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Sitting on my deck on a sunny day as summer begins to fade into fall, I can see a single thread of a web spanning the large opening of the deck stairs from rail post to rail post. I had sat down to write a blog post about National Online Learning Day but instead found myself contemplating the amount of ambition a spider must have to decide to build a 10-foot-wide web. Just as I was about to get back to work, I noticed that this feat was being undertaken by a minuscule spider who was now working on another thread halfway across this immense expanse. I watched for a while, torn between being impressed that such a tiny arachnid could accomplish this amazing feat and feeling sad for this little guy because somebody was clearly going to walk through this web before the end of the day.
March 8th, is International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. A day to promote gender parity. However, given the context of the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, perhaps also a day to reflect on the terrible consequences of war which often disproportionately impacts women and children.
September 15th is National Online Learning Day. Recognition of online learning is especially relevant this year after the pandemic and resulting school closures exposed many more people to online learning. If the pandemic had happened 20, or even 10 years ago, the quick pivot to online learning would not have been possible. Existing technology, resources, and online pedagogy have advanced to the point that it was possible to provide education to most students and to keep them from missing a year of schooling.
Working together to create knowledge is a fundamental Higher Ed goal. Ever since Socrates peppered people with questions instead of just wowing them with his wisdom, we’ve been aware of the importance of being actively engaged in our own learning.
In the movie, 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock introduces us to a vaudeville performer, Mr. Memory, who has the plans of an advanced airplane engine committed to memory. Clearly, the plans are something of great concern and central to the plot. Upon reflection, however, although the plans seemed very important and provided an impetus forward from one scene to another, at the conclusion, we don’t know, or really care, what the plans were or how they were used. The secret plans were just there to propel us forward. Hitchcock often used a plot device referred to as a MacGuffin as a secret motivator in his movies.
Somewhere in the process of navigating COVID19, I latched on to the idea of a 1-hour walk every day. So far, I’ve been pretty consistent. It didn’t take me long to realize that podcasts and audiobooks were wonderful motivators for taking a walk. I am continually amazed at the brilliance of the creative people producing these for my enjoyment. This discovery led me to walk more and write a blog where I could work through the many inspiring ideas.