Friday, January 23, 2015

This Week in E-Mail Auto Response, 1/19 - 1/23

Monday, January 19:

The wonderful thing about winter in New England is that when you get them, days like today, days in the mid thirties, with mostly blue skies and slight breezes now and again, feel balmy. No longer underwear, no thick socks, no heavy jacket, no down mittens, just a good coat, cap, and fast step, and you're all set.

Now here's the the other thing: there are times in the winter that are so cold that  there are days after them when the high teens and low twenties feel balmy too.

Tuesday, January 20:

The stop sign outside my window must feel particularly disrespected this morning as cars roll through it, maybe every third or fourth actually coming to a full stop, every fifth or so simply blithely ignoring it and not even pretending to be about to stop. I think even one just accelerated past it, actually sped through it as if it were a traffic light at yellow about to go red. So my question for today: will I be like the stop sign, depending on the kindness of others for respect?. And who will those others act? Like the courteous driver, who comes to a full stop in this residential neighborhood?; the impatient driver who slowly rolls through?; or the road boar who fully ignores the sign because lord knows that the two seconds saved in traffic by doing so means so much to the driver's ego? 

And when I drive, how will I behave? Well, given that I am a bad driver, anything is possible, but I'm inclined today to a longer than full stop, one I exaggerate as if giving a driver's education lesson.

Wednesday, January 21:

It's 10:33 a.m. and I haven't had breakfast yet, though I had have coffee. It's what comes from getting up early, reading and writing right away, and not noticing the time until three hours into work.

It's a good day that starts with reading and writing stuff that keeps you from food, maybe not a good habit for every day, but a good day none-the-less to wake energized and doing those two things.

Next up -- breakfast then a walk. But before that, I want to see if there's a voice t text app for my cell phone so that I can walk and write at the same time. I cannot walk and read -- too many obstacles (parked cars, curbs, telephone poles, branches, deep puddles of cold water or shallow patches of ice) to do that safely, but writing, well . . .

Thursday, January 22:

I really like this time of year, the start of a semester. Now is the time when conversations with students and teachers are most optimistic, when plans are still fresh, class chemistries are still forming. It's a hectic time, these first few weeks -- the period of add/drops; instructor assignment changes; waiting for books to be bought, borrowed, or shared; and the first dipping into any course edutech: textbook publisher learning tools, open education resources, locally coded sites, campus licensed stuff, or the same tools and services non students use all the time such as blogs, video sharing, and social sites. 

And experience says that not everything will go as planned. Some students won't read nor, if they do read, understand assigned work. Others will struggle to create accounts and get off to smooth start in their electronic spaces because of user errors. And too many of those spaces will be slow to load, have bugs, lack content, or simply not work as imagined. There will be hiccups, with online and offline learning. There always is.

Learning is hard, complicated, and unpredictable. People aren't widgets; schools aren't factories. Neither teachers nor students are uniformly designed. And so what's fun in the coming weeks is the work of helping people adjust to one another -- teachers to students -- and to the tools they use. What can supplement a book?, how can an assignment be adjusted?, how do you find a way to get to a goal within the limits of what a technology does?  

So for me, spring is the season of workshops, consultations, learning what worked and planning changes for fall, and other fun stuff. From now to May, no matter how rough things may get here and there as adjustments are made in the here and now of making the current semester work, it's really a forward looking and hopeful time.

Friday, January 23:

Today will be fun -- off to MIT to learn about their HyperStudio's AnnotationStudio software ( reading and writing. I've explored it a bit on my own, but today in a one day conference, we'll hear from the designers as well as teachers who use it. Nothing like a day spent exploring the pedagogy of learning software, especially when it's smart stuff from smart people.   

The nexus of technology and learning continually surprises and fascinates, and so while there are days when a job can get old -- use this form, fix that bug, complete expenses, the report is late, answer that question again -- there days like this, days of learning and thinking and imagining "what if we did . . ."

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