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Leaving the MW Caravanserai

A Look Down Campus Walk I finished my time at Mary Washington back in December. Since my graduation I’ve been thinking about what my time at Mary Washington has meant and what I have learned. It is not easy to encapsulate 4.5 years worth of experience into a few blog posts. Where does one even begin? I’m not quite sure. I plan on writing on many things and I do not know if there will be any cohesive narrative in the end but, I know I need to start writing. There is too much that I have learned and experienced that I need to set down on digital paper before time and distance changes the memories.

As I mentioned, I have several things I want to write about but, I’m curious to see if my readers (if there are any still out there) are interested in hearing about anything in particular. So, please leave a comment if you want to me to ramble on about something 🙂

Before I begin to write about my experience I would like to take the time to thank the many people who helped me reach graduation .First of all I am blessed with a supportive family who have been with me through so much. I have many friends who struggled on this college journey with me. I’ll always look back on my time at Mary Washington as a great time in my life for friendship, laughter and all the good things that make life enjoyable. There are many faculty and staff members (many of whom I now consider friends) that supported me through their teaching and friendship these last few years. So thanks to Jefferey McClurken (my long suffering adviser); Steve Greenlaw (who opened the door for so much); members of DTLT past and present, Martha Burtis, Jim Groom, Patrick Murray-John, Andy Rush, Jerry Slezak; the numerous teachers (and I use that term not in a strict sense of teacher) at the university who have taught me so much (in no particular order and forgive me for not linking to you all): Gardner Campbell, Teresa Kennedy, Zach Whalen, Nina Mikhalevsky, Jack Bales, Mara Scanlon, Krystn Moon, Sue Fernsebner, Neva Trenis, Bob Ekey and many more professors I had the pleasure of getting to know. The list of people is long and likely if you read my blog you have helped me along my journey in some way, so thank you!

The future is uncertain right now. I just hope that wherever I go that I will remember the lessons I have been taught at Mary Washington. And more importantly for me, I hope I remember the words of the many people who have faith that I will do something great with my life. Thank you all.

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Word Camp NYC 2009: It’s All About Recovery

This past weekend I left with a car full of crazies to head up to Word Camp NYC. I met Tom Woodward for the first time and having spent practically 48 hours with him I feel like I have known him much longer. The two other fools in the car were Serena Epstein and Jim Groom.

Serena and I did a presentation on WordPress as a gateway drug that led to use outside the classroom where we were initially introduced to it. Our presentation was set up as a mock N.A. session where we discussed our use and the “evils” of wordpress. My favorite part of the whole presentation (besides the poster-board slides we used) was the great participation we got from the audience. So thanks to all of you who attended our session and made it so enjoyable!

Here is the audio I recorded from the session. Some of the audience comments are a little hard to hear but, overall I think it came out pretty well:

WordPress as a Gateway Drug (here is a link to the audio file)

Lastly, special props to all the CUNY and cool NYC people I met at WordCamp 2009 that made it so enjoyable. You guys rock!

D is for Dogs

If you know me at all you know I am a dog lover. I am currently dog-less because my doggy lives in NJ and if anything that makes my love for dogs even stronger (absence makes the heart grow fonder?).

DSCN1081So what is it about dogs? I am going to invoke the usual description of dogs as loyal, always happy to see you, and completely pet-able. Dogs have every trait I would want in a pet. Maybe it makes me narcissistic that I want a pet that adores me but, considering the amount of time I also dedicate to my pets I am glad that it seems like a reciprocal relationship.

I have many strong associations with dogs and comfort. God knows how many times my dog has been a pillow to cry on. And those days when life is overwhelming and stressful, taking a nap on the couch with a dog is a great cure.

And maybe my love for dogs isn’t completely logical but, at the end of the day my dog doesn’t judge me for all the nonsense I ramble on about. 🙂

Ya Down Wit’ O-E-C? Yeah You Know Me.

There are so many reasons why I want to attend this years Open Ed Conference. There is the fact Ken Freedman is going to be a keynote (I have been a fan of WFMU for a couple years), there are also many edtech people I “know” from the internet but have never had the chance to meet and also the awesome opportunity to do a presentation with the Reverend. So what can I bring to the conference?

Well besides props and costumes for whatever crazy presentation Jim and I put together I hope to bring a student perspective on the design of openness. Now I don’t know a lot of students who attend conferences like this (I’m guessing there aren’t a ton) but, I imagine that a lot of these student perform well academically. Let me be honest, I am not a very good academic student. So not only do I feel the need to represent these students but my twisted mind also wants to prove that even those of us who aren’t academically minded can still be interested and care about open education. I think that all students can be impacted by these new ways of containing and distributing content, if only they were shown the way. If we truly believe that open education in its many forms is the future of learning and higher education we need not only faculty to participate, we need students to take hold of it too. In addition, if we believe that open education has implications far beyond the walls of educational institutions it is imperative that students (the vast majority of  whom will not work in higher ed) are able to grasp what this all means and how it can fit into their lives as (hopefully) life-long learners. I do not bring the expertise of many of those who will be in attendance, I’m only 2 years into this “world” but I believe that because I am a part of the generation of students currently in college (I refuse to use the term Net-Gen) it is important that we find our way into the conversation sooner rather than later.

Along the same lines one of the critical issues facing me around open education is how do we begin to and continue to cross the gap between edtech, faculty and especially (at least for me) students? Students all to often passively and tacitly agree that whatever the professor has them do in class through whatever medium is just fine. Most students just want to know what hoops they need to jump through whether its a paper or creating new media. The ideas of open education and the application of those ideas in tangible ways has potential to be more than just a new “tool” in the classroom. I believe it has the ability to change the way we view education and if this is to happen we need to have as many people on board as we can and in order to do this there needs to be a open conversation. At Open Ed I know I can find a group of people who care deeply about the implications of open education and are unafraid to discuss the possibilities, limitations and future of open education.

Lastly and unrelated to anything of any real importance it should be said I love spontaneous dance parties, just saying.

product

Bar Code
This product is processed on equipment that also processes other students, millenials, and tree nuts.

stuck in bar code by s.t.a.rk.

Harvest of Thought

From “This Date, From Henry David Thoreau’s Journal“:

This is the month of nuts and nutty thoughts, – that November whose name sounds so bleak and cheerless. Perhaps its harvest of thought is worth more than all the other crops of the year. Men are more serious now.

Some fodder to spark thinking again, more to come.

3 Options

Someone once told me there are 3 ways you can live your life:
You can either waste it, sell it to the highest bidder, or give it away.

My college experience so far has taught me more than I could have ever imagined it would coming into college. I’ve been shaped by my major, history, and am probably scarred for life because all I want to do in other classes is place stuff in historical context. But as most people who go through college will probably tell you, you learn more outside the classroom than you do inside. That has definitely held true for me and I have had great difficulty reconciling the fact that I can’t have those outside the classroom experiences without actually being enrolled in the school.

I know I’m not the only student who feels this way and I hate to whine about classes (oh yes poor me having to suffer the pains of higher education) because college doesn’t last forever. But I’ll let it be known that I am not a very good academic student, nor do I have any desire to be a very good one, I do not find fulfillment in good grades or even acquiring a lot of knowledge. So what am I doing at college? I’m not quite sure.

I wish I could say its because I am passionate about history, although I do like it very much, but I don’t think any academic subject would motivate me. I’m partially here because like it or not a degree gives you power in this world and opens doors. I came to MW because it was the next logical step for people my age. I didn’t want to go to vocational school and I didn’t know what else I wanted to do, so college it is!

My question is, is it alright to not be academically minded in college?

Again, maybe I am being whiny, but it has been a nagging question rolling around the back of my head for sometime. There is no doubt in my mind that I love learning and being enrolled in classes means I have a responsibility to do my work in those classes, but again the nagging question.

The good side to all of this is, I am beginning to understand what things in life fill me up, and I am going after those things with a fire I do not have for academic studies. I believe in order to live life fully you have to be giving it away and through giving we find we are filled back up. I can’t find that in the study of academics like some people can.

I think I am willing to be a mediocre grade student if it means in the grander scheme of things I am living my life well. Hopefully by stating this for myself (and the whole world to see) I can stop concerning myself with the stupid nagging question and just live  it out. Freedom_Tunnel_10 originally uploaded by Pro-Zak


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