Tidy Up Time

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When I was little I was constantly re-organising my bedroom. So much so, in the end my mum decided to get my dad to build me a ‘built in’ wardrobe, desk and bed so that I couldn’t move the furniture around. Hmmm can’t say I was impressed at the time …

I think that has probably stayed with me in terms of blogging ( weirdly … bear with me there is a link honestly ) .. in that I never seem to be happy with my blog ( or blogs)…

This means that every now and again I get fed up and choose a different theme or mess around with my categories and tag n’ things .. this causes me a lot of grief as sometimes I end up making brand new blogs because it seems much easier … then inevitably I find it hard to keep up with everything and end up faffing around so much that I get loads of half written blog posts and wordpress probably hate me.

Anyhow this has all resulted in my reorganising of my main blog with swishy new theme … this blog ( the original one) is the one that has lasted more than the others so I do feel a bit of an afinity with it … I have a horrible feeling though that for any poor souls that might follow me , they might end up with a whole raft of weird notifications and blog posts that will have appeared from nowhere ..

for this I apologise … and I will try to resist the urge to keep tidying up and moving stuff around ..

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Authentic Experiences in Online Learning : Look Behind you !

This post was triggered by an opinion piece entitled ‘ Instructors please wash your hair’ that I read in Inside Higher Ed that wound me up a bit.

I am definitely not alone in feeling this way, as there is certainly an interesting exchange of comments below the article.

The author of the piece has provided an explanation that it was written before all the COVID-19 stuff happened and seems to recognise that it is ill informed.

The piece itself is more aligned to a commentary that advocates for the need for educators to ‘exhibit professionalism’ and relates this mostly to the appearances of educators and how they are dressed, a line of argument for which I just have no words for given the current situation I am afraid, however, it did make me think about online social presence and how this relates to the environment that we find ourselves in, and how in turn this impacts on authenticity in online learning.

So, the main thing that it caused me to ponder on is that I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about those weird and wonderful backdrops and images that people can use to display behind them when on an online video session. I seem to have come across most of them when using Zoom but I’m sure it is something that can be done in other platforms.

I just don’t like fake backgrounds I’m afraid …

Personally, I really like being able to see the real life situation that people are conducting their session in. I just don’t like a fake background. I think it really helps to provide a connection and provide for a more human experience if you can relate to the person’s environment.

I can see that people might like the quirkyness and wizardry of being on the bridge of the starship enterprise or having some sort of calming beach scene behind them, but for me I just don’t like it – Yes it might act as an ice breaker and a moment of lightheartedness (which we can certainly all do with at the moment) and I can see that some people just don’t want to show their home environment ; I guess that there is also an argument for trying to remove some of the distraction of the real life environment but personally for me I think by removing the real life background and replacing it with a whacky image means that the host loses more than they gain ..

I actually like it when I can see the walls, bookshelves and even piles of washing behind the speaker and when the cat or dog does an appearance . Having the children wandering past the camera in the background isn’t a distraction to me, it shows that the person is real. I also really don’t mind it all if someone is wearing their pyjamas or hasn’t washed their hair.

“trying to remove ourselves from the environment that we exist in by putting up a background image will simply put up a barrier to that empathy.”

I believe all of this stuff adds to an authentic experience and enables a deeper connection between participants and educators alike. I think it enables empathy to appreciate the fact that there is often a lot of other stuff that is going on in peoples lives.

Don’t get me wrong. Maybe there is a place for fake backgrounds somewhere if it helps people feel more comfortable but personally I think that the current crazy world that we are finding ourselves living in will be helped by an empathetic connection, and trying to remove ourselves from the environment that we exist in by putting up a fake background image will simply put up a barrier to that empathy.

I definitely won’t be having a fake background anytime soon ..

So I will be wearing my unicorn slippers and probably a pink cardigan for my next synchronous session and I may even wash my hair .. I will probably also have bribed the kids to keep quiet and have pre- fed the cats so they don’t jump on the keyboard and cut me off, but if the dog appears she will say hello as usual and my very pink but definitely messy room will be on view and I definitely won’t be having a fake background anytime soon ..

Keep it real people … currently feeling very lucky and privileged to have a garden to sit in -something which is a luxury that is not available to many people right now …

Collaborative Open Quilting across Time and Space …

I am absolutely delighted to have contributed a collaborative quilt square ‘Visualising The Global Heart of Go-Gn’ with the lovely Kathy Essmiller (@kathyessmiller) for the amazing #FemEdTechQuilt for #OER20 …

The call for contributions was issued by Frances Bell to ‘create a quilt that can inspire during and after its creation; acknowledge all contributions and their history; and make a difference to Care and Justice in Education and Technology contexts’ (via #Femedtech)

This is a warm and inclusive invitation to participate in the process of creating a Quilt of Care and Justice, that will be developed with the help of the Femedtech community and others over the next few months. The quilt will be completed and displayed at the OER20 Conference in April 2020.

Kathy and I met through the #GO_GN network and decided to collaborate on a square.

This meant collaborating across timezones in the USA ( where Kathy is based) and Wales (where I am based). We used google docs to draw our thoughts together and met up online to talk our ideas through …

We have uploaded our story to the #Femedtechquilt website but also made a digital story on Adobe Spark… we explain how we came up with the idea and the materials that we used … this involves using a wonderful vintage blue and white quilt square created by Kathy’s grandma, my (probably very bad) attempt at sewing the #GO_GN penguin, and a Flipgrid Augmented Reality Video attached as a heart on a dangly ribbon …

https://spark.adobe.com/page-embed.js#Femedtechquilt contribution

You can see the #FemEdTechQuilt page here in all its glory with all the other really brilliant other contributions ( with much better sewing than mine by the way …)

Images of some of the Quilt Squares from the #FemEdTechQuilt Project

You can also listen to Frances Bell and Anne-Marie Scott talk about the quilt on this podcast

Listen to “Gettin’ Air with Terry Greene” on Spreaker.

On the outside looking in …

I’ve always felt a little bit like I’m on the outside looking in. I can’t explain it really other than just that. As an only child I always felt that I didn’t understand the rough and tumble of life that other people with siblings just seemed to ‘get’. I didn’t get it, in fact it seemed that the more I tried to understand, the less I ‘got’. Why is that ?

I moved home when I was seven. I didn’t want to go. My mum told me I would soon make friends and she was right. I did. I made an effort. I tried damn hard to get along with people. I made friends. I joined clubs. I was careful to wear the right thing, talk the right way and even write the right way (you wouldn’t think that being able to do ‘real’ handwriting before your peers would single you out as being different would you ? ) I did all the ‘right things’ to fit in. I just didn’t ‘belong’ though. I was always the new girl.

Even when I started at comprehensive school with the rest of my year, I thought it would change. This was my chance to get rid of the new girl label. I made new friends. I had best friend after best friend. But I still felt like I didn’t belong. Yes I was part of things, but only just, not far enough at the outside to be a loner, but not close enough on the inside to feel truly connected. I was for all intents and purposes ‘looking in’ and wondering how on earth and where I would ever feel at home….

TBC