|May 14, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Personal Ramblings|
Image courtesy of puuikibeach
That’s more or less what my room looks like right now (sans awesome pirate flag). I’m trying to get all of the crap I’ve collected over the past decade or so sorted out, donated, tossed if it’s past the point of usefulness to anyone in any way, and setting up my room such that I might actually be able to think in here.
Oh, and I guess it’s pertinent to mention that I graduated a couple days ago.
I don’t really know what to say or think about that last point. It’s not hyperbole to say that I’ve been reaching toward this moment for most of my life—I remember playing make-believe games when I was maybe six or seven about going off to college. I knew that I wanted to apply to UVA and the University of Michigan by the time I was seven or eight (I didn’t end up applying to either school for undergrad, but who knows?). There were more than a few moments between high school and here when I thought I’d never get to graduation, which makes this whole thing seem all the more surreal, but I made it, thanks in large part to a group of the best professors and family and friends the world has ever known. Beyond that, I came out of my final year with a completed independent research project (I’ll write a wrap-up post on that soon!), three creative writing portfolios, and a lit journal that I’m awfully proud of. I think I can call that a success. : )
So what’s next? My long-long-long term goal is grad school, where I’ll hopefully end up hybridizing my love of creative writing and my fascination with all things digital. Right now I’ve got to do research for that, as well as find a job so I’m not thoroughly broke within within the next month or two, though I already scored an incredible internship at NANO Fiction! This summer I’ll also be dabbling in The DS106 Zone when I have time—from where I’m sitting it looks like it’s going to be one of the best summer sessions yet, and I’m stoked for what the crazy masterminds behind the class will roll out for us.
As far as this blog is concerned, I’ll continue to update when I can and post about what’s lined up for this summer (hopefully: writing, sending writing off for publication, continuing to reorganize my room, a little travel, getting in shape). Sooner than later I’d like to post a wrap-up reflection about the research project I completed on ds106 and digital education, and once I get the paper revised I’ll probably end up hosting it here for all to see.
I’m also going to be ditching the Daily 300 challenge I set for myself, at least in a public way. I’ll still try to write that much, but I’ve learned that to write something meaningful every day often means writing on subjects I’m not ready to share right away, and that’s okay. I do want to focus on creative writing this summer, both because it’s the art I’ve finally settled on as mine and because I need to get a portfolio together for grad school applications. As the summer progresses I’ll see if I can find another way to keep myself publicly accountable for my creative output—maybe even through ds106.
So. Lots of cool things. Stay tuned!
|April 24, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Daily 300|
Today I attended the last class of my undergraduate career.
People cried. It was great. I brought snickerdoodles. Our professor sent us out the door with hugs and a list of books and a poem hand-picked for each student.
“What do we do now?” This from one of my classmates as we walk down the hall, voicing the big question, the thing we all hope we have an answer for after our professor’s heartfelt sendoff.
“I have a fucking life!” I answer her, shouting into the stairwell, and it’s almost what I mean. The last four years have been life, of course, and what I mean is that now I start to live after this finish line. Or maybe what I mean is in the possessive I have, that now I know how to claim myself wholly, instead of in pieces.
Last semester a different professor told me that “bonfire” comes from “bone fire,” and I feel like that today. Out in the hallway I am laughing, helpless, in the same way that several other students cried. I want to cry; it would be cathartic and poignant, but I have cried so much in the last four years. Instead I have this dry laugh, instead my marrow feels like kindling or coals, and I want so much. I want the poetry MFA that I’ve decided I’ll work toward, I want the internship I landed at a lit journal this summer, I want my words to mean something to other people, I want to write stories only for myself. One of my classmates pointed out that contradiction during our last class; I had talked about how freeing it is to sometimes write solely for your own enjoyment, and later said that what we write is bigger than we are, lasts longer than we can.
Another student quoted Whitman in my defense, but I don’t feel like I contain multitudes. I contain only the scope of my self and, I suppose like Whitman after all, I have always been made of contradictions. I cherish the etymology of bonfires and last week I had a green vine tattooed down the dip of my back, an image vulnerable to flames. The philodendron that inspired the tattoo is real, a plant stubborn enough to live after years in my clumsy care. It’s the focus of a piece I wrote for this final class, the first creative nonfiction essay I ever completed with pride. The essay begins the work of resolving trauma I lived through at the beginning of this, in freshman year.
What do I do now? I keep going. I find the work that calls to me and I do that work. I live as the strange, singular, and contradictory person that I am. I write it down.
|April 15, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under College Work, Emerging Pedagogies in Edtech|
Before I get into the bulk of this post, a minor update: I’m going to be presenting this project at UMW’s Kemp Symposium, which is in actuality kind of a big deal. I’m not sure how I’m going to present the project yet or what kind of resources I’ll have at my disposal (i.e. a screen, or just a podium) but it’ll come out to a 15 minute overview of my research. I am both super excited and quite nervous, but what else is new?
Back to the actual project, I’ve recently realized that the idea of “liberal arts education” is a far more complex concept than I had assumed. I’d always taken it at face value: “liberal arts” refers primarily to the humanities, and therefore a “liberal arts education” has a similar focus. Turns out I was working under a painfully narrow assumption of what the liberal arts really are. Since the phrase crops up quite frequently in discussions of open online education, though, I finally asked Dr. Whalen what exactly all of these researchers and teachers and scholars mean by “liberal arts.” He informed me that there is (surprise surprise) an entire mindset and tradition informing the concept behind it. This week on “Haley’s Mind Is Blown,” I’m going explore those definitions, and look into how that informs my research overall.
This post probably won’t mean a great deal to anyone who’s immersed in teaching or administration at a liberal arts college (or anyone who didn’t utterly miss the memo about this) but it strikes me that I might not be the only student who isn’t 100% clear on this definition. I’m mostly attacking this for my own benefit, though.
|April 9, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under College Work, Emerging Pedagogies in Edtech|
Martin Weller’s The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice has finally come up on my to-read list, and I’ve realized that I probably should have started with this book in the first place. Because Weller and Jim Groom share a lot of the same ideas on how digital and open education should operate, Digital Scholar does a great job of illustrating the ethos behind ds106, which Jim Groom was instrumental in founding (Weller actually mentions Groom in his Acknowledgements). While his work relates specifically to how teachers and scholars are interacting with digital tools and how they might approach digital pedagogy, his work is highly accessible and relevant to anyone interested in how digital media applies to education, including your very own intrepid student. Digital Scholar is more or less an overview of the ethos behind ds106, so I’m excited to explore how it’ll inform my final paper.
|April 3, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Daily 300|
And metaphorically the heart is where all the best words come from.
If you don’t exercise your muscles, they’ll atrophy. This is a truism of writing as well: to write, you must write. Bam, simple. Except apparently if you’re me, and you’re one of those kinds of perfectionists, and the idea of writing something with even a hint of substance on a daily basis feels a bit like being asked to run a marathon on zero training.
There are reasons I’m afraid of making a commitment to Writing, and that about sums them up.
But I have this whole vast website that I get to cultivate, to curate, and if it’s going to survive after graduation (maybe if I’m going to survive after graduation) there needs to be more of me here. I need a reason to keep myself writing even when, as Emma Rathbone said, I’m not inspired.
In the spirit of doing things I don’t want to do that are ultimately good for me, I’m going to write at least 300 words every weekday, and post them here. I might fail spectacularly at this, but then every morning I run the risk of failing spectacularly to get out of bed and put my pants on (it’s happened before. More than once). What I write won’t be polished, it might be fiction or nonfiction, but I’ll strive to make it interesting. I want to hone my skills at crafting narrative, because everything is a story and stories are what I have always, always wanted to make thrive.
I’ve started running too, every now and then. So either I’m off-the-rails crazy, or I’m finally approaching something like health. I’m not sure if it’s hilarious or kind of weird that I can’t tell.
300 words isn’t much, but it’s enough to tell a story. This one should be the first of many.
|April 1, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Personal Ramblings, Writing|
In an effort to make this blog an actual thing that actual humans (and the occasional small rodent) might enjoy reading, I’m going to stick a few personal posts here. Hopefully that will also make it easier to transition it back to ds106 work and whatever else I want to do with this space post-graduation.
Last week I attended the annual Sweet Briar Creative Writing Conference, a four-day event for undergraduate creative writers who’ve been nominated by the faculty of their respective schools. My poetry workshop was headed by Leah Naomi Green, the conference was organized by John Casteen, and I was introduced to the poetry, prose, and nonfiction of some amazing contemporary authors (if you aren’t reading Dave Lucas’ poetry, by the way, you are missing out on some astounding work). The good: after being immersed in brilliant creative writing and keeping the company of amazing writers for four days, I felt like the writing thing, maybe even the teaching-of-writing thing, was a real possibility for my life. The bad: where does that leave all of my work with new media?
|March 30, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under College Work, Emerging Pedagogies in Edtech|
Seriously though. I know astrological spring and meteorological spring are different concepts and I’m all for more snow, but the bouncing back and forth thing has got to stop. GET IT TOGETHER, VIRGINA.
This post is
a day late thanks to the Sweet Briar creative writing conference eating most of my brain really late because my brain is a strange, unpredictable thing and I do not work well under vague, looming stress. Forthcoming: a post about how I need to figure out what I’m doing after graduation, and whether or not that plan involves an MFA (spoilers: probably).
The problem with crafting a reading list for this project before I’d actually begun doing the bulk of my research was that I wasn’t entirely certain what kinds of texts would be the most useful to me. With that in mind I collected anything and everything I could find that seemed vaguely scholarly and added it to my reading list, and now the time has come for some weeding.
|March 18, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under College Work, ds106, Emerging Pedagogies in Edtech|
My final paper is proceeding apace. And by “apace” I mean WHY DID I SIGN UP FOR THIS LAST SEMESTER? What made me think this was a good plan? DEAR GOD I GRADUATE IN TWO MONTHS!
Panicking aside, I’ve made some decent progress on sorting out how I want to conclude my paper, and how I’m going to get there (kudos to my adviser Dr. Whalen for all the awesome conversations in that vein).
First and foremost, I think that for the purposes of this paper I’m going to define online learning as a branch of edtech. It makes a lot of sense to me: anything that happens on the internet is facilitated by technology, which, to my thinking, makes online education a function of educational technology. Therefore, when I use to the term “educational technology” or “edtech,” I’m also referring to online courses, open and otherwise. I hope to use “edtech” as an umbrella term, and then narrow my terminology when needed, such as when I’m referring to open educational resources or massively open online courses in specific. Then again, if that usage is completely wonky in the actual edtech/online ed world, I’d love some feedback so I’m not producing a paper that’s unintelligable.
I think one of the struggles I’ve been having in trying to pin down where I want my paper to wind up is that, as usual, my focus wasn’t narrow enough. I’m not going to be able to make large pronouncements about The State Of Edtech with this project, no matter how much I feel like that’s what I should be doing. What I can do is narrow my focus back down, like I keep talking about, and bring things back to ds106. Finally. After about three blog posts insisting that’s what I was going to do.
|March 4, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under College Work, Emerging Pedagogies in Edtech|
Here we are, just about at the halfway mark, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout so far in my edtech extravaganza it’s that there is so much I still have to learn. Hopefully the conference next week can help me fill in a few more blanks, but man, I have a long way to go.
Considering that I’ve only got about half a semester left, I think it’s time to figure out where I’m going with the paper I need to write at the end of this project. My original proposal stated that I’d write about this stuff:
Within my final paper I will explore the history and structure of the Digital Storytelling class and how it functions as part of Mary Washington’s Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies. I will focus on the unique aspects of this course as compared to other open online classes, such as its small size, student-driven assignment creation and flexible interdisciplinary curriculum. I will then connect the elements I’ve identified to larger trends within the field of online education, which will constitute the bulk of my research. I will use the analysis I have outlined in my blog posts and throughout my paper to speculate on the future of online education and educational technology as framed by my experiences in Digital Storytelling.
That… might be a little more difficult than I originally intended. I’ve expanded my knowledge of edtech and open education so much that bringing it back in to focus on ds106 and UMW feels a bit limiting. I do need to focus if I’m ever going to get this thing done., though Ergo… outline time!
|March 1, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Personal Ramblings|
You guys, the next couple of weeks are going to be crazy exciting.
Next Thursday I’ll be attending OpenVA, “Virginia’s First Annual Open and Digital Learning Resources Conference,” as the tagline proclaims. Looking over the proposed schedule is overwhelming, especially since the final schedule will have my name on it—I’m giving a quick talk on how the internet is, in fact, a real place (many many many thanks to Jim Groom for giving me the chance to be an active participant)! I am so thoroughly beyond stoked for all the panels, lectures, TED-style talks and random conversations I’ll get to experience; I can’t imagine a better way to learn about edtech and open education. My hope is that this conference will help me to sort out where I want to focus my attentions if I do wind up pursuing edtech for graduate school, to learn which topics truly speak to my passions and which people and programs I find most compelling. Of course I’ll be live-tweeting and blogging about what I learn as the conference progresses, so if you’re interested in the musings of an undergrad on the goings-on, stay tuned!
One other big project is coming together right now: as an English major with a creative writing concentration, one of my required courses is structured around designing and launching a literary journal. The vast majority of the journals are built using WordPress, and we’ve received invaluable help and support from UMW’s Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies. My group is amazing, and we’ve come up with a gorgeous little site, most of which I put together myself (I may or may not be inordinately emotionally invested in our website). You can check us out at StitchJournal.com. The site is far from perfect and currently doesn’t have any content up (so you should submit if you’re an artsy or writerly type!) but I haven’t been this excited about a thing I’ve made in ages. That might have something to do with the fact that the last website I attempted to build was in middle school and was hand-written static HTML, but I’m hoping this one will end up slightly more elegant.
In the mean time, midterms are over, I’ve made some big decisions about another conference I’ll be attending later this month (this one for creative writing), and tomorrow I get to go home for a few days off and to catch up on sleep before OpenVA.