Friday, January 28, 2011

Remembering Challenger: January 28, 1986

It was 25 years ago today that the Challenger shuttle mission carrying Christa McAuliffe, the 'teacher in space' and six other astronauts, lifted off from the Cape. Only 73 seconds in, the shuttle exploded in a fireball, killing all seven astronauts aboard. (see information about the mission and crew, including a video tribute at the NASA web site ) I was always interested in astronomy and space exploration, I remember watching with excitement as Armstrong stepped on the moon, experiencing the Apollo 13 incident with the world and other discoveries and missions. In 1986, I had been a teacher for almost 8 years and the space program still held my interest. I remember that fateful day, I was  excited about this mission and Christa was a hero, imagine a teacher actually going into space! In the school I taught at, we had a television hooked into cable, in the staff room in the far corner of the school, I was able to get to the staff room and watch. It was one of those moments that sticks out in time - like 9/11, like JFK's assassination ... I remember the shock, even a tear as I watched the incident unfold before me. I did not know these people, loss of life is always tragic, the loss of all these brave men and women was a deep loss, but Christa was one of us, a teacher. The quote in the image I put together above is one of my favorite quotes about teaching, it is my tribute to the Challenger crew and Christa McAuliffe - she continues to 'touch the future'.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Reflections on a Year of Blogging

What no one ever tells you about bloggingphoto © 2007 Andy Piper | more info (via: Wylio)

Almost one year ago, I started my first blog (this one). At the time, I had just decided to have students in my Internet for Educators class (pre-service teacher education at Brandon University) keep a blog for the course. I had seen the great results that Alec Couros and Dean Shareski had using blogging with their classes at the University of Regina, so I thought I would give it a try. In a twist of fate, I was also starting a course (Seminar in Educational Technology) as part of my Ph.D. program at the University of Manitoba and, you guessed it, the professor used blogs as a major component of the course. I had to practice what I was preaching, and it afforded a good chance to start, since I had little choice.

Now, a year later, I have five blogs (links to all are on this blog site). The second was for another course and explored learning as a social & cultural phenomenon, I was going to keep it up, but I have now retired it. Two others are collaborative efforts, one with members of the ICT Committee I chair at the Faculty of Education, the other explores ideas of Equity in Education. The last (Notta Stuff)  is the one I keep updated the most. I use Posterous for it, since it is very easy to post to.  I use this blog to excerpt sections of blogs or news articles I’m reading and then comment on them.

At first writing blog posts was rather difficult, not necessarily in terms of writing it, but in actually making my work public. I wondered if I had anything of value to share and if anyone would really care anyways. I have come to the realization that the process of writing the blog allows me to reflect on my own learning and come to my own understandings. If someone else finds it of value, then so much the better. I have discovered many other interesting blogs that I follow using RSS in twitter. All of these have become important parts of my PLN.

I certainly do not blog as much as I want to. Everyone is busy these days and I do not want to make excuses, we all have to set our own priorities or make choices. Currently my priorities must lie with my teaching, my research projects and presentations, and my work on my PhD program. One thing I try to impress on my students is to come to some sort of balance in their life, I am still searching for this balance myself. It is a learning process. 

I continue to jot down ideas for blog posts and will hopefully write them someday. In the meantime my new career continues to keep me engaged, learning, curious and very busy. Through building a PLN, by blogging, but mostly through other networking  media like twitter, I have made many connections, shared and received many resources and advice, made new friends, and have grown professionally and personally. As Dean Shareski has said, every teacher (educator at any level actually) should blog - it is a wonderful way to reflect, make meaning and learn.

And now I will head into my second year as a blogger. Thanks, Dr. Hlynka for starting me on this journey!