Files & Files: A Memoir

It’s funny. I think I was a better blogger when I was an unhappy grump about my job. What to do when I spend a lot of time reading and writing at work? And I dig it! In my free time I’m checking out local bars and restaurants, watching movies, binging on television shows, reading books, knitting–anything else it seems these last eight days–but writing.

My 100 day commitment is on hiatus, but I can file what I did create during that time as a somewhat successful writerly feeling. I’m rejoicing, right? I have finally found satisfying work with people I really like–in a city where I can see living long-term. Holy hot damn, I have stumbled upon the tri-fecta happiness with the jobby job.

You see, there have been many times in my life when I have loved The People, but not The Work. The Work, but not The Place. The Place, but not The Work. Two out three, I can tolerate it for a time. One of the three; I get bored and/or slowly slip into depression and self-loathing. Zero out of three? Well, that usually ends badly.

When I don’t write, I organize. I’m on a mission to get my files of memorabilia, research, writing, and artifacts from the past together in some usable and searchable form. Or I’m throwing it away (recycling when I can). In my last post, I wrote about eliminating piles and piles of paper before my migration to Portland. There were three piles I didn’t tackle a month ago because I wasn’t ready to face them.

1] My files from my years as eLearning Director–a short era, now that it’s in the rear view mirror. 2] The files from my M.Ed. degree–an era I survived yet remember little of anything significant. And 3] My files from when I pretend I’m a writer–a long era now as I’m now reminded every time I look in the mirror these days.

Here’s the thing.

Everything has somehow shaken down to this grouping of files. This list of interests. Four drawers of a metal cabinet are now one tidy wooden wine crate. Labeled. Organized. Easy to find. Mighty damn tidy-like.

OER-related. From my very first notes when I discovered that the acronym meant open education resources to my latest very long to-do list at work.

Status: Useful, relevant, and meaningful. Big smooch, I love this file.

Adult education. This is an on-going file that I’ve been keeping since I taught my first community college class in 2003. Sometimes I call them non-traditional students. Sometimes I call them adult-returning students. Sometimes I call them adult learners. Sometimes I call them life-long learners. They’re a motley bunch that I like to think about since I’m kind of juvenile at heart.

Status: Potentially useful as I learn more about community college policy. Potentially useful for others planning online programs. Or not.

Grad-school research and papers. These are mostly disposable assignments that feel like a waste of time since none of them are publishable nor are they usable for others. I mostly hate this file. The writing was sort of applicable to my career, but not to my thinking. Most of the assignments were very rigid. Hot tip: If you teach grad students in education, then you need to rethink your assignments. Have your students write a philosophy of educational technology and pedagogy based on the readings you select. Make them blog about their thought process daily for weeks. Help them write an outline for a journal article using a wiki that they build with like-minded peers. Model how to be a scholar in the field of educational technology. Show them how to create a portfolio of artifacts from all of the above summarizing their pedagogy. Everything else is a giant waste of their time as future teachers.

Status: Unclear why I’m keeping all of this other than it is a symbol of a hard batch of years. Publishable works unknown. Prolly not. Potentially useful as kindling for a bonfire.

iClicker/SRS research. In 2015, this file actually became a book chapter.Yay! I’m hoping to present more on this idea. What I once thought was becoming a kind of dated and obsolete “tech tool” is always new someplace to somebody.

Status: This research shows cell phone polls make teachers and students happy when the stars align with meaningful questions about coursework. Cell phone polls may be the best technology we have in the classroom to date, yet it’s the least understood by teachers. The ubiquity of the cell phone allows for interactive use of technology that is easy to use. Why not keep writing about it?

Teaching teachers to teach online. This research dates back to 2009 when I started think about how most training seriously lacked any conviction about how to forget about the face-to-face. How to think about teaching without referring to the face-to-face. How to think of teaching in a whole new way. This file connects to everything above. I’m just not sure what to do with it anymore, but I’m still training/teaching people at my new gig.

Status: Keep adding to it. There’s got to be something useful for somebody; I just haven’t figured it out yet, but I will. 

Presentations. All of the notes, proposals, and blurbs for presentations from the last five years.

Status: One more year, then recycle it. It’s A Mess, Like Me: A Memoir.

Le Livre Maintenant. This is the file that haunts me as the novel(s) I’ll most likely never write.

Status: Hair Shirt. The one thing I can’t seem to make happen when all of the above takes most of my time. Sometimes all of the above feel like pretty successful endeavors.  

My best failures. This damn file makes me laugh at myself.

Status: Ongoing, high-maintenance, biggest file of them all. Tune in for more details. More to come in 2016.

This will be my last post of 2015 because I’m heading to the mountains on Tuesday to do some snow-shoeing during the day and some wood fired hot tubbing at night. Happy New Year, readers.

Status: Happy. Very happy. Mountains, here I come. 



About Alyson Indrunas

Always learning about instructional design, educational technology, professional development, adult education, and writing.
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2 Responses to Files & Files: A Memoir

  1. CogDog says:

    Reading your words about the joy of the trifecta makes me smile and think back on times that I had all 3, and looking at a new long project starting in March that has that potential.

    Good golly that’s an impressive amount of organization. With little room for storage in my small place my entire paper files are 2 tiny drawers, the rest turned to ash and somewhere in the garden soil.

    Sounds like a great way to close the year. I did some trips with friends to Portland while a grad school student. I forgot where but remember a midnight hike to some natural hot springs in wood tubs.

    More trifecta joy in 2016 I hope for you please keep blogging!


    • Thanks, Alan! I was just thinking of you because we went and saw Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight in 70mm. I wonder if that film would be useful for your Western film course. Of course, it’s not the traditional western, but it’s a really good film in the long cut. I promise to show up for that course when I can, but this happiness trifecta has me quite busy;)

      The wooden hot tub I mentioned is actually in the North Cascades outside of Leavenworth, WA. Still plenty to explore here in Oregon. I’ll keep an eye on that March project of yours, and I hope our F2F paths cross in 2016. Happy New Year:)


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