Three early lessons in the #fedwiki studio

I have a bit a different schedule this morning because we are hosting our annual Instructional Retreat.

Here’s our mission statement:

The annual retreat provides opportunities to share big ideas and best practices by creating meaningful interactions among the campus community.

And it takes five months to plan it. Check this place out, it’s PNW glory. The first photo is rock art left on the drift wood from a stranger. Most likely kids. And the view of the sunset is beyond gorgeous:


Tough gig, huh? It’s just easier to be a participant than a planner, and I so hope it goes well.

So on the first day of the retreat, I’m taking the morning to learn a bit about the fedwiki. Or as my husband says as he turns back to his reading, I’m “spending time federating my obsession with the wiki.” I do know for sure that when I talk about the fedwiki-ness, his eyes don’t glaze over like they do when I talk about work jive. Unfortunately for him, he’s on the front lines of my constant education about higher education administration. I’ve made a swan dive from adjunct to administrator, and it’s a daily learning process that I’m sure bores the hell out him.

That’s okay, I somewhat tune out when he heads down bike dorkery lane. I understand about half of what he says, as he does with this “fed-wiki thingy that makes [me] so happy.” With bikes, he loves the simplicity of the machine and the complexity of building them by hand. I love riding bikes, so I’m more than happy to let him spend time in his shop, just as he’ll leave me to “federate my wiki.” Sometimes you just need to leave each other alone to head into your own private studio, right?

And here’s the best news in the world: the Mac doctors fixed my laptop! My Precious! I admitted that I wanted to kiss the guy when I saw my laptop turn on again and all my files were there. He turned bright red and didn’t look me in the eye for the rest of the transaction. Poor guy. I’ve been floating ever since last night! I can get a bike and I have my beloved little writing machine back. I can now head back into my studio, so to speak. After this retreat and another work gig, that is. But that’s cool. It was a wonderful $40 to spend, and I shouldn’t offer to kiss strangers who help me.

This week, I attended a fantastic lecture from a beyond brilliant philosophy teacher. He had so many great points that I’d love to write about more, but here’s the one thought that keeps circling in my brain. He said that we’ve become so obsessed with the tools of learning and we have forgotten to come out of the workshop. We spend so time with the hammer that we have forgotten to spend time with the people we are building for, and he said “Sometimes we need to exit the workshop and sit at the dinner table and talk about the things we are building. We can’t always be in the workshop.” And the lack of discussion about “why we are building things, and that,” he cited, “is one of the many problems with education. We need to come out of the garage and sit at the dinner table.”

Soon after I attended a meeting where we discussing interview questions for an art teacher. I am not an artist, but I’m a bit crafty, I love most forms of art, so I’m tickled pink to be on this committee. We were advised to listen for ways that a teacher brings “art out of the dark.” In other words, most art history classes are slide after boring slide in the dark with endless lecture. That was my experience with taking this class in college, and I’ve learned more on my own that I did in that class. Oh woe, that was over 20 years ago that I took that class. And yet, that’s still the problem.

Then last night I headed into the Things You Must Do so that I could federate my wiki. On My Precious. I think I completed all of the tasks. And I paused when I saw this little beauty:

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 9.31.45 AM Here is the quote which connected with my thoughts this week. Written by somebody who would have no idea about my daily reality, yet here it is. This is the fedwiki thing that happens, Happeners. It’s tough to describe, believe me. It’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about in the midst of this massive retreat event that’s a major part of my job description.

A studio is also a place where things are made. It’s tolerant of improvisation, mess and hoarding.

But the emphasis on the products that result from making has obscured the idea of studying as the process of learning. From Latin and French the idea of studying took on qualities of close attention and reflection: to study is to “regard attentively.”

And I’ve been thinking about lyrics that I don’t understand. If I should spend the time looking up references. Or if I should look up interviews with musicians to see if I can listen to them explain what they did in the studio. And then I remember the philosopher’s warning about focusing on the hammer. That this type of research doesn’t help me in the workshop or the studio. So here’s a song that if I had to cite songs I’ve listened to most in my life, here’s one of the top ten. Maybe.

If you know what Bono is talking about here, keep it to yourself. I have no idea, but I love how this song makes me feel. How sweet some of the lyrics are. How young I was when I first discovered this song yet I’ve never gotten bored with it. And like I wrote in my last post, maybe the point isn’t to focus on the meaning. Maybe it’s the feeling that needs to be the thing. It’s how the hammer feels in your hand. It’s how the workshop smells like bike grease and rubber. How my home office is full of photos, books, and yarn that makes me cozily happy. It’s that place where I “regard attentively.” I just arrived at what I’ve been trying to summarize for almost two months, yet still the words escaped me.

The fedwiki feels like a writing studio to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I see all of its other potentials for education and collaboration, but to me personally this is the point I’ve been trying to arrive at without success.

It feels like a writing studio in my writing machine.

So I also busted out my french dictionary; so regardez-vous avec moi–there are several connotations of “regard”—care, concern, respect, admiration/adoration, concerning, with respect to, see, watch, look.

Here are the three things I’ve learned so far, and this may not be interesting to readers who are unfamiliar with the fedwiki workings. Go back to the U2 link and listen. Thanks for reading, and carry on with your day.

Lesson 1: I had no frickin’ idea that the blue halo meant anything. Now I see it, and Things You Must Do did not exist in the first happening, right? Or did I miss it? I think some of those pages existed, but there seems to be more structure there now and it’s truly helpful. The teacher in me sees how this must have been a lot of work to simplify something this complex. If this was BattleStar Gallactica, I’d be saying “So Say We All” as a way to say thank you.

Lesson 2: I think I’m just now getting the “fork from local” and how many pages have I created? How many edits have I done? How many forks in the road did I choose? Wow, this is a tougher thing to get and having the attitude of just rolling with it is crucial. And absolutely fabulous.

Lesson 3: I was kind of C+ student in the last Happening. I went in there willy-nilly and just played around, but I could have been a better reader at the start. I was more excited to use the hammer than I was to be in the workshop or the studio. I’ll aim to be more deliberate this time.

Now I’m ready to regard attentively, and I’m so very glad for this studio space. I’ll end with some words from Bono in the song linked above to say a bit more about how this learning space feels to me.

Black flash over my own love/tell me of my eyes/Black flash/Come through my own life/Telling these things/And I believe them…And I will be there.

About Alyson Indrunas

Always learning about instructional design, educational technology, professional development, adult education, and writing.
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