In the beginning there was grad school. That ended in 2010. Now what do I blog about?


December 23, 2009


I love Christmastime. I do. I love the lights and little Santas, gnomes and snowmen I put all over the house. I love setting up the tree and making new ornaments. I love settling in to watch Christmas movies on TV. I love sleeping, one night at least, on the couch by the tree like I did when I was a kid until my mom got me my own tree for my bedroom.

This year we're doing our Christmas Eve Open House. Last year was a lot of fun and I was surprised to have as many quests as we did. I hope we have a good turnout again. I fear the 'sophomore slump' may come into play for our 2nd go around with this new annual event. I keep trying to think of more people to invite as insurance that all the ziti & meatballs will be eaten. Then again, it would suck to walk into the living room, look around at people I either don't know or don't like, and have my first thought be, 'Who the hell invited you?'

I have decided to use vacation all next week so I can gave 11 days away from the office. I am even bringing back my work laptop today and will stow it away there so as to be too tempted to VPN in my work computer and chip away at things next week. I need the mental break. I need to read, to nap, to indulge in selfish little things like visit friends, play Scrabble, and go to movies. Oh, quite right. All the Oscar contenders are coming out now. Nice!

Merry merry Christmas to all of you in Blogland and my other social networks!

November 27, 2009

In a nutshell what has been happening with school, work, home

Winding down the program, feeling tired. The time change and amplified work load causing me to feel like I only have 19.5 hours in a day and not a full 24. Not sure what happened to what little free time I had - for you know, eating lunch and paying bills - but I am definitely working more than ever before.

What's been happening in the last 6 weeks since my last blog post? Let's see if I can get my brain to untangle and present it in a way that makes sense to those of you who live outside my head.

In my last post, I was a bit frustrated with something happening at work; school was well, normally as abnormal as it gets; and home was stable. Let's catch up:

Home is still stable.
All is well. Celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday with hub at my brother's house. The turkey was actually good this year although the stuffing was soupy. My brother opted to become angry with and embarrass his wife instead of hollering at his kids and making them cry. My dad's girlfriend had laryngitis and was relatively quiet. My cousin is separated from his wife so they weren't together which means they weren't arguing, although he looked miserable without her. My hub and I had a decent time and came home to unwind, have a beer or two, and watch old Steve McQueen movies.

I am looking forward to the Christmas season- it's my favorite. I like the tree and other household decorations, the music, the movies and the general excitement. It will be a lean Christmas this year. With hub out of work and my student loans looming in 2010 I need to keep my cash in the bank. But you know what?, it doesn't matter. I can't think of anything I need or want. It has been a good year - other than hub's layoff and broken toe - I have everything that makes me happy.

School is OK.

The graduate assistantship isn't moving along at any significant pace. I made some headway, created a new CSS for the portal pages and sent out a sample for review. A week went by and I heard nothing, so I pinged the project leader. He said he'd get back to me. He hasn't. And that was weeks ago. I'm not stressing out over it. It's his project - he hired me - he should be the one on top of it. If he's not worried, I'm not worried. If we don't renew in the spring, nothing lost on my end.

Classes are winding down. In the one regular class I have, the assignments have been moderately interesting and the class discussions have been OK. There are two people that I have have started working with outside of class, via Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, so that's cool.

My other class is a graduate research project that I have tied in with work. I have been staying late at work to meet with faculty collaborators and doing a lot of late evenings building, designing, reading. It's coming along nicely. My faculty partner has a lot more to do on her end to launch the program so I am trying to help as much as I can.

I did attend the graduate honors program a few weeks ago. It was nice to see and chat with the dean and the chancellor again. It's good to have that face to face connection. I won't feel like a loser when I go up to get my diploma because I know they know who I am. All in all, the honors program is fantastic and I am happy to have been one of the students at the ceremony. I really like my school and I am happy I chose it.

Work is crazy, in a good way.
I have moved into a private office which is fabulous. The first day I had a webinar and it was awesome to be able to use the computer speakers and lapel mic instead of having to use a headset for an hour long session. I love having a door I can close when I'm on a phone call and there are people out in the hall. (hospital, school = always people in the hall).

My social media initiative is starting to bear fruit. I have secured some interested parties and we are working together. We have an 'Intro to Social Media' session scheduled for Dec and are talking about next steps. I have also been instigating discussions on LinkedIn and I have noticed more people joining campus-related groups and making connections with other campus dwellers. It is neat to watch it develop a little bit. Will these folks remain active or become more active in the network? I do not know. Time will tell. But the coolest thing is the Twitter stuff.

I set up a departmental Twitter account in April this year. I started adding random bits of info from our events listings and publications and grant news and before I knew it, and I wasn't even advertising the account, we had 100 followers. Note, these followers weren't people at our institution but people in the industry (med ed). So then I added 'Follow us on Twitter' to my email signature, to the footer of our department list-serv mailings, and on our department home page. Our followers continued to increase yet still none from our institution. Once we hit 200 followers I started tracking more closely via HootSuite. I was able to get a better picture of our follower activity. I also started tracking adds/drops. I searched for and found more med ed community people to connect with by following conference tags during the summer and fall.

We are now over 425 followers strong. I also track our website hits - in the top 25, #19 is Facebook and #21 is Twitter. I think that is amazing. In only a few months social media sites are ranking as referrers to our dept homepage. Very cool.

So what's next?

Finish up this class. Wrap up Phase-I of my grad research project. Get ready for Phase-II, which is the only 'class' I have in the winter/spring term. Get ready for graduation in May 2010. Get ready for the graduation party in May 2010. Keep on trucking at work. Keep the homefires burning at home.

It has been a good year.

October 14, 2009

oh my god oh my god oh my god, my head is going to explode.


Right now i just have too many things going on. It is crazy time.

1) work is nuts. good, but nuts. i think i could keep it all under control but there is this one little thing nagging at me. see, a few months ago i put a shout-out to the powers that be about starting some sort of social media initiative. i was just looking for the thumbs-up to go ahead and start playing to see what happens. but instead of a green light i get a bunch of random emails and phone calls and end up setting up a meeting. a meeting! it was an OK meeting but it seems like the powers that be had other conversations about the topic without me and i had no idea what they were talking about. so at the second meeting i went in there thinking it was out of my hands, it was going to be a bureaucratic nightmare...and it was. but by the end of the meeting we had drafted 6 'sessions' to 'introduce social media' to the campus community. great. BUT then, a week later, they are saying no, that's not what the plan is. so now I'm all confused and a little pissed off because i didn't want meetings and 'introductory sessions' to begin with. ugh. all i wanted was a green light to set up a coffee & cookie thing with whoever wanted to talk about social media for campus stuff. they turned it into a formal 'training/staff development' series and then turn around and say no to their own concept. ugh! double ugh!

2) school is crazy. i have one class with a really nice professor but the Blackboard section is a nightmare. i have no idea what i am supposed to be learning. i just looked at our final project assignment and it looks like something i did last AY so....uh, yeah. I do have a good prof for my grad project mentor. had a good meeting with him last month. working on a project draft school is tough. i don't have a dedicated audience to 'play' with. it is leading me to think maybe traditional edu would be better for me. without a med degree i will never have a course with classes of students who i can try out my ideas on. humph. finally, my gradate assistantship project..ugh...overload!!!! doable, but OVERLOAD!!!

3) home. my hub is still out of work. his toe injury is healing and he is up & around more now. put him to work scraping and painting window frames and door cases outside. he's getting the outside areas - shed, tractor, equipment - ready for winter. i hope the plow truck makes it thru the season...cannot afford to replace that this year.

graduating in May 2010. i see the light at the end of the tunnel. omg i cannot wait to be done school!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 17, 2009

WOW! What a compliment!

First off, I have to just say I felt a shift with school this week. I spoke with both my project director for the history website graduate assistantship and the professor who will most likely mentor me for my directed studies. Woot! More on both those later...but now, for something completely different...

Janet Clarey, who is one of the best resources for tech in ed news and information, plus she is a fantastic webinar speaker and SlideShare'r, has nominated lil' ol' ME as a #Women2Follow on Twitter! No kidding! See, here's her actual Tweet from yesterday to prove it.

See? That's me - carrie_at_umass.

Is that cool or what??? I'm am honored, flattered and honestly, surprised that I caught and have held the attention of the great Miss Clarey!

Now, how can I leverage this little ego-windfall to boost my campaign to launch a SocMed initiative at work?

August 22, 2009

Summer's end

Got an A in my summer course, but I had to work for it - the last four weeks were brutal. Homework until midnight most nights; homework all weekend, every weekend. But it's done. It's over. And I learned a lot about academic writing, which is immediately applicable in my profession.

Now I have to figure out how to handle this assistantship. My project director is lousy with returning emails and phone calls which is frustrating for me. Do I chalk it up to the fall semester not having started yet or do I assume that this is how he is and this is how it will be going forward? I have not completed paperwork for the job so I could wiggle out if I needed to. But I am doing it for the tuition assistance (husband is still unemployed) and I don't want to drop that financial support. For now, I am going forward as planned and hope things work out during the fall. If I need to drop it for spring, I can do that.

I have an appointment with my advisor next week to go over plans to finish up and graduate. Let's hope he brings my file with him so he can be more helpful than he was last time. I need to swap out another course this term because what I need is not offered and what is on my requirements list and is offered I have no use for. I feel another dance to the dean's office for signatures may be required.

July 20, 2009


ACK! Summer courses! I just got a B- on an assignment. ME! a B-??? hurts. Will write more after I stop crying....

Later.... I'm really struggling right now, trying to keep everything balanced. Work has been crazy insane lately. My husband is out of work and very bored/lonely so when I'm home, he wants my attention to talk and spend time together; which is great, but I feel guilty brushing him off because of homework or work commitments.

The past few months have felt unsettled - but in a good way. Like things are going to change, that there will be a shift somewhere, I think with my work. I feel fairly confident as far as job security goes so that's not it. They are moving my office but that doesn't seem like it either. So I don't know what's coming but I feel that something definitely is.

I have been offered a graduate assistantship for the coming academic year. I need to get a handle on my routine so I can do that, too, while I finish up my program. Its a lot, as I mentioned in a previous journal entry, but I know I'm up to it. Whatever this is that I feel is looming on the horizon I hope is a good thing and will help me and not be something difficult or draining.

July 13, 2009

Transitioning from summer break back to the edu routine

After just a few weeks off between spring and summer sessions I really got out of the routine of work-study-read-research-write-sleep (repeat). I have to had to readjust to it again even though I am nearing the end of my program. I found I was filling my free time with >gasp!<>I got into a good exercise routine and I really really don't want to break that habit so I'm hitting the books much later in the evening, after dinner, after my walk, after my shower. I find I am going to bed later than normal and am sleepy, needing an extra cup of coffee, in the morning. On one hand, it makes me consider my commitment to finish in 2010, thinking maybe extending the program and cut it down to one class per term. On the other hand, its very exciting and so very challenging. Not everyone goes to grad school! How cool am I? And not everyone who goes to grad school knocks it out in 3 years or less...with honors! How amazing am I? So, yeah, I like taking pride in what I am doing and to me it is worth the extra (extra, EXTRA) effort to make it all happen.

As I think about the last 3.5 weeks of having homework-free weekends and study-free evenings, I look ahead and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Another 9 months or so and I'll see endless homework-free weekends and study-free nights. Unless, of course, I decide to pursue a PhD...

June 17, 2009

3 weeks

Three weeks until my summer course starts. I am enjoying the homework-free weekends. And I am taking advantage of the homework-free weeknights by walking for an hour after dinner. I wonder if I can and will keep up that amount of physical activity once the summer term begins. And I wonder if I will be able to continue when I have two courses in the fall and spring semesters. I wish I had the ability to get up at 4:30am and do my 3 miles, then shower, then have breakfast and coffee and pack my lunch & snacks to take to work. I have never been an early riser so the odds of my doing it are slim. But I will continue to consider it. Maybe do that once or twice a week, to free up evenings for school work? I should commit to trying it for a week or two to see if I can adjust.

A few months ago I put in an application for a graduate assistantship. The program coordinator called me and was very nice, telling me she was impressed with my application. She hoped something would be suitable for me, but didn't have anything at that time. The caveat to the endeavor being that I will not be driving 2.5 hours to the main campus to fulfill the responsibility; it needs to be something for which I can telecommute.

While on vacation last week, our housesitter called to say someone from the college called re my application. I got in touch with him as soon as I got back to the office but he is away this week. I am anxious to speak with him. I hope we can work it out so I get the assistantship and alleviate tuition and fees for the next two semesters. As a state employee I do get 50% off tuition, but that covers just 25% of the overall cost for grad school considering fees equal the tuition cost and are not subject to the employee discount.

It was my plan to pay for grad school out of pocket so I wouldn't be sacked with additional student loans. I'll be paying undergrad loans for another 11 years as it is. This past academic year I worked within a grant funded project at work which paid me enough to cover 90% of my tuition & fees so that worked out perfectly. The assistantship would be perfect to finish off my program edu-debt free. Wish me luck.

June 03, 2009

Summer vacation

I am just now starting to relax about school. The end of the term was very stressful - HUGE project due in one course and a tedious exercise in file sharing for the other one (just use the Blackboard Assignment tool already!). Then I couldn't get into the summer course I wanted, and started stressing about the course I did get into (will it be good/challenging?).
Today I am fully engaged in webinars and web editing at work. I am plugged into un-related webinars (read: online seminars) while I manipulate existing web content (from 1998!) and organize it into a logical folder structure prior to the upcoming editing project. The webinars so far have connected me with a few new Twitter followees and followers. The file folder-ing is giving me a headache (duplicates of almost everything with diff pub dates on each copy).
I guess i have to recognize the fact, here, that I getting ready to go on vacation. This technology binge is going to have to hold me over for 7 days/nights while I hole up in a beachside cottage without internet access. I have a stack of books - real books, made of real paper - ready to go with me. I have my MP3 player loaded with podcasts (I have saved listening to the most recent three 'This American Life' and 'Extra Life Radio' episodes for listening to on the beach).
School begins in July so after I get home I will still have a few weeks to relax and unwind before the final surge to the finish line. I plan to garden, and mow the lawn, continue my beach tan, and maybe even finish applying varnish to the trim in the kitchen, a project put off since i started grad sch in Jan 2008.
Writing this blog post is part of my technology binge so I apologize for typos and grammatical errors. I just had to get a post in before I log off for awhile.

May 13, 2009

Spring 09 is done! I need a break.

Grades are in for the spring term. I got an A and an A.

I am exhausted, wiped out and so ready for vacation. (24 day to beach week!) It is unbelievable to think that this time next year I could be done and getting ready for graduation. I feel like I just started. Then again, I am very tired, feeling over-worked and I have no savings to brag about. I'm very happy I started when I did (instead of waiting until the fall term in 2008) and I am glad I have been paying for classes as I go along. If I can get the classes I need I should be done next May and ready for the next phase of ...who knows?

Pursuing a PhD isn't out of the question. I'd like to teach part time and see how that goes. I'd also like to have some free time. We'll see. For now, I have to make a tek out to camous to register for a summer course. I am opting for 2nd session so I can take a break in June. We're heading to the beach for a week in June so that is all I am really thinking about.

Yay me! Good term. LBS724 was fantastic!

April 19, 2009

Digital Piracy: What does it mean for copyright and plagerism in academia?

Up late knitting the other night, I caught an episode of BookTV on CSPAN where author Matt Mason talks about piracy in the digital world. Mason's talk provided a lot of food for thought on the issue of copyright and plagiarism.

It is so easy to copy & paste content from one web site to another and to grab and reuse images from one web site then embed them in your own. Linking, copying and pasting loses the original source. Who owns what? And what content is freely available? Can I use the RSS icon freely in a tutorial about podcasting or do I have to seek permissions for use? If I need permission, who do I ask? There are hundreds of versions of the RSS icon on hundreds of thousands of web sites. We can assume it is public property but how do we know if it is or not? (Think about 'Happy Birthday to You'. It is a copyright protected song. It is illegal to sing it in public. If you sang it at a children's party at Chuck E. Cheese, you were breaking the law.... you pirate! you criminal!)

There are web sites which offer classic novels in digital format freely, and there are bands who share their music freely. At the same time, there are organizations out there working with the government to establish governance over these digital objects and manage copyright protection and enforce copyright law. And there are the users - millions of people who are online today, right now, all over the world, moving, copying, sharing, transforming, redefining, reusing and re purposing this information at a tremendous rate. When you think about it, it would be impossible to monitor or police all this activity. The organizations who are struggling to retain control over digital media (such as the RIAA) are fighting a losing battle.

Mason's talks about piracy, looking at pirate radio in the 50's and 60's as well as piracy in the film industry in the early 1900's, and considers how when the masses find something they really like and that is useful to them, they will do whatever they need to do to ensure they can continue to use it. He explains how piracy in digital media is actually a good thing, that since there are more people using existing digital media in creative and innovative ways, they are actually improving it not ruining it. And considering the overall number of people doing this and how much content they are shifting, moving, sharing the media is really becoming something else, a collective unit, and losing its individual identity. If that's the case, how do you police the activity?

What does this have to do with edu?

In regards to copyright and plagiarism of educational materials, we as a society really need to revaluate what we are doing and why. The Fair Use act and the TEACH act are two small steps toward breaking away from old standards of ownership of intellectual materials. The Fair Use act is good but the two year limitation is questionable. Why the limit? What is the point of that? If the material is used in a productive way and the students benefit from its use and the teacher using it is happy with the results, why limit the number of uses? It makes no sense. The TEACH act opens the door so that traditionally formatted teaching materials can be used in online teaching and learning (O-T&L). Again, a good step in the right direction, but publishers still drag their feet in producing materials in digital format because they are afraid of losing revenue generated from textbooks. Instead of saying no, we will not generate digital materials, why not find ways to generate revenues in other ways?

The American school system is in a crisis. No one has officially called it a crisis, but it is. There's no money, budgets are constantly cut, the student/teacher ratio is ridiculous, school buildings are old and decaying, the curriculum is generations old and is missing the fundamentals of today's society and has no focus on the future. Now is a good time to become educational pirates. Now is the time to become creative, innovation renegades. Now is the time to look at what resources we have and make new things, new media, new teaching and learning opportunities. We need to keep pushing the envelope. We need to encourage alternative uses of materials. We as IT professionals in the academic world are in good positions to revolutionize teaching and learning. We need to keep our eyes and ears open. We need to know and understand the laws. But we need to think and act creatively. Look at what is happening with digital media in other industries. It does relate to academia. Its not as exciting as the recording industry, it doesn't generate revenue like Hollywood but academia is a part of everyone's lives just like the entertainment world. We have to participate in the revolution or be left behind.

This week, in the news, the Swedish web site publishers of were sentenced to one year in prison and a $3.6 million fine. Will it end illegal file sharing? No. Will it end illegal distribution of movies and music? No. So what is the point? The point is that Hollywood and the court system sent a message. The message they sent is this: 'We are strong and powerful and all that matters to us is money.' BUT... The message heard by pirates and people who participate in digital media piracy is this: 'We have no new ideas and we are afraid of and unsure of technology so we won't try to adapt to the changing times.' (Read article, PC World)

Instead of filing and managing this lawsuit for two years, what if they had spent the time and money coming up with a new business model which would allow them to retain the rights to their media while providing a service to the masses of people who obviously want the media but in alternative formats to what is currently offered?

Mason's talk is fascinating. You can watch the lecture online: CSPAN Archives or learn more about author on his web site and watch the shortened video summary of 'The Pirate's Dilemma'.

April 02, 2009

Keeping current on IT while being overwhlemed with everything else

Setting up RSS feeds in Google Reader has been a fantastic way to stay up to date on what is happening in the industry. I have subscribed to dozens of blogs and web sites related to medical education, web 2.0, graphic design and educational technology. (I also subscribe to a few just-for-fun sites such as PostSecret, Indexed and TED, which keeps my inbox interesting.)
The great thing about an RSS aggregator is that it eliminates the need to establish a routine of visiting favorite web sites. You find a good web site, add it to your favorites, and then what? Do you really go back and check it regularly to stay up to date? Most likely not often enough to catch the majority of posts and updates.

What an RSS aggregator, or feed reader, does is pull in all new content from those blogs and web sites and arranges them in a nice neat way so you can scroll through and read the headlines. If something catches your eye, click on it to read more. Click again to go right to the actual web site it came from (good to know if there is a blog post you'd like to comment on). The reader I use allows me to add a star to an item to mark it for later review, and I can also add a 'share' tag which means friends and colleagues with my GMail address can view the items I have marked as 'share'. Another thing you can do with an RSS aggregator is add the feed as a widget to a web site. For example, you have a library web site and you would like to have a news feed on the front page so there is always something new and different for your visitors to see. An easy option is to add an RSS widget with your reader content. Its an easy way to add a news feed to your web site and also share the great resources you are gathering in your RSS aggregator.

Another way I stay in tune with what is happening in instructional technology is to attend conferences. Conferences are great for meeting people who do what you do at a different school or organization. Time for casual chatting is often limited, in between seminars and at break-out sessions, so it almost forces you to focus your Q&A and also exchange business cards for later Q&A. Many people have blogs or web sites now so it is good to ask for a web site address and share your if you have one.

I love it when a key note speaker or seminar presenter provides their web site URL, email address and Twitter name at the end of their lecture. I add the info to my PDA and am good to go. I'll still go up and introduce myself and thank them and exchange business cards, but I love the ability to plug into what they are doing without HAVING to do that. Sometimes it is just not possible to meet them if it is overly hectic after their speech.

Conferences are a great way to find people to collaborate with. If you have an idea for a project, talk to people. Listen to other people's conversations and jump in. Sit with people you don't know during coffee and lunch breaks. Ask questions. Share your thoughts, ask for feedback.

Technology is just technology. It is the people who use it and the ways they use it that matter. Pulling in industry professionals' blog posts and web site updates via RSS feed makes accessing their expertise simple. Meeting people at conferences is a great opportunity to find out first hand what is happening at other schools and libraries and build collaborative relationships.

March 27, 2009


I don't what happened. I was cruising along just fine and then WHAM! exhaustion set in and for the last two weeks I have been a zombie. Just completely drained, wiped out.

Trying to graduate with honors, I bust my ass on every assignment (except the last PPT assignment; I think PPT assignments are LAME). Stay up late working on the computer until 11 or 11:30, then try to sleep but end up thinking about school or work until 6am, then get up go to work and sit in front of a PC all day. Well, actually work has been busier than usual with meetings and consults. It comes and goes in waves. I have some decent summer projects lined up and the residency website redesign went well so I'm predicting other programs will want the same spit & polish job.

Shot an email to advisor this past week hoping for some guidance. Did get a point to the dean which is great. Shot her a note asking for guidance. She put me in contact with the director for the MEd - High Ed Student Affairs program. Will try to take a class or two from that program to get away from this K-12 stuff for a while.

The blog project at work is wrapping up. I took yesterday and today off to get some rest (slept 12 hours Wed night, 10 hours Thu night) and spent 5.5 hours compiling data for the project and sent it off to be coded by my colleagues. One of the MDs secured a poster presenation in April, so we have that bit covered. We plan on writing a paper and submitting for publication, too. Very cool. No plans for a new project yet, for next academic year. We did launch a wiki in the 3rd year clerkship but we didn't think to set it up as a research project. I added some analytics tools to the wiki to track usage; we'll see if we get anything worth looking at more closely. The other clerkships will be keen on the idea; perhaps there will be a chance for future collaboration there.

My husband has been laid off since January. His profession is struggling so there is just no work out there. We always hoped he could retire early - he is definitely happier and more relaxed not working - but not now, while I have a car payment and am in school. Whatever will be will be. We are cautiously optimistic that something comes up for him to do for a a few years. Adn of course that my job is stable. I have more marketable skills than he does so I think I could always find work. But I know he feels bad, that traditional man of the house mentality is so deeply embedded in our society.

Overall, things are good. I think some extra sleep this weekend will help me get through the next few months. We'll be off to our week on the Cape in June. Can not wait to read, nap and relax on the beach!!!!

March 07, 2009

use graphics to enhance not entrance

Yes, I am getting lazy with writing and have been embedding video to do the talking for me. Here's another one. I was actually at this event. I revisited this lecture today while involved in a debate over webquest design - information versus decoration in use of graphics.


February 27, 2009

Multigenrational Learning (and teaching)

Because I work in a multi-generations institution, the issues related to finding the best methods ot deliver training and understanding those who deliver the training (i.e. senior faculty) are always on my mind.

Thanks to Janet Clarey at Brandon Hall for another great SlideShare.

February 14, 2009

Killing Creativity in Education

This video was shared by a classmate in my LBS course.

I love what he says about educational systems being designed to provide training for people to work during the industrial revolution. How schools and educational programs were designed to prepare people for higher education. How we have placed no value in creative arts for no reason and therefore dissuaded people from pursing creative things that make them happy and that they may be good at.

Our society places a great deal of value on young people who can run and jump and catch balls on a playing field or in a stadium, but little value on young people who move their bodies to music in dance.

We see promise in young people who can stand in front of a room and make a speech and little value on young people who sit quietly and write stories in journals and diaries.

We applaud the young person who sketches the blueprints for a high rise office building but ignore a young person who draws and paints in an art studio.

If we could recognize and teach to student strengths and talents and interests instead of teaching them to further the interests of the industrialized nation, perhaps overall our society would be more advanced on more levels than we currently are.

February 07, 2009

Are all subjects equally suitable for the web?

A woman in my class asked this question, in relation to a discussion on web research: Are all subjects equally suitable for the web? She was searching for information on Quaker education and wasn't satisfied with her search results.

Excellent question. And I think the answer is yes.

The internet began as a searchable and accessible database for a small group of researchers. It expanded to what it is today because a million different interests can be served by it. Considering the number of internet contributors today, the variety of resources on any topic goes beyond anything we could imagine.

On a subject such as Quaker education, speaking with a subject matter expert would be great. But you may not have access to one, or perhaps you have but you'd like to find a contradictory viewpoint for comparison. Audio and video interviews on the web give you such resources. If you still haven't found what you are looking for, you could search the web and identify interview candidates from around the globe, even carry out that interview with a web based tool such as Skype or DimDim.

Google Scholar gives you access to published, peer-reviewed articles from around the globe. Shopping web sites give you access to books you won't find at the library. News aggregators provide lists of subject-related news articles. Chat rooms give you an opportunity to speak with others interested in your topic.

My answer is a clear, resounding yes. And I love your question. What a great lead-in to a conversation about research, marketing, publishing, instructional design, e-commerce, and e-learning.

January 28, 2009

Winter/Spring semester

Oh, thank God. I have a really good class this semester. Its the first week - hell, its the third day - and I have three assignments and I have already learned about 5 new things about search engines. Considering my eternal love affair with Google, it is surprising that I have learned something new about Google. What's even better is that I am being forced to leave my beloved Google and explore and evaluate other search engines and meta search tools. Very cool. Expanding my horizons.

THANK YOU, LBS724! You are an awesome course!

Coolness here: Clusty
Go ahead, loyal readers - pick a search term and compare your experience on Google and Clusty.

January 19, 2009

Happy New Year, happy new semester

The syllabi for my spring classes have been posted. One course looks very well organized - the prof uses Blackboard well. Her documents are well written and she has included an audio component so we can hear her voice. She conveys a decent sense of humor and she spelled out her expectations clearly. She has provided a great deal of introductory material on several levels - for the less internet savvy to those of us who have a great deal more experience - which covers her personal teaching preferences and methods along with links to information about those methods (constructivism, UDL). I am excited about working with this professor; I believe I can learn a lot from her.

My husband got laid off last week. Not a good way to start the new year. Upon hearing the news my brain automatically goes into overdrive - making mental lists of what I need to do to ensure we stay afloat financially, calculating our savings and projecting the number of mortgage payments we can make before the shit hits the fan, determining how I can fit in free lance work between my regular job and grad school. I found a contract job available for an instructional designer in Boston; I submitted an application for it. I have been asked to build a website for a local psychiatrist, so I'll have to follow up on that. And the local night-time adult education program is accepting proposals for classes so I might put together something there.

I'm in crisis prevention mode. I hope it doesn't exhaust me. I will have to take care to ensure I include some fun time, down time and family time so I don't become lost trying to save us. Of course, there is a chance too that he will find work in his field, even though the economy is so horrible. Here's to hope!