I’m off with family for a vacation today … so the blog goes silent for a bit …
Peace (and ocean waves),
This is an audio story I wrote and recorded some time back for my friend, who asked for stories about music. But since it is about my dad, and this is Father’s Day, I wanted to pull it back out again. He was here just yesterday, in fact.
Peace (and love and thanks, Dad),
I glanced out the side window. Along my neighbor’s fence, one flower was blooming. So, as per my week of sketching from the living room couch project, I tried to capture the flower. In the picture, I should have called it Soul Flower.
Peace (blooming underneath feet),
The other day, I received an email that I first thought was some sort of spam that got through the filter. I almost deleted with the spam button. Then I realized, no, wait, it’s an email from “past me” to “future me” which is now “present me.” Ignore the space-time continuum for a second. It will all make sense.
The email was one I wrote to myself exactly a year ago, using a site called FutureMe, which archives emails and then ships them out at a given time. The catch is that it has to be at least one year into the future. The site allows you to designate the emails as private or public, so you can read what some people write (I have kept mine private).
This is the third time that I have done it (I realized this only after doing a search through my emails although the first time in 2011 was a very short one), and as soon as I finish writing this blog post, I am going to do it all over again, sending some words forward to myself in 2018.
Well, as I was reading through the email I wrote to myself, I realized both how much my world is the same and how much has changed, and how reading myself writing to myself was a sort of comfort. In the email, I am checking in myself and the family, and wondering how things have turned out. Oldest son off to college? Check. Writing songs? Check. Making comics in connected spaces? Check.
I even shared out my One Little Word from 2016 — “Remember” — and reminded me to keep that word in mind, and asked, what’s this year’s word? (It’s “Filter”)
We’ve used FutureMe as a Daily Connector activity with CLMOOC (“Connect with Yourself!”) and Connected Courses but I don’t know how many folks have actually done it. You should consider it. A year from now (or further into the future), when you are reading what you wrote to yourself, you’ll be thanking me.
Peace (in the past and into the future),
Last night, outgoing President Barack Obama gave his farewell address, showing once again a rhetorical fluency and call for seeing the larger picture, even as the immediate field seems to be cluttered with potential chaos and ethical dilemmas.
I know these very characteristics of his public persona in times like this are sometimes the very reasons why people don’t like him and didn’t like or trust Clinton, but I do.
Sure, he did not do all that I wished he would do during his two terms in office, and I worry about how the new administration will boomerang the important policies of the last eight years. I’m doubling my support for my senator, Elizabeth Warren, to be the critic I know she can be, and the voice for the middle class and struggling Americans. But Obama’s words about the larger ideas of America … I needed that.
When Obama first was elected, I wrote and recorded this song as a way to think about the promise of the years ahead. I’m not sure we got there.
Peace (in these words and more),
A few weeks ago, Greg McVerry interviewed me for some research he and Sarah Honeychurch are doing about literacy and leadership in open learning spaces. Before our conversation, Greg asked me to construct a diagram of the open learning projects I have been involved with, and gave me the ‘cartesian coordinate’ labels (involvement/learning) to consider playing with.
The diagram above is the best I could do .. I am sure I am probably leaving things out (Slice of Life? Is that open learning?) and I know that some should stretch more across time but it made the design of the graph ugly to do so as a visual. My ideas didn’t quite fit the grid. But it works for what it is, I think, which is a reflection point for myself
What I found interesting is my perceptions about what I learned in various networks, over time, and the corollary discovery which the graph shows me is pretty simple and expected, if you know me at all, and that has to do with the connection between agency and learning.
What the chart shows is that the open learning spaces that invited me to create knowledge, with freedom to explore (Rhizo, CLMOOC, etc), are the ones where I came away with a lot to think about, mainly because of the interactions with others (or it was where I was a facilitator with ideas on opening up the space to the emergent unknowns). The projects where it felt more like a structured class or course (Deeper Learning MOOC, IMOOC) were less “sticky” for me, in terms of learning. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have value. But the value was less fundamental to me as a writer/teacher than places where I had more agency to pursue my own interests in the company of others.
Peace (on the edge of the platform),
All had different reasons for reaching out — Howard has been doing a series of video interviews for Connected Learning; Greg and Sarah Honeychurch are exploring an open research project about literacy and leadership; and Ian is interviewing educators for his own research on how Twitter might impact professional growth of teachers.
I was honored and humbled to be on the other side of the screen with these people. Howard, of course, is a towering figure of the Internet Age, whose thinking about the ways we interact and write and create community on the Web stretches back to some of the Web’s origins. Greg is someone I have known from when I took part in the Massachusetts New Literacies Institute (while Sarah has been a long friend through many projects, including the most recent CLMOOC), and he and I (and a few others) have remained connected, through projects like Walk My World. And Ian is someone I know from online activities like Rhizomatic Learning.
The Internet, and the possibilities of connections and sharing, is pretty amazing, with lots of potential and lots of barriers. I hope I was articulate enough in answering their questions. As a former journalist, I think I am more comfortable on the other side of the microphone. But I appreciated that all three wanted to share their interviews out in the open.
I know that the discussions swirled in my head even after we had turned off Skype or Google Hangout, so their questions about learning, technology, digital literacies, leadership and more continue to be part of my reflection.
Here is the link to the podcast interview with Ian.
Peace (shining a light),
Take time today to slow down and savor your friends and family on this holiday (in America).
Check out this new video from the band OK GO that does just that. It also connected to a campaign called Walk Her Walk, sponsored by the Morton Salt company, which seeks to make a difference in the world through support of advocacy and community-based work. Well. OK. Sort of odd to have band connected to that but the five groups the company is already supporting seems to be doing good work in the world.
And the video is awfully cool.
And the band writes about the song, which is the soundtrack to the company campaign:
The song “The One Moment” is a celebration of (and a prayer for) those moments in life when we are most alive. Humans are not equipped to understand our own temporariness; It will never stop being deeply beautiful, deeply confusing, and deeply sad that our lives and our world are so fleeting. We have only these few moments.”
And here are the notes on making the video, which I always enjoy reading about.
Peace (in slowmo),