Can’t Go Back

This One Post a Day thing has been leading me down a path of near insanity this month. I can’t tell you if it was sitting and talking with Jim Groom at ELI or the “no we can’t attitude” I heard from so many people in higher education. I can’t tell you if it has been the fact that I’m taking a course this semester or if its because I am watching my daughter go through the first grade. I can’t tell you if its the way the Nation itself is completely jacked up or if its been the countless raging discussions I’ve been having every day lately. I think if I really reflect on it all perhaps it is the confluence of all these factors that have lead me to feeling the way I do. All I know is that I can’t go back to how I was feeling in January. How do I feel? Sort of pissed off.

I hope this is not the new me. I am hopeful. Just writing that makes me feel a little better. I am hopeful that I will find a way to put a lot of how I am feeling into positive and proactive energy. That the anger and angst I am struggling with will give way to intense focus, energy, and passion to do something about all the things that have me going down this path.

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is time. Time in a sense that it only moves in one direction. There is no sense wasting a minute of the future trying to go back … just isn’t going to happen. So with that said, with two days left in this blogging challenge, I am going to ty and come to grips with where I am headed. Thanks to everyone for helping me get to this point — I’ve needed a respite from the candyland of education and I’ve certainly needed to explore it in a place where others can chime in. I know one thing for certain, I don’t think I can go back to writing about stuff that doesn’t really matter.

The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down, you can’t let go and you can’t hold on, you can’t go back and you can’t stand still, if the thunder don’t get ya then the lightning will. — Jerry Garcia, The Wheel

7 thoughts on “Can’t Go Back

  1. Ever since I heard you on the ELI edition of the ETS podcast, I have been wanting to say this: you can’t become a “no we can’t” guy and you can’t let yourself get pulled into the “no we can’t” vortex. Why? Because too many of us count on you and you ETS/TLT team to be the visionaries of the education of the future. Maybe it is because I am teaching an honors class this semester, maybe it is because I have been infected by the Obama virus of optimism (isn’t it the quintessential American attitude in any case?), but I am feeling very hopeful about the future of education. I feel this way in large part because I am beginning to see how some of the things we have been working on – blogs, podcasts, video, etc. – are transforming my classroom and my teaching in ways that will allow the humanities, the liberal arts and Penn State to play decisive roles in transforming the future for the better. You and your team make that possible. I rely on you for your visionary optimism.

  2. What’s wild to me Cole is I spend all my time trying to go back. I want to return to a mythical point of wonder in my development, and I am using these tools to get there. Youtube is my best friend, and the art of moving forward is for me intensely relted to going back. I love this post, because the enrgy is that space where thinking through what’s ahead demands a nostalgic longing for what once was inside us. A generative going back to move forward, the ideas are so beautifully entangled, and I want to emerge again with a wonder-filled fascination that I had in front of the hulking t screen when I saw Missle Command on the Atari 2600. We are in some ways there, it’s new and exciting, and we can’t let reason and expedience rob us of this moment. We need not be experts or researchers, for the stuff is too new and wild, we need be willing subjects for the experimentation. We need dive in head first and let the wonder engulf us, and let all else disappear. We need to become Tron!

    A kind of going back to jump forward exponentially, from great turmoil let there be something born remarkable and wonder-filled. O brave new world….

  3. First off, quoting “The Wheel”……FTW.

    I kind of get the feeling that some of the frustration we all feel is based on the fact that we are like Tokyo. What? No, follow me here – ever hear people remark that going to Tokyo is like getting in a time machine and going several years into the future? That’s us. It’s tough sometimes being an explorer when people are telling you that the ship will sail right off the edge of the Earth.

    So, we run into resistance from people who might not have a lot of information about what we are doing and why we are doing it, so they cast aspersions. An example of this was a few years ago when I volunteered at the Penn State powwow. There I was, in the kitchen making buffalo burgers and chatting with two middle-school teachers. When I told them what I do, and asked if they would ever consider using things like Facebook in class, the reaction was, well, kind of disturbing. They practically shrieked, going on about all the predators roaming Facebook, and just about comparing anyone who uses Facebook in education to someone loading kids into a bus and unloading them at a pervert convention.

    Of course, this was around the time when certain media outlets were drumming up the hysteria. However, I wonder this – did their opinions change? Do they still feel like there are no educational possibilities in the social Web?

    I dunno.

  4. @ Jim
    This strikes me as right on… in an earlier post I said something about “back to basics.” It seems to me on one side of the coin we have to go back to the fundamentals — and not in the sense of memorizing times tables. We need to go back to the future…

    We need to focus on learning as it has always been intended: learning in order to expand one’s mind and encourage problem solving and creativity. But we need to take advantage of where we are right now to do that. Cole, the technologies that you have been drilling down on, exploring, and writing about now have the sudden ability to take us forward. I know you well enough to say that the reason your are so worked up is that you see the opportunity. Right now.

    What we need is finally meeting up with what he have. And it hasn’t been that way before… online education has been bunk because the EDUCATION part was traditionally bunk. The social web model (to me at least — retired from the “industry” in order to wipe noses and asses) seems a bit like the holy grail we were looking for ten years ago when we talked about opening up the content management system to faculty and students.

    The market is finally ready for the product. And you want to attack.

  5. @Christopher Long No chance of me becoming a “no we can’t” person. It is one of the things I loathe about our community sometimes. Thanks for the kind words and you can rest assured that we’ll keep pushing as long as you keep pushing. We rely on you to actually make these things go for our students. I wouldn’t even be trying without the efforts of faculty like you and so many others around PSU.

    @ Jim Van Morrison says “don’t lose the wonder in your eyes …” It gets hard every now and then to maintain the positive energy, but I can tell you that the way I’m feeling has a lot to do with seeing the opportunities right in front of my eyes. I can’t wait for the next phase of all this — it is the perfect storm of opportunity!

  6. @Kristin

    What we need is finally meeting up with what he have. And it hasn’t been that way before… online education has been bunk because the EDUCATION part was traditionally bunk. The social web model (to me at least — retired from the “industry” in order to wipe noses and asses) seems a bit like the holy grail we were looking for ten years ago when we talked about opening up the content management system to faculty and students.

    I feel more and more that the social web is the content management system and that google is the gateway to it all. Going forward I am frustrated by the opportunities associated with openness, the new interest in participation, and relative resistance to implement it all to change where education is headed. This past year starting with my visit to the Berkman Center and moving right through my current thinking has been professionally transformative. I want so badly to find the path towards implementation … and you are right — I want to do it now!

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