Shrink It & Pink It: Lady Leadership

This needs to be reblogged 1,000 times. Three cheers, my friend. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Spoke & Hub

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid. ~Audrey Lorde

Dear Readers,

I am going to return to recent events in a few days, but I need to finish this post first. Nothing is sweeter is to my ears than the Baltimore accent calling me “Hon”–male or female. You should read about the Bali Nine. Thank you in advance for reading my thoughts when there are far greater things to think about today.

Up until recently, I thought my husband had taught me the marketing phrase “shrink it and pink it.” When I mentioned it to him, he said, “No, I learned that from you. Remember when you got kind of pissy at a bike shop when everything was pink and pretty? Don’t you remember going off about the ways they shrink and…

View original post 2,190 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under teaching and learning

Free Range Learning in #rhizo15

Urban Dictionary

I’m coining a phrase today folks…get out your urban dictionaries.


In reference to students being able to have to choice to pursue their subjectives, not our objectives, in regards to their eduction (e.g. Ron Samul‘s awesome un-assignment he posted about)…I give you:


Organic learning, free of added fillers and pesticides (so sicced!), humane (human even), with learners who are able to wander where they desire, exploring what interests them, what they hunger for.

(Yes, I could pretty much go on overdrive with the metaphor).

Where’s @dogtrax when I need him to create a logo?


Filed under teaching and learning

“Look What I did!” Success Counted in #Rhizo15

I’m participating in Dave Cormier’s #Rhizo15 cMooc. Though this week I’ve been more lurker than participant due to obligations of the jobby job (and my love of a good paycheck), Dave’s latest challenge lured me in enough to pull together this response.

For Week 2, Dave laid down the challenge of how to measure success if we throw out the traditional “the student will be able to…” objective indicators for something more subjective to the individual.

In the #Rhizo15 Facebook group last week, I’d posted this quick thought:

Objectives: What you want me to learn
Subjectives: What I want me to learn

Outcomes: The measureable result of a learning activity
In-comes: The internal benefit of a learning activity

It was a fun play on words, yet had deep resonance with the group, and that led to a pretty healthy discussion of 75 or so comments all related to figuring out how we know if learners are successful, both for their own metacognition of success, but also for the instituional measurement of it.

It’s such an easy problem, if we take the academy out of the equation.

It starts from our earliest steps to our fumbling progress at drawing with crayons or tying our shoes or riding a bike or helping with big people tasks. You proudly exclaim to whoever is nearby, “Look what I did!” Instant. Acknowledged. Success.

Little girl washing a big truck


It’s a much harder question to answer when institutions get involved. Somehow something has to be quantified and qualified to separate those who are progressing from those who are not. To award the institution’s acknowledgment of success. To make the institution’s piece of paper worth something.

If, as Dave asked, we imagine a world where the learning objective is not used and we have to count a different way, how would we do it?

Here are some options that could be counted:

  • Student as Networked Learner – This would certainly mappable – but then Kim Kardashian and Justin Beiber have ridiculously large connected networks, yet I wouldn’t want to award them a PhD anytime soon.
  • Student as Completer – In the land of competency-based education, the grades aren’t important – the mastery is. The question still remains as to who determines how many modules/units must be completed to equal success?
  • Student as Currator of their Own Learning – This is perhaps my favorite – think ePortfolios, Domain of One’s Own, LearningLocker, and the like – where the student currates the story of his/her own learning. It’s perhaps the closest digital version to “Look what I did!”

What other ways might we count if we remove the learning objective? Join the #rhizo15 conversation here or on Twitter.


Filed under teaching and learning

In Defense of *gasp* Facebook

Now stop. Stop right there. I know what you’re going to say.

“Facebook? Really? Corporate-sellout-advertisement-blitzing-privacy-invading-newsfeed-tweaking-Facebook? You’re defending it?????”

Oh. The horror.

Bombs blowing up new york

Okay, so not end of the world, maybe?

Here’s the deal. I have no great love or hate for Facebook.  It is what it is. A free, stable social media site that is available on every platform, with a complicated set of privacy settings it keeps trying to simplify.

Buyer beware.

As my friend Jane Bozarth says, “If you don’t like it, ask for your money back.”

For those who didn’t (or haven’t yet) raised college age kids in the mid 2000’s forward, you’re forgiven for not understanding. But when the darlin’s leave for school and they stop calling (or answering your calls) because they are too busy, sometimes the only way to keep in touch or have a conversation with them is to exchange a text or read a post on Facebook.

When my son’s college degree was interrupted by a deployment to Iraq in 2007, Facebook kept me reassured of his relative safety, and that he was finding a way to use humor to cope with the stresses of war (which helped me cope with the stresses of being a soldier’s mom).

soldier in front of broken truck with sign that reads I can fix it

And last summer, when I went to my 30th high school reunion, I spent the weekend with contemporary friends rather than strangers who I once knew 30 years ago.  The experience was so much richer because we had current shared experiences as well as past ones – even though the current ones had been virtual.  (And where a funny image from 1984 – top photo –  could then become the running joke and gold standard by 2014 – bottom photo).

Everyone turned facing backward in bottom photo

What does all of this have to do with this blog’s blatherings about teaching, learning, and higher ed?


When I participate in awesome open learning experiences like Mike Caulfield‘s  Fedwiki Happening or stumble into the new-to-me world of Rhizomatic learning that is Dave Cormier‘s  #Rhizo15, I do so because I have interest not-so-much in the openness of the learning, but in the connectedness of the learning experience (and it’s rather difficult to have the one without the other).

 I am challenged by the research being done and shared by the big R1 schools, and “the University Of’s” , and the Ivy Leaguers, and the international schools through these open learning opportunities. The Big Schools have big staffs and big budgets to implement big thoughts.  I enjoy the experience of connecting with these big thinkers, the creative thinkers, and the outlandish thinkers all.

I, however, work in a small community college in a forgotten part of the southeast corner of Washington State.  We don’t do research. And we aren’t selective. Every 10 weeks, we educate anyone who walks through the door, which means we offer a lot of developmental math and English, ESL, ABE, I-BEST, and the rest of the alphabet soup of programs meant to take people from where they are and get them to a decent paying job or on their way to a four year school.

So this is where I fork Amy Collier‘s Not-yetness and suggest that perhaps we need to make room for a bit of a continuum of emergence. The ideas of not-yetness at an MIT or Standford are so far beyond the realm of my little community college that they would intimidate or even shut down emerging technology discussion for all but a few of the most technologically-edgy of faculty at my school.

But Facebook, good ol’ Facebook, almost the grandpa of social media now, is a kind of “not-yetness” on my campus. (Not to mention it has a nearly flat-line learning curve which is important for a 10 week quarter). The idea of opening a class to social media of any kind is not-yetness here. The use of Facebook groups is not-yetness here. The connectedness of letting outsiders participate with students in a class via Facebook is very not-yetness here.

It’s learning.

It’s connecting.

It’s kind of messy.

And it’s definitely not-yetness. Here. On my end of the continuum.

Note: In Cormier’s opening post to #Rhizo15 he states, “FacebookI have so many mixed feelings about Facebook… but i do know that it totally works for some people. The course group for #rhizo15 is at

It’s okay, Dave. The posts are flying in the RhizoFbGroup. And so far, it’s the only place I’ve connected with #Rhizo15. It seems Rhizo’s not-yetness in Facebook is just about now.


Filed under teaching and learning

Picketty, Remix, and the Most Important Student Blog Comment of the 21st Century

Mike Caulfield sums it up so nicely, I’ll just let his words do the talking.


Maybe I’m just not connected to the edublogosphere the way I used to be, but the story of Matt Rognlie should be on every person’s front page right now, and it’s not. So let’s fix that, and talk a bit about remix along the way.

(Let me admit the title is a bit of hyperbole, but not by much. Plus, if you have other candidates, why aren’t you posting them?)

First, the story in brief.

  • A scholar named Piketty produces the most influential economic work of the 21st century, which pulls together years of historical data suggesting that inequality is baked into our current economic system at a pretty deep level. It’s the post-war years that were the anomaly, and if you look at the model going forward, inequality is going to get worse.
  • A lot of people try to take this argument down, but mostly misunderstand the argument.
  • An…

View original post 1,406 more words

1 Comment

Filed under teaching and learning

The Blessed Curse of Email

I love the convenience and speed of email when it’s used for good.

I friggin’ hate the ease and speed of email when it’s used for evil.

In the former category, I include my ability to get in touch with students, friends, and family spread across continents and times zones at the blink of an eye. I include my ability to have documented conversations, should I need them, to refer back to for reference later. And I definitely include my love of the ability to search by keyword in my inbox, as this girl’s memory sure ain’t what it used to be (plus I just get a ton of email on a daily basis).

In the latter, I include all forms of SPAM (insert Death to SPAM chant here), and anytime Email curseanyone has pushed the send button without thinking things through fully. Personally or professionally.  Sometimes, there really ought to be a waiting period for sending email, just like there is for gun purchases.

And, oh, the ease with which anyone can reach anyone else! Remember in pre-Internet days, when you actually had to figure out who to direct a letter to? Take the time and energy to research who to complain to by calling the company? And when you mailed a letter, you could only reach as many people as you took the time to address envelopes to?

About ten years ago, I had an online graduate student who I’d never met in person, never seen a picture or demographic information of, and whose name was something very generic –  like Bob Smith (not his real name). (The key elements to this story are italicized for dramatic effect).

The only thing I did know about him was what he chose to share in his biographical post – he was an executive getting his masters in Instructional Design. Fair enough. He also was falling behind and reached out to me for some advice on how to best to get caught up in my course. After looking at the various assignments he was missing, what was still available to complete  and what had passed and was no longer available to him in the time remaining, I shared one of my favorite sayings, “deal with the closest alligatoralligator to the boat” – meaning whatever assignment was about to be late next, do it…the others had already gone by. Three weeks later, when the alligators were completely full and resting on the river bank and he got a C instead of an A, I got a call from my program director. Bob had emailed the Provost. Directly. Without talking to anyone else. And in his email, he’d implied my comment was racist and he was being unfairly targeted – which was why he had a C. The provost, of course, was like WTF? to my program director who was like WTF? to me.

Racist? To what? Alligators? I had no idea what race Bob was!

The issue went away very quickly once the course interactions, assignments, and due dates were open to inspection. I document well, and I provide a lot of feedback – and all communication is through the LMS system – it was a silly grasping at straws to get out of a poor grade. However the experience has stuck with me. The ease with which this student completely jumped the appropriate channels for making that kind of complaint. The email address of the Provost, like a sitting duck, for anyone to email. That accusations, once out there, even in digital print, have the potential to stain, even though it may only live in the realm of Colbert’s truthiness instead of the actual truth,  It invites the crazy.

Now I am in administration – somewhat on the other side of the desk. Yesterday I walked an instructor through a situation dealing with a student who’d plagiarized. The student, of course, emailed their complaint of “unfair treatment” right to me and the VP of Instruction instead of working with the instructor. Everything old is new again.

I’m heading to a conference for a few days…it means three days off email –  or at least monitoring it loosely from a distance. Would it be so bad if I just highlighted and marked it all as read when I get back? If it’s super important, you’ll just email me again, right?

Leave a comment

Filed under teaching and learning

Don Quixote 1 Windmills 0

Some days, working in ed tech can feel defeating. (Can I have an amen?)

Don Quixote - Tilting at windmillsYou feel a bit like technology’s version of Don Quixote – valiantly fighting against the monsters of poor course design and disengagement that apparently no one else can see. And, of course, you’re dragging poor Sancho Panza, your instructional designer, along on your crazed quest. (You can almost feel them whisper about your insane strategic plans as they just look at you like you’ve grown a second or third head in that staff meeting during your presentation, right?)

And then there are those times they’ve begged and begged for training, so you plan all sorts of wonderful interactive sessions to engage your audience in the wonderful world of instructional technology, and you get this kind of crowd:

empty audience

So why do we do it? What’s the pay off?

Because every once in a while, something sticks. Every once in a while, you accidentally, or on purpose, stumble across the right phrasing, the right serendipitous moment, the 2+2=4 thing, and the light bulb goes on, and progress inches forward. And it feels amazing.

It happened this week for me working with one faculty member helping her to better understand how to use her face-to-face versus online time in her hybrid evening class. She’d been struggling to fit all her content in, when she’d never struggled teaching it traditionally.

We talked about the fact that it was a 5 credit class – traditionally that would mean 5 contact hours + an additional 5-10 hours of homework.

Then I explained how in a hybrid class we need to think not in terms of contact hours, but in learning activity hours. So in her case, she would have 2 learning activity hours face-to-face with the students and 3 learning activity hours online with them, and then the students still had 5-10 hours of homework. Sancho added tips for building the activities to interweave them between the online and face-to-face modalities.

Wham! I could almost see the wheels turning in her mind as she realized that the online portion of her class wasn’t idea light bulbsupposed to be the homework – that homework was in addition. And her students would come prepared to class if she created assignments this way.  She was suddenly freed to add more in, and assign the homework she’d been feeling guilty about. We’d found the way to explain the concept that clicked for her this time. She was excited to review her class with this new lens to see it through. It was a real win.

Maybe this will work with some other faculty.

Maybe they’ll show up.

Don Quixote 1  Windmills 0

Leave a comment

Filed under teaching and learning