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let’s flip this classroom!

November 28, 2012

lisa hammershaimb

So, I know a flipped classroom is not a new idea and I know that the New York Times Learning Network is nothing new, but yeah…I’m a little slow to the party and I’ve just discovered both in a serious way today.

A flipped classroom basically is “An “inverted” teaching structure in which instructional content is delivered outside class, and engagement with the content – skill development and practice, projects and the like – is done in class, under teacher guidance and in collaboration with peers.” (Quoted from Five Ways to Flip Your Classroom With The New York Times)

I think it’s kind of genius and I know the Dean I work under is kind of in love with the idea too. In a ground classroom lectures can get a bit dry and students can be a bit prone to zoning out. In a distance ed classroom, the temptation is to get way way more distracted by all the other digital noise going on thus the temptation to zone out factor is incrementally higher. But…if you flip the classroom and you give students the power and initiative to learn it and then come to you for personalized application and trial and error….indeed, that sounds like a great deal for everyone.

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writing the statement of purpose / statement of intent

November 25, 2012

lisa hammershaimb

So yeah….first you think that you want to do something and it seems like an amazing, great, life-changing thing. You’re excited…you’ve got traction…you’re ready to go out and be courageous and totally make it work!

And then you realize that you actually have to make some academic stuff…papers specifically…and though you can write like a champ, hmmm….writing a statement of purpose is a bit harder than kind of just spouting ideas into the deep chasm of the internet. : )
But….it’s coming together slowly but surely. For anyone else out there in the magnificent abyss that is the internet world, I found a great website with lots of tips from Central European University.

Basically the idea is to capture your reader’s attention from the very beginning…learn from JK Rowling and hook them before they even realize it…then take them on the story of you. Tell about your past and how what you’ve done in the past has prepared you for studying in a serious way. Tell next about your proposed course of study. (What do you want to study and why is this such a natural outgrowth of your past that it totally makes complete sense and the only crazy thing would be you not doing it?) Close with your future plans. What’s the big picture and why is it totally essential that you put in your time in this particular program? What’s at stake?

It seems a statement of intent is kind of the mini story-of-you and when I think about it that way, it’s not scary….well, not so scary. The Story of Lisa….drama, intrigue, passion, adventure, and of course, academics and a tiny puppy….hmmm…..

(you can see the official site here.)

…and the answer is yes!

November 21, 2012

lisa hammershaimb

(well….not yes from Athabasca University and admittance into the EdD in Distance Ed degree, but yes to taking the first step…and according to wise lore, isn’t taking the first step the “all important” one to take? I think so…between now and January 10, it’ll be all academic language, deep thoughts, and most likely lots of whiskey and maybe a funky tweed smoking jacket and some velvet slippers to ensure my exterior and interior are indeed harmonious and cohesive.)

the underlying philosophy

November 10, 2012

lisa hammershaimb

“The most important thing about any good doctoral program is that it will address the underlying philosophy of the discipline. That is an important difference between an MFA and a PhD. ”
Dr Kate Lamere

I received the following quote in an email late last month from Dr Kate Lamere. I got connected to her in a rather roundabout way. While pouring over an article written by my design education hero, Meredith Davis, Dr Lamere commented extensively on the benefits of and need for more Graphic Design PhD programs and in the states and that the profession as a whole have “an empirically supported understanding of its knowledge to move the profession forward.” She was a recent grad of the University of Minnesota’s Design PhD program (what?? PhD in MN? I was a bit shocked in a good way and immediately checked out their website to see if maybe it was yet another programming option for me…not so sure in the end, but I’m glad I “met” Kate through the process) and had many great things to say about design PhDs.

In our email discourse I shared some of my ideas about doing a PhD in something to connect design/distance education, undergraduate theory and program design, etc. She asked me some very good questions about my overall desired outcome from taking part in a higher education program. She did, rightly, point out that I already had one terminal degree so if I were to embark on another I should have a pretty good focus and purpose because, theoretically, I already “have arrived” in the design world.

Basically, an MFA is a terminal degree in studio practice and shows that you have explored the practical application of your chosen creative discipline. A PhD is about digging into the underlying philosophy of a discipline. You ask, probe, explore and in the end you produce a dissertation that adds to the body of knowledge about the subject in which you’ve now gained mastery.

Communicating with her made me realize that I actually don’t want to do a PhD in design itself because ultimately I don’t want to add more to the body of empirical knowledge about graphic design (though I do want to learn lots about said empirical body of knowledge). Instead, I want to add more to the body of empirical knowledge about teaching graphic design in a distance education setting. I want to empower programs to do it better and I want students emerging from these programs to be better prepared no matter what their previous background may be. So…good stuff to learn and good stuff to sort of boil out in my quest to find just what my path might be. Distance education. Graphic design. Bringing creative knowledge to those who otherwise could never learn in a traditional school setting…sounds like a good adventure to me.

yes we can…

November 9, 2012

lisa hammershaimb

one step at a time…

November 8, 2012

lisa hammershaimb

So, I will admit that sometimes teaching loses its luster for me. Sometimes the mundane daily stuff of grades and planning and answering the same question time and time again crowds out the grand visions of transformation through learning. Sometimes it all gets to be work and the magic fades and I get so, so tired of it all.

This happened today. It was the perfect storm of too much on my to-do list coupled with a shame about few places where I’d legit made some stupid mistakes that I needed to take full ownership of, served with a twist of my own personal insecurities. I was tired today and I was feeling kind of spent and the last thing I really wanted to do was hear more problems or give more of myself or help find yet another creative solution.

Why do I do this work? It’s amazing in many ways but it’s also hard. In the world of distance education, you’re both part of this massive network that connects every computer and mobile device around the world and you’re completely isolated. You have no core of people you share small talk with or randomly bump into in the hallway…your inside work jokes are shared with your small dog and you really can go for a day without leaving the flickering light of a screen. Thinking too much about the tension of both having a world-wide reach and not being able to concretely identify any of your closest work team members if you saw them in a crowded room is really too much for my mind to grasp. On good days it dazzles me…on not so good days it depresses me.

Honestly, who lives like this? Oh wait, that’s me! Everyday, normal life…

I internalize all these crazy ideas and I get sucked into the questions and sometimes I forget the most important reason that I actually do this work. It’s so basic–so simple–that I really do pass it up. The reason I do this work really is for my students. When I talk one to one with my students (as I also had to today) I am overwhelmed by their stories. They do not have the luxury of questioning their place in a grand philosophical sense because they’re too busy working their overnight shift in the factory or getting ready to head out for yet another multi-day trip on their semi or they can barely keep their eyes open from working construction all day. My students tell me about how going to school has been their dream for so many years and they never thought they could manage it, but then this opportunity came and they think this might be their big chance. They tell me about how no one has graduated from college in their family and they’ll be the first. They tell me about how they grew up hearing that they weren’t smart enough, weren’t good enough, weren’t able to handle the challenge and now they’re here and it’s working and every week they gain a bit more traction. My students tell me how they’re doing it for their kids, so they as parents can live out in real life an example of what they want their kid to learn. My students are fighters. They sacrifice and they scramble and they have a will to succeed that is undaunted even in the face of their current situation. Against my cynicism about the system, against my hollow questions about the meaning of it all, they continue to hold fast to a better, larger dream for their lives and for their futures. And I am so inspired by their vision and so honored to be part of their story.

So, why do I do this work? It sounds quite cliche but I really do love teaching my students and showing them how to find their way. I love being an advocate for my students and I fully believe that my influence and their enthusiasm really can change their world…we can bring good. And that is quite dazzling.

nothing new under the sun…

November 1, 2012

lisa hammershaimb

“Thanks to the Web, I have found that the earliest example of open and flexible distance learning was the Chinese Civil Service examinations, which were established in 605AD and lasted for 1400 years.

Embodying the Confucian principle of openness to class mobility, these were open to even the humblest peasant (but alas, not women!) and local officials would select potential candidates unable to attend formal institutions, invite them to developing calligraphic and literary skills and study the Confucian classics and then, when they felt ready, present themselves for examination in the capital, which required them to apply their scholarly interpretations of Confucianism to matters of state. The oldest graduate was 98!

Thanks to the Internet, I also once found myself working at the National Institute of Multimedia Education in Japan while also teaching masters students in the US, Canada, Mexico and Algeria online for Canada’s Athabasca University. Such is globalization!”

Colin Latchem, distance educator and author

quality matters.

November 1, 2012

lisa hammershaimb

I got this book, Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Distance and e-Learning: Models, policies, and research, last week and have just browsed it a bit but am totally looking forward to sitting down and marking it all up as I learn more about how distance ed can be the best possible experience for all its students.

The main thrust of this book seems to be about just what quality assurance is in a distance learning environment and how it can best be achieved. There are case studies from educators working all around the world and the book itself is edited by Insung Jung, an educator working at the International Christian University in Tokyo and Colin Latchem, a distance education consultant with over 30 years of experience, currently living in Australia. I love that distance education really does embrace the world as its student body and this book is the perfect reflection of that.

There’s also a fair amount on accreditation and distance learning, addressing the always present debate as to if distance education merits its own accreditation methods or can be judged in the same scheme as a ground school. The accreditation issue is something that definitely interests me because I know schools (at least here in the States) seem to live and die by their accreditation status.

I, oddly enough, never thought I’d say I can’t wait to brew up an Americano, light a candle, and spend some significant time reading about quality assurance, but I hope in the very near future I can do just that!

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