Sunday, February 10, 2013

The door makes no promises

I treasure the poetry of Adrienne Rich, and her truth-telling challenges me deeply. After Friday's delightful Etmooc adventure on Blackboard Collaborate with Darren Kuropatwa, I couldn't help but think of Rich's poem titled: Prospective Immigrants Please Note which she reads here:

I've often shared this poem with students as a way to acknowledge that considering new ideas together does not mean they have to make them their own. As Rich says so clearly in ending the poem, ". . .The door itself makes no promises. It is only a door."

When Darren started the Etmooc session, he invited us to "walk through the door", saying he would be doing something (with this Blackboard program, I expect) that he hadn't done before. "This is either going to be awesome," he said, laughing, "or it will crash and burn." In a Hansel and Gretel storytelling mode, he provided a Google.doc site for contributing to our common story at, and then sent us off to small groups (with the assistance of the Etmooc support team), to create a short bit of audio to share after browsing questions at, discussing with group members, and using mobile devices to record and e-mail the results. I couldn't make it work, but could see how this could be a good way to encourage participation with a large group online. So I smiled and sniffed around the breadcrumbs site knowing I would try this another time. Darren also asked those with mobile devices to leave the session and record "5 seconds of beauty" and then send those on to him to use in creating a group video. I couldn't make that work either, but was delighted with the results of others' efforts. Watching Darren upload these brief clips and put them together into a short etmooc video using the I-movie program was like watching a good cook effortlessly create a quick feast.

As a new immigrant to this digital story-telling world, I was a bit dizzy and disoriented. It all went by so fast--just like the vocabulary of a strange tongue for a new language learner. But this seems doable--I can definitely see that. As long as I can play with these things, I'll keep on walking through the door. Taking some courage from the earlier discussion of animated gifs, I enjoyed creating a couple of these using a series of still pictures and a simple program from

gif creator
gif creator

So that gif makes me smile. And here's another gif that tickles me too. This revolving ostrich egg, etched by an artist from Lesotho, Africa, tells a story of predation (or maybe play). Either way, being able to make the egg appear to move is pretty nifty, and gives me ideas for future projects. And while I'm on the subject of play, I just have to recommend a TED talk by Stuart Brown-- Play Is More Than Fun, which offers a convincing argument about the power of play in developing ourselves throughout our whole lives.

In a six-word poem, here's how I feel today:
Open door invitation new way taken

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