Posts from the ‘803 Daily Writing’ Category
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 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 3, 2014
Have a Mentor. Be a Mentor. Party.
One of the pivotal elements of my 803 course (and coincidentally one of the most fragmented from the previously mentioned 803 craziness that set us all on less than ideal footing at the beginning of the term) is the four to six week long teaching “internship” or “practicum” that has been built into the course. The idea with this element is that because this course is called “Teaching and Learning in Online Education” it is only natural that students who are taking the course should dip their toes into the teaching element of the equation, gaining practical experience to balance out the heavy doses of theory also being learned. Ideally the students in the course are skills assessed at some point over the summer, matched with a practicing instructor (also over the summer), and come to fall term ready to go in their practicum, bulking up whatever skills they may feel a bit low on. The student learns, the practicing instructor gets a little help….everyone wins.
As I’ve written about previously, because of a combination of lots of system level, climate level, and just plain bad luck and timing, none of that happened with our cohort. Consequently we’re all only now (about halfway through the course) being placed in practicum relations or, as in my case, making a space and designing a study for ourselves within the structures that we are already located.
In my case, I created a four week initiative within our existing extracurricular Design Club called the “Mentor Challenge.” Initially I was super curious about and hoped to use this four week span to intentionally study how the feedback/critique that happens peer to peer differs from the feedback/critique that happens from instructor to peer. I’m still super curious but given that for this project I need to get in and out in a relatively quick manner (and I have no idea how I’d actually go about evaluating the peer to peer versus instructor to peer study) I decided to table that idea for another trial later down the road and focus instead on the much espoused but still (I would argue) much murky issue of the impact of mentor relationships in online learning programs. My particular focus for this study is on how to create, engage, and sustain mentor relationships in the relatively impersonal online learning landscape.
November 1, 2014
Today marks the first day of Nanowrimo which means (on the small chance that you might be an uninitiated) that for the next month everyone and their mother is going to be trying their hand at writing the next great American novel. 30 days….50,000 words….#genius. Or so the hope goes.
Where did the idea come from you may ask? Good question! The most iconic “Great American Novel” is The Great Gatsby. Penned by F Scott Fitzgerald in the second decade of the twentieth century, The Great Gatsby has all the elements of a super complex thriller (thwarted love, murder, jazz, and bourbon….lots of bourbon) but it also manages to be short enough and concise enough that one could, in theory, read it in a somewhat short period of time (which also means high schoolers everywhere actually read the real book and not the Spark Notes. Novel, eh?: ) Gatsby clocks in at about 50,000 words thus the next great American novel has a good chance at success if it too can hit that word count. In this spirit of intense optimism, vigor, courage, and idealism, every November people everywhere (or at least everywhere in the States) dutifully sign up on the Nanwrimo website, drool over the badges they might earn and the products they might buy with their first royalty check, pour themselves a very full double scotch, and then get down to the business of putting words on screen in the hopes that the story that has been living in their head for the past eleven months might actually have the legs to turn them into a twenty-first century Fitzgerald.
I’ll admit that in the past my knowledge of Nanowrimo didn’t extend much past listening to interviews on NPR as I was in the midst of long and somewhat dreary commutes to work as an in-house designer. These interviews gave me a very passing and high level knowledge of the fabled fiction dreamers who hoped that with some discipline and consistency they too could match the output of Fitzgerald and pen their own classic in a month’s time. To the past me it sounded like a fun and quaint challenge….if that happened to be your thing….somewhat more extreme and high stakes than committing to watching an entire season of Survivor in a weekend…somewhat less extreme and high stakes than committing to run a full marathon.
That said this year, after some deliberation, I’ve decided that it’s time….this year it’s time for me to shift in allegiance from the one who passively listens to NPR as I sit in mind numbing traffic to the one who is talking in animated, fanatical tones as they’re interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air.
October 20, 2014
“na’aseh v’nishma” or, if your Hebrew is a bit rusty, “We will do and we will understand.”
I’m in the thick of creating a presentation and writing a paper on Assignment 2 for 803 which is all about an instructional method or approach. I chose Discovery-Based Instruction because I like the sound of it and I liked the feel of it and the more I learn….the more I like it. As generally happens when one begins to enter the tunnel of research/writing/thinking about a topic, everything in the universe somehow converges to have a deeper meaning that somehow encompasses whatever lens you happen to be seeing through per your studies. For me, this past week nothing has been experienced without a small part of me trying to find the “discovery-based instruction” element to it and indeed it’s pretty uncanny all the places it’s shown up!
This most recent addition was spoken to me tonight by a Rabbi more in passing than anything. Basically this is what the Israelites said when standing at Mount Sinai and Moses first brought down the Commandments. Generally you think you have to understand first and then you “do” but here the people inverted that idea and it was quite purposeful. The idea in this turn of phrase is that for you to truly understand, it’s vital that you have the doing part first. Understanding without doing is empty and vapid. Bingo!! Discovery-Based Instruction is clearly divine!! And had I not been “doing” all this research and reflection…I’d never understand the connections. Genius. : )
October 15, 2014
…and I wrote what follows after the break.
Who was this passionate design-distance education-zealot? Pretty amazing to read this somewhat time capsule from the lisa of two years ago who was fresh off a year of dysfunctional relationships, deep (and dare I say quite dark) personal questioning, and still reeling from the shock of entering into the third decade of life. This was pre-Athabasca, pre-cohort…when Canada was just the great white north and being “more Brazilian” in mindset only made me think of having markedly smaller swimwear. I had no idea what MOOCs were, had never heard of open networks or a digital identity, didn’t know how to cite APA-style. (Okay that last one shows some things haven’t changed so much….:) While no part of me wishes to go back to those days which were legit the most painful of my life, there is part of me that hopes to recapture some of the raw energy I had around these ideas. “Distance learning should not suggest a diminished, second-rate quality of design education but instead should be a great equalizer in access to learning resources, bringing high quality design education to all people willing to learn, regardless of their geographic location.” Amen, younger lisa. Let’s take that fire and all the new stuff we’re learning and change the world for good.
So…. “Here’s to the next couple years, new learnings, and the adventure…whatever it may hold.”
October 15, 2014
The last few weeks have been a bit like a personal practicum in the study of communication/presence in a distance education venue. As I’ve written previously, the “missing professor” has been catalytic in the practicum and also quite influential has been my own faculty team and our student population, all of whom are distributed across the States.
The questions I’ve been rolling around a lot are: what is presence in an online classroom? What is presence in a place where you’re not physically present? How do you occupy the somewhat inanimate spaces of an online world with the sense of real humanity that marks the best face to face interactions of a physical world? I know direct correlation, because of the form itself, isn’t possible but there has to be some connection because though the form changes, our own basic need for relational connection at its core doesn’t change…so, how can one use the technology and use the interfaces to produce something similar enough to the feeling intrinsic in us all that produces a positive feeling of connection and out of that a learning moment?