Posts tagged ‘EDDE 804’
March 24, 2015
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.
March 7, 2015
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:
- SILKROAD IS THE WORLD WHERE EXPLORING OUR DIFFERENCES ENRICHES OUR HUMANITY
- SILKROAD IS THE EDGE WHERE EDUCATION, BUSINESS, AND THE ARTS COME TOGETHER TO TRANSFORM THE WORLD
- SILKROAD IS THE COLLECTIVE OF ROOTED EXPLORERS, INCLUSIVE INDEPENDENTS, STORYTELLING MUSICIANS, PASSIONATE LEARNERS, CONNECTED NOMADS, AND CULTURAL ENTREPRENEURS
- SILKROAD IS THE MOVEMENT TO CREATE UNEXPECTED CONNECTIONS, COLLABORATIONS AND COMMUNITIES IN PURSUIT OF MEANINGFUL CHANGE
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!
March 1, 2015
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.
February 16, 2015
This long weekend I am deep in my 804 Assignment 2 which is a 45 minute (yeah, that’s right….45 minute) presentation grappling with a social/economic issue and showing how education in general and educational leadership in particular could bring positive change. It’s all speculative (meaning we don’t have to actually do what we’re investigating) and the overall thrust of the assignment is for us to test drive leadership ideas.
The good news is that it’s meant to be a partner assignment and I’ve got an amazingly capable partner. We’ve chosen to grapple with persistence in distance education and look particularly at how The Landing, Athabsca’s social site, could play a more proactive role in building community thus increasing persistence.
The even better news is that The Landing also happens to be the focus of my partner’s thesis project. But, lest it sound like I’ve been savvy in partner choice and topic (which admittedly I have) and am now coasting for the next month, I have been pulling my weight as much as possible and though I’m not the main force finding articles (since he’s basically got the library already) I’m enough of a control freak that I can confidently say my fingerprints will be on the final product to present a convincing argument that we are a team. In addition because he’s been living in these ideas for awhile, I think my fresh outlook is a good reality check. I know for me the longer I live in ideas the more I’m unable to see how things could be any other way…then someone peers in and it’s the emperors new clothes all over again as I realize what I thought was set in stone was really only written in sidewalk chalk.
January 30, 2015
Today I am so glad it’s almost Friday, almost the weekend, almost the time when I can be safely ensconced in two non-working days and not have a pavlovian reaction to my email alert tone. It’s been one of “those” weeks where you almost become conditioned to the fact that the sky will fall and you will completely shatter at least once per day (and indeed just once per day becomes grace.) I’m sure I’m being overly dramatic and in the long view of things this week will resolve but legit in this moment I’m pretty confident I’ve had more energy shortly after completing a marathon than I currently have now.
In an effort to model good reflective practice (and also with the hope that if I can write a significant portion of this out it means I will actually free up my racing mind and I will get to sleep a full night…finally) I’ll embrace objective academic and just list and annotate what I’ve observed in this week’s ethnography of lisa.
1. saying goodbye to people when they leave roles in your life that have been pillars in who you are is hard. always. even if you know it’s the right thing and you know they’re not leaving you and you know all the nice sounding stuff is true. it’s still a gut wrenching feeling of loss because there’s now this part of you that’s raw and missing. i’m old enough to know that it fills in and it resolves but yeah…this kind of somewhat internal ache is so hard and I’ve spent the week with what feels like a bruise on my soul that won’t heal anytime soon.
2. being humbled because you’ve been called on your own tendency to live in shades of gray rather than be black and white rule abiding is hard. always. My key strengths are my ability to take risks, try out things with confidence, and have a free thinking non-linear explorative spirit…except when I have to explain myself to a system based on rigid check and balance process and then the above become my key weaknesses. while I’m no longer actively in trouble, I’m glad that I know the boundaries of the play ground and have adjusted my scope of experimentation accordingly. “I’m sorry” has become the script of my week.
3. being completely vulnerable and transparent with those you lead is hard….but always the best way. When the above situation happened I was very open about my struggles and what was going on with my closest team members. It literally felt like i was about 12, I was going to vomit, and they were finally going to see me for the sham that the darker voices in my head talk about on a daily basis. Yet after I’d gotten it out, totally cliche but, it was freedom because they saw new parts of me and even more were allowed to speak into me rather than the usual me-to-them transaction.
4. the hardest thing about being a leader is opening your own grabby little fists and trusting your team. (indeed, the hardest part of being a person might be opening up your grabby little fists and trusting others, time, and process.) when I accepted this job almost a year ago, I was so concerned that I wouldn’t be able to give presentations because I was such a poor public speaker…I was petrified that I wouldn’t know how to balance my time and I’d burn out…I was convinced that no one would follow my lead and all my ideas were too crazy or bizarre to ever inspire others. Turns out, presentations (or at least distance-mediated ones) are cake. Balancing time is tricky but luckily I do have a pretty good “stop or I will stop for you” balance on my body itself. Ideas? Position and passion pretty much ensure that people will jump on the bandwagon…keeping them is anyone’s guess but getting them isn’t so hard.
But yeah…letting go is something so completely different. For whatever reason (and I’m taking the Leadership Theory course right now so you’d think if anyone knew the answer it would be me) it feels natural for me to say that I’d be willing to sacrifice myself for my team as I am their leader but to give them stuff to do….eek! I’m not weak! I’m not needy!! I’m all powerful and in charge!!! Or at least I like to tell myself these things.
In truth, I am strong and courageous but so is every person on my team. By virtue of timing and choosing and who knows what…I ended up as the “leader” but with that title I didn’t suddenly also get superpowers.
Then things like this week happen and you end up messy and human and anything but a superhero in front of your team and turns out…just where you end is the perfect place for all of them to begin. It turns out that you’ve been feeling noble as you shelter them but really they’re more than willing for the relationship to be reciprocal…more than capable of holding you when you need it, if you will only let them.
I didn’t have many proud moments this week but I did have a proud moment realizing that the culture I’ve been hoping for for oh the last year is actually a reality. We can be open. We can be real people with each other. We can open our grabby hands because it is safe. I can (and have) opened my hands to them because it is safe and in a act of grace and beauty…they’ve opened theirs in return.
So, what’s next? Hopefully lots of sleep and some quiet. Though I’m finding resolution more and more, this week scarred me pretty deep and I want to grow and not gloss over these new places in me that have opened up.
Ahh life….What a fun and frustrating challenge you often turn into.
January 26, 2015
This term in addition to my 804 course I am a “lurker” in the 802 course that is also running concurrently. I took 802 officially last year (as a refresher, it was the course where I was pretty sure would either lead me to thesis nirvana or make me drop out of the program because my brain would explode. Turns out, neither happened but I did finish up with way more confidence about the research process and way more humility about myself as an academic.)
Because 802 is run not in the closed LMS of Moodle but in the semi-open platform of The Landing (the Athabasca social network site…immortalized in such techno remixes as this one) once you’ve survived 802, you remain a member of the group permanently. This permanent membership means you can watch what’s going on (provided you weren’t so scarred from your own experience that you turned off all notifications) and even participate in the group again if you so choose. Though I’ve had neither the courage nor inclination to do the later, I’ve been very actively engaging in the former, watching a whole new crop of eager students tentatively define their epistemology and ontology as their first discussion assignment and generally begin wrestling with some pretty hefty content.
As I’m the youngest child by many years I don’t know if it’s quite the correct analogy but as I read responses from cohort 7 I can’t help but feel like an older sister to them all…charmed by their earnestness, a little worried for them regarding the “growing up” challenges I know they will face in the next few months, and overall so proud to see who they are becoming. I didn’t think it would be feasible to build cross-cohort relationships that had any meaning or depth but through the looking glass that The Landing has become, I’m beginning to become a believer that it might actually be possible. We all have shared experiences now and there’s no reason this open space can’t be the catalyst to connect us. Granted, cohort 7 will never be the somewhat blood-family that cohort 6 is to me but still…I love that we can all build community and enrich each other through this doctoral process. If we were all at a brick and mortar school for sure we’d be checking each other out and swapping resources and secretly envying/admiring/being inspired by each others work. In the absence of physical hallways and chance coffee shop encounters, The Landing seems to be a more than decent substitution.
In addition, as I’ve been watching their engagement it is taking me back to my own thoughts and ideas when I was in 802. I remember first being asked about my own ontology and my own epistemology and being pretty sure that defining those two things was equivalent to asking me to speak Chinese. But after some research, lots of trial and error, and a healthy dose of rye, I did manage to pin down my own views, namely that truth is contextual, dynamic and changes based on experience, narrative, and environment. Knowledge is personal and subjective assembled through connections and worked out through social interactions. In 802, I called myself an anti-positivist who embraced nominalism and pragmatism with a twist of critical theory for good measure…a year later, those definitions, with a few subtle nuances, still remain core pillars of who I am. As cohort 7 goes through each discussion and project, I’m eager to see how the lisa-of-last year compares to the lisa-of-today.
I am sure there have been articles written delving more into the research, reasons, cautions, and benefits of cohort cross pollination and as I am now beginning to have some good first person qualitative experience…I’m curious to explore.
But…all that scholarship can wait for another day. For now all I have to say is…you go cohort 7! Jump into discussions, wrestle with these gnarly brain-bending ideas, and truly give it your all knowing that you’re not alone in your struggles. In addition to fabulous supervisors and a rock star instructor, you’ve got eight cheerleaders from cohort 6 ready to shout encouragements if you ever appear to be slowing down. It sounds quite cliche but your learning really is all of our learning and your courage to do something so vulnerable in an open space helps us all be courageous and open too. Persist even when it gets overwhelming. This will test you in ways that feel like they are far beyond your breaking point but in the end…this experience will change you for so much the better…just as it did for us.
January 16, 2015
What’s a first day of school without a first day of school picture, eh?
Thus, here is mine complete with fur scarf to reflect my pseudo-Canadianism, iPhone headset to reflect my graphic design heritage, and no makeup to reflect my new-found commitment to letting my inner beauty and the light of my intellect be what shines through. To quote the great work of cinema that is Clueless, “…as if!” More like today was filled with lots of administrative busy work and trying to tie up loose ends thus in the grand scheme of time usage…something had to give. Luckily we’re a webcam off kind of class!
Verdict on day 1: awesome.
I am pretty sure I want Dr. Marti to adopt Ruby and I so we can just be around her. With other instructors I’ve said that they have parts of them that I hope I can emulate in my academic practice—their student engagement, their curiosity, their absolute passion for detail and precision. For Dr. M. I pretty much want to be just like her when I grow up. She’s amazingly grounded and humble and yet she’s literally written the books on so many of the most prevalent ideas in distance education. When she listens, she really listens and then responds with something drawn from her past explorations that make you think she’s not just listened for a pause in your speech so she could interject but that she’s listened to you because you’re a human who she can learn from and she’s totally eager to build connections with you. And it all happens in a distance mediated format! Which is awesome.
I know this week I’ve been sheepish at best about this course as I’ve felt totally beyond my league and yet after this week I’m thinking my main goal is to soak up as much as possible of this privilege that is this course from this genius of distance ed. The content will be good I’m sure as will the assignments but I think what might be the best part is learning from Dr. Marti a bit more.
Which leads me easily into my next point. Because I never officially made new years resolutions at the turn of the year (and tomorrow’s my birthday so what better day than tomorrow to set some things in ink?) I have a somewhat short list of what I’d like to “resolve” this year. In prepping for writing tonight I looked back at what I was writing last year at this time. It was fun to revisit the Lisa-of-2014 knowing what I now know about how the year unfolded. Apparently I was all ready to have clarity about my thesis topic by summer and once more that will enter into things since maybe this summer I will actually have something! But anyways….if nothing else I am getting much more open-handed each month with this whole process and I think perhaps that is a very good thing…perhaps process really is where it’s at. : )
1. read more both academic stuff and fun mental-break stuff
2. be curious about people + listen actively (no really….LISTEN and BE PRESENT)
3. use ALL my vacation days
4. before doing any project ask myself: am I doing this because it’s the absolute best fit for me to do it? OR am I doing it because I want to be in control of the situation/want to receive credit for this/am afraid to ask for help?
5. return to affirming the humanity in people. start with myself.
January 14, 2015
Over break I became a reading machine, hopeful that if I ingested enough of other people’s brilliance I’d finally be able to give legs to all the amorphous thesis ideas that have been floating around my head this fall. Turns out, there aren’t quite legs to but I have sent out enough tentative shoots and connections that I’m fairly confident at some point in the near future I’ll have enough courage to write an email to my adviser saying summarizing my thoughts and seeing how they check out by someone with a larger vantage point. (By “near future” I most likely mean probably that I’ll write my ideas in my 2015 Christmas card as every time I think I have reached something that feels right a new tweet appears, I serendipitously encounter a new article, or I lose a few weeks of my life to whatever the flavor of the day work crises happens to be afoot. : )
But anyways, over break I did a lot of investigating on arts-based research, remixed dissertations, and generally people who were doing things that were a little fringe and a lot awesome. I really really want to follow in this pathway with what I do and the only thing stopping me (well, apart from the whole topic thing) is that deep down, I kind of love writing. Like really love it and think in some perverse way spending a long time writing something massive would be terrible and magnificent at the same time. So, I want to follow the arts-based pathway but there’s a pretty solid chance I’ll still be writing lots but hopefully can integrate some other stuff in as well.
One person I found particularly interesting in this journey was Nick Sousanis. Nick is probably the first person ever to do his total dissertation in comic format and….it. is. amazing. His premise is that the world of academia/education has become very flat because it’s so focused on the written word and so divorced from the visual/embodied experience of being a human. His thesis is a look at visual literacy and even more a call to re-evaluate people as actual people whose perceptions, senses, etc require a holistic approach rather than the continued deification of word only. It’s provocative and I think very timely as with so much technology now and people “becoming their own designers” and images being seen worldwide, those who know how to use words are powerful but true power lies in the cohesive and considered pairing of words and images. Much like graphic design….hahaaa….not that I’m biased or anything.
Nick’s dissertation is being published by Harvard University Press in the spring which is crazy amazing. I think his work has opened and will continue to open so many new doors to people with excellent ideas but who may have formerly been outside of academia or at most on its fringe. I know for me I’m ready to write him into my acknowledgements page because, though I’ve not yet read his book, from what I’ve seen its a total discipline-bending piece, equally academic treatise/coffee table marvel/hipster philosophical book club. Best of all it ennobles comics and shows that yes indeed, this is important work.
So…my new goal is to figure out how I can craft a unique discipline-bending flow of my own into my work. I already kind of want to appropriate his “unflattening” idea into my own piece and since we’re now Twitter pals I’m sure he will be cool with it. Now to find just what will populate this discipline-bending work of genius……