The Ticket
Originally uploaded by rdrunner

Today I convocated. Almost surreal – I began this blog when I began my Master’s journey. And here it is at the close.At the close of the formal program, that is. Not the close of my learning journey.

It has been a week filled with memories, as this trip to Saskatoon is back to where we started our lives together after our undergraduate time at the University of Waterloo.

Andrew took some wonderful photos – they are in a set in Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/rdrunner/sets/72157618846755860/.

Wow.

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The Ticket

Originally uploaded by rdrunner

Today I convocated. Almost surreal – I began this blog when I began my Master’s journey. And here it is at the close.

Andrew took some wonderful photos – they are in a set in Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/rdrunner/sets/72157618846755860/.

Wow.

snow lounge
Creative Commons License photo credit: jaymiek

Today I wrote my final exam for ECMM 802. It was also the final act in my Master’s program. After working in earnest since September 2007 my Master’s work is complete. So why do I not feel incredibly elated? Veritably swooning? Doing the loud happy dance?

I do feel a sense of accomplishment. But I also feel a sense of loss. I have had little “free” time in the last 18 months. Reading, exploring, reflecting, discussing – mostly online – has consumed any moment outside of work and home chores. And I have loved every moment. So I do not expect my habits to measurably change, other than to create a little more balance and shift my priorities.

I knew when I started this journey it would be intense. I planned a full-time schedule while I also held a full-time job. And here I now stand, poised to put a check mark beside this item on my bucket list.

I will write again in reflection on this journey. I am now part of a community of learners that I would never have found on my own, to which I am grateful for support. Thanks to Jaymie for this photo of the faculty lounge. Being a distance student I wasn’t in it often, but when I was there, it was home.

I’m not sure it will every really be done, and quite frankly it is my intention to use the Guide in several ways in the future so I expect it to be updated. I would still like to create a downloadable full pdf version (that properly renders the html tables). And the inclusion of a detailed plan would be helpful.

But for now I’m happy that it covers the bulk of the issues and items that one should address when implementing a Parent Portal. It’s been quite the ride in development!

So please let me know if you or someone you know has occasion to use any of the Guide or its templates (I know some have been downloaded already, but because I allowed anonymous access I don’t know by whom). I’m always anxious to improve upon the product and so welcome your feedback.

Click to access the K-12 Parent Portal Implementation Guide.

One last piece of associated work is the completion of my eportfolio – documenting my project journey. Almost done that too.

I am sitting on a plane documenting the journey of my Master’s project for my eportfolio. What did I do, why did I do it, and what were the learnings. Reflection, and particularly I believe public reflection, is an important learning tool. I was writing about the two blogs I keep and their different purposes. I had just finished describing the purpose of this blog – Masterthoughts – when I realized I needed to write about my immediate struggle. I said this blog was about documenting my journey. Here goes.

I am on this plane travelling to Toronto to be with my family. My older brother, just turned 61 years old, suffered a massive stroke on Thursday. We did not find out until late Friday (he lives on his own and authorities were trying to reach us). I struggled through Saturday waiting for more news. Later in the day, no change. Talking with my parents and sister we decided I should stay in Calgary. Today, Sunday, my sister called and asked me to come home to help. I caught the next plane.

This coming Saturday I am scheduled to present my Master’s project, a piece of work that I have laboured over since beginning my program in the fall of 2007. I embarked on my Master’s journey with a clear and specific plan. I am among the older students in the program, and wanted to work through the program sooner rather than later, so that my learning would have the opportunity to benefit others. I had no idea when I began what a powerful and life-changing experience this journey would be. I have loved every minute, every challenge, every struggle. While I wish I had taken this journey sooner, I also am wise enough to know that the context may have been different in an earlier time and I am so grateful for all those who have helped me since I began.

I am also scheduled to present my project at the Distributed Learning Symposium in a workshop on Friday. I was so excited about it. Several colleagues that I work with a distance will be in Calgary for the event – Dr. Alec Couros and George Siemens for example – that I was so looking forward to meeting with. And having the opportunity for more feedback about my work was invigorating to say the least.

I know what I must do. My family is my absolute first priority. I feel more at ease now that I am travelling to be with them. I was updating the pages on my portfolio in preparation for the presentation on Saturday before I turned to this post. I may still be able to present – is that a silly idea? I will contact my advisor when I arrive in Toronto. I was going to wait, but…

Writing comes easier to me now. This journey has helped me to put thoughts into words. For many years I have written briefing notes. I have become very good at bullet points and synthesized issue statements. Prose and full sentences were foreign to me. Blogging is a powerful tool for learning, for reflection, for putting into words those thoughts that are swimming around in our heads. This tragic experience is part of my Master’s journey, and I felt obligated to chronicle it here as well. I want to be able to reflect further when I am past this moment. We are all human beings, multi-faceted, and I know I can better support other’s through the life experiences I have endured myself.

Follow-up: My brother passed away the day I wrote this, in fact right at the time I felt drawn away from my eportfolio writing to compose this post. He was always very proud of what I accomplished, just as I know he is watching as I complete this Master’s journey. How fortunate I am. How I miss him.

You're Going to Need a Hard Hat to Live There
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rob Shenk

Today I sat on the train between two burly construction workers. Steel-toed boots, well-worn overalls, hard hats and big lunch kits. They both had newspapers, and the stereotypical assumption might be the sports section. Not true. One was reading the business pages, and the other was working on a crossword puzzle.

What’s significant about this story? In our classrooms, we are helping our learners to discover their own learning styles and preferences. But we run the risk of then teaching to that style, rather than helping them to discover their whole mind. I hope these two young men had teachers who recognized that. Certainly as I watched them engaged in learning this morning using their linguistic rather than bodily-kinesthetic intelligence I had to believe it was true.

Like many others, I’m intrigued by the picture that Wordle creates from my writing, my interests, and my research. This is my delicious Wordle:

delicious wordle
photo: http://www.wordle.net

When you look at it, you learn something about me. When I look at it, I am reminded of issues I have researched, works I have read, and threads that I want to further pursue. My personal learning journey, chronicled by Wordle.