Made It!

So after two days traveling I95, we arrived in Orlando where it is well over 100 degrees. Not much to say today, other than you see the craziest things along I95 … if you think about it, that trip takes you through several states and lots of states of mind. Just the bumper stickers, people riding in the back of pickup trucks at 85 MPH, and all the stuff overheard is crazy. I realized on the way down that I think I’ve made the trip down I95 nearly every year since I was two … first for annual spring breaks with my family in Myrtle Beach, SC and later to visit family in FL. Lots of things have changed, but South of the Border is still kicking it!

Photo by mollypop via Flickr.

Photo by mollypop via Flickr.

I have a few pictures of my own that I’ll post over at my Flickr page once I get a chance, but at the moment the kids have been patiently waiting to swim for the last two days. Off for a Corona!

BTW, I think I have to file this post under “I hope it counts.”


I’ll be on the road, so who knows what the one post a day for this month will look like during the next week … I’ll try to post something interesting as we travel to Orlando, FL for the week. I know, I know … why the hell am I going to Orlando at the start of Summer? I’m asking myself that question as well. In all seriousness it should be fun, hot, and hopefully relaxing.

autoWhile I am not ponying up for a new iPhone 3Gs, I have upgraded to 3.0 and plan to take advantage of the newly announced free AT&T hotspots. I love the idea of easy login on my phone for wifi access along to way and while traveling. Even at home, where PSU has recently partnered with AT&T to provide customers access while on campus — that’ll mean I can use wifi in certain places without dealing with the iPhone VPN. BTW, does anyone know if it is possible to store a VPN password? I am so tired of checking something online while on campus and having it just spin … if the VPN would auto engage and connect that wouldn’t be an issue, but I can’t for the life of me figure that out.

Either way I’ll be connected as much as possible while traveling. I’ll be doing my best to stay away from email, but I do plan to use some of the time away to take some pictures and continue playing with iPhoto and Photoshop. I’ll be posting stuff here and over at my Flickr space.

Staying Put

For the first time in a long time I am looking at my travel for the next few months and things look calm. Sure there is a little vacation in there and even one work trip, but for the most part I’ve tried to really scale back my Summer travel. I’m doing that for several reasons … first there is the family. My schedule tends to be rough on them and I am trying to figure out a better balance. Besides, there really isn’t a better place than our backyard on Summer evenings. Too perfect.

Why Leave?

Why Leave?

Another reason is the incoming class of Faculty Fellows. Each one brings an amazing set of ideas with them that I know will challenge us all to really push forward. I’ll be once again working with Carla Zembal-Saul, while a big group of us will be working directly with Stuart, Ellysa, and Chris. I’ll be surprised if every single person in ETS isn’t somehow effected by their residencies. Its going to be fun.

So just two reasons why you won’t see any major posts about me leaving for this or for that. Will I miss getting to hang out with colleagues and visit new places? Yes. I will especially miss the Open Ed Conference happening in Vancouver, but I have to pick and choose my time wisely this Summer. Staying put also gives me a chance to focus a little extra energy here locally, thinking about how we take the next few steps in our work. I think it will be a Summer well spent.

The End of the Line

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!

The Revolution is in Full Swing

I got back from an interesting little unconference experience yesterday where Brad Kozlek and I attended the WordCamp ED at George Mason University in Virginia. It might seem strange that a couple of guys working a University wide blogging solution built on MovableType would have the nerve to go and spend the day with other faculty and staff doing the same, but with WordPress as the focus. I was convinced that the trip would be worth it and the discussion would center on the power of open publishing platforms for teaching and learning. I wasn’t disappointed. Nearly the entire day focused on the outcomes and practices being realized via a campus wide blogging platform. It was cool to see people giving up a Saturday to get together and talk.

One of the big reasons I wanted to go was to get to finally meet Jim Groom in person. Jim is a passionate educational technologist who runs the Blogs at University of Mary Washington service. His work has been an inspiration to lots of people trying to free learning content across campuses. If you read his blog you know he is really into shattering the status quo and destroying the walls that have captured our institutional content for the last 10 years. Let me just say that his presentation rocked and it pushed Brad and I to spend nearly the entire 4 hour drive back to State College talking about how we are also thinking these thoughts — and frankly how to push a little harder.

It was great finally meeting Jim Groom.

It was great finally meeting Jim Groom.

His talk was titled Permanent Revolution and told the story of how important it is that we promote the use of open publishing spaces to save the academy. He told it with the intensity and emotion of a man worthy of the nickname, The Reverend. He makes the claim that the “Notion of the Permanent Revolution” is at the core of what we are trying to do with education — we need ways to rethink the digital space we are living in and how to take advantage of the affordances inherent in instant publishing. He claims that WordPress is a platform for revolution, but was quick to point to us and say the tools don’t matter just the ways we allow them to be used. His assertion is that we must work to liberate student content — in the LMS/CMS model students must pour it in and then after the course it gets packaged up, archived, deleted, and ultimately becomes inaccessible to the creator. It isolates the contribution. In the blog world, it belongs to the individual and the individual decides how to share it with the community (or the class).

A great talk that I wish was given more time. What I really wanted to do was explore the underlying principles with his talk and walk away from any thoughts of “my platform is better than yours.” I think Jim and I were both very interested in talking about affordances of the concept, not of the individual tools. He and I are going to be joining forces with Brian Lamb, D’Arcy Norman, and Alan Levine at ELI in January to present a session on the use of personal publishing tools to drive educational practice … I can’t wait to have the conversation with he and the rest of that crew.

At the end of the day, it was a very worth while trip and one that has me thinking more critically about the notion of openness on our campus — and how much louder we need to be shouting for its creation.

Getting Away and Coming Home

I’m not sure this is worthy of my One Post a Day goals I laid out a while back … I’ve been pretty quiet for the last few days because I have been traveling. As a matter of fact, I am typing this post in the San Francisco Airport. I’ve been in Medford, Oregon since Friday visiting one of my oldest friends, KP. KP and I go way back — maybe third grade or so? KP moved to Oregon about four years ago when he got married to his lovely wife. The chance to make a quick (albeit exhausting) trip to the west coast to see him doesn’t come around all that often, but earlier this summer my wife and I decided I should make the time since KP had just had his first child. So, we picked some dates — we had no idea when we booked that the month of August was going to be a total travel month — and I just packed up and came on out. It was well worth the trip.

Since Friday I’ve golfed (I shot better than I have in years with a straight up 84 with borrowed clubs), visited wineries, sat on his back deck with his little man, visited more wineries, explored small towns, ate great food, and really just relaxed. It is honestly impossible to find ways to capture the beauty of the Souther Oregon Rogue River region … the mountains, the grapes, and everything in between is breathtaking. Nice to stop and taste life a bit.

It was interesting seeing KP in his own element. When he comes east he sort of comes in as the old KP, but in his new hometown he is someone much different. Trust me, KP is the kind of person who can be anyone he wants and still be a blast!

So I am beat and getting ready to take off on a red eye so I can be back in State College by 10 AM. I’ll then race home to spend a week with my family. I can’t wait to see them and to take the rest of the week to get my little lady ready to go off to public school and to spend some “outside time” with my little man watching him play in the backyard. Summer has sprinted by us and Fall isn’t waiting for us to catch up. A great summer and a great way to end it — visiting old friends and getting to spend the waning hours of it with my own family.

At ELI 2008

Well, we got in yesterday and enjoyed poking around San Antonio. Today it all gets started. Allan and I present at 4:30, so we are getting set to put the finishing touches on our slides. Later this evening we’re hoping we can get a little ELI Podcast — ETS Talk style — going with some interested people. If you read this and are interested get in touch with me … leave a comment, come to our session, or look for us at 5:30 in the Hyatt Lounge. BTW, River Walk is very beautiful!