Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013: A year of learning

Hard to believe that 2013, a year of incredible growth for me, is in it's last days. I've learnt so much, connected with some tremendous people through various MOOCs, starting with MOOCMOOC and ETMOOC, participated in Open Spokes and DS106, brushed by people in passing and truly bonded with others.

I was already participating in the world of MOOCS prior to enrolling in MOOCMOOC, delivered by the brilliant people at Hybrid Pedagogy and ETMOOC, created by Alec Couros. And I was learning in those 2012 MOOCs. But the true connected power of the Internet and social media was yet to be unveiled for me until this year. This experience has been like watching a flower unfurl, moment by moment just becoming more stunningly beautiful. Like a flower, it has withered and faded, waiting for the next cycle of rebirth. As the pressures of my non-digital life grew, I have had to take a step back, rethink what, when and how I interacted online and how often. I have had to put my non-digital life first, dis-engaging from some courses and groups entirely, not because they are not worthy but because there was just not enough time in the day to take care of both my "real" and my "digital" life. And I have learnt that that is ok.

And this step back has allowed me to understand how positive my online relationships are to my growth and sense of self, but also to understand that many of them are fleeting, and I need to become comfortable with that. Not superficial, because some of the most brief brushes against the ideas and thoughts of others have been a catalyst for a change in perspective, resulted in an outpouring of creativity or refinement of my ideas about learning and education. I've remembered how much I love to teach, how much I love being creative, and how much I enjoy new ideas and challenges. But in the end, what will always takes precedence is my relationships, both face to face and virtual. To be true to myself, I nurture my relationships, which in turn means nurturing and pacing myself so I don't burn out in either venue. Yet another lesson I am trying to learn.

I have met so many people this year who have been supportive, caring, engaging, entertaining, creative, clever, and challenging. Because of my interactions with you all I've been a radio show chef, a killer zombie, a poet, an artist, an author, a teacher, a rock star, a video star, a movie maker, a documentary director, a toy maker and a friend. It has been a pleasure. To all of you within my Professional Learning Network I say "Thank You."

You've helped me become a better teacher, a better learner, and enriched my life. May 2014 be a year of positive growth for us all, where we continue to be kind, playful, thoughtful and engaged, supporting each other as we travel along a learning journey together. Blessing for 2014.


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Video: Life stories

Well I've been off line for the last few weeks as my mum fell off a step coming out of the dentist and broke her right hand. She picked herself up, got into her car and as she phrased it "waited until I felt up to driving home." The next day her hand was swollen and off to the hospital she went. So Mum and Dad have been staying with me for the last two weeks off and on, except for when they had to go home for the fracture clinic. Mum had over 600 cards to write for the Christmas tree farm and needed help writing them so it was just better for her to come here where I could look after her. It was great to sit down with my mother and chat.

But that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about the video story assignment. I've been thinking about it a lot and talking to my mum about the video assignment and DS106. My mum is 77 this week and she and my father have lived interesting lives, so I thought I would begin to tell their stories. My mother had just come back from visiting her brother John who lives in Edmonton (he just turned 78 and is a dynamo!) and they had been talking about the war, doodlebugs and other shared memories from their childhood. "What's a doodlebug?" I asked. And so the story unfolded. War through the eyes of a four year old. Mum was only four but still remembers hiding in a closet  during the early days of the Blitz. When she returned to Southampton in 1945 or so, housing was a tremedous problem as so many homes had been destroyed. Mum remembers playing in abandoned bombed building and walking the roof rafters!

During the week I looked stuff up for my mum online so she could see Southampton during the blitz and some movies of Southampton. We found the road she lived on before she had to move away because a bomb had landed in a yard just down the street and Grandma decided Southampton was too dangerous. She was sent to live with other people for the remainder of the war. Mum and I looked at photos of the Bargate in the photos and videos. It survived because the Germans used it as an aerial marker to let them know when to drop the bombs. I hadn't been to Southampton since I was 11 so while I do remember walking on the Norman walls and visiting the archaeologist who was excavating the Roman ruins found under the Victorian homes they had torn down and seeing churches that had not yet been rebuilt since the war, I didn't remember that landmark.

What went right with this assignment?  My mum agreeing to do it. She is a very private person so this was a gift. My mum interviews very well, though at some points you can hear a lot of background noise as she was rubbing her splint. I think it would have been much better if I was using a video camera for both sound and image.  My voice does not come out particularly clearly as I was sitting too far away from the mike. Perhaps the next time mum and I sit down I might have improved in my planning for recording and editing. Another frustration was images. While there are a lot of images online of the Southampton Blitz, someone has taken the old photos, scanned them and then put an all rights reserved sticker on them. So I made the decision, reluctantly, not to include any still images. I found some various videos on the web to start the video, including the historical and military rational for the bombing of Southampton.

I used Movie Maker to put the clips together, but ran into trouble when I tried to publish it as the program said YouTube didn't like long movies. I sent a message out to through Twitter and of course my PLN sent me answers back! So very reliable!

Since the movie was made, my mother had another health issue so DS106 went onto the backburner as well as blogging, tweeting and other social media assignments and relationships (the health issue has been resolved and all is well!)

November ended up being a lost month in terms of blogging but not in terms of spending some good quality time with my mum. You can see why she's always been one of my role models!