The Updates #24

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Week 24 of the updates and I'm on time this week!


Despite a very busy work week, I finished the clean up of all the transcripts.  There's so much in those 25+ hours of transcripts. I'm looking forward to digging deeper into them.  This next week's goal is to revisit some of the writings on phenomographicl analysis and my notes as well as catch some videos on how to effectively use Invivo.  
  • 136 days until June 1
A close up short of a mud turtle on a ramp out of the water with a few turtle food sticks near him.
MJ Getting Breakfast

Super busy with the start of the semester as to be expected and also, I feel like I made some significant moves and actions this week that I'm proud of. Encouraged by my colleague and my partner, I advocated for more human support in my work given where we are as an institution and our growth. These first few weeks have been intense and while I've gotten a lot of work done, there's still a lot that was left on the table or done later than I wanted that doesn't feel good.

Coupled with that was a growing frustration with how folks were framing my work and the downstream effects that was having with faculty. Too often, folks were discussing my work solely in terms of tech and the role (and my work in general) is largely pedagogical--often, it's the pedagogy of the tools but it's also just pedagogy. So I was able to express this both to my supervisor and to the organization as a whole that felt like I was heard and understood. It also mean that we started to brainstorm newer titles since Director of Digital Pedagogy (as cool as that title is!), doesn't translate well to folks.

In other amazing news, our institution's discussion of ChatGPT and AI-Generative tools in education has been amazing. Early in the week, we finalized and shared out our plan that I was significantly involved in developing. We have 5 primary and interrelated actions that we're looking to do in order to create an effective and meaningful policy at College Unbound around the use of AI-generative tools in education. One of those steps is the course that I'm running, Digital Interventions: AI & Education; a 1 credit course that started this week. My students are amazing and we had our first meeting this week. They had great questions and observations and we're off to a great start!

What I'm Reading

Fairy Tale by Stephen King:  Stephen King's most recent novel where he gives fantasy another go.  As a fantasy text, it's a bit meh. I know a lot of folks like this and I think if it wasn't posed as "fantasy" and more as an integration or postmodern take on fairy tales (as the name implies), it would have been fine. It also feels like the story was a forgone conclusion--there didn't quite feel like much was at stake.  Some of it was because it's written from the first person point of view who has clearly survived and then, it was overflowing with foreshadowing that felt like it overdid it.  Also, the protagonist, Charlie, seemed largely unbelievable in ways that had me being like, "No, a teenager in the 21st century doesn't come across as believable like that."  I dunno--I like King but I don't know that modern tales of teens are quite his forte. It's enjoyable but not impressive. 
Bubbling butter in a pan cooking up some basil
Bubbling Buttery Basil

The Keeper by Tananarive Due
:  A graphic novel about a young Black girl who loses her parents and must go live with her ailing grandmother.  They're hanging on by a thread and there's something really strange going on in the building that she can't quite put her finger on.  There's some rich layering to this tale with nods to intergenerational trauma, inequality, and trying to survive on the edge. It's the second piece that I've read by Due and clearly, I need to read more.  

Yard Work by David Koepp: A shorter piece about an old man whose wife dies (always believing he would die first because of his lifestyle). He goes up to his cabin on a lake and comes to battle with a growing (almost alien) weed that wants to invade his house and his body.  

Take Out Your Earrings Before You Fight And Other Things by Chelsea Fagan: A collection of essays reflecting on the challenges, nuances, and edges of growing up.  I feel like many of these could be useful in a writing course to get folks to see the power (and accessibility) of the written word, particularly for students who grew up with more challenging upbringings than others.  

Need Machine by Andrew Faulkner: A poetry collection that felt very much about the present world and had a good mixture of snark, observation, linguistic manuevering, and provocation.  

What I'm Watching

Willow: Finished the season finale. It's a fun ride and I recommend it if you're not looking for something deep but an enjoyable and quirky adventure. 

His Dark Materials: The series ending was satisfying; the journey was great; this is a series to watch--3 seasons--it sets out what it intends to do and doesn't try to pull you in for more than that.  Lots of great moments and the final episode as it resolves all of it was a great example of full closure in a series.  

Bad Batch:  The third episode of season 2 deviated from focusing on the Bad Batch to follow Crosshair and a mission he is sent on.  Like Andor, I like the tensions, observations, and moral gray that the characters must navigate in the world that the Empire has created and curious to see what direction they take Crosshair this season.

Wednesday: Obviously had to check this one out. We're about 5 episodes in. It's fun and goofy and has some lines that make one smile.  Not sure it's really sustainable other than the fact that Jenna Ortega does the role full justice.  But it's kept us entertained well enough.

This Week's Photos

MJ Getting Breakfast:  I grabbed this during the week when I caught MJ coming up the ramp to have some breakfast.  He doesn't always come out and hang around so I figured I better capture the occasion. 

Bubbling Buttery Basil:  A few times a week, I like to make an egg breakfast.  I usually start with cooking up some veggies (onions or tomatoes) and then throwing in some eggs.  In this case, I had some basil from my basement garden that I needed to use.  There was something about watching the butter dissolve and bubble as the basil became a bright green that I thought was worth capturing.  (And the breakfast was delish!

What's on My Mind

So I know that I've said it's been a busy few weeks with work.  I feel like things are going to normalize a bit but then I got in the mail that next week, I may end up serving as a juror for Grand Jury.  That is, 4-5 days (half or full days) for 6 weeks.  Yikes! I'm lucky that work is looking to be supportive in this because I do really think it is important for me to do it.  In part, because it's my civic duty and if I want to be part of a democratic society, I (we) all have to show up in ways like this even when it is inconvenient.  I think also for me because I have what I believe to be both a critical lens and a unique range of knowledge that it would be important to be there rather than the average person likely to serve on a grand jury.  What do I mean by that?  Well, at least in RI, you can't be fired for having to serve on a grand jury but you don't have to be paid by your place of employment.  In such instances, the court pays you a paltry $15 a day.  So, who in our society has the ability to be unpaid for 5-6 weeks  (or survive on $15 a day)? I think that is a limited set of people, particularly from higher socio-economic statuses and that "average person" I have some concerns about their views of criminal justice in our society. I realize that I'm part of this group as well but I also have done a lot more thinking, reading, and talking with folks in and around the criminal justice area.  But we'll see if I even get picked.  

Words of the Year

Focus: I think I held this for this week.  In fact, I found myself at one point where I realized I needed to delete a game from my phone (Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes). I delete it for a few months, particularly when I want to exert more concentration and focus. I may eventually re-loaded it onto the phone--after the dissertation.  Now, I just need to get Instagram off my phone (mainly because I get sucked into reels).  

Kind:  It feels like a pass but I think this week, I tried to be kind to myself. Trying to do the things that I needed to get done for work and knowing that even some important things I wouldn't be getting to doesn't feel good but I gave myself the space to let them go. In doing so, that also gave me the peace of mind to engage with faculty and support them, even when it was situations where they had not done what they were supposed to at the start of the semester (and after various notifications).  Together, it feels like I was able to be patient and kind with faculty as they navigated the start of the semester.  

Earnest: The win for this week, I think, was just in admitting that there were important things I couldn't get to and it did not feel good, but also, I'm not going to sacrifice all my time for my work.  If I can't get it done in the 40-50 hours, then there's a clear need for more support and being able to communicate that also felt like a win in that by being earnest about wanting to do my work and not able to (and the tension that creates in me), allowed me to also feel more grounded in explaining my needs to do my work well.  

Till next week...

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