Archive for the Online Category

moocmooc: critical pedagogy week 2

Posted in MAIS, Online, Uncategorized with tags on January 27, 2015 by onepercentyellow

While I didn’t get any writing onto this blog for moocmooc week 1, I’m happy to share some reflections on week 2’s readings here.

bell hooks – engaged pedagogy

The discussion of liberatory education is not new to me.  I have been studying Friere, liberal arts, open education, cMOOCs and other contributing thoughts for some time.  I was also fortunate enough to complete my undergrad at Augustana, a small, liberal arts university that is teaching-centered and dotted with educators who are grounded in critical pedagogy and experiential education.

Having started my degree at a conventional university, I understand what we’re pushing against, but for much of my educational experience, I have felt the wave on my side.  Why, then, have I felt so reluctant to swim out into the great ocean of academia as a teacher rather than a student?  I suppose this is the difference between riding the wave and being the wave.

I’m not sure where this metaphor has emerged from, but it feels good, so let’s run with it.

At the risk of providing too much background information and making this post longer than anyone would care to read, I’ll tell you where I’m at.  I’m a masters student in the MAIS program and am currently working on my final project in which I would like to host a cMOOC on a critical examination of the digital world.  Over the last 5 years I have been digging deep into the digital world, searching for the meaning and affect of this revolutionary space on my own and our collective Being.  As I approach my final project, I would like to share those questions (and some of my own reflections) on this space in an open dialogical space, but I must admit, I am afraid.

I am afraid of merely providing content.  I am afraid of dictating my own reflections without being able to join others in the emergent qualities of the conversation.  I am afraid that all this meaning that I have encountered is irrelevant and that no one will want to engage.  I am afraid to fail.

As I read bell hooks, I began to have hope again that this engagement may be more about my own self-actualization as a teacher than it is about the content of the course.  This is a moment I have waited for.  It’s taken years and a humility as a student that I had to actively cultivate.

I think this is where the practice of hooks and Freire comes in.  The teacher in the teacher-student must recognize her place as the ocean.  She has spent years deepening the knowledge well – reading, writing, watching, discussing, contemplating, swearing (#F%&#(F paradigm shifts!).  She is sought after by student-teachers seeking to understand the currents of thought connected to one another throughout history.  The ocean takes joy in the swimmer, the surfer, the scuba diver who is brave enough to enter the water.

While the metaphor is entirely new to me…. and would take time to develop, it helps me to consider the balance of power and ability.  The ocean has the power to make waves and the surfer has the power to stand upon them.  The teacher-student helps explore the deep currents and the student-teacher joins in navigating them.

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On an entirely different note, I question how this happens in a second language classroom.  I have been asked to work in this field, though I have had my doubts as to my ability to foster an emergent classroom where so much is truly by-rote.  I suppose I’ll leave with that question, and bring it to the #moocmooc twitter conversation tomorrow.

If you’ve made it to the end of my ramble, ramble on, friend.

 

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Slowly becoming

Posted in MAIS, Online, Uncategorized with tags , on September 4, 2013 by onepercentyellow

It has been a long time since I’ve written in this space.  I hope to remember to record my experience of presenting in my first academic conference at some time, but this is not what has brought me back to this space.  I’m here because I might just get the chance to share my great passion for connection in the digital world.  I might just be about to teach alongside my mentor – the person who has so greatly inspired me to consider the importance of taking on the vocation of being an educator.  I might just get to affect and be affected by a group of amazing Augustana students this semester.  And maybe this will help me reach that final goal – that final push toward the completion of my masters degree – and after such a long, tumultuous, and affecting road, I want to do it right.

So.  I’ve been invited to be a part of Spirit of the Land, an experiment in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) by the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta.  Now that all the big names have been dropped, I can tell you how this MOOC is different, how we’re shaping things to be our own, and how I have become passionate about my capability to contribute in a meaningful way.

Now I’ve been a student, staff, and most recently over the summer, an actual contracted instructor at Augustana for many years.  It’s been a foundational part of too many of my final papers to count.  Every time I write about education (which is a lot during my MAIS program in adult education) I reflect on the deep shifts of meaning I traversed through my time at Augustana.  I attribute this to the sense of responsibility Augustana and other small Liberal Arts universities have for the kind of people our students become. When I come into contact with an institution or a teaching methodology that does not pay attention to this fundamental connection between teacher and student, I balk. I cringe.  I shut down.  And then, since I don’t take things laying down, I push.  I know I have done my share of pushing in my program at Athabasca – some appreciated, some not – and that I will at some point experience the same when I meet myself in my own classroom.

It comes back to this.  When a student enters a classroom, s/he opens her mind, her way of seeing the world, her way of knowing, maybe even her heart, to the perspectives of the theorists taught in the class, and, what’s more, the perspective of the professor who is presenting the theorists taught in the class.  I remember in my first year at Augustana I was speaking to one professor.. asking “but if postmodernism is wrong, then…”

“wait a minute,” he said. “Who told you that postmodernism is wrong?  Perhaps you should decide that for yourself!”

Wait… I can do that??

So.. from that value-laden, and consequential perspective on being an instructor, I prepare myself to work on this MOOC… which is actually an OOCC, I consider what it is I’d like to contribute to the way the individuals in this course see the world.

First – what is Spirit of the Land about?  It’s about developing a community land-use ethic.  It’s about Aldo Leopold’s assertion that one day we will see the land and our relation to it in the same way we see our relationship to one another.  That we will feel ethically responsible for the destruction and desecration of life we are bringing about on our planet.  And we will do this in community, for “nothing so important as a land ethic is ever ‘written’.  It arises in the minds of a thinking community,” says Leopold.

Second – it’s about community.  It’s a course that is happening over breaking of bread with one another.  With “students” and “community members” cooking together and then sharing the nourishment of deep intellectual consideration of important issues.  It’s about connection.  It’s about conversation.  And it’s about bridging our classroom/intellectual/academic worlds with our embedded/emotional/physical/spiritual worlds.  And it happens together.

Further, it’s about connecting to the great healing stemming from the recognition of the great wrongs that have been done to the people whose tradition, language and culture grew from a relationship with the land we are living in and growing on.  The First Nations people who have, for so long, been relegated to the sidelines for their naive relationship to the natural systems of our planet. These people who can stand #idlenomore and are defending mother Earth with their words, their hearts and their bodies.

All of these things appeal to me greatly.  And I’m being given the opportunity to demonstrate how these types of connection can happen in the digital world.  Throughout my research into connectivist learning theory, I have grown to understand that the digital world is not just a place to go to get information, it’s a place to form a trusted network that moves beyond the vetted tidbits of information fed through the traditional forms of media.  Social networks are ways to understand the world from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.  When Arab Spring happened, when China shut down the internet, when #occupywallstreet led to campus protests being peppersprayed in a place of higher learning, I came to realize that people who are connected to one another without necessarily going through the mechanisms of censorship share the opportunity to make social truth transparent.  This is in direct opposition to those who perpetuate lies.

There are a lot of lies happening about our relationship to the natural world.  Our relationship to each other.  Our relationship to ourselves.  These lies can be combatted with a connection to like-minded individuals who have explored the importance of developing a healthy, balanced, ethical relationship to the systems that sustain life.

How can I not be absolutely honoured to be a part of something so beautiful?

The year of the MOOC – feeding the two wolves…

Posted in etmooc with tags , , , on January 14, 2013 by onepercentyellow

Wow, this world moves FAST!  “Keeping up with the Joneses” is like chasing the tail of a rainbow in this place.  I was only gone for 8 months… what has happened here!!!???

This time last year I was into the digital world up to my neck.  I had been living in Montreal with wifi in my room, participating in the infamous and highly inspiring #eci831, breaking into the #ds106 crew by stalking them on DTLT today and writing and reflecting deeply on the digital project.

Then it hit me.  The gaze of a lovely man across a crowded street… and I was hit dead in the face with extreme PRESENCE.  Add to that a long bout without internet in my house and a month-long trip to the shop for my macbook and BOOM!  8 months gone and the whole digital landscape changed.  Ok, so Twitter is still around, but Coursera? Udemy?  Maybe these were around, but back to that explosion word… BOOM!

So here I am, still wrestling with the extreme presence that happens in the analogue world when some chance meeting changes the fabric of your existence, and wrestling myself back into the digital world – and not just Facebook (which has somehow taken a larger and larger chunk of my digital time.  So much that I’ve requested an intervention from my roommate who will change my password sometime today!).

This is the digital world…. and I need to be here.  I have situated my research here.  I have built my masters degree in here.  I have people in here who are interested in the work I’m doing.  But I’m torn by the draw to the analogue.  By the presence of people in the flesh.  By the draw of smiles on the street as I play my ukulele.  Our digital lives always leech time from the analogue… and vice versa.  They are at odds these two – like the wolves of the old Cherokee legend:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Now, I’m not suggesting that either of these – the digital or the analogue – is evil… but there certainly seems to be a war going on in my own experience of my multiple lives.  The digital calls me with the voice of a professional.  It asks me to plug into my computer and spend time interacting in a virtual space.  I begin to care about the person I create in there – the thought of deleting my digital self is as easy as deciding to destroy my ego!  The analogue asks me what I’m really creating in there – in all those 0’s and 1’s and asks what it contributes to the relationships I’m creating here and now.  A question that came up repeatedly in the series I did called The Social Artist that brought out concerns about doing Liberal Arts education in a digital space.

Of course this is all further complicated by my nomadic lifestyle and the fact that I rely on the digital world to keep my multiple lives on multiple continents prepared for my return.  But perhaps this is the big question I’m really asking… where are my roots?  And is it possible to root yourself in the digital realm… really right now, that’s the best I’ve got.

 

The Social Artist – IS COMPLETE!

Posted in eci831, Online with tags , , , , , on January 11, 2013 by onepercentyellow

About a year ago, I started on what turned out to be a daunting journey.  For Alec Couros’ #eci831 class, I interviewed 7 individuals from the Augustana Faculty of the University of Alberta, and 3 individuals from the University of Mary-Washington (UMW) in order to flesh out a series of descriptive words to aid me in conducting a course review for the UMW’s Online Learning Initiative (OLI).  I also used the interviews to create a series of videos meant to introduce the two campuses to one another, a role Nancy White calls being a “social artist”.  This involves creating a space that allows others to come together to learn from each other.

When I began the project, I had little experience in either conducting interviews or editing videos, and I quickly realized the huge time investment required.  I have since read in professional video editing, each minute of video requires roughly one hour of editing.  For me, a beginner, it took me twice that time!  In addition, the motivation to complete such a project long after my course was finished required that I draw on my own self-directed learning skills.

Moving forward, I’m excited to see the developments in the OLI since I participated in the course review a year ago.  Subsequent cohorts have added to the list of Liberal Arts values  and have begun to contribute to the teaching ideas page.  The digital community at UMW is growing, and I look forward to conducting my final research project for my MAIS program – a case study of the OLI.  I have submitted a Fulbright scholarship application to support me in this project, and hope that my research will feed into Teagle Foundation research being conducted into digital education by the COPLAC group.

The world of digital education is expanding rapidly with large universities participating in the MOOC movement, but Liberal Arts has a particular contribution to make in this digital environment.  It centers on community and connections and will push us to ask the big questions in the digital realm: Who am I? What does it mean to be human?  What does it mean to interact and contribute to my community?

So here is the link to the complete Social Artist Series.  Thanks to all who participated and followed along!

The Social Artist – reflection

Posted in eci831, Online with tags , , , , on October 25, 2012 by onepercentyellow

When I returned from teaching abroad to finish my undergraduate degree, I was not expecting to truly engage in my coursework.  I had planned to complete the necessary tasks to obtain my parchment and had written off any naive desire to engage in the big questions of life.  My first day in class at Augustana banished that thought as I suddenly had names and theories to analyze my experiences in other countries over the past 4 years.  I realize now that this was my first taste of reflection, and I was immediately hooked.

The process of engaging the world with a set of questions and theoretical tools in the hopes of coming to some kind of understanding of how this crazy train fits itself together is the joy of the human project.  It’s the motivation behind learning – we want life to be easier, more rewarding, more enriching, more fair, and if we can determine why it is not this way, perhaps we can unlock the mystery that would lead us to our own utopia.  If we are sensitive enough, we move from examining the ticking mess of the outside world to scrutinizing our own reactions and interactions with our existence.

This process of reflection is not always a given.  There are many ways we have learned to refrain from asking questions of those things that are ‘working’ – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it – but there are cultural norms, systems of power, political agendas, and personal relationships that are not actually ‘functioning’ though they seem to be ‘working’ when analyzed with the untrained eye.  It is only through exercising our critical reflection skills that we may have a chance to understand our own KEY role in life and the greater world.  Suddenly our actions have meaning, our thoughts and ideas have influence, and we begin to consciously create the world we want to live in, rather than blindly reproducing the world we have been taught.

A trip to the analogue world

Posted in MAIS, Online with tags , , , , , , on September 18, 2012 by onepercentyellow

Now I’ve been a digital student for about 3 years, and this weekend I had another chance to take my digital self into the analogue world for Athabasca’s first grad student conference.  While the nerves just about did me in, I made it through the weekend ecstatic about the whole experience.

First I must mention, I was presenting at the conference… a very applicable topic – autobiography and the digital world.  I wanted to use autobiographical theory to explain how we develop a believable, and hence FUNCTIONAL, digital identity.  A good autobiography, like a good digital presence, shares something of our humanness and makes us a REAL textual person – a person others can relate to, a story they can draw on in understanding their own journeys through life.  Like reading a good autobiography, meeting a digital self can help you expand what you believe is possible in a life.

Thiswhole process has been a huge exercise in reflection.  On the one hand, I was aware that the self most of my audience was familiar with was my digital self.  In fact, this is the a priori self – this textual, video, photographic avatar.  My analogue self would need to be consistent with my digital.  Not difficult for me as I’m pretty much the same person in both places, but I struggled with finding space to present all of the aspects of my digital self that I wanted to bring across in this analogue circumstance with its temporal limitations.  I only had 15 minutes (!!!!!) to present!  How could I possibly include everything in such a short time span?  I had to broaden my scope.

I decided to make my entire weekend a part of my presentation – again, not too difficult as my topic was autobiography – and meld the digital and analogue as much as possible.  Friday night’s meet and greet came and went and I introduced myself in both spaces, leveraging my more established digital self to make space for my analogue expression:

Saturday night I got to bring my ukulele-playing, participatory-music-promoting, dancing, laughing, kazoo-toting self!  The most precious moment of the entire weekend was when Terry Anderson, an educator and theorist I highly respect, played my kazoo along with the horn section of the band!  After interacting with everyone’s “real” self (and here I oppose it with their polished, professional, academic selves), how could I be nervous?

Sunday morning Katherine Janzen welcomed me with tales of metamorphosis in the educational journey.  The butterfly, present so much in my life this year, showed itself once again to remind me to step forward with courage.  And I did, with new friends in the audience, and old friends tuning in on #ds106radio.

I’m excited to put Mark McCutcheon’s (@sonicfiction) question to work in my further research.  What exactly do I mean by authenticity?  And I’m happy to have such a positive experience under my belt.  I will continue to use this research as I participate in conversations later this week on digital education in Liberal Arts universities.

But what I will take away the most is the confidence this experience has given me.  I wrote, I practiced, I edited, I practiced, I worried, I practiced and finally I presented.  While those 15 minutes were important, it was sharing my uke, my love of music, and my broader self that made the connections that will last beyond this presentation.  Once I had made a space for my whole person to attend the conference, that shy, self-conscious, impostor-syndrome-suffering academic wasn’t alone.  She had a musician, a gypsy, and a connected educator at her side, and with that host of selves lending their light, the academic in me could shine.

the real work of living

Posted in Online with tags , , , on August 30, 2012 by onepercentyellow

I’ve been living comfortably in my online persona for some time now.  I look back at my blog posts and have a sense of glee that I’ve made it to 35 posts.  It only took me 3 years!  As I scan the titles, I see some good academic work here.  A good sense of my values coming through and the direction I would like to go with my professional digital life and education.

But as I look at this digital self through the lens of autobiographical theory it falls flat.  While I have taken a few risks in sharing myself – my Week 5 reflection for ECI831 comes to mind (the punk-rock persona at the end) – I don’t feel as though I have shared my own personal struggles with finding meaning, like Jabiz did with his discussions of his father (see the pearl jam podcast), or like @cogdog did with sharing his mother’s stories.  Or like Bonnie did when she shared the pain of losing a child. 

Is my digital persona legit without sharing deeply personal stories of the struggle of life?

As I sit here this morning, it is tempting to immediately augment my digital presence with some lasting impression of my personal turmoil.  A tell-all of falling in love while in Peru, or a revealing reflection on finding forgiveness with my father as he struggles with losing his voice due to cancer.  Of course sharing these stories gives you an insight into who I am, but would the intimacy of our connection translate into the analogue world? Would I share these stories with you if we were in the same room?

See, the true conundrum of making this online self is that when I attend a tweetup or a conference, or even just find an afternoon to sit and play music, my analogue self becomes yoked to my digital representation of myself.  And aren’t we all afraid of becoming the “non-professional” persona?  allowing those cracks of real person to show through those suits that fit a little too tight… in ways, I keep a fine gloss over my asynchronous online persona.

But then there’s the synchronous world of #ds106radio, chat rooms and skype (as well as the nearly synchronous world of twitter) where I am myself in myself.  I am present, and presenting as close to an unedited, authentic self as is possible (self-delusion aside).   And as I look back, it is in these spaces where I have truly connected with people.  These are the spaces where I can cry.

I’ve recently come to realize that life is just a waste of time – you just have to choose what you want to waste your time on!  When we spend time – REAL TIME, you know that thing ticking away the seconds of your life (even as you read this!) – we create connections. There is no way to get around it.  There is no substitute for time.

Thanks for spending some with me.