On the nature of things

Many sleepless night have been devoted to understanding questions about life, the universe, and well everything we can perceive or attempt to understand… That being said — you have to be present in the moment. That moment has to be all about the journey. It has to be about what you invest in it. Passively running out the clock defies the point of the journey. You have to invest in the actions you are taking. You have to be present. You have to invest. We strive to move forward in different ways. However, you should begin with the simple premise that life, the universe, and everything is 100% about the process of investing in the journey. You get out of journey what you put into the journey. In my humble and brief experience — life, the universe, and everything is 100% about how you invest in the journey.

I started out writing a treatise about education. Specifically, I started to write about online education. Those observations quickly expanded from a specific use case to general theory. In terms of being a use case, online education is for the most part a self-service education installation that provides a guided journey. I have spent a significant amount of time thinking about how higher education can be a like an art installation. A campus in general can change our perception about our learning space. Community is the fundamental different between my experiences living on a college and attending college vs. participating in online education. We know that communities of place, circumstance, and interest are incredibly powerful. Fundamentally we are better off together working toward the common goals implied in our social contract. However, even the best education environment is about what you put into it. If you are passive participant in your education at the best possible institution, then you will not get everything you could get out of that experience.

My junior and senior years of college at the University of Kansas I got very interested in the concept of civil society. I had taken a class on it and the guided readings and lecture was work class. The professor was outstanding. The class met one time per week and we had very lengthy discussions about civil society. They were not rushed or hurried. The class was 3 hours long. The next class that professor taught after the one I attended was at Oxford University in England. I would argue the quality of education was world class. However, the tipping point related to me truly understanding the material occurred after the class ended. I checked out the entire shelf of civil society books from the library. I then read that entire shelf of books. “The academy” is a concept that is both alive within higher education and something that exists in scholarly articles, publications like books, and classrooms. A number of ways exist to tap into “the academy”. Online education would open the door to academic databases and provide course syllabuses that would open the academy’s door.

You may not agree with my observations on the nature of things. That is ok. The search for feedback never stops. Accepting and internalizing feedback is the hardest part. Translating criticism into action is never easy. That translation requires both acceptance of what is being said and an understanding of what to do with it.

Nonprofit Online Education

Week 10 just started in the business ethics course I’m teaching online this term. Next term (in 3 weeks) will be the first term fully under the operation of a new company. I’m curious to see what happens. I have working in the online education space since 2010. This term my services were acquired by a newly formed nonprofit career training company for adult learners. The last time the company I worked for got sold to another company was years ago. Back during 2009/2010 I was a part of Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) when it was purchased by Xerox. That transition as fairly seamless at first, but then got more complicated. I’m not totally sure what will happen to the staff during an online education company acquisition.

Some major changes could be brewing within the online education space. The amount of online content has grown dramatically. Some of it is very high quality. It is only a matter of time before some of the larger more established colleges simply start offering free online degree programs. I look at the certified courses that the edX group is providing as a model. That model could easily be built out into a degree program. The technology exists for the classes to be pretty much automated. The colleges would just have to invest in updating the content on a regular basis. That service will probably be offered as a reaction to the for profit online university systems.

I just installed R-3.1.3 for Windows (32/64 bit) on my HP Envy X2. That installation happened at the Denver airport. The setup was pretty easy. I needed to complete the installation for my MITx: 15.071x The Analytics Edge course. I’m hoping the bandwidth will be fast enough during the flight to complete the week 1 homework assignment.

On Online Education

Teaching online has bubbled up to the forefront of my consideration. A lot of active processing during the last few days has been devoted to thinking about it. Credentialism is real. People are seeking out new credentials. Employers value credentials. Some careers are so specialized that breaking into a field almost requires some type of credential. Based on my initial analysis it is pretty easy to conclude that the future of online education will include credentials.

Some people have even gone as far as talking about earning educational badges. A college package could easily be developed that presented a huge bucket of potential educational badges that students could earn. Students would have to earn a certain number of badges in a certain number of buckets to have a degree confirmed upon them from the college or university. I believe that the future will probably include educational badges in some form. It might be digital badges, open badges, or some other incarnation of that model.

The type of online classes I have facilitated could easily be converted into badge components or badges in and of themselves. At some point, the semester or quarter system might even fade away into class lengths that are built based on the badge being earned.

A new class started today

I took 6 weeks off from teaching online this term. The break was necessary. Everything about my 6 week break was refreshing. Teaching online really does involve an endless parade of daily requirements. More traditional classroom environments typically have breaks in the action or at least weekends. Working with students 7 days a week with no real gap between terms can be psychologically draining. After 6 weeks off from teaching, I picked up teaching a 6 week introduction level business class this morning. Mini term classes are an interesting format. 6 week classes include the same amount of content and work as a 12 week class, but the student only gets half of the time to get the work done. It should be interesting. I’m ready for the journey.

The finish line

The business ethics class I’m teaching this term is almost complete. Only one week remains in the class. I’m pretty much ready to work on new things. I’m ready to start working on coding a few projects. At this point, I have a few game ideas and a few ideas for other projects. Now is the time to make a change. I’ll reevaluate my decision after one quarter.

Summer grading

Grading for the week is done. I stayed on track even with the holiday. Online classes are still an interesting challenge. You want to be engaged with the students, but a lot of barriers exist. After teaching online for a couple years, I have seen good students and bad students. The classroom experience I miss the most is lecturing. Standing up on the front of a classroom and talking for an hour about a subject. I rarely get to spend an hour working on the same thing anymore. Sometimes it is nice to take a step back and consider a subject.

Yesterday I was hyper productive in terms of grading, dropping off my dry cleaning, and getting a haircut. My last haircut was on March 10, 2014. Apparently, I go two to three months between haircuts. I’m trying to figure out the right amount of time between cuts. I’d like to get it scheduled and added to my routine.

My vitamin plan has been working pretty well. The combination of B complex, vitamin C, vitamin D3, and CoQ10 worked. I’m thinking about reducing my vitamin D3 and adding a calcium supplement. That supplement change will probably occur on June.

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Grading papers

My big plans for tonight include grading a few papers. Every Tuesday my routine has evolved to include grading papers, quizzes, and discussions. This term I’m teaching strategic planning. The experience has been pretty interesting so far.

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Class starts roday

That strategic planning for business class I picked up this term starts today. The first 26 pages of the textbook were ok. They were very example heavy. Only one model was introduced. The textbook needs a lot of multimedia work to get to the next level. I’m looking forward to welcoming the students to class today.

The new multichannel contact strategy book is starting to take shape. All of the formatting is complete. The document shell has been updated. My trip to Chicago really fuelled my need to write. My 30 day writing path is still on track, but I’m going to need to pick it up a notch moving forward.

Over the course of the last month my weekday gym visits have become a part of my routine. Joni offered to get me a Fitbit for my birthday. I was about to buy the new flex before it got recalled. How long will it be before Citizen makes a watch with the same capabilities? 

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New Class Prep

It looks like I will be picking up that business strategy class this term. I should find out how many students will be in the class by Monday.

The physical textbook is on the way. Sure — I got an electronic textbook already, but I still enjoy print versions of textbooks. Technology can provide an advantage, but most textbook content has not been adapted to take advantage of the new digital format. Most of the digital texts I have seen are just hard to read versions of the book. You end up zooming in and out and scrolling all over the pages. I’m sure someday they will all be epic multimedia adventures, but that day has not arrived yet.

I will be spending a few hours tonight working on getting the course setup. I am looking forward to setting up the course. After setting up the course, I will need to spend some time writing a chapter. My alarm is already set for an early morning writing session tomorrow. This year each weekend morning has been earmarked for writing journal articles or book chapters. So far that plan has been working. It has been working pretty well.

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Grading Papers

Grading two entire groups worth of papers, quizzes, and discussions this week has been interesting to say the least. 60 students represent the largest class load I have managed. It has made for a busy couple days. I ended up spending a lot of time in my office watching “How I Met Your Mother” reruns on Netflix.