I truly believe that reflection or looking back is an important part of our learning process. Taking time for reflection allows me to connect what I’ve learned in the past with my plans going forward. I’m reminded again of why I changed the title of my blog to “Connecting is Learning” and will once again give credit to that change to my good friend Laura Goglia who has been a key influencer on my this past year. Follow through her tweet to her post and you can even read my comment on that blog post or you can just go straight to her post “Lessons Learned 2016”.
This week I had the privilege to attend the 13th Annual Conference on Open Education in Richmond, VA, U.S.A. This post is to thank those that contributed to me being there. I will get to explaining the title below, read on please.
I had a request weeks ago from my colleague Ivan here on campus and I’ve been meaning to write this for months. So here goes my list of podcasts currently on my Android phone. For those interested, I have the paid version of BeyondPod. I honestly don’t remember what benefits the paid version gives but I tend to purchase apps (and services) that I use often to give support for creators.
I list the categories in the order of my playlist algorithm. News comes first since I want to hear those as close to release as feasible. If not, they would be “olds” then anyway. I list the podcasts within each category in alphabetical order as they appear on my device.
I’m been running a form of connected courses since the January-May 2015 semester here at the Tecnológico de Monterrey. I have this tendency to throw a new power tool into my teaching toolbox every January which has been happening for about five years now. The list of courses I have setup is growing so much that I’m struggling to keep them maintained (see Alan’s tweet about needing an updater) and really should list all of them somewhere on the landing page for kenscourses.com. You can just find the current semester courses there now, go ahead and tweak the URLs to find the past semester.
I cannot even count them. I need a maintenance mode for me.
I think the tool side has matured and is leaving room for more focus on making actual connections. I want to listen more than I want to be heard and that aligns with so much I’ve been reading, discussing and hearing about lately.
So what am I focusing on this semester?
More love for and in teaching and learning. Amy Collier spoke so well about this in our Virtually Connecting hallway conversation (joined that day by Stephen Downes). Just last week I had a (in-the-flesh) lunch conversation with my colleague Pille here on campus and we found a connection there that institutions (through fear) want to remove so much personal communication between students and teachers when we know that students (and teachers) need personal connections that allow us to feel the confidence and have the strength to struggle at this thing we call learning which can be so messy.
I’m known locally and in my network as the “flipping guy”. That label is descriptive in some ways but limiting in others (like most labels). For me the key to my flipped classroom is the flipping of responsibility for the learning. I talk less and listen more while guiding my students. I think I’ve done a good job so far but need to push myself to be sure I am listening to the students that don’t have such a strong voice. This came up in another Virtual Connecting (see a pattern?) hangout which involved our first student participant: Andrew Rikard.
I recently discovered the HybridPod podcast and gave all eleven episodes a listen while leaving the feed on my phone for further updates. The latest episode was about the concept of Openness in the context of sexual orientation and I applaud Chris Friend and his guests for being open about how important (and scary) that can be in a classroom environment.
Their discussion led me to consider how my sharing and interaction with my students online and in person needs to come from a context of me showing my own vulnerabilities when confronted with something new, uncomfortable or scary.
Lately I have found myself hanging out online with a group of educators that frankly intimidates me (see Bonnie‘s reply below). This is a new group and I’m the new kid on the block. I don’t know the language (all of my education is in computing science, not education) but I can be aware of my own deficiencies while also being aware of my strengths.
lol. if you mean us, see previous tweet re imposter syndrome. we's all got it. ;)
When the pendulum swings from teacher focus to student focus I wonder if my diving to deep into active participation will lead to a danger of going native? We’ll find out as I try to spend more time in the habitats of the Tec student.
Thanks for People
Thanks Laura for pushing me to get a post out. You do amazing work (and intimidate the heck out of me) and I appreciate that. I love all the people that go out of their way to spend little moments of their day to help others.
cooommmeee onnnn. My family partied til 5A this AM. I stopped at 9P last night so I get up & blog. You can get ONE out the door.
This is my first blog post since November 21st when I gave a keynote about stimulating innovation in faculty in Querétaro. That was a great experience and as usual I leave a post with my slides and sometimes some more information gets updated upon reflection upon returning home. The update on that post did not happen.
This blog went silent.
Rod was a fellow nerd so May the 4th seems like as good a day as any to publish this, I’ve been holding onto this draft for months.
Those Long Bus Rides Home
11/21/2015 5:58PM message from Jane: “Ken, Rod died this morning.”
I didn’t see that message until two hours later. I had to process for a full 20 minutes before answering:
I am so sorry my friend.
He was a good friend and a great man.
Take care. Cry. Release. Take solace in family and friends.
Life is not fair.
Time to Reflect
In reality, I knew Rod over many years but we didn’t spend long periods of time together like many close friends do. We met while both doing our undergraduate degrees in Computer Science at the University of Victoria (UVIC).
We had amazing conversations over coffee (mostly) or beers (not as much) during our time at UVIC. I recall great discussions over code in the basement of the Student Union Building (SUB) with Chuck, Tony, Kevin, Bill and others. We were that group of older students (I took two years off during my program and was the youngest of that group) and probably for that reason more focused on our studies.
I graduated in May of 1993, I believe Rod finished later that year. I headed off to graduate school soon after in Seattle then on to Guadalajara in 1995 where I have spent most of the past 20 plus years.
Rod interviewed me at OOPSLA 1996 when I was contemplating moving back to Victoria to work in software engineering. Apparently it went well since I was hired to work at Object Technology International (already bought by IBM at that point) with Rod, Bjorn, Darin and others. My stay there was short but intense and I lived and breathed an amazing environment of what a good software engineering lab should be. We shipped the first release of Visual Age for Java (what would later become Eclipse which so many of us use to this day). Teaching and México called me and I returned to Guadalajara after a short trip through Seattle in 2008.
When I moved to Edmonton to work on my Ph.D. at the University of Alberta in 2005 with a small and growing family I reached out to Rod for advice often on business, research and personal matters. Rod was always good at listening and never one to judge me. He offered advice when I asked for it and his advice was always sound. He also offered some stories of his time growing up in those same Michener Park family residences when he was a young boy.
As we grow older we tend to focus on what is truly important: our family and what we leave behind in this world. I truly believe that Rod always saw that. He took an intense interest in my teaching practices and often asked for clarity on what I was implementing down here at the Tecnológico de Monterrey. I am sure Rod would have been an amazing teacher or professor had he chosen that path.
Farewell My Friend
Rod’s wish was to have a “big party” for him sometime later and indeed there was. Thank you to Jane, Rod’s parents and all others involved in throwing an amazing event. You all truly did an amazing job honouring him.
I wish I could pick up the phone and reach out for advice again but I cannot. I have my memories and I have all that you left behind for us to cherish.
You left so much of you, thank you.
Sail on my friend Rod Olafson, when I see kites flying I will be thinking of you.
My classrooms are very student-centred whether I am working with my undergraduate students or my faculty colleagues. This is really a rough outline and I hope, expect and encourage you to push our workshop in the direction that works best for all of you.
I’ve always been an active (some say hyperactive) person in any of my places of employment. I always look for ways to improve or optimize processes. I’ve done this in my capacity as a cook/chef-in-training, truck driver (bet you didn’t know that), software engineer, teaching assistant, teacher, graduate student, and more.