerations. Just easy. Admire the tulips. Laugh at the llama in the yard. Envy the dog sunning on a hill above Lake Samish. Easy.

I'm less than a week away from the conference I mentioned, and I didn't get to post as much as I would have liked in these last thirty days. I've done a lot writing in my head, and I know what I'm going to say. What I'm going to preach. What I'm going to ask. I'm a bit nervous, but I have small group of supporters who will be there. My mom might text me a photo of her budding Southern azaleas.

One of the questions I hope to pose to a room full of teachers comes with some risk. Teachers react differently than students. They sometimes forget how to be students, and they want to share with you what they do as teachers. It's tough to losen up and just learn. I want to ask how you make time to keep learning for the love of learning. Not just for the job. Not just for the CV. In all of the grading, the meetings, the conferences, the writing, the trainings--how do you take a look at the eye of the storm and find that one thing you want to focus on. How do you make it happen?

In addition to all I have going on work-wise, I am slogging through a requirement to graduate. I just stare at everything I've done for three years, and I don't even know where to begin. I have three components to pass: one I like, one I can handle, and one I can't stand. My face wrinkles up like I'm smelling something bad when I talk about it. I can't even pretend like I care about it. I'm pretty sure I've annoyed the teacher with my comments about it. This component I hate seems so useless and redundant, I really can't even bring myself to write it. But I must. I've been joking lately that when I finish this degree I'm no longer going to pursue a doctorate. I'm done with the degrees and all of the hoops that you have to jump through. Instead of studying for the GRE (again!), I'll take a painting class.

No sudden breaks or accelerations. Just something easy.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/roguepoet/2742089912/

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Finest of Work Songs

Three things happened this week that made me reflect on how crazy my teaching career has become, and how totally unprepared I was/am for what's next. This post is a combination of many ideas that I've been thinking about--don't judge me on smooth transitions or lack of coherence.

First, a much loved colleague has been hired at another college. It's that time of year. He's leaving us for a well-deserved position. I have just recently gotten to know him although we've been at the same school for the same amount of time. Every single thing that I have thought "Wow, that's awesome/cool/innovative/amazing/inspiring/interesting" this colleague either had a part in creating it or it was his idea. He put trust in me on a project that has never been done before, and I was so honored, I floated for days. This is such a huge loss for where I work, but his influence will live on. He's made our campus a better place, and I hope he knows that. I had to describe my ideal administrator the other day, and his leadership style came to my mind without a moment's hesitation. It's hard to not envy that campus got him!

Second, two chemistry teachers that I have enormous respect for are observing one of my online courses. Smart science teachers! Scary! As I discussed my fear with one of them, I admitted that being observed in an OL class is terrifying! At the same time, I've been observing local high school teachers all week. I am both the observer and the observed. If you teach college courses, I recommend making some time to connect with high school teachers by actually visiting a high school. You'll be amazed how familiar it feels (you'll see your former self in the hallways), and how very different their teaching environments are from ours. Endless kudos to high school teachers!

Third bizarre moment: I'm doing some training on reviewing online courses at the same time I need to develop my own. I feel like I'm being certified to be the architect when I really need to work on the construction of the building. 

Which makes me return to my presentation that is rapidly approaching and why I took some time to blog this morning.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jolieg/2311404804/
Doing some more research on personal learning networks, I've raised the question to myself (and now to you, dear reader)--how big do you need it to be?

I think a lot of teachers have what my mentor/friend calls "peeps" in teaching. A lovely word from the world of hip-hop put into the context of teaching. I think many teachers have peeps that they email. Small groups that they tweet. Individuals they text questions to about what we do. We need peeps.

Every time I have seen REM live, Michael Stipe introduces everyone in the band and says, "We're REM, and this is what we do." I've always thought that was hilarious. Like we don't know, Michael! But I get it now. Saying it, makes it so.

PLNs, big or small, are a way of saying just that. "This is what we do."
And I'm not alone.

One of my peeps sent me this a few days ago and I got to read this morning. I sent an email response, and I thought I'd share it here:
I loved how the writer truly cares about the future and past of OL learning. Here's what I took issue with (bold emphasis mine):

Online learning not only will fail; in its current iterations it already has. We should not try to fix what's wrong with online learning now; instead, we should pretend it never happened, start from scratch, and begin playfully outside the borders of how we’ve always taught and how we relate to the machines that can help us teach. 

I don't think we should pretend the era he is discussing never happened. New OL teachers take a lot of comfort in learning about our mistakes. One teacher told me recently, "Wow, you really messed up a lot. I'm glad I won't have to go through that."  They have also said "This online stuff will change how I teach in the classroom." Maybe completely "starting from scratch" isn't the best advice. Maybe we're bored of the same menu!

We better best rearrange. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spark of the PLN

Where did the week go? It's Friday morning, and I've got some major mountain bike fun on the agenda for the next three days, so I've got to get focused.

Great news! I've also been accepted to present at the Technology in Education Conference in Copper Mountain, CO.

This conference happens right after I'll be working in Louisville, Kentucky for nine days, so I'm thrilled to take a bike vacation centered around a conference in Colorado. Escaping "June-uary" in Washington is a sweet option. It's our worst month of weather, so I'll get back right as summer gets in to full swing.

I'm officially three weeks out to my ATL conference presentation, and I'm still in the planning phase. (When I write ATL, I think Atlanta). So what does the planning look like? Well, it's a lot of reading and clicking around on different blogs, websites, and database articles. It's note taking. Staring out the window and thinking. Building a giant puzzle to answer the question: How can I fit a variety of projects together?

A few ideas just fell into my lap this week, and thus, I haven't had time to blog. I've got a grant presentation, some new interviews, and my senior capstone project which can all blend together to make the conference presentations and a paper. I'm also involved with a few campus projects where I can actually do what I am researching about over the next five years. Sorry to sound so vague here, but I don't have titles for these projects because they are still being formulated. In addition, I got to observe a high school English class this week, and although I was exhausted by driving there in the PNW downpour, I left feeling really excited about my projects. I got see videos that the students had created about plays they had read. Their next step is to write an essay now that they have created a scene and read the play together. The students were engaged with one another and the teacher in what looked like to me Backward Design teaching.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kurtz433/2570525737/

This got me thinking.

What does backward design professional development look like? How do I advise busy teachers to make time for their PLN? How can I introduce this idea without making it sound like it's one more thing in an already very busy schedule? Who sparks the connection in connectivist learning? Who maintains the fire?

Who or what motivates you to keep going?

If I've sparked an answer, dear blog reader, then please answer. I'm all eyes.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Brick by Brick

I'm at a stand-still because there is a lock on my inter-library loan account. The horror! I have this huge list of books and articles, and I can't order any of them. Some kind librarian is going to either inform me that I have a huge fine, or there is a disconnect between my account and the ILL. Either way, I've had to rely on what is open-source or open-access. Lucky for me, there is a lot of useful information on the Internet.

As I continue to work on my presentation, I've been waitlisted for presenting at another conference. Weird. It's in a really far away place, so I kind of need to make plans if I'm going to go. I'm not going write about it until they formally accept me, but wow, this is a first for me. I'm waiting in the wings with the hopes that somebody will cancel. So. I guess I'm flattered.

Thankfully, what I proposed is very similar to what I am presenting on in May. In fact, the paper I'm working on, my grad class that starts tonight, this blog, and the presentation all ties together with what I learned from ETMOOC about connectivism and social cognitive theory. Who knew? During the ETMOOC class, I didn't have time to read any background on the origin of connectivism; I just started connecting. It kind of felt like I was dancing to music I didn't understand. But I jumped right in. And it keeps going--which I'm learning is the point of ETMOOC. What sneaky pedagogy!

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Then I got a few comments and bits of advice that helped me along. It felt like a positive experience with learning. I started telling other people about this style of learning. They took notes. I worked with another faculty member on creating a grant so I could get paid to share my ideas. This tiny little brainstorm of mine is so fun, I don't feel like I'm working. I'm creating some new road, I suppose, but it's rough like the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.

I just finished reading How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles of Smart Teaching by Ambrose, Bridges, DiPietro, Lovett, and Norman (2010). I took awhile to finish this one but I'm glad that I read it little by little. They take an anecdote or two, use research to help teachers understand the main theme of the anecdotes, and they give readers strategies to improve their practice. Simple. Worthwhile. Engaging. I'm particularly interested in the intersection between student motivation, student engagement, and self-directed learning. These authors put their seven principles in easily digestible chapters, and their focus on meta-cognition substantiate what is often hard to define as "good teaching" or what is sometimes referred to as "Best Practices." In all of the stories, the teachers failed to engage or understand the students and the writers point out what they could do differently.

What I can do differently is always on my mind, and as I dig through the student surveys from last quarter, they have some great ideas. Tonight I'm going to sit in a classroom and be a student. Brick and mortar style. I'll spend some time thinking about the last three years of my grad program and how I'm going to put it all together. Daunting? Yes.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Origins of my PLN

For months, I mean months, my phone was robo-dialed by the The Seattle Times. Every day, we looked at the caller ID and ignored it. One day, I had had enough. I picked up the phone. The salesperson immediately launched in to a sales pitch about a spring delivery deal. It was cheap. Then he said, "You'll have a direct impact on our local economy by improving jobs in our area." So, I said yes. That particular morning, I had just read the bios on my OL students who had just lost their jobs. They were bewildered and looking for a new direction in life. Many of them had never thought they would start over again in life. So, I said yes, I'll try your offer for a few weeks.

For weeks now, the paper has been thrown in the yard. Some days, I read all of it. Most days, I make sure to take the crossword puzzles out, and the rest goes into the recycling. My husband has even joked that we are paying somebody to litter in our yard everyday. I would love to the get The New York Times, but we live in too rural of an area for delivery, and I don't want a newspaper mailed to me. (Yes, I know I can access all of the news that's fit to print online, but I don't like to do my all of my recreational reading on the computer. Maybe someday when I have a tablet/iPad.)

So, do I renew it? I've been on the fence about that, but I'm leaning towards yes. I guess I like the litter in the yard, and we've been killing some valuable time with crosswords. I've even become my mother's daughter by clipping a few coupons!

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I'm reading Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff. So I've got newspapers on my mind. As I drank my coffee and watched the rain fall by the inches today, I came across "Turn STEM into STEAM with arts education" by John Maeda. He got me thinking about the role of newspapers in my education. As a die-hard supporter of the arts and humanities, I worry about all the hype about STEM. Sure, I understand that American education needs a major overhaul in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. No argument here. And I often joke that this means job security for me because all of those majors still have to take composition courses.

This past fall, I wrote a recommendation for a female student to apply to MIT. She needed a humanities teacher's recommendation for her application, and although she got accepted with her own impressive accomplishments, I felt really excited that they cared to know about her creative communication. They weren't just paying lip-service to the humanities, and not only did she need strong communication skills, she also needed to be the best person I've met in the last five years. I can't wait to hear about her success.

Maeda got me thinking not just about STEAM, but about newspapers. Are they the origin of my Personal Learning Network? Op-Eds and editorials were the print version of what we do online now. I also can't remember the last time I read a paper journal. How does this connect to my PLN presentation? Well, I think newspapers are important to the evolution of any digital immigrant. In order to teach people about RSS feeders, blogging, and the like, using the newspaper as a framework can help. Maybe this example can help deliver my point.

Friday, April 5, 2013

PLN: Work In Progress

As I mentioned a few days ago, I wanted to wait to post my title and abstract so that I could solicit a few definitions from strangers and colleagues about their Personal Learning Network. I've spent the week collecting research, writing notes, and getting my plan together. I have a backwards approach to writing conference proposals that I'm pretty sure is textbook on what not to do. Instead of having a project in hand all complete, I write the proposal, abstract, and title without having the finished product. I think of them as research pieces that I want to bring together that a conference presentation will motivate me to complete. Motivation by conference acceptance--maybe not the most mature way to do research. 

It's not that I'm lazy. I just know that by the time I've finished a project, I'm so totally bored with it that I can't even imagine an audience that would care to read it. The goal of a conference presentation gives me something to work towards and I get to travel. I get to go and chat up complete strangers who may be interested in what I have to say. Most of all, I get to experience what I ask my students to do with their research papers. Doing what we teach makes us more empathetic to the students that struggle. Right now, I'm struggling with where to begin. 

So here is what I've submitted to the ATL as part of the eLearning and Instructional Technologies segment:

Title:  
From Digital Immigrant To 21st Century Networked Teacher: How To Get There and Where We Are Going

Session Summary:
This presenter mentors faculty members who are Digital Immigrants (DI) about educational technology. As an enthusiastic DI, she researches ways to teach faculty members about technology without overwhelming them. What are strategies trainers/educators can use to empower faculty members who are not enthusiastic about technology? This presentation will examine how Personal Learning Networks can foster collaboration and empower faculty members intimidated by educational technology. The audience will gain strategies on how to create their own PLNs, how to help other DI's, and most importantly, how to learn from our best source of information about educational technology—the students.   

Objectives and Suggested Readings:

a. We are at a turning point in education where the digital divide is growing wider among faculty members. Some have embraced technology from the start—especially in online education--while others have resisted or are too pressed for time to upgrade their skills. There is no question that the increased use of technology, when done effectively, can increase student engagement. This presentation will introduce ideas about how forming PLNs can help digital immigrants take small steps toward increasing their use of technology by learning from others.

b. This session will be interactive because the presenter will ask audience members to join her PLN by using cell phones and/or laptops. She will give them strategies to create their own campus-connected PLN.

c. Audience members of all levels of comfort with technology will be encouraged to learn about and create a PLN.

d."Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants" by Marc Prensky (2001) http://bit.ly/Zl4UKf
The Networked Teacher Diagram by Alec Couros http://bit.ly/a1W

How did I get all of these pieces? How did I get this idea? 

Well, it's April and I'm still reflecting on what I did in the fall. That's okay! Deep breath. 
Like all good conference presentations that are interactive, the discussion leader (me, in this case) will need to tell the audience the origin of my ideas. I've been studying professional development ever since I won my first travel grant from Cascadia Community College. I couldn't believe that the college was going to pay for everything--hotel, conference fee, food, travel--to a conference in San Francisco. I also won a travel grant from the conference itself, and thus began my fascination with how we teach teachers. My graduate program in English never mentioned this aspect of teaching because the working assumption was that the graduates would carry on by going into PhD program after the terminal MA program. That was not the path for me (though I tried). In fact, I had very little preparation for the realities of being an adjunct teacher. Much of what I learned came by painful time-consuming mistakes, and the silver lining in this work was professional development grants. And the many cool students I've taught over the years. (One just finished his doctorate! Life, please slow down!)

Then the crash of the recession dried up the funding to travel out of state. Suddenly if you wanted to learn anything, you had to stay in state. I looked into the state tuition waiver, and I decided to apply for a MEd program that I would chip away as I worked full-time. This MEd program offered three paths that all seemed beneficial to my life as a teacher. I could A] increase my knowledge of pedagogy, B] explore the options of doing a PhD or an ED, and/or C] I could explore instructional design. Over the past three years, it's been incredibly hard being a graduate student while working full-time. During my MA, I had plenty of time to be a student (although I didn't see it that way then). I had time to make friends, hang out discussing projects, and lose myself in grad school drama. Not this time around. I had three-four comp classes and freelance work. A busy social life that revolves around exhausting things like riding your bike in races. A book in the works about my backpacking experiences. 

The time that I could devote to learning had to be structured. The time had to matter. Professional development in this phase has not been easily classified or defined on my CV. 

Then came IT 546: Educational Technology. As I have mentioned before, this class suddenly tightened up all of the loose strings in my teaching and scholarship. I felt even more open to this class because of my colleagues at Everett CC who created the Innovations Academy. I spent five days learning from people who have always been a part of the coolest ideas on my campus. I made connections with new people and ideas, and I started fall quarter energized in a way that I haven't been in years. 

One of the first readings in IT 546 was Prensky's article, and although I had heard the title Digital Natives before, it was the first time I took time to think about it beyond dismissing it as marketing term. Turns out, Prensky put into words what I was experiencing both on my campus and in my grad class. There were people who cared a great deal about learning new ways to teach not just for themselves but for the students. They were seeing professional development not just as something that was required by their contracts, but as something that they want to do.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/seditiouscanary/1279041211/


So who am I interested in? I'm interested in teachers who want to learn but feel overwhelmed by what they don't know. They are skilled. They care about their content. But they just don't have the time to learn the how to use some new tools.  

So I got this idea that I, as a Digital Immigrant who has gone from being somewhat reluctant to excited about technology, can help my fellow teachers. It doesn't feel like work.

One of our assignments in the IT 546 was to explore Pinterest, and I was amazed by what I saw. The K-12 teachers are all over it! They've created such a collection of information. 

Then I stumbled into the ETMOOC community, started this blog, and thus, I took a chance on this conference proposal. Now, I have to figure out where "we are going" since that's, um, in my title!

I tell people that I'm old enough to remember what it is like to make a mixed tape, but I'm young enough to not feel intimidated by technology. Teaching is a complex job, and the more we can support one another, the better. The by-product of student engagement is that it makes your job more fun. 

What's one tool that you would share with a faculty member that has revolutionized your teaching? Something easy. Something you think is worthwhile. Anything. Tell me one thing you do that's changed your teaching. One small step that led to huge changes. All disciplines and levels welcome! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

See You At The Movies

Rest in peace, Roger Ebert. 


As I spent the day researching and writing, the news of his passing came through my Personal Learning Network. Just some news of the world, albeit sad, got me thinking about how I learned as a kid. I watched At The Movies religiously growing up the 1980s. Reflecting on what I learned from Siskell and Ebert, I'd have to say, they modeled how to make an argument about what you like and didn't like. They helped me see that you have to stick with the text, and that personal attacks can only get you so far. We live in a thumbs/thumbs down world, but life is often more complex than that. Ebert modeled, although I wasn't smart enough at the time to recognize this, that you can make a living doing something you love.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

PLN Plan 2013

I have no idea if anyone will read this blog now that the ETMOOC course is over. That's okay, really. I've met a few folks through that experience, and I follow their blogs. With the magic of the Internet, perhaps I can pick up a few readers in this next phase. I started this blog as part of the assignment for ETMOOC, and at the time, I thought I would begin another blog once the class was over. I felt pressured by the idea of coming up with something clever for a title, and I chose a very, very generic URL. How very un-English major of me!

I'm going to keep the EdTech2013 title because this is the year that I stumbled upon a new research love. Like all great loves in life, it entered my life when I wasn't even looking for it. All along, everything I've been doing has come together. I put off a course in my grad program until the very end, and I had the worst attitude going into the first night of class. Reviewing my notes for the first assignment yesterday filled me with a deep shame. Here's what I wrote:

"The 'new culture of learning' honestly wears me out. Not only am I supposed to be a master of content, I need to innovate constantly and be an IT specialist. I have to become a seer of the future, a cheerleader for student creativity, a personal counselor, and a graphic designer by never leaving my electronic devices. And I have to do all of this with the knowledge that I am a part-time, contingent worker with no future of full-time employment."

Whoa. And I was in good mood when I wrote that! One of my colleagues responded on the discussion board that she thought "it doesn't have to be that complicated." She reminded me that we can take one thing at a time and as long as the students know we are trying, they will try too. When I read that, I really wanted to delete my post. What I decided to do instead was suspend judgment about the class. I spent hours checking out of the readings, links, and the "Big Questions" that the teacher created. I could sense that she really loved what she was teaching, and although her background is in K-12, she teaches college students.

After week two of her course, I was hooked. I haven't had this type of realization about my learning since I was undergrad. I saw educational technology as a way to bring together my work as an English teacher, adult educator, and instructional designer. The research about curriculum instruction and assessment has even made me love statistics (honest). All of my work, both on campus and in freelance can be contextualized and analyzed by the great umbrella field of Ed Tech. Where have you been these last ten years? 

Truth be told: I get really bored with scholarship surrounding the teaching of writing. I read it because I like to stay current, but I've never found a research question that can sustain me into the creation of an article for publishing. I'd rather write about my experiences with trail crew or hiking. I've been able to create a few conference presentations, but the Comp. Rhetoric articles have never come. Believe me, I've tried. I might still try.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/x-ray_delta_one/4664763357/
Give me a question about teaching and technology, and I'm ready to go! In fact, I can't find enough time in the day to make it happen. This blog is a start, and so, that brings me to what I'm working on next and why I am keeping this blog title through 2013.

So, turn the record over, and let's listen to something new.

On May 2, I am presenting at the Assessment, Teaching, and Learning Conference, and I'm going to use this blog to draft my 90 minute presentation (yikes, that's a long time). I've got most of my research on paper, and I'm changing some ideas since I wrote the proposal. I've got amazing colleagues going to this conference, and I'm going to see a beloved friend who lives in Idaho. I might even do a mountain bike race that weekend. It's the best of all possible worlds coming together in Spokane, WA! Who knew?

The Personal Learning Network Plan is to use the next thirty days to create what I'm presenting. My inspiration for this type of transparency is Stephanie Delaney's Stephanie Plans a Class blog.

I'll post my title and abstract in the next day or two, but for now, just know that my intended audience is teachers who are interested, yet intimidated by, all of the technological choices for teaching. I hope to reach people who mentor others or who are interested in learning about Ed Tech, but never have the time to brush up on their skills. 

My first question, for my readers (if you exist) is to solicit definitions of your Personal Learning Network (PLN). I'm interested in learning from people who are relatively new to creating a PLN.  I'd prefer layperson language, and not URLs for definitions. If you rock my world, I'll cite your work and provide a link to your blog or website.

How do you describe/define a PLN to people who have never heard the acronym?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ciao, ETMOOC!

The end of ETMOOC coincided with the start of finals week and the beginning of spring break. My MO was to grade, grade, grade, and get outside! My Spring Break 2013 was filled with a gorgeous powder day, long miles on the mountain bike and road bike with friends, and lovely days in the garden. I spent three whole days off the computer. As much as I love being connected for learning and teaching, I need a break from technology and my work. Lucky for me, I've got a gig that allows such a lifestyle. You people who are connected constantly confuse and fascinate me!

Sorry, I missed the summary deadline, but for what it is worth, I want to finish the last assignment. My first MOOC will go down as a success. I may not be as eloquent as I'd like to be in this final post, but spring quarter has begun.

Think back on your time in #etmooc and share your final thoughts about the ideas and the people you have connected with.

Reflecting on the experience, I wish I had had more time. This MOOC came into my life at a time when I had one of the busiest quarters of my life. Busy doesn't even describe it really. I tried to walk my talk by committing thirty minutes a day to my personal learning network, and sometimes there was an overlap between work and this class. Every person I connected with was smart, engaging, respectful and worth my time.

Like all good people in my life, I connected with them wishing I had five more minutes in my day.
My dog, Elroy, gives spring break four paws up!

What have you created or curated?  What tools did you try?

I created this blog! Woohoo! What I will do with it from here, is still on my mind. I'm going through a bit of a career change (or not), and much is unknown right now. I gave Twitter a shot, and I'm still trying to figure out how it works for my learning. There is so much that I often get really overwhelmed by it, but I'm going to give it a year. I've used PhotoPin, Google+, and Diigo. I've bookmarked a lot to return to, so ETMOOC has given me this wonderful digital library with resources.

You've almost been like a really great teaching librarian. What I mean by that is, you've shown me the way by helping me discover what I want to learn. Creating my Pinterest profile was really the start of all of this. A good teaching librarian asks, "Have you heard about this? No? Let me teach you and then you can decide if it will help you. And then we can try..."

How are you making/have you made your learning visible?

This blog has been the most transparent thing I've ever created. I've been really hesitant to share my thoughts, and it terrifies me how much information people can find out about me and each other online. That being said, if the information is out there, I may have some control over what is seen. I've connected with some amazing people, and it's been fun to share my thoughts with friends/colleagues by sending them a link to this blog.

What goals did you have when you began #etmooc ?  How did those change or evolve over the last 10 weeks?

My goal was to check out a MOOC that I was interested in while my students took their first MOOC. This was an experiment in an Honors class where I had the students take a MOOC that was connected to our course theme while I was a student "with" them. I'm still writing/thinking about this experience, so tune in for more blog posts. This is something every teacher should try once. We don't model being a student enough, in my opinion, when we teach. Students are motivated by seeing us learn.

I'm not going to pass judgment about whether MOOCs are worth the hype until I have something intelligent to say about them. ETMOOC has opened my eyes to the possibility of this style of learning, and I got way more than I bargained for in this class. I've evolved in ways I'm still reflecting about, and it's all very positive. 

How do you plan on staying connected to the people and the ideas?

I'm connected with the ETMOOCers via Twitter, so my goal is to expand my use of that medium to see what the "graduates" are up to. I have weeks and weeks worth of reading bookmarked!

Imagine that Twitter goes away. How would this connected network of #etmooc endure or stay connected? What would you do?

If the Twittersphere disappeared tomorrow, life would go on. I still think much of what is on Twitter is pure garbage, but I'm not quite against it either. I really dismissed it until somebody took on the persona of the snake that escape the Central Park Zoo, and that won me over. That's funny! I have written down the people I'm most interested in following. Really! How gauche! I believe in the power and the pen for my brain, so hopefully Google would still exist and I could find them some way. Diigo is calling me!

How have you changed as a digital educator and citizen? How do you see yourself (your identity) now?

This is the exact question I am dealing with right now. I'm applying for two instructional design positions, and I'm (re)creating who I am as educator. I am still, and always will be, a writing teacher. This is my tenth year teaching writing, and reviewing my CV has been a reflective, slow, painful process. For instance, there is a huge gap in my CV from 2005-2008 when I worked constantly. I have very little to show in the way of professional development. Those were not especially happy years for me personally, and it was all due to the amount I was working. I was not chosen for a position that I really wanted, and it took me awhile to figure out what's next. In 2009, I made some radical changes in my personal life, and my professional life has been slowly evolving. Everyday, it gets a little better. As I mentioned before, most of my online persona has been within the learning management systems. When I saw a listing for a job that mentioned "an online presence," I laughed. I didn't have one! My mid-pack bike racing results weren't going to help me!

So. Here I am. I don't know exactly how to sum up my learning, ETMOOC, you are the first step toward something different. Something I've been looking for, and for that, I thank you.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wave of Innovation


This week is finals week, and I presented to our college board of trustees about my experience with professional development that I did this summer. It was called the Innovations Academy (IA), and this presentation was part of my commitment to help see this become a permanent offering on campus. As usual, I didn't say what I planned to say, and what I did say was not as eloquent as what I planned to say. Geez. Luckily the history, art, and math teachers who followed me were amazing. As we spoke, one board member took out a calculator for a quick calculation about the cost of the training and what that amounts to per student. Genius! Note to self: remember that calculation.

Since then, I've been thinking a lot about the return on investment that institutions get when there is an innovation that works for faculty. Ideas spread. Practice changes. Students learn. I can cite research, examine statics, write papers, and present my ideas, but it really comes down to what I see in the classroom from my students. As a result of my work with the IA, I tried a lot of new things. Some worked really well, and others fell flat. I was constantly trying to keep up with the course creation, and I was always behind on grading. This quarter is going to go down in the books as one of the most demanding and rewarding.

Today, I read this lovely short post by Diego Rodriguez. He says:
In doing, there is knowing. Doing is the resolution of knowing. We learn via our mistakes, and we can make many more valuable mistakes when we take action. Innovating is about doing, not talking.

What are you doing today to get started?

Turns out, I'm not doing much today to get started. It's about finishing the grading. I've got some big plans for spring break. Spring quarter and beyond--all very exciting.

Returning the etmooc topic, I can honestly say that this MOOC experience has been worth the time. I'll follow these conspirators wherever they go next. Will there be such a thing as an ETMOOC groupie?

The first thing I thought about when I saw the topic on Digital Citizenship for this week was my experience going to a town hall meeting in Bellingham about the future of Galbraith Mountain. There were emails and postings about the major changes happening to this area where I love to mountain bike. By clicking on the various posts and educating myself about the situation, I felt pretty connected. Luckily, several hundred people felt the same way, and although our mountain is still not safe from logging, it was nice to see those "Likes" on Facebook and all of those posts mean something when it counted. People showed up. And on my birthday, March 12, the city council voted for "9,000 acres around Lake Whatcom [to] be converted into a county park for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding."

Did my email help? Maybe. Will I remember the two council members who voted no the next time there is an election? You betcha. Thanks to other digital citizens, I was able to articulate why I live here, and why this land should be preserved for future generations. Not only is this lake a beautiful daily sight for me, it's also our town's drinking water source. How did I feel when I read the paper about the positive decision? See photo to the right.

Next up: Summary of Learning. I'm drafting my answers in my head while I walk the dogs tomorrow. 

I'm going to complete this assignment before I take a few days off the computer to get to know my snowboard, mountain bike, and road bike again. There's a lovely winter storm hanging around the Cascades right now. I'm pretty sure I smell wax wafting from the garage. It's the first day of spring, but winter is still glorious in the hills! 






Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/03/13/2917844/in-5-2-vote-county-council-approves.html?fb_action_ids=439561009451574&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582#storylink=cpy

Monday, March 18, 2013

Open Journey

From the start of this blog for the ETMOOC, I've been torn about what to write about at times. Am I writing about my job? This class? How they both connect? I thought from the start that I would try out blogging, and then see if it's something that I want to continue. Turns out, I like it. I've made some new connections, and I've been able to share my ideas with colleagues who care. I've made a built-in time stamp with the title: EdTechBlog2013. It was unclear at the start if I would want to blog. Do I continue with this blog through 2013 or do I start something else? Not sure. 

The ETMOOC moves on to the next topic, and now it's Topic 5 (Mar 17-30): Digital Citizenship – Identity, Footprint, & Social Activism. I didn't get much done with Topic 4, but I have material to work with later--like next quarter when I am not teaching three composition courses. The first link shared by Alec Couros is the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. I haven't seen this before as a complete list, so I'm glad to have it. This is a nice way to start when you are discussing netiquette. When we talk about "appropriate, responsible behavior" online, this is a definition that we may see evolve. For now, I like how the ETMOOC has taken us from the Open Access policies to what our responsibilities are as digital citizens.

As I have mentioned before, so much of what I have done as an online teacher has been in the password protected learning management system of my college teacher. My digital footprint is really small. I haven't blogged, tweeted, LinkedIn, or anything else that gave me public exposure until this year. Have I been a responsible digital citizen? Yes. I just haven't made the time, nor have I seen the point in some cases (like Facebook).

I really like blogging to work out ideas and share my experience as a teacher. Teaching, despite being surrounded by people constantly, is a lonely enterprise. Online teaching is even worse, and it wasn't until this year that I realized that other online teachers felt the same isolation. Yes, I know. Other blogs have existed for years, and I'm behind the curve. Behind on getting to know what's out there: I'm not alone.

This morning I read Millennial Students and Middle-aged Faculty: A Learner-centered Approach to Bridging the Gap by

She points out some really great ideas that I identified with as a teacher. The feeling of getting older while your students do not, the challenges of connecting with people much younger than you, the frustration of dealing with people who think they multi-task well (the student who text while you are talking and then ask you to repeat what you just said), etc. 

What I disagree with is her suggestion that there is no longer a journey. No matter what your generation, there is a common bond of wanting a journey in life. Whether it's the classroom or your job, there's a journey. Whether it's in 15 minute chunks or hour-long lectures, a quarter is a journey. Flaherty has twice the experience than I do as a teacher, but I've been a student for a long time now. Being a student while being a teacher has given me some perspective that I'm still working out.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/weston/11685351/
There is still a "journey" only it has changed. It's still there, teachers just have to do things differently. Perhaps the journey has changed, because although Flaherty mentions a by-gone time when students could sustain an hour-long discussion of a reading, I don't remember it that way. Granted I was an undergrad almost 15 years ago, but I remember being one of the handful of students who did the reading and tried to engage with my teacher and my fellow students. Cell phones were not as common (nor as small and connected as they are now) but my lazy comrades wrote notes, slept, or stared off into space. They weren't any more engaged as the Millennials whom we worry about engaging. They had no gadgets to distract them, and they were just plain bored.

Here is what I am trying to work out: I don't think that technology is necessary in all teaching situations. It can't hide bad teaching. I don't think backward design helps bad teaching. I don't think student-centered teaching cancels out bad teaching. Bad teaching, by my definition, is done by a teacher that doesn't care either way. The job gets done. A "bad teacher" has stopped caring about his or her learning by no longer taking risks. Bad teaching, in the era of open access digital footprints, is up for debate. I'm not so interested in the debate as I am about what to do about it. What I can do about my own bad teaching.


I'm working on the idea that I plan to present on in the spring at a conference--teachers can create their own networks to create small changes in their teaching that will be both self-serving and fruitful for student engagement. Generational differences exist. They are a reality. Our attention spans are different. Flaherty, by posting her work to build on her digital footprint, gave me something to think about on a morning when I'm struggling to get started with the day. How do we engage faculty who feel intimated by the digital gap? Why do we embrace technology in our personal lives but fear it in our classrooms? Are those in Generation X any different from the Baby Boomers? Forgive the generation digression. I live with somebody who has been working on a book on this very topic for the last ten years.

I'll leave this post today with a quote from an inspirational educator and colleague, Dr. Craig Lewis. At the close of his emails, he includes epigraphs. He makes a practice of changing the quotes, and I always look forward to what he will choose next. Here is my favorite that I wrote in my notebook, and for this and many other things, I thank him. It's the thoughts of others that often propel us onto new journeys.

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper. 
― William Butler Yeats


 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Open Vision

What did I see today?

From the blog http://haaslearning.wordpress.com/ that I accessed the following quote thanks to a neighbor to the north from British Columbia. 

"I think it is safe to say that the expectation is that teachers should provide what is needed. Consequently, teachers must be more things to more people than maybe ever before. The complexity of the job has multiplied.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/paperbydesign/412021597/

As result, the relationships between teachers, students, and technologies they share have grown more complex. The roles that were believed to be settled are all again subject to interrogation.

For me, an educator or teacher must be a master student or learner. One who walks the walk, always learning, always curious, always chasing mastery, and leads by example. Truth be told, that is the only way I know, at the moment, how to maintain any kind of anchor in these evolving relationships."

Is it enough to say that this is exactly what I was thinking about today? 
"Always chasing mastery" really sums up where I am right now as a teacher, student, and learner. It's nice to know I'm not alone. And although sometimes the Internet can feel like one big echo chamber to me, I do appreciate learning from people that I would have not otherwise connected with in life.

Today as I crossed the finish line of my local St. Patty's run, I connected with two people that I kept passing and getting passed by throughout the 8k. I passed them a few blocks to the end, and they chased me down. I was most concerned with beating my time from last year, but their extra push put me in a great mood when we hit the finish line together. I realized that's why I love racing. There is a finish line (unlike learning) and there is always somebody to chase. Lucky me.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Open Notebook

I'm getting a slow start to the day. Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are a bit intense this quarter, and I needed some time to do something else other than work. Dogs needed longer walks, clothes needed washing, crossword puzzles needed solving, coffee needed to be sipped slowly, and the trails around Lake Padden needed me to run around them twice. So, I'm getting a late start to work, but I'll get everything done on my list. The rain will fall while I finish the day.

I got caught up with some reading, and it made me think of ETMOOC's current topic on The Open Movement. I haven't attended any talks, read any Slideshares, but I have checked in on the Diigo group. That's the easiest connection for me because they send me updates via email. I have, however, been thinking about the Open Movement. On the one hand, it's amazing how much I can access about my various interests with just a few clicks. I can browse reading for later on my phone while I wait for the mister to go into a bike shop. Amazing.

On the other hand, it's amazing how much disappears. We've all been there as a teacher. You find something that's perfect for your class. You give your students the link. You build content in your OL class about that link. You embed the link into an announcement that you send a face-to-face class. The link is there for years.

And then it's gone. Panicked emails from students ensue. Annoyed "Me too" posts on the discussion board. Just like that, it's gone.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/irisheyes/25394024/
This brings me back to the Open Movement. Sure, things are getting better, but we still have a long way to go. I can't take the chance on content that might disappear. A student of mine said he liked paper textbooks because he never "has to wait for the page to download." I laughed, but his comment made me think about my paper-free classroom. A slow internet connection can really slow down your reading. Waiting for a file to open can delay a thought. 


 Will I ever get away from the notebooks?  Do I want to?

A colleague blogged about Oliver Jeffers, and he delighted me with his short film. His words rang true about why we need to write things down. He reminds us to always carry a pencil and paper. Even better, I discovered this video through a blog after reading "On Keeping a Notebook in the Digital Age" by Elizabeth Spiers.

All of the reading listed above: Free. Open. A good thing for the movement of my pen, for sure.

Spiers' best quote: "Writing things down enforces slowness, and by extension, thoughtfulness."

I've given up my paper calendar this quarter, but I'm on my third notebook since December.