Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Love and Discomfort

It has dawned on me that my best relationships - platonic and romantic - have had an element of discomfort to them.

I break discomfort down into 3 types:
- the discomfort of doing something stupid
- the discomfort of the unknown
- the discomfort of growth

The people I love the most,  the people I try my damnedest to keep close, are the ones who make me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in a way that makes me better. The discomfort of growth.

Challenging my assumptions.
Forcing me to think clearer.
Attacking my belief systems.
Encouraging me to find more examples.
Identifying when I am acting in a way that doesn't match my values or goals.
Wanting me to just be a better person.

I don't like it when the people I love show me they love me back by pointing out my "failings".
Where I fall short.
But I know they do it to make me better.
To grow.
To be my best self.

To my family, my friends, my co-workers, my professional network.
The people I commune with on a semi-regular basis.

Thank you for the gift of the discomfort of growth.

Monday, April 29, 2013

LMSs, Push and Groups

Just a few thoughts - only because this is on my mind too....
I trust that my UP2AOU colleagues will let me know if I am entirely off base.
One of my fellow higher ed colleagues is looking for a new LMS.

Read more....

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Garden - Part 4: The Seedlings

So what ARE you going to put in the boxes - you may ask.

Remember those seedlings?

I attempted to put them in the boxes!
Visions of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages and cardoons!


uh....they're KINDA green....ish.....

Sometimes, the seedlings we plant fail.

In this instance - I suspect they were doomed from the start.
Too spindly.
And I didn't harden them off (what does "harden them off" mean?)

There's a little hope for the cardoons and kale.
The rest...dead.

I suspect that the political / talking-to-people process in my Learning Ecosystem is comparable to the hardening off process for seedlings.

I've had a number of mentors recently tell me that I'm doing a great job of starting the seedlings. 
I just need to take the time to harden them off.
Get them a little more comfortable in the environment I am working in.
Otherwise, they may wilt and die.
Just like the seedlings for my garden.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Garden - Part 3: Rotating Crops

I have some garden boxes in the front "yard".
A benefit to living in a neighborhood with no homeowners association.

The past few years I have used these garden boxes for tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

From my admittedly limited study of vegetable gardening, I decided that this year I would move the crops to an area I fondly call "Pine Chip Beach."  We used to have a pine tree at that location that we had removed and chipped into mulch to smother the English Ivy.

Last year - the peppers and eggplants that were in containers did MUCH better than the plants in the boxes.

So I have decided to plant all of our nightshades in containers this year.

Pine Chip Beach still gets quite a bit of sun since we had the cherry tree (trunk seen on the right) trimmed way back.
It won't be this sunny forever.
Figured it's time to take advantage and let the boxes rest.
In the Learning Ecosystem, I am also "rotating" or moving crops.  My reporting crop - to be specific.

Like my boxes, there will still be some reporting coming out of the old location (our LMS).

But we are looking to do a lot of our reporting in different locations. 
More fertile locations with possibly more sunshine.

As with my attempt at crop rotation (of a sort), I hope to gain more options for reporting and a richer crop of data.
Also, as with my attempt at crop rotation, I am not entirely certain this will work.

At least I have more options.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Garden - Part 2: Smother and Replace

There are areas of my garden where I am doing a complete re-do.

Below is an attempt to smother some grass with newspapers and topsoil. 

This is in preparation for a future butterfly garden.

If you look carefully - there are still patches of green peeking up through the dirt.

Some of these green patches are bulbs. These can stay.

Some of these are a cool-looking ground-cover weed.

The debate is....do I pull the cool-looking ground-cover weed out or leave it?

Over the dirt - I have sprinkled the appropriate Butterfly Garden seed mix.
I suspect that half of the seed will be sacrificed to the birds - who have been eyeing my progress with great anticipation.

Now...we wait to see what grows.

In the Learning Ecosystem - I've tried to smother my old development tools to adopt and grow new ones. 

Yet, cool things are popping up through the attempt at smothering. 

I find a need to keep the old development tools as use cases pop up through the dirt. 
Not desirable, necessarily, but useful for now.  

I have a better idea of what is blooming among these tools than my garden. 
I adopted new tools about 6 months ago.  I spread the seeds last week.

I also have a better feel for how my external environment in the Learning Ecosystem will react (conservative and cheap) than for how the birds will behave and the weather impacts the seeds.

However, even with progress being made in the Learning Ecosystem, I am still uncertain as to whether the revamp of this section of the garden will turn out the way I plan. 

How much of the "old" will remain and for how long.

Whether the new "seeds" I planted will sprout.

How external forces will impact my efforts.

Ultimately, I may leave it up to the birds.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Garden - Part 1: Insanity

It has dawned on me that enterprise, legacy, courses and all that assumes a level of stability that no longer exists.
With the coming of spring, my thoughts have turned to gardens.
Specifically - my garden.

My garden - an ever-morphing, ever-evolving ecosystem within a specific environment (in this case - my property lines).

The Learning Ecosystem - should be an ever-morphing, ever-evolving ecosystem within a specific environment (in this case - the University I work for).

The next few posts will explore this metaphor.
There are areas of my garden where we are making (yet again) an attempt to do the same thing that hasn't worked before.

In THIS case, an attempt to grow grass in the backyard.

Note the little piles of grass seed and Clay Breaker.
The significant other INSISTS that THIS TIME it will work.

In the Learning Ecosystem - Instructional Design (or lack thereof). Guilty as charged.

Insanity....doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Demo Days

The most important part of my job as an IT trainer is to break stuff.

Because if I don't break it, someone else will. Likely in my class. Or when they are in panic-mode and whatever it is they are trying to use is really super-important and they need to use it NOW orelsetheirkittendiesahorribledeathathtehandsofthechiefheadmuckymuckoftortureandabuseandifIdontdoitnowIwilllosemyjoband apoxwillbeputonmyhouse

Better that I do it.

Anyway, we are in the process of looking at replacements for our communications systems.
Phones, Video conferencing, Web conferencing, IM, the whole shebang.

This is potentially good.  We are hitting up against issues in our current environment that need fixing.

- We have a lot more telecommuters.  Attending a meeting as a telecommuter in our environment is painful.  Especially if there are a bunch of people in a video teleconferencing room and you, the lonely telecommuter, is at home with your phone and (if you are lucky) an outdated document.

- Trying to do desktop share is awkward, at best.  Non-functional on too many occasions (curses Java, Java applets, and all the rest)

- IP Softphone to help you drag your office phone to any other location....a good idea in concept.  Our current execution is spotty.  Some people love it.  I am not one of them.

- There is no way for me to easily escalate a chat to a voice call to a video call or web conference.  That would be awesome.

- We have way too many tools that we use to perform simple tasks.

So my hope is that any solution we select and implement
- Solves the problems we have
- Reduces the number of tools.

Seems simple, right?

Uh - yeah.

After look at our options, I walked away a touch depressed.
- 3 of the 4 options looked cobbled together
- Of those 3 options, 1 didn't work at all. The other 2 were variations on the same theme.
- The one option that appeared to work the way we wanted it to is probably too expensive

I had our student helper go through the demos as well.

"This looks cool and all, but why can't we just use Google Hangouts and Skype?"

Why, indeed.....

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Words of Wisdom from Ze Frank

"God, let me enjoy this.  Life isn't just a sequence of waiting for things to be done."
I have missed Ze Frank.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Another Attempt at xAPI Sense Making

One of my objectives for Learning Solutions was to make more sense of how xAPI (fondly known as Tin Can) might work in my Learning Ecosystem.

Read more....