Also check out Lawrence Lessig’s post about this.
Sundays are my favorite days and a Sunday that is also Halloween is the best. I love Halloween. Today, there is a bright blue sky serving as the perfect background for the gold, orange, bronze, bright red, rust and yellow that is fall foliage. My computer desk looks out over my back yard–tiny though it is–and I can see all the great leaves from here. I can also see the ones that need to be raked. Oh well.
The children are excited about Halloween, planning their route and who they will go trick-or-treating with. My daughter, who is a little skittish, would like for one of her parents to be with her at all times and has declared that despite the fact that trick or treating with the other children (and adults) would be fun, she would feel better if one of us were around. My son has made no declarations as of yet. We’ll see how this all pans out.
On the election front, we got a visit on Friday from Gov. Ed Rendell and Carole King and others–right on our campus! I didn’t go, because I was too embroiled in spontaneous emergencies, but I walked by. It seemed like a good rally.
I’m gearing up for my duties as Minority Inspector. I should be working on my novel, but it’s really hard for me to transport myself to the 17th century when I’m really worried about the 21st.
Here’s a few political links for the day:
1. Cul de Sac discusses the use of emotion by the Bush campaign–and his disgust with the NY Times blatant placement of one of these ads.
2. Atrios links to Land’s End CEO’s anti-Bush ad.
3. And here’s some poll stuff.
For my cat died last night, curled up in front of the fireplace.
For he was 14 years old.
For I had had him since he was born, the only surviving kitten from a litter of five.
For he started out in Memphis, moved to Indiana (3 houses), moved to Arkansas (2 houses), moved to Pennsylvania (2 houses).
For he had the loudest meow in 100 mile radius.
For he was a good cat who kept us warm at night, didn’t complain much and was loved by the children.
For he will be missed.
Quite a few people have been writing about being blue. I used to get depressed quite a bit. In the early years of Mr. GM, I was borderline insane. A lot was going on then–my sister had died just a few years earlier; my parents got divorced; I was poor and not liking my school situation (mean MFA program). Things got a little better when I took a corporate job–had some money, the people were smart and became my friends, not my competition. Then the baby was born, postpartum depression. Then we moved to Arkansas where again, I had no money, no friends, and worse, no job.
I had learned to cope with all of this back in Indiana–through therapy mostly. In fact, it was during that first year in Arkansas that I really discovered the internet and learned how to do html and hosted an IRC chat. Those skills paid off and I got the job I now have (because of course, I fell in love with the internet and continued working on skills that allowed me to take advantage of it.) That’s all to say that I sympathize with those of you out there feeling down. I have had a couple of moments of those since moving here. Now, they last a month or so. I haven’t had one in a while.
Today is Friday! I love Fridays because it’s low-key at work and of course, the weekend is coming. What I used to do on Fridays was experiment with something new. I won’t have time to do that until this afternoon, but I’ll let you know how it goes. I used to find the coolest things this way.
Not my own homework hell, but my son’s. He’s nine. He spends an hour to an hour and a half doing homework every night. It’s a burden for all of us. I know that there is something important about homework–learning responsibility and all that. And my son doesn’t really mind doing his homework. He’s good at the work; he can do most of it himself. What he’s not good at–what none of us in this family are good at is organization. He loses things; he writes things down incorrectly. And then he gets in trouble at school. It’s hard for me to hover over him and around him, constantly asking if he has papers to show me, if he’s sure he’s done everything. In ten years, I don’t think this will matter, or will it? Does this shape how he will approach his college work? How much should I really care? I’m pretty lax about it really. I don’t obsess and worry that if his rock project isn’t perfect–it isn’t–that he won’t get into Harvard. I want him to enjoy learning–even homework. I guess I feel that if I pick over every little thing, he won’t enjoy it. I’m sure the teachers think I’m being a bit cavalier about the whole thing. So I ask in a lighthearted way if he’s done everything, if there isn’t something I need to see. I try my best to make him do his work before he does something fun–but I don’t always stick to this. Sometimes something comes up and I don’t deny him his fun just because he has one more page of math to do.
Next year, I’ll be adding another kid to the homework grind and it will be even harder to juggle. It’s things like this that make me honestly think about staying at home. I sometimes feel that if I didn’t have so much going on in my own life, I could help my kids focus on theirs. The thing is, I won’t know if I made the right decision for many years to come. It feels right so far to be doing what I’m doing, but who knows . . .
First, there’s always Bitch, Ph.D.’s links. They are always interesting. I ran into some though that I wanted to share.
Crooked Timber discusses a 527 group’s use of popup ads–which are currently unregulated–in the final days of the election.
For some lighter fare, but no less political, check out Tom Burka’s blog. You gotta laugh or you’ll cry.
That would have been a decent name for my blog–but alas, I wasn’t thinking too straight when I named this thing–and really, I have talked more politics than techno. Tech has been keeping me busy lately. I usually get some time during the day to puruse the blogs, some of which are directly related to my work. I wear a lot of different hats at work. My official title is Sr. Instructional Technologist, which doesn’t mean much really. In theory, I am supposed to support the faculty in their use of technology in the classroom. What I find is the faculty who are using technology don’t need/want my help and the ones who aren’t don’t want to use it. Some of them end up being forced to use it, then call me when they don’t know what they’re doing. Although I have a lot of programs in place and I do a lot of outreach for the faculty, I end up with time to do other things–like web development and multimedia development.
Today my hats were more varied than usual. First, I attended a search committee meeting for head of our Art, Archaeology, Cities, and Classic Library. It was a discussion about the qualifications we wanted and the duties we wanted to highlight in the job description. The discussion was revealing because our CIO, who is also head of the library, wants the person to have some ideas about technology, meaning he wants them to be thinking about digital collections and tools to use those collections in research and teaching. The faculty at this meeting immediately jumped to the conclusion that he meant someone who knew their way around a computer and/or a course management system–a mechanic. I did not defend myself, but simply made my anthropological note for later.
That meeting was followed by a meeting with our college counsel to discuss the handling of our DMCA policy. I am the college’s DMCA agent. Our policy is not clearly stated and even those of us who administer the policy are not always clear on what to do. We hammered out what we were required to do and went on to discuss satellite radio and how cool it was.
Then, I finally had some time to myself. I spent it writing up a Blackboard (our course management system) FAQ that I’ve been working on and that will be shared–via Blackboard–with the two other colleges in our consortium.
Lunch, followed by the meeting of our Curriculum Support group where we talk about things we’re working on that are related to the college curriculum. Here is where we actually discuss pedagogy and technology. We spent the meeting discussing key points from the Educause conference–which I had to miss because Mr. GM was off at two other conferences. We also spent some time talking about results from a recent survey about technology literacy.
After that, I spent time talking to a colleague about our upcoming workshop on digitizing audio–from lp to cd.
Then I digitized some video, editing its sound and trimming it and exporting it into two different formats.
In between all of this stuff, I answer numerous e-mails and phone calls, usually about trivial matters.
A lot of hats. And this is a typical day–a good balance for the most part between the mechanical part of my job–using the technology and helping others use the technology and the Thinker part of my job–deciding how best to use that technology or discussing the broader issues surrounding technology and education. And that’s what I like about my job–I get to do both. What I don’t like about my job is when people think I don’t think, that I have no idea what it’s like to be in front of a classroom, that I’m a mechanic. Even the mechanic part of my job requires a lot of thought. There’s a lot of problem solving involved in using technology effectively.
I guess I’ve had one of those days that I felt went really well but that I wish more people understood, especially the people I work with. I am more than just the person who knows the exact path of your web directory and who can help you add a discussion to your Blackboard course. I can help you think about why you’d need a web directory in the first place and how to structure your online discussion to effectively enhance what you’re doing in the classroom. I have a brain and I’m not afraid to use it.