Story: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

A huge hero of mine has taken the day off from all this electric rectangular bright and chaotic mumbo jumbo. In fact, he is taking the year off. That is an interesting idea. To me anyway.

I remember thinking as he was sharing his thoughts about leaving, how remarkable it has been these past several years to disciver digital introductions to people and then have those turn out to be something more. At first Jabiz was just some guy playing along with #ds106 and we somehow survived that. He is an artist in every definition of the word. He inspired me. He still does. He says of himself:

Jabiz Bio

The relationship went from tweets about #ds106 to having him talk via Skype to a class I was teaching on educational technology. He was brilliant. The students in my class were inspired. I was inspired.

In fact, I am hoping to wind the most recent inspiration from him into this networked narratives course. More on that later, but I am excited and thankful for the inspiration. I need that stuff and I know there is more out there. It is likely, that you are it. You know that? It is what you are here for, you know…

For this day I will share a recent addition to a story that has been told before. It is about a book and about a kid and about an old lady and a Rumi quote turned into art. On an island.

I will call it “Yes.”

It begins with Alex. Alex began his junior year at a small boarding school where I taught English. I took a lot of trips outdoors and he ended up backpacking with me to Yosemite, the Redwoods, the Grand Canyon many times, and into the beautiful West Fork of Oak Creek. He walked out there in the wilderness and loved it. He wrote about it.

Alex was killed a month after he stood beside me as I “gave him away” at his high school graduation. I was teaching summer school when that happened and many of his friends from the year before were there with me. It was awful.

I had a hundred pictures of Alex in really beautiful places and video of him walking in the Grand Canyon. And I had words he had written in those places about his experiences.

I made a DVD for his mom that included images, video of him, and some of his writing spoken by his friends. We added some of his favorite music to the video. It was the best I could do at the time and it helped me to make it. His mom sent me a card and an offer to fly my wife and I anywhere we wanted. It took me nearly two years to accept the offer, but we did.

It was 2003, and I only knew a little about computers and stuff. Here is a low res version of some of the video.

His mom flew us from arid Arizona to Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington. We stayed at a bed and breakfast there and ended up going back most every summer for over 10 years. It changed our family. One trip, in a small art store called Olga Artworks, I bought a card with a painting of kids flying through the air with balloons. On it was a quote from Rumi.

I put the card on my desk at work and I looked at the card for two years. Everyday. I finally gave it to my daughter on her 16th birthday.

On a trip to Orcas after that, I purchased several more of the same card. On the back was an email address. I sent the person an email asking if they might enlarge the print for me. I was willing to pay. The person send me back an email saying they would send me the original. In 2013 I wrote this part of the story here.

This is the new part of the story.

This is the part that has some soft hugs and a walk outside in a light rain. It is the part that has hearing the laughter of an 80 year old. This is the part of the story I can touch.

I never met the artist of the painting above on the island. By the time I actually got around to contacting her and hoping for a short visit, she had become ill and was not interested in meeting new people. Through the Olga Artworks I learned she had to be sent to an assisted living facility in Anacortes on the mainland. I called her there when we moved to Washington eight months ago to be closer to Orcas Island.

I have visited her three times now with our family and bring her pastries. She is beautiful. Through her generosity she has made me hopeful. And inspired. We are headed up there again soon. She will be happy to see us.

I am trying to say “Yes” more. I am saying “Yes” more.

Those are some words for this day.

Hello there #openlearning17


I am participating in the class to find some more awesome “faculty development” ideas. Just the #openlearning17 course itself is a good opportunity I can share with faculty here. I need those. I am an instructional designer these last ten years and a high school English teacher the 10 years prior. I love working with people.

While I am looking for good ideas, I also have a couple to share that you might be able to use in some way. So, I’ll do that.

The first is a “reflective writing” challenge that began at Yavapai College in Arizona. Faculty were asked to write 25 sentences a week about teaching and learning for nine weeks on the open web. They did, and so did faculty at other colleges. The link here has more description and links to all the writings. It is still very successful.

Another was to build a group of videos created by faculty about teaching. The vision was a wall of short videos that anyone could pick and choose from and maybe learn something from. There was also the advantage of getting faculty to create video content which was new to many of them. So they not only shared what they do, but learned something new in the process. There are links to the videos created by a few schools there too.

We had tried to get faculty to give us “tours” of their courses and that worked pretty well. I think we did have about 10 one time but some disappeared from faculty YouTube channels and we did not pursue getting them back. I don’t know why. But the idea was good and after a few brave faculty shared their online courses, a few more did.

The first year we did the open house the classes were totally open. Now it looks like college credentials are needed to access them. But the idea of an “Open House” worked really well.

If you have any questions about any of those things I’d be happy to answer questions if you have them.

When Will We Give Up the Brown Bag?

Well, we likely never will give up on them completely. They do serve a population and a purpose. I think. And we have been asking the same question for years.

I am hoping that we move to a yearly plan that includes some really good “challenges “ or events that make up the bulk of our training for faculty. That along with a seriously determined effort to make deeper and more meaningful connections with them.

That is the plan.

1. Multiple “engaging” events throughout the year
2. Deeper and more meaningful relationship building

Sounds like a therapy plan. Anyway.


This year I am participating in the 12 Apps of Christmas with the BC Campus and ETUG and having just completed the 9x9x 25 I feel like having a calendar that has X amount of multi-day events might look better and get a wider response than our current schedule which is primarily one hour trainings with a couple of other day or multi-day events.

Today I see that ELI/Horizon Report is running a 2-minute video “competition” which faculty could participate in. Finding such events and marketing them to our faculty might also be a way of generating a more sharable event and faculty created learning products.

I guess I think that if there were longer more interactive activities for faculty to participate in, with one of the goals being to create content that other faculty can learn from, we all win. And if these events are open to any faculty, we can learn from faculty outside our own institutions. Simple idea. But what does the schedule look like?

My list, between UW and Yavapai College looks about like this. And added to the list could be similar events happening at other schools so we all would not have to reinvent each wheel every time.

MarchMarch for Best Practice

August – December Program for Online Teaching

September – November 9x9x25 Challenge

December12 Apps of Christmas

What is your schedule look like? What are the events and the duration of them?

Share Everything

The first rule in Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten is this:


Opened16 ends today.

I figure for this post I would share what the many people attending the event have shared.