eLearn Me: A Memoir
Today I shared that I lived in Georgia for ten years and teachers “would learn me.” As in, for example, they would start off their lessons: “I’m gonna learn y’all @ X.” And this was the 80s, not 1935. Depending on the teacher, I would either listen with every pore on my body or I’d go back to writing notes to my best friend or love letters to some dork that didn’t know I was alive.
A witty person responded with that I now “eLearn all y’all.” You see, in the highly respected Southern American accent, “all y’all” means everyone. And I’m not sure if that’s true because I’m kind of struggling with a few things right now. So why not blog about my struggles, I thought? I’ve been on this weird rant train via of the blogosphere, so I need to chill out with something more productive and useful for others. My last couple of posts have been a bit on the odd side. Whatever.
My friend shared with me this weekend that she doesn’t really understand what I do now that I’m not “a professor” and being an “administrator” must really make it really hard on my professional wardrobe. She encouraged me to investigate more of the “hot librarian look” that I sometimes “rock.”
You may be tempted to judge her for being shallow, but when she said this to me, I was wearing dirty old blue jeans, a Bloody Mary stained hoodie, and I had almost just fallen of the porch because of an ill-placed pine cone. Leadership was not what I saw in the mirror that afternoon, so I think she was giving me advice to at least look the part.
This weekend I was in no shape to “eLearn” anyone, but today, people, I’m game. And I’m working on a webinar for IGNIS series with the state board. Woohoo! I’m gonna eLearn all y’all on what not do, sugah. Come on down now and get some learnin’ on what I done wrong for close to ten yee-ahs, bebe. Ain’t I so smaarht now? (So hard to do a good southern accent in writing. How did Flannery O’Connor do it?)
And this is a big “Duh” and I’m almost embarassed to admit it, but my co-chair of the Textbook Alternative Committee and I had the same idea at the same time. We were both like, “Duh, listen to your students.” He and I have been struggling with how to make the time we have with our committee meaningful and productive. It’s part support group, but really, this group is already off and running in ways that have surprised me. It’s so impressive how they are so into what they are doing for their classes, and it’s a wonderful thing to help happen.
One of our nutrition teachers is looking to put together “a book of ideas” she’d like to teach her students. I have an incredible amount in common with this teacher due to our sustainability grant days. I focused on how locavore-like-behavior is good for the environment and the local economy, and she taught students about what they ate. So as a teacher, I empathize with how hard it can be to find good objective research, and as she described her struggles with OER adoption, all I could hear was the word “time.”
Time to develop. Time to think. Time to prepare. Time to write. Time to reflect. Time to ask questions. Time.
And co-chair Mike and I looked at eachother and said, “We’ve been doing it all wrong.” Now, instead of structured-like committee meetings, we’re getting laptops, hot drinks, the librarian, the eLearning Director, the Instructional Designer, and all of the faculty in one room to work. We’re going to have coffee-shop time for the OER committee.
Time. Coffee.Tea.Work. Duh.
You know, as in, jazz hands and “this is something cool.” TA-dah, darling!
Today I’m working on My Decade of Mistakes: Four Things I Did Wrong as an OL Teacher. And. Oh. My. Gawdy’all. Where to even begin? Of course, I have some ideas, but I want to explain not only my errors back in the teaching days, I’d also like to propose how I would solve those problems today. I hope to have something outlined soon since they are making me their kick-off presenter.
No pressure, IGNIS kittens , thanks. But I’m game.
You see, I’m going on a train ride to Olympia for the winter eLC meeting! First of all, I love taking the train along the WA coast. It’s so spectacular at times, gritty and urban at other times, and I get shit done on the train (a memoir). I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve taken the train three times in the last year, and I get an incredible amount of work done. I’ve thought about booking myself work train rides so I can be left alone to work.
First rule of sitting next to me: Don’t talk to me. I don’t want to meet you. Haven’t you seen Hitchcock’s Strangers on the Train? Back off with your “Criss Cross” talk. Merry-go-rounds creeped me out for years because of that movie. Bruno, you were so delightfully femme: Nobody can rock a tuxedo like you.
I’m still processing a reflection about the federated wiki, so I’m kind of all over the place with my thoughts about it right now. I had this beautiful conversation with my friend Jasmine about the fedwiki and its similarities to what she’s trying to do as an art teacher. I mostly just listened to her and I substituted the words “art” for “OER” or “fedwiki” or “writing.” Mr. Caulfield Fedwiki Teacher wrote this wonderful post that I read that morning, and I read aloud this part to her:
I imagine classes where writing a good and useful summary of research is seen as being as “brilliant” as writing an original paper, where cleaning up data is seen as valuable as theorizing about it. Where a well curated and quoted set of material is as valuable as research. Where reuse is valued over reinvention. Where replicating experiments is as revered as creating new experimental designs. Where people who connect others and think about how to connect others get credit for the advances those connections bring.
And she said, “Yes, that’s what I want my art students to understand!” And I said, “Yes, this is what I’m struggling to communicate to faculty who are interested in open learning and OER. This is “the thing,” right?”
And then she said, “I enjoy talking work with you because you remind me it’s an art.”
She’s an artist-with-gallery-openings, people, so this made me smile. High praise. My lovely friend, Jasmine Valandani, is sometimes called The Scotch Tape Artist–lovingly, by the people who know her. I’ve linked my favorite examples of her work, but a website does not do it justice. It’s the size and scale of what she does that I find so beautifully simple. Lovely to look at it. Seductively sweet. Brilliantly basic.
Here’s how she describes her work:
I create mosaics of transparent tape on paper, miniature frames as in a film, capturing imprints of pollen, pigment, seed, spice. Making this work is a way of consciously engaging with the phenomenal world through touch. The nature of the tape is to eventually yellow, dry up, fall away. Inherent in each work is its own decay. The liveliness of the materials contrasts with the knowledge that what is seen will change and fall apart, inviting a lived as well as aesthetic contemplation of transience and the fragile yet sustaining beauty in the everyday.
So I’ll leave you with this beauty, for a Ta-dah or Duh of your own:
Inherent in each work is its own decay.