What role?

Taking a break from Potcert13 until I can determine what role to play in the course. Not being a teacher in a course for teachers is a bit of a stretch but I can usually fake my way through things like the last 6 years without a job description in the ID department at a small college.

Except… while there are times when being unaffiliated with any known description, there are also times and places (virtually all times and all places) when the freedom to follow paths unlabeled leaves people unable to know what to do with you. And this can extend to your being found to be of no particular use. And, and that works backwards too, but never mind.

The difficulties I’m having with Potcert? I’m not a well-directed learner and have no qualifications that would allow others to excuse that condition based on past performance as the world’s most directed and ruthlessly efficient learning machine ever known. Second, while I’m fascinated with how the human brain makes use of digital pen/tablet combinations, smart boards and other techno-gadgets, the actual surface functionalities do not interest me.

Third difficulty is simply a lack of purpose. There’s nothing for me to teach and no outcome I can demonstrate. My response to education is emotional and I never really understood how it works anyway.

One important thing is the question of participation. Online learning seems to require a level of self-surrender or purposeful recognition of value to what you are doing. In a classroom, you don’t need to BE a student really, just a member of the herd fenced into that particular corral makes you a student. Online, and often alone at your computer, there’s a deliberation involved in presenting into the void this “I am a student” thing that people at the other end should not be sloppy with.



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  • VanessaVaile  On September 30, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    After extended resistance and clinging to conversations via email and extended comments (usually long enough to be blog posts) to other posts and in online groups, you have finally “gotten into” (whatever that means) blogging.

    What with one thing and another ~ divided evenly among time, tech (hardware, connectivity), energy and a motivation deficit not dissimilar to the one you describe here ~ I never really got started. Unfortunately, I can’t be so cavalier with other online obligations operating the under the influence of same motivation deficit and chug along there.

    I take a more defiantly ironic attitude toward a tendency of colleagues or members of former cohort to patronize me for not really being one of them. I put in a lot of hours just about every day advocating on their behalf. The irony may be in somehow being an adjunct’s adjunct. Also not being in anyone’s pay, I can call them out for that attitude without fear of non-renewal.

    So it is not quite the same as yours but still in the same realm: where do we belong and what is our best or even possible role from the outside.

    I would say this: education is a public good (standard ‘not a commodity’ answer to market arguments). Emphasis is as much on public as on good. Education is or should be another res publica. That means neither institutions nor their minions (be they administrators, faculty or other stakeholders) are the sole proprietors of education and learning. Like civil society itself, education is the business of all, including you and me. I would also add that our own inside/outside perspective offers a particular vantage. We will notice points that 100% insiders or outsiders are likely to miss. We can quote Edward Said for support on that.

    • scottx5  On September 30, 2013 at 10:51 AM

      Think it is time to start blogging rather than totally existing in the reply boxes of other people’s blogs. Maybe it has to do with the feeling of invisibility that, like it or not, comes with life online.

      Just last week in the routine over getting a simple letter of recognition that I had been on the payroll of the college we first went through the “no letter for casuals” dance until I mentioned “union” and it was found to be customary in situations where a casual had been found to have worked steadily without interruption for a period of 5 years that a simple letter was to be issued.

      So we have resolution except they’ve chosen to list me as an Administration Assistant because deep inside my files that was an institutional convenience to allow me to take work from multiple departments without multiple contracts.

      So screw’em, it’s time to move on. Someone at the college has come up with the idea of sponsoring a MOOC directed to best practices for teaching online. After I mentioned POTcert about a 1000 times the college seems to be applying to hold their own and I have this evil desire to watch it crash. Except, the coolness potential of having a MOOC populated by those people types who emerged from those pods in the greenhouse in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is irresistible. Sort of cross between Zombie Tai Chi and interpretive taxidermy.

      Good to hear from you. How your breathing?

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