Category Archives: Reflection

In the messy yet beautiful universe of data I’m searching for the “question” this time, not the answers

In my “scientific”  journey for a more sharp focus for my research en-devour, I try to be “open” for connections, for the emerging creative inquiry process. The art is now, how to define the edge (boundaries) of the circle of focus. I’m pondering on: how to be interdisciplinary in my approach without diminishing argument integrity?  Looking for a new balance between “solid foundations”  (deductive routine) and what  Feyerabend coins as “scientific anarchy” (my interpretation: new inductive chaos). I’m being pulled back and forth between the overwhelming new opportunities of new media (in this case: the possibility of abundant user-generated data) and the” back to basics” research questions. Tomorrow I will only try inductive reasoning and see where that takes me. It feels as if I have an answer, but I still don’t know what my question was in the first place. Inductive is more intuitive, it embraces complexities, it just feels right, but it is an overwhelming ride.

Paul Feyerabend

A quote I came across this week, when reading Bill Viola‘s essay “Will there be Condominiums” in Data Space?” for #nmfs_f11 (blog here)  keeps echoing in my mind:

Scientists always marvel at nature, at how it seems to be some grand code, with a built-in sense of purpose. Discoveries are made which reveal that more and more things are related, connected. Everything appears to be aware of itself and everything else, all fitting into an interlocking whole.”  (Bill Viola, 1982)

I will for now answer Bill Viola’s question he posed in 1982; “Will there be Condominiums in data space?”  with a No. Condominiums are fragmented, as he himself knew more than anyone else. I feel more for an ocean of data, where fluidity represents connectedness.  But the challenge with the more natural “everything is connected” approach is the question: from which angle do I have to look at this perpetual continuity, and what is enough for this project of mine? Or is “the ocean [indeed] without a shore” as the title goes of one of Viola’s art-projects?

Bill Viola’s “Raft” fits the feeling described here perfectly:

Questions, focus…please, do emerge soon…

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How I’m finding back my Mojo

I’m visualizing the summer, and the break that comes with it before me. After some hectic months of teaching, consultation with students on their re-assessment projects and the constantly enlisting of “to-do” check lists of the thousands of activities that I have to get done before my summer starts and a cruel flu that took my body and soul literally over, I can say…

I’m thinking of new beginnings a new way to regenerate positive energies…

Life has been tough the last couple of weeks at the Faculty. Since we are a new faculty only operating for just two years, “changes” are the status quo. You have to be a real flexible dragon in order to survive. Sociologist Zigmunt Bauman‘s coined statement: “living in times of uncertainty” applies to these last two years. Uncertainty teaches you to be flexible and you have to anticipate and leave perfectionism behind and start embracing robust planning & visioning and authentic teamwork.  A wise man once told me that this context values the strategy of Feed-forwarding, rather than the more common “after the facts” feed-backing. Don’t get me wrong feed-back is still one of the greatest tools for learning and working together towards great things. Anyways, to get to the point, operating in a sphere of constant uncertainties has a dark side too, it can generate stress that can have its consequences on everything you do. Stress can sometimes trigger a constant state of fear that can be demotivating and can even paralyze the creative process. It encourages a negative spiral of fear of failure and it sucks you up. You become half the shadow of the woman you really are. Oops, there goes my honest self!

So the questions are: How to not drown in all this work? in all these uncertainties? How to keep your groove shining, or as Austin Power calls it, how to get  your “mojo” back when it slips away (mojo= a slang concept used to describe self-confidence, self-esteem or in the case of Austin his sex-appeal) ? Continue reading

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Goodbye Perfectionism! ‘not perfect’ is the new black (part 3 of 3)

This post is a reflection (part 3 of 3) on my participation in the course entitled ‘Transforming education for the 21st century’ .

After the classes Tito gave at the UA, I asked myself, why is it that I love to write, but sometimes have difficulty posting on my blog. The answer is: the sometimes agonizing believe that ‘it isn’t good enough’ to post yet that scares away all the inspirational creative energy I have. The underlying message is here: everything is good enough. The fear of not being good enough to go public (internet is a public place) paralyzes creation. Tito taught us that participation and trying  new things is better than having everything in a perfect way. For instance, when designing courses with the help of technology, the fear of  not doing it right away, can stop you of trying. I want to refer to my first post in this series of reflection on the course: Transforming education for the 21st century. I wrote that the education system has to be fluid, our minds and hearts have to be fluid, in order to create space for learning. This space will give the process of learning the freedom for it to emerge in its own unique way. Fluidity, self-adaptable, everything is just perfect as it is…

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A little on Technology, a lot on Pedagogy (part 2 of 3)

This post is a reflection (part 2 of 3) on my participation in the course entitled ‘Transforming education for the 21st century’ .
The course has been going on for three days already. I will first sum up all the applications we have used during  this course (this is the technology review) in order to get that out of my internal hard drive (brains) 😀

With professor Tito Melendez; Transforming Education for the 21st century

We started by creating concept maps with bubbl.us ; This application is very user-friendly and in my experience it can capture the inituitive aspect of our brains very well, when our brains start their spectacular reasoning and creative thinking process. I myself, are accustumed with mindmapping applications such as mindjet (not free) and mindmeister (free) and once I tried freemind (free) but found it not really user-friendly. But since mindmapping starts with a central concept as departure, bubbl.us gives you freedom to start with several concepts and relations emerge in their own pace. So I loved that, my mind is always a myrad of associations. So what then do I experience as user-friendlieness?  I experience user-friendlieness as the degree to which technology can mirror natural human behaviour. In other words what you would do inituively can be manifested without technological barierrs of the application (in other words, the application doesn’t interupt the natural flow of natural human behaviour).

We learned to work with a leaning management system (LMS). The course was focussed on edu20.org. Edu 2.0 is an open-source LMS, compabarable to moodle.com and blackboard (commercial). edu 2.0 rocks! I love the rubrics you can make as a teacher to grade your assignments etc. The University of Aruba (UA) is contemplating the LMS issue for a while already, we are still in the progress of deciding which type of LMS will suit the UA better, since we are a small university. As a student I have experienced the workings of Blackboard during my whole student carreer. I have so say all the open-source versions you have available do the ‘magic’, even better than blackboard. The whole concept of open-source appeals to me. Open-source is the future! It is based on reciprocity, collaboration and open access to learning for everybody. The fact that ‘we’ all are responsible for the workings of the system, makes the system one that is in ongoing progress (constant flow of feedback and self-organization based on a non-profit aim).

We learned to translate other Web 2.0 tools in the classroom setting (blogs, wikis, digital conference, video-making,  etc). For me the added-value was when Tito taught us how to use these in a pedagogical way. I really enjoyed the dynamic collision between technology and course content. I’m looking forward to implement more tools in the classroom.

I’m used at building wikis to support my classes (e.g.  Critical Literacies and Caribbean Sociology), but I’ve always had the impression that my students didn’t really understand the ‘collaboration’ opportunities that the wiki platform had to offer. As a teacher you need to explain the added-value of the technological application to the students and let them experience this. Next time I will  incorporate this opportunity and skill more explicitly in my courses.

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Welcome to the liquid 21st century (part 1 of 3)

This post is a reflection (part 1 of 3) on my participation in the course entitled ‘Transforming education for the 21st century’ .

Light shades in the Aula of the University of Aruba: All that is solid melts into air, or becomes liquid

Most of the teachers at the University of Aruba were invited to participate in the above mentioned course. We are honored to have dr. Juan Melendez, who is a full professor at the Department of Art, Technology and Innovation at the College of Education in the Rio Piedras Campus of the University of Puerto Rico. What an excitement, this time I get to be the student. (okay in a formal way. that’s the beauty of being a teacher, you are always a lifelong student 😀 with major responsibilities).

I have to say, I was a bit skeptical in the beginning (now I feel what my students feel at the beginning of each course). I had mixed expectations, I hoped this course was not meant for people who are new to the discovery of the so-called wonders of technology. I hoped deep in my heart that this course would be on education, more than on the wonders technology can bring in the classroom. And I was blessed,  the first thing  Tito (Juan told us to call him Tito) told us was that this course is about education , and to be more concrete: on the transition of education as a practice of the 20th century reality to the 21st century realities. And that is not a typo, as a child of post-modernism, I want to underline that: ‘realities’. I was relieved 😀  (first lesson: aligning expectations at the beginning of a course, gives peace to the student’s heart and makes room in their mind for openness to the new, teacher and student clear together assumptions out of the air!) Tito cleared all the assumptions and readjusted all the expectations at the beginning of the class.

The first half of the first day was a philosophical dialogue on the practice of education and its role in the 21st century. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. I’ve been contemplating this subject for a while already as a teacher of new literacies, but what really deepened the experience is having this conversation with my colleagues for the first time. (second lesson: we as teachers have to keep coming together to have conversations about things that matter). I learned so much of the way my peers view this transition. I want to share this video by Sir Ken Robinson. He talks about changing paradigms in education. He has really inspire me in seeing education not as one-size fits it all practice:

In my opinion the education system has to be a place that provides space for learning. Unique individuals have unique ways of learning. Technology as a tool provides diversity as a platform for learning, the teacher as facilitator navigates together with the students, the real explorers. New skills required for the 21st century are: attention (this has become a commodity), authentic participation and collaboration. Learning is no longer an individual process, but a social process catalyzed by reciprocity.  The education system of the 21st century is fluid, not solid. It has to be adaptable for and emerging from the needs of the students and the 21st century. I chose the above picture I took once in the Aula of the University of Aruba because of its symbolism. The solid glass window becomes fluid when struck by sunbeams. The fluid light-shades symbolizes the emerging natural process of learning.

Click on the concept map to view how I played with the concepts of education, learning and technology.

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A sweet brainscattered daydreamer

A world full of ideas…

not all yet nicely structured.
Ideas are energy,
they vibrate and all of them have their unique vibrating feeling.
All pieces of possibilities, someday maybe’s, wishes, high purpose dreams,
other times more materialistic caprices,
often forgetting that everything is decay,
except for that ultimate everprocreating feeling: love.
All kinds of flowing potential creating energies…
all waiting there…
in the keepsake of my soul,
in those two always integrated rooms;
The brain and the heart,
sometimes I can find the corridor that connects those rooms to each other,
other times I just forget their always interconnected to one another.

The sun is slowly rising at Seroe Colorado

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A poem on Dialogue

One day I asked myself, what is the most magical form of communication?

I searched deep into my soul

for an answer,

And this is what I found:

“The Dialogue”

I tried to put this magical communicative energy into words:

In order to experience genuine dialogue;
We have to be honest to our deepest self;
Release the energy the ego incarcerates;
Accept diversity as the essence of life;
Open op to the communication of the heart;
Acknowledge rationality as a helpful instrument,
but also as a limited and sometimes fragmented domain of perception;
Start hearing the silent intuitive voice,
Recognize the breath of life as the unifying energy
that connects us all to everything;
And then…
The co-creation of meaning can take place;
The interplay between listening and speaking;
An emerging dance of healing;
At the end of process,
we will speak with
the same voice…

(November 2, 2009: 11:34 pm)

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