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Posts from the ‘804’ Category

capstone project in progress

April 17, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

version 1
version 2
version 3

version 4…ready to begin seeing the larger world.



April 10, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

And just like that…another course is finished. (Or, I should say the seminar portion of another course is finished. In an amazing stroke of grace everyone in class will be receiving a 10-day extension on the beast that is our Capstone project. Though mine is legit pretty much baked, I’m never one to deny an extension. In addition, I know I’ve gotten way too close to my project so forgetting about it for a couple days and then revisiting it before final submission is sure to make it much stronger.) 

Though I don’t have many words left in me this week, I did want to capture one small element about tonight because I think it’s important on many levels. After the general info portion of class, which was mainly talking about what we’d learned, our experience, suggestions for future, etc. Dr. M turned the conversation to our next course, 805 (I took this as a good sign that we will all be passing 804!)

My initial reaction to thinking about 805 is to just not do it because I know even saying the word “805” tends send me boarding the panic train with lots of “what ifs??” and “what next?” and “how can I ever do it?” But, as she brought it up and it is actually going to happen in the not too distant future, I thought I should at least practice engaging with the idea like a reasonably normal human.

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on learning & my 804 capstone project

March 26, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

No more words…or perhaps too many words.

Not sure if the churning inside me is due to anxiety at the thought of all that must be done and I am empty or because it is too full and too confused to ever hope to make sense of all I’ve experienced the past four months.

No more ideas….or perhaps too many ideas.

What I’ve learned is jumbled and bouncing endlessly around in my head, not in neat pathways or ordered, linear lines but in colors and images—in quotes and misquotes—permanently tied to other memories and emotions that have little to do with the content itself. Though I wish A led to B led to C, etc. when looking through my notes it’s apparent that everything is tied in some sort of story…scaffolded by things that are mostly mundane. I am not sure I can (or should) make learning and living two separate categories.

These articles were read while I was doing laundry.

This was the book I read over Christmas break, laying in front of the fireplace.

This article I read in Omaha, when some rougher personal things were going on and the full brain technical focus it required was a welcome reprieve.

Here’s what I was reading that fateful week in February when everything went wrong.

These articles were given to me by my Assignment 2 partner. We stayed up way too late discussing on Skype and when I finally did go to sleep it was in the happy glow that comes from a totally unexpected and delightful connection.

Here is the seminal distributed leadership text I read when I was in the midst of re-writing my first assignment. Though its no fault of the author, looking back through this work makes me feel embarrassed and ashamed…small and like I want to hide because the re-write process brought up a lot of insecurity in me I thought I had already worked through.

And here are the articles I read after streaming sessions from the LAK Conference and realizing there was much more to these ideas than I initially thought. I never knew these discussions were happening and this one makes me feel super hopeful about my future.

The list goes on and one as each element has both content of its own and content that I have managed to tag onto it because its entered into the stream of my own life. That’s both the problem and the magic of learning in this manner…nothing happens in an ordered manner and even more nothing happens in a vacuum. Reflecting back is fragmented and assembled and indeed learning itself seems to be fragmented and assembled. To show learning, what one needs to be is not clever at being assessed but rather clever at finding some sort of narrative (or perhaps creating a narrative) to externalize and communicate the internal mania that has been happening all along.

Part of me thinks this is wonderfully exciting because it means that learning is interwoven into every section of my day and myself and the knowledge I produce goes into the world, mixes and remixes with the other stories out there, and it’s a grand adventure of connections. The other part of me thinks this is hugely inconvenient because making sense for yourself is much harder than ticking boxes to show that you’ve learned. Making sense for yourself means that you don’t memorize what is correct but feel and think and assess at each turn what, for you, is correct.

And so back to creating and curating—assembling and sorting in an effort to understand all that has happened these past four months. Back to teasing out all the messy human parts in process and like a mosaic, see what larger image might emerge so that I can let it go and send it out. May it be a good one…may it be a gift.

assignment 2….finished.

March 24, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

Or, at least finished for now as per Assignment 1, the words “rewrite” and “resubmission” are very much in my vocabulary now.

Good news is the words “co-author” and “collaborate” are also very much in my vocabulary as well. Overall, the experience of a collaborative project mediated over open spaces like with a person I’ve never met face to face was a good one. It humbled me more than a couple times as I had to put aside my time schedule and see beyond the range of my own limited experience. It also encouraged me so much as I did literally get to see how much I don’t know and even more how much you can learn from someone if you do come with a fairly open mind. Though I don’t know what will ultimately come of the initiative we proposed I am very certain this will be the first of many collaborative, co-authored adventures.

Should you be interested, you can read the full paper here.


One year ago….

March 15, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

Pre-reading disclaimers:
I am writing this one day post-Assignment 2 submission thus will freely admit what follows has been born from mostly half-formed ideas created while running, while drinking, and in pre-dawn hours while trying to go back to sleep. Please forgive the ramblings, unformed ideas, etc.

Due to the magic that is the Timehop app, I realized that one year ago this week I was at the AIGA Design Educator Connecting Dots Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Timehop informed me that apparently I was a Tweet-writing machine as I was encountering so many new ideas, meeting so many new people, and in many ways coming out as not only a design educator of the online tribe (which is rare in design education) but the dean of a fully online graphic design program (which in the graphic design education world is pretty much the equivalent of being a unicorn.) As it was only a year ago, re-reading what I’ve tweeted has brought back the memories and the overall context of the experience which has been the catalyst for a good nostalgia session as I compare where I was a year ago with where I am now.

The main theme that seemed to stick out to me last year was the need for designers to be engaged in Research (yep….cap R for “Research” because designers love a good capital whenever possible!) This checks out with my own memory as it seems a lot of the keynotes rotated around the fact that design pedagogy kind of has its own “cold start problem” going on because it wants so desperately to be a legit academic field but because graphic design is ubiquitous, young, and practice/apprentice based and designers are very much an “other”…it’s just an academic hard sell.

In addition, I think what really might contribute to these notions is that designers and even design educators don’t interface with more mainstream academia because they have so effectively established their own communities of practice. Don’t get me wrong, these communities are amazing and I love designers almost as much as I love people from Canada. But…this year has convinced me that designers have done a fabulous job establishing their own niche at the expense of becoming part of the larger education conversation, and especially educational technology/digital literacy conversation that is going on.

This lack of voice is curious to me as graphic design in general and design educators in particular seem to have so much to bring to the table when discussing how to navigate the very murky spaces of technology, learning, and human empathy. Perhaps it is because I’m ignorant to the conversations (as I have legit spent more time lately in the edu sphere as opposed to the design sphere). I hope this is the case as I think this bleed area matters in some pretty profound ways.

For the next couple days I’m going to both get back on the writing wagon and engage a bit more with these ideas. What is design pedagogy? Why are designers not integrating with the larger narratives of digital literacy and network learning that are going on? Or are they and it’s me that’s just missing it because my own vision and network is too narrow?


March 13, 2015

lisa hammershaimb


…of an EDDE804 Assignment 2 presentation style.

I’m much too close to giving the presentation (and still too hyped up on post-presentation everything is awesome adrenaline) to be capable of any logical reflections on how it actually went but, I’m going to tentatively say that it was a good one. My partner and I didn’t talk over each other, didn’t have awkward pauses, and best of all seemed to channel a good synergy from point to point. I thought it would be a stretch for us to hit 30 minutes but we cruised past 40 and could have easily hit the hour mark had there not been another group. In addition everyone seemed to love the slide designs and visual metaphors. As I had such fun designing these and could (if ever asked) go into a very long winded deconstruction on each element….this feedback especially made my own little designer heart very very happy.

Overall verdict: thankful.

And now, to the co-authored paper we go carrying this happy energy with us…..

To view all slides, presentation deck can be accessed here.

in praise of improvising…

March 7, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

Last night, in an act of total reckless academic abandon (because Assignment 2 is due in less than a week) I did not stay home and work like an academic maniac rather, I went to see Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble in their fifteenth anniversary tour. To the uninitiated, The Silk Road Ensemble was founded by Ma as a way to “forge connections across cultures, disciplines, and generations.” It’s since moved into a global movement where musicians from all over the world come together to not only play music but also build cultural awareness, educate, and generally delight in the power of the arts to cross all boundaries. Their manifesto (taken from their website) captures it beautifully:


Points three and four are especially resonant to me because if you sub the words “distance education” or more specifically “graphic design distance education communities” that’s pretty much my own ethos too. Connected nomads, inclusive independents, rooted explorers….sign me up! And even more…how can I be part of the proactive solution to make that happen?

I first encountered Silk Road fifteen years ago when they passed through Chicago. I remember being captivated by all the diversity amongst the musicians and just how amazing it would be to be part of something that was that culturally rich and turned the world into a community where each voice brought something new and unique. At the time I was 18, working at Starbucks, going to community college, and unsure about what the future would hold but also dead certain I was going to be the first in female in three generations in my family to not become a teacher. I had my sights set on massage therapy to feed my body and being an artist to feed my soul. I was going to have a life of adventure and exploration—discovery and freedom. Fifteen years does indeed feel like a lifetime of change and it kind of makes me smile to think about 18-year-old-Lisa and the crazy twisting journey that turned her into 33-year-old-Lisa. I could never have imagined my life now back then as mine is a job that didn’t even exist fifteen years ago. And the “I will never be a teacher” utterance….further proof that you should never say never!

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the honeymoon is officially over.

March 1, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

There comes a time in the course of a project where every positive thing you’ve said in the past about how far along, sure of your direction, confident in success, etc. feels like a lie. It seems this time comes with just about every project whether it’s a piece of graphic design for a client or an academic project for the program. Apparently after you’ve been enmeshed in a fairly intense relationship, even in research, the honeymoon wears thin. When you’re in this phase, seeing connections between what you’re researching and your daily life is not dazzling like at the beginning, rather it’s annoying and all you really want to tell your research pathway is to buzz off, leave you alone, and get out of your head for a couple hours.

I am in that place with Assignment 2.

I know I wrote lots of positive things this week about my own happy feelings, how exciting the topic was, how amazing it was to work with a partner who is knowledgeable, how excellent it is to have a topic that has such relevance, etc. While I have no doubt I was feeling all of those things in that moment…now, not. so. much.

I still think it’s a worthwhile and interesting topic but it’s hard because it turns out the easy water tight framework I thought we’d come up with hasn’t proved to be quite as easy to navigate and even more I’m having some major hesitations and every step deeper I go seems to take me no closer to the tidy resolution I was hoping to reach.

Oh, and I’m doing this as a collaborative project mediated by shared documents. In my head I thought working this way (open/shared) would be a great exploration of learning in transparent, vulnerable ways and really jumping into process with another person and building trust/learning as we watched each other learn and navigated issues together. Turns out, adding another person into my own learning process makes me super self conscious and if anything I think makes what I’m doing even more confusing because I am now both reflecting and acting at the same time. Donald Schon praised reflection-in-action and I too thought it sounded like a fabulous idea….but seriously? What I’ve experienced today feels just plain hard because in order to produce you have to forget to reflect and yet in order to reflect you have to remove yourself just enough from the flow of work to look at what you’ve been doing and your own motivations. To me, this feels like an act of mild schizophrenia. 

So, new plan is to only work in closed silos because clearly this open business is madness. And also no more collaboration because that too comes to no good ends. New plan is to remember good fences make good neighbors and transparent spaces can easily be covered with blackout curtains. I probably shouldn’t even publish this blog posting because this will only add fuel to the evil fires of open learning.

Or, perhaps new plan is to chalk this experience up to yet more learning of a not so academic but humble human sort, call it a day, and tomorrow once more open the shared doc and also open my own hands and mind and see what might happen in the messy process that is learning. 

thesis aspirations…

February 26, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

Last night my Assignment 2 partner and I met again. As we’ve made some very solid progress over the past week, it was a good chat and notably free from any underlying anxiety. Though we still have much to do, we have adequate time left before the “big reveal presentation” and most importantly we have a shared vision and a solid sense of trust in each other. I think it’s no small victory that my partner (who also happens to be “the new guy” in the cohort) said that this process has gone “much better than he anticipated.” Though I told him it felt a bit like a backhanded compliment, I agree completely and feel that we do make a good academic team. I have no doubt that though 45 minutes is a long time to present….we will succeed.

As mentioned before in such places as here, we are in fact using a portion of my partner’s thesis research as the jumping off point of our project. Whenever I admit that, I feel a knee-jerk reaction to point out all of the ways I’m not just the sous chef in the kitchen, I can lead too, I’m not just a coat-tail-rider, tagalong, etc. and yet…the hard truth is that in many ways I am learning more and more that I actually am the sous chef in the kitchen and that’s a totally fine and very valuable role.

Last night as we were talking through some ideas and I was asking for clarification about the whole sets, nets, group thing we began talking about his past research which led to his story which led back around to the story of how he originally integrated into this ongoing project which once more turned to his thesis research. Luckily I am very non-linear because it was a roundabout pathway. (Also as a disclaimer, he was originally part of the cohort ahead of mine thus he’s been at this all for a year longer than me. A doctoral journey is like dog years so being a year older equates to roughly seven years further along!)

As he spoke, it was fascinating and the one clear thing that kept coming through was that my partner is able to talk about his thesis like someone talks about their favorite relative or a really great mentor. As he spoke I could feel his excitement and it made me excited for it too. Ideas I cared little for a month ago came alive and for a couple minutes I found myself wondering what I was doing with weird outlier graphic design online because clearly…social media learning was where it’s at! (Lucky for everyone…those feelings quickly dissipated.) It wasn’t all evangelistic fervor as he freely admitted it’s a hard topic and he is frustrated at times but it wasn’t complaining rather, it was like the allowances you make for a good friend…knowing that no one is perfect and in the end grace wins.

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the customer service narrative

February 22, 2015

lisa hammershaimb

This week in my 804 course we’re focusing on K12 education and the ways distance ed can be integrated into the lower educational experience. Admittedly, I have very little interest in K12 education because:

1. I don’t have kids

2. I don’t work with kids

3. when it comes to kids…I have a small dog with an extensive wardrobe who travels by purse…this kind of says a lot without saying a lot about who I am

My sister is an elementary school librarian and I have four nieces and nephews who are all enmeshed in the K12 education system so I think it’s vital and important but as far as actual passion and engagement…not so much.

That said, there was one reading this week that wasn’t about K12 DE but rather was about “Changes, Challenges, and Choices” which means that it presented a lot of “this is where we are” and “this is where things are headed” and “choose if you either want to get on board or bail.” That might be a bit simplified but I do think that was the general gist.

One thing that came up quite a bit in the reading was the need for great attention to customer service in education. The narrative is:

1. the old ways of doing things with the ivory tower and the eccentric academics and all the research and headiness and tweed is gone

2. in this new era customer service for learners is a huge thing

3. for educational structures to thrive (or even survive) they need to adopt radically different attitudes toward their customers i.e. their students.

Had the Lisa-of-three-months-ago read this, she would have said “Amen!” and then raised her fist in solidarity with these prophets who proclaim good customer service to learners everywhere. In fact I cited poor customer service as one of the key things that contributed to the 803 debacle last term. Learners are customers and when their needs are overlooked or the system isn’t ready for them…customer service fail 101 where the only logical response is an uprising to bring better service for all.

So, today when I read the text once more that proclaimed a need for greater intentionality in customer service, I thought it would be the same and I’d once more think the same thoughts but…turns out I didn’t.

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