Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tech tools are like manure

In my first post about #ETMOOC, I ended with a reference to Auntie Mame's statement that "Money is like manure . . ." *
I was relating this to the sharing perspective that I can see so clearly among people in this MOOC who are excited about using emerging technologies to "encourage young things to grow" (and old things as well!). Right now, though, I am feeling a bit daunted by the amount of "manure" that folks are so generously spreading. I expect I'll settle on a few that work best for me with my level of skill and focus, and that I'll benefit greatly from the kindness of new colleagues. But I wanted to think out loud for a minute about the way the ground could be prepared for this rich material, stretching the metaphor a bit. The other day I was taking a try at Camtasia, recording a tutorial for how to contribute to a Wikispace resource site for a Tacoma, Wa. area organization that assists persons transitioning out of prison. I was assisted by my sister Theresa, who directs a home for women in transition,and has a background in information technology. She had never used Camtasia before, but had that "sense" of how things might work that people seem to develop after some experience. She wanted to plunge right in to create the tutorial, learning how to use the program as we went along. I balked, even with her trusty companionship, because I hadn't read everything through, and I thought I should create a "throw away" example of a tutorial before doing the "real thing." Ever the patient teacher, Theresa suggested that the best way to learn how to do this was to "just do it." We are planning to team-teach a course next year on Gender, Race, and Crime, and we'll need this resource anyway, so....why not get it ready now? I did feel like the young girl ready to go down the ski jump (that Alec shared during orientation). I was so aware, in talking this process through with my sister, of the differences in how we approached new learning experiences. True to my comfort with reading, and my many years of successfully moving through the academic world surrounded by texts, I wanted to understand it all before I did the real thing. True to her applied background, first as a carpenter and then as an information technologist, and now a community leader, my sister knew the powerful exhilaration of trying something until you learn it--and of potentially understanding at a deeper , and more embodied level. While I recognize some of this as general differences in learning styles, I stand at the top of the ski jump imagining what it will feel like to know, in my body, the thrill of having more tools in my toolkit for "encouraging young things to grow." ("Manure"image from Occupy*Posters at Shared through Creative Commons license)

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