For 2008, that is. I don’t have the mental energy or attention span to address the great comments from the Community Question on Identity from before the holiday break — rest assured I’ll get to it as the new year rings in. For now I think it is fair to say that I am enjoying some much needed time away from it all. I’ve checked email a total of three times since 12/24 and it has felt great. The good thing is that while my inbox was overflowing, the number of real issues to deal with was zero. What a relief.
We had an amazing Christmas morning — my son is a little over two and he really got the concept this year. He actually played with the gifts and not just the wrapping paper and boxes like last year! My parents came for Christmas Eve and Morning so we had a full house with my sister and brother-in-law also joining. It was a great day! The evening saw us celebrate our daughter’s 7th Birthday (which I am still amazed at).
We went to our hometown of Bloomsburg, PA to visit more with my parents and to see our great friend KP. KP and his wife brought their newborn son to the East Coast for the Holidays and it was amazing getting to hang with the best of friends. We spent time walking, eating local foods, and staying up and out way too late a couple of nights.
My WVU Mountaineers capped a good season by winning their bowl game and then a little later in the day went into Ohio State and beat the 15th ranked Buckeyes by almost 30 points. My Wife, Mother, and Father all have WVU roots so it was fun watching and cheering for them together.
No matter how you slice it up the Holidays are a great time to connect with family and friends. It is also a great time to reflect on the year and to start setting sights on what is to come. So Happy Holidays to everyone and enjoy a very Happy New Years!
I was invited to speak to a large group of people responsible for marketing and communications across Penn State. This was a relatively large group of about 90 really interested people coming from all campus locations to learn about what is going on with University Relations. I spent a little over an hour sharing the embedded presentation and answering questions. It was a terrific audience that really seemed interested and excited about the ideas we were sharing.
Today I was lucky to present a session to the Allegheny Intermediate Unit Superintendents of schools. It was a two hour session that shared insights into student trends, use of technology, and their associated affordances. It was a very fun session and the discussion after it has left me with some lingering questions to explore. One question in particular that struck a chord with me was related to what my vision would be for the 9th grade classroom my duaghter walks into. That is a good 7 or so years away, so it gives ample time for change to happen. What do schedules look like, what does the use of social computing look like, how are teachers/parents/students staying connected. Big question with lots of room to think on.
I had an Op/Ed published in the print and online editions of the Christian Science Monitor today. The piece looks at the rise of participatory culture fueled by web 2.0. I use the example of the youtube video, "Charlie bit my finger – again" as the starting point to share thoughts on how these platforms are fueling the potential for global, ongoing conversations.
I was asked to present during ITS' Forum series about how ETS and TLT are working to engage our communities. I shared thoughts on our use of Twitter, blogs, wikis, youtube, and other social tools to connect with members of our extended community. We've taken the approach of trying to connect in as many ways as possible — using a mix of face to face and web I feel like we're making progress in getting people moving together. I think one of the things that really resonated was the story of how we took advantage of the ETS Wiki to plan the Learning Design Summer Camp in the open. I think people were surprised to see how interested people were in helping form the event.
On Friday I presented to the Association of Opinion Page Editors conference in State College, PA. This group was a very interesting and engaging collection of people from the newspaper world. I spent a little more than an hour talking about new ways to connect with and engage new audiences. My overall claim was that there is a new dynamic happening online — a dynamic fueled by the social web. I spent time discussing how we see both college students and teens as a demographic that must be engaged in new ways. I shared insights into Twitter, blogging, and the explosive nature of conversations on YouTube. It was well received and I enjoyed the overall conversation very much.
The 24 MB PDF of my slides are now available.
Today I will be delivering the lunchtime address at Penn State's College of Arts and Architecture's Designs on eLearning conference. I am a little anxious as I am integrating quite a bit of media into this talk. The audience is slightly outside of my typical range, so I will try to make the point that the use of digital media for expression is the basis for the new classroom conversation. I am however looking forward to it.
Spring has always been my favorite time of year. There has always been something about shifting out of winter and seeing the hope and promise of new opportunities. The new green grass, the buds on the trees, and the extended hours of daylight all seem to recharge me. Historically I’ve been less bullish on Fall. I always seem to dread the move from Summer into Winter, often ignoring the fact that Fall in PA is a wonderful time of year. But for the second year in a row I find myself really excited about the change of season … it never used to mean much to me, but I am strangely eager to see the leaves change. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.
Yesterday I went to the opening PSU game and took my daughter along. We had great seats and unlike the game we attended last year, she made it well past the first three minutes. She seemed to look at it all with very different eyes this year. I think she is seeing the spectacle of it through new lenses … the energy of the crowd and the power of the student section in particular really seemed to perk her interest. At times I caught her paying quite a bit more attention to the fans and the surroundings than the game itself. But, since at one point she said, “Daddy, I only cheer when all the people in blue do” I figured the game of football hasn’t quite made it into her conceptual framework. No problem … Beaver Stadium is quite the place to take in the sights and sounds of the experience.
It dawned on me as I prepare to see her off to first grade this year that answering the bell in the Fall is one of the things I’ve started to look forward to. I tend to measure my life in semesters for the most part — spending two decades in school and now a third as a member of the higher education community, my view of time is influenced heavily by the academic calendar. Maybe that is why my interest in Fall has started to take over — I see huge promise in the start of a new year. Not sure, but I like it.
It also makes me realize that I am feeling a real sense of belonging … I am now more than ever convinced that my choice to be in higher education is the right one. If I am eager to hear the school bell ring at the start of a new year, I must be in the right place. I’ve struggled with this choice for quite some time, but feel proud of the fact I spend my time here. I am watching with great anticipation as my daughter heads off to public school to see how long her enthusiasm for school lasts. I hope it is a lifetime.