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No Frogs Are Harmed In the Writing of this Blog

yoga pantsIt’s been a long time since WordPress and I have hung out regularly together. Back when I blogged regularly (view really old stuff here) I was a freelancer, self-employed and working from home.  I proudly wore the uniform of the online educator and contract instructional designer — yoga pants in winter, shorts in summer, and flip flops.  Work was flexible around my life, and I had time to be creative, collaborative, interative with social media, (and intermittently broke).  I loved the virtual world! But I missed the daily f2f interactions with colleagues and peers (and reliable paychecks), so eventually I made the decision to go back to punching a clock for someone else.  (In fact, getting my current job was actually a bit of a success story based on the work from that old blog).

I’ve moved into administration now. I now hire online educators and the freelance instructional designers I used to be. (Cue The Circle of Life soundtrack).  Instead of trying to solve the puzzle of improving learning in my own classes, I now work to solve the puzzle of improving teaching and learning across whole departments and the institution itself.

So many more variables.
So much more to think about.
So much more to learn.
So many more people involved.
So much harder to bring about change.
Which brings me to blogging again.

My undergraduate degree is in English.  I’ve always been able to clarify my thinking through writing.  Feedback from others just makes it that much better.  Reading my buddy Alyson IndrunasSpoke and Hub blog yesterday made me realize what I’d been missing this last year on the job.  Now as we embark on a collaborative Faculty Learning Community project that crosses the Cascade Mountains (did I just hear a collective gasp from both WSU and UW alumni?) virtually and at time physically, the blog will become an important vehicle of open thought process.

Waviging FrogSo why the frog title, Lisa?

It’s a metaphor people.  I like frogs. Really.  Ok, not really really.  I don’t want them hopping on me.  But at a distance, they are perfectly acceptable. But I digress.

The story goes like this.  If you put a frog in a pan of ice cold water, it just sits there.  You put the pan on the stove, and heat it up slowly…one degree at a time.  The pan heats up so slowly the frog never realizes it is being boiled alive albeit incrementally.  (Researchers assure us that real frogs will jump out of the pan).  The point is, as a metaphor, this is really useful — especially in higher education.

Paul Krugman summed it up, “The hypothetical boiled frog is a useful metaphor for a very real problem: the difficulty of responding to disasters that creep up on you a bit at a time.”  While Krugman was talking about the economy and I’m talking higher ed, I think the sentiment still stands. The problems that are in higher ed have been created over long periods. The heat has been turned up just one degree at a time.  When it is time to jump out – to disrupt the status quo via technology, unbundling, some other new idea?  – will we do it? Will we be able to? How will we know when to jump?

I have no answers — only questions I look forward to exploring here.  Join in the conversation.  Tell me I am right.  Tell me I am wrong. Tell me I am crazy.  Many do 🙂

 

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