Dec 062010

I’m not sure why I’m writing this.

Let me clarify.

After my unintended hiatus, I kind of got into a routine of blogging every Sunday — similar, I discovered, to how Kim Cofino blogs regularly. And I was happy to be writing again.

But now, here I am at 1:17am (okay, 2:30 after editing) and completely burnt out. I’ve stayed away from Twitter nearly all day (unusual for me as of late). The past 5 weeks, I’ve spent an average of 9 hours/day at the library. My wrists and elbows are sore, my back aches, and my brain feels like mush. But I must go on. I have no choice.

My thesis presentation is on Friday. The final document is due on Wednesday, December 15. I’m stressed and bogged down. I am not where I thought I would be at this moment, despite meticulous planning and organizing, and mountains of work already done. I’m insecure about my entire thesis project and fearful that once I present, people’s reactions will be, “That’s it? You’ve spent the last 4 months on this? Really?” I am afraid that what I have to show will not be representative of what I’m capable of doing. And this saddens me. I hate that this fear lurks inside me.

Here’s what I want my thesis (and its presentation) to demonstrate:

  • that I can apply learning theory and research to the design of a digital space intended for learning
  • that I can design a digital space intended for learning
  • that I know what tools and features support the creation of a community in a learning space
  • that theory and practice need a bridge
  • that designing learning spaces isn’t easy
  • that formal learning environments can still have a community element
  • that teachers need a community of practice to learn, thrive, and grow
  • that the teaching profession is dependent upon communities of practice if it is to develop and evolve
  • that the IB wants teachers to learn and grow together in a supported environment
  • that I don’t have all the answers, but dangit I have a few really good ones

And here is what I fear that my thesis (and its presentation) will actually show/say/demonstrate:

  • Dude, that’s one sad-looking website.
  • Is that all? You mean there’s no more?
  • Wait, don’t all websites have social elements these days? You did how much research to figure that out? Man, I coulda told you that in 10 minutes looking at one page of that “learning environment.”
  • Huh, what’s the theory again? and why is it relevant? Theory schmeary.
  • That doesn’t look like a place where any learning will happen.
  • This would be cooler if she designed something totally new.
  • That Adrienne doesn’t know how to design anything — she went to grad school for this?
  • Wow, the IB sure has strict professional development guidelines.
  • I don’t get it.

Put your money down, folks. Which side will win this battle — Thesis wants or Thesis fears?

So why am I laying it all out here in the open? I guess to make it real. That’s part of it. Another part of it, I think is to document what I’m thinking and feeling, so that I can look back on this and remind myself that sometimes insecurities make us stronger (at least I’m hoping that in the end of this I come out stronger!). I guess I’m also sharing with you in the hopes that you’ll give me some feedback, push me along, tell me what I’m doing is worthwhile, etc. — yeah, so maybe I’m fishing for a bit of an ego boost. That’s what happens when we get insecure, isn’t it?

I’ve been giving myself a pep talk the last couple of hours but it isn’t working so well. I think being sleep-deprived isn’t helping my mood. Sava‘s been trying to puff me up a bit too — her feedback has been tremendously helpful and I’m infinitely grateful. But she is also in the midst of designing her own projects, and I know she is stressed and tired, too.

It’s finals week for everyone.

Whose idea was it for me finish my thesis project in the weeks leading up to Christmas, anyway? That person needs her head checked. She’s obviously never before done a thesis project involving research and design.

What was she thinking?

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Mar 032009

I’ve decided to participate in the latest suggestion by Sue Waters over at The Edublogger. And I invite you to join us for for Gr8tweets for the month of March in order to:

  • Commit to trying out Twitter for a month
  • Find interesting people to follow on Twitter
  • Share what you value about Twitter
  • See what others value about Twitter
  • Help build your Personal Learning Network

Here’s how it works: For the month of March, a group of educators and lifelong learners will be picking a “Tweet of the day” and Re-Tweeting it with a tag: #gr8t

For more details, please visit Sue’s post, where she explains it in more detail (including a bit on how to use hashtags). You can also visit the Wikispace which has more details, as well as a list of participants.

For me, a “gr8 tweet” will be a tweet that does one or more of the following:

  • causes me to think differently
  • inspires me to action or change
  • challenges me to justify the philosophy behind my actions
  • makes me laugh in ways I hadn’t before
  • gives me sincere hope for the future, the community, or the planet

There aren’t many rules, really, and if you have questions, jump on over to Sue’s post. Oh, and if you’re not on Twitter yet and you’re looking for someone to follow, feel free to find and follow me. You can then send me a tweet or two and find some other people to follow to expand your network. My username is @amichetti.

Happy Tweeting! :)

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 3 March, 2009  Posted by at 8:40 pm Cool Tools, Professional Development Tagged with: , , ,  1 Response »
Nov 232008

My mind is fresh from a weekend of intense PD with Jeff Utecht, who fervently shared his philosophy and expertise with me and my colleagues at UNIS Hanoi.  It was, in all, a fast-paced but much needed weekend full of tips, tools, and tidbits to think about and implement. I am sure all of who attended Jeff’s sessions had some big take-aways from the weekend; one of the big ones for me was the concept of the community in the 21st century.

What role does the community play in education this century?

The answer, I think, is complicated.  Jeff talked about how the community has to be built first, and how sometimes we as educators don’t get to choose where that community is — whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, SecondLife, or ClubPenguin.  But I wonder: Don’t we as educators have a responsibility to create that community?  Of course we should tap into communities already in place.  But when it comes to the “New Learning Landscape“, I think teachers do have an embedded and non-negotiable responsibility to build the community with our students.

One of the challenges we face at UNIS is that our digital, online community is currently quite closed. While I have argued before that this is not always a bad thing, that the walled garden can be a great place to learn tools and play with ideas, I do think that there comes a time (particularly at the HS level) when the community must branch out.  The fact that our students in grades 10 and 11 all have tablets (the first stage in our 1:1 roll-out) means that their community instantly was widened when they received their tablets.  Having that tablet in their hands means they can reach out all the way across the world if they wish — they are connected. And why should we stop them?  Not only does this new technology broaden their contact base and therefore extend their community, most of our students are third-culture kids who have lived in 4 other countries and are already part of an extended community outside our school doors.

If we are going to commit to the new literacies of the 21st century, we should enable our students to reach out to those communities, to find their authentic audience, and create their own learning environment.  To deny them of this is irresponsible.

I’m grateful for Jeff’s ideas this past weekend and I think it is a great start for the journey with our students down the intertwined road of communities and literacy.  Jeff got us thinking in the right direction, and armed with our wikis, blogs, Twitter accounts, and Nings, I daresay that our teachers and students are well on their way to embracing communities both within and beyond our doors.

And speaking of the community’s role in education, I happened across The KnowledgeWorks Foundation (courtesy of Lindsea, a member of my PLN and a contact of one of the KnowledgeWorks founders).  The KWF is an educational philanthropic organization with some philosophical golden nuggets that make it stand out as an organization.  The trademarked motto of KWF is “Empowering communities to improve education.”  How fab is that?  And if that’s not enough to get you browsing around their site, check out their Mission, Vision, and my favorite, their Values Statement:

Fanatical belief that all students have a right to a great education

Wow!  Finding the KWF was a great way to end my weekend, and I look forward to seeing what their community initiatives in education will bring to education in the USA and elsewhere.  You can also follow them on their Future of Ed blog.

All this excitement about communities, Web2.0, and literacy has made me very excited, but I’ve been so busy that the engagement has also made me rather ill — I have been fighting a nasty cold for about a week now.  So as I sign off this post, tea in hand, I hope that my community of learners and colleagues will understand if I’m “below the fold” for the next little while, laying low while I recover.

Photo1 by ortica*
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

Photo2 by Librarian by Day
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

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