November 21, 2014
November 16, 2014
Halfway complete! I do not even know what my total and very rambling word count is on this whole business but I am proud that I have (mostly) stuck it out and written and proved good on my desire to pound out the words no matter how half baked or unresolved or just plain casual they manage to be. Writing really has seemed to beget writing and when I needed the words for the big stuff (or rather the big stuff that is graded and academic) I do think the words came a bit easier than in the past when I have not been quite so writing prolific and reflective.
Does writing a lot of nothing help you in writing a specific something? I am sure there are studies and research and lots of many syllable words to illuminate the subject from an official manner but from my own view, I would say it does indeed. From my own view, I would say that as in almost anything there is brilliance and there is inspiration and there are all those romantic and life affirming flashes but even more there is lots of mundane work and daily decidedly non romantic stuff that makes the bulk of life….that makes the foundation of what might be genius. And so I am glad I stumbled into this very real way to turn my good intentions into a rhythm and into an every few days habit because I think it will indeed pay dividends. This feels like exercise to me and like all good exercise, I am hoping that the phase when you first realize how totally out of shape you managed to get is passing and the phase when you realize you are not going to die and you may even be getting stronger is beginning.
And in the words of the great academics words of Monty Python….for something completely different.
This week we lost another cohort member. Well, we did not actually lose a member which would be particularly hard to do given that we are geographically dispersed and do not in fact really know where anyone ever is at any given time but rather we had a member decide to withdraw and defer course work until a later date, essentially leaving the cohort.
We have had this happen three times in the past year (and even before we had our first official orientation another person decided to leave) so the concept of losing a member is not new to me but…this member was one of my original small group orientation team members and thus felt a bit like one of the pillars of my own doctoral journey. She was an always positive, always professional, always freakishly organized force of good in my life and also in the whole way the cohort functioned. With the others who left, I was sad because in my head I knew that it was appropriate to be sad at the idea that someone was leaving but for this latest loss…my head knew enough to get out of the way because my heart was having all the feels from anger to sadness to betrayal to finally a somewhat shaky acceptance and resolution.
November 12, 2014
Yesterday I passed the very momentous moment of turning in my second assignment and being almost halfway finished with my 803 course. As I’ve written about previously, this course has been the odd ball, chaotic outlier in my doctoral journey thus far. It sounds overly idyllic and like I am going all Pollyanna, but my first full year in the program was difficult but not breaking and personally stretching but not exhausting. When each class ended, I will confess, I was totally happy to have survived but also a little sad to have it end as I could see tangibly that what I’d learned over the course of the 15-16 ish weeks really did change me and expand my mind for the better. Reaching the end of them was like reaching the summit of a little mountain…exhilarating even though you’d lost feeling in your toes.
803, though neither particularly difficult nor stretching has–due to a somewhat Bermuda Triangle of events– the dubious honor of feeling like the first course that upon finishing I’ll feel almost nothing about because even as I am engaged in the course itself, I am feeling very little. The assignments are interesting, the readings are thought provoking but the overall course and it’s lack of discussions and formalized sessions is somewhat more exciting than going to a library and somewhat less exciting than going to a museum….the content seems not so approachable I can essentially see if from my front doorstep but not so engaging that I actually have to physically move and make connections to find new and fabled frontiers of knowledge. I would love to say that because I am not feeling super challenged, I have taken it on myself to explore and learn and be an autodidact. Sadly, not so much. More that because I am not feeling super challenged I am transferring the part of my brain formerly devoted to school to serve my job, which is good for my job but does make me feel a little guilty.
Last week when I was working on my discovery based instruction paper (and consequently seeing everything through a discovery based lens) I was telling my parents about what I was writing and the ideas/philosophy behind the discovery based instruction model. In addition, like a well balanced academic, I was also telling them how, ideally, a discovery based classroom might look and also some caveats and what can happen when everyone is n0t quite on the same page. When I got to the part about all the things that can go wrong, my mom said, “Wow! That sounds like all the things that are going on with your course this term! Do you think you’re in a discovery based instruction course but the instructor has yet to discover it??”
November 10, 2014
Final Assignment 2 for EDDE803….because legit editing just over 3,000 words feels pretty much equivalent to writing a mere 1500. Granted I had some help and some proof-ers but still, this was a bit of a mini beast and I am glad to be 45% complete with the course.
Want to read it in all it’s APA glory? Of course you do!
Read the final paper here.
November 9, 2014
Have a mentor. Be a mentor. Party.
Over the course of the past three weeks, I have been engaged in another massive undertaking (depending on who you happen to ask at any given time) somewhat tied into my 803 course, somewhat tied into my own personal interest, and unequivocally tied into my day-to-day job as a program dean. The initiative is called (again, depending on who you ask or even when you happen to ask me….I know, total negative points on the whole branding consistency thing and I am even a practicing designer who generally is the one who is hyper conscious of all these inappropriate naming vagaries!!) “Mentor Challenge,” “Mentor Mod,” or the much more pedestrian “Design Club for Mod 11.”
No matter what you call it, the basic idea is that for the last three weeks (and for one more…total of four) students in my own undergrad graphic design program who opt in have been paired with either a professional designer as a mentor or a student a bit further along in the program and together they navigate through a design-thinking IDEO-inspired challenge. The challenge is very real-world for them in general and me in particular and involves them investigating the question: How can we help students, after a few months into the in online graphic design program, feel less overwhelmed with their courses and less disconnected with the online course experience?
Each week students and mentors are tasked with exploring this question by using a different phase of the Design Thinking or Human Centered Design Process made popular a little while back by the industrial design and innovation firm, IDEO. The idea is that by engaging in this endeavor, students will not only get a sweet experience with a design professional but also get exposed to some much higher level thinking/problem solving skills. Unlike the usual school projects, for Mentor Mod students will not be creating a “thing” or physical artifact rather they will try their hand at the back story thinking/researching/brainstorming that often is truly responsible for changing things from a much more systems level place.
November 8, 2014
aka….Assignment 2 for 803.
So, I’ve been writing like a banshee for the past few days and while I’ve got nothing clever to put into this little blog entry if you follow this link: Hammershaimb_EDDE803 Assignment 2 Discovery-Based Instruction you will find an almost finished version of the paper in handy PDF format.
It’s clocking in at about 12-ish pages and 3,000-ish words. We shall see what happens and how or if it changes in the near future but I think it’s almost good to go. That said, I am still having title issues so that needs to get commented on and cleaned up. And APA issues. And maybe flow issues. And most likely confidence issues. : )
November 5, 2014
On my own secret envy of robots, animated pedagogical agents, and my MacBook Air.
Yesterday morning I went running. As I mentioned earlier, I love running particularly running distance. There’s something indescribably amazing about when you hit that magical point where your body is on auto pilot and your mind is completely clear. Running distance is intensely painful, intensely boring, and when you’re in the thick of training for an event people are pretty much convinced you’ve got some sort of bizarre clandestine relationship because all your free time is occupied and you suddenly now can’t stay out past 8 p.m.
The author Shauna Niequist spoke at a conference I attended last week that to really know yourself you needed to be as mindful of yourself as you are a person you’re first beginning to be romantically interested in. I think it’s a genius metaphor as it’s so true.
In many ways training for a distance event is the perfect situation for this newfound self romance to flourish. Distance running really is a bit like having a crush on yourself….being mindful of your own body like it’s this wonderful new world that you can’t help but be dazzled by.
When training, you suddenly notice all the strange nuances of your own body. Meals once mindlessly eaten become somewhat obsessive concoctions of protein and carbs and electrolytes so that you can make your body the best it possibly can be. You do things like yoga and get massages and take long baths because you suddenly realize how important things like legs actually are. In addition there’s a whole mental side of getting to know yourself as you learn to silence the negative naysayers that tell you distance is too far, you are too weak, there are better things to give your life to than hours spent essentially running alone.
You learn, when you are training, to listen like a mystic to the voices constantly buzzing through your head then dismiss 99.8% of them, only heeding the fraction that may actually be from muscles in crises, core temperature escalating too quick, or lungs processing just a shade too fast for your efforts. These are the voices that you listen for with a laser focus but the others…so much false urgency ready to try and call you back—tie you down.
November 4, 2014
Today’s been all about academic writing and specifically creating spotty first drafts of academic writing pieces that will be polished up over the course of the next two or three days.
The fun, reflective, spontaneous stuff is sadly on hiatus as ALL the words are going into the assignment-generating front. Good news is that the thought of a 2500 word paper actually isn’t all that intimidating since I’ve been cranking out the 1500 word monsters for the past three days. Bad news is that cranking out 1500 words of self reflective spontaneity on whatever happens to be happening to me makes it a bit harder to get back into the somewhat more prescriptive ways of academic writing. Metaphorically I feel a bit like I am going from the yoga pants of reflective writing into a Brooks Brothers suit. Legit I like both of them (and hope as a versatile academic with an emergent research bent I can navigate both with ease and grace) and yet as in dressing, the first time you pull up your Spanx after a long time being a bit more free and easy….it can be a bit of a challenge. APA as Spanx feels like the genius metaphor of the day! If only all the words weren’t already gone.
Because nothing is finished enough for blog posting, we’ll just have to go on the honor system that today’s word count is about: 1656….Cha-ching!