Our Family’s 9/11 Memorial

It has been seven years since I saw a Yahoo news feed that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and then watched with my wife in horror as the events of 9/11/2001 unfolded.   In those days, I was night dean and director of online learning at Gwinnett Technical College, so I worked 2pm-10pm shifts and had my mornings free for online work.  So I learned about the terrorist attack via my computer that morning.

CNN has an article this morning entitled “Creating 9/11 Memorials a Slow Process.”  It discusses the opening of a memorial at the Pentagon and the challenges associated with creating the New York memorial.  Memorials are important, as they provide a sense of closure and moving on to those impacted by the event.

I feel like my family has its own memorial.  One of my daughters chose 9/11 as the date for her marraige.  Steph and Chris are celebrating their fourth anniversary today, and they have blessed us with a wonderful grandson, and a granddaughter is expected around Christmas this year.  Their decision cast this date from one of terror to one of joy.  I know that there are many Stephs and Chris’s out there across American.  They represent what is positive about this country – a determination to move forward to better days.  As I reflect on this day and what it has meant to our country, I also reflect on how our country has rebounded…and that is a good feeling.

Happy Anniversary, Stephanie and Chris!

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Using My Father’s Method

I know this is not really true, but all kids grow up thinking that their father taught them to swim by throwing them into the pool/lake/river/bay.  And most of us did learn to swim!

I was thinking about this as I watched (in a virtual sense) my graduate students swim for the first time in Web 2.0 waters.  During their first week of their first online class, they found out that they could post material to a website, upload pictures, resize those pictures if necessary, set up accounts in GOOGLE, DELICIOUS, and WIKISPACES, and record an audio message to each other in the class using Wimba recorders.

I know that they think I simply threw them in … and some of them felt quite overwhelmed.  It is hard for them to see right now that the successes of this week will translate into practices in their lives and their classrooms in the near future.

Yet I am encouraged!  I took the 80 posts that the 18 students made in the discussion board and collected all the text, then placed the text in Wordle.  This was the resultant wordcloud:

I had asked the students to watch Michael Wesch’s The Machine is Us(ing) Us and then reflect on how (or whether) Web 2.0 was changing how they as K-12 teachers should approach teaching and learning.  It is therefore good to see that the top two words that emerged from 80 posts were “students” and “technology.”  I am also seeing words such as classroom, time, internet, can, world, and new.  You have to look very hard to find the word “overwhelmed”…it is there but tiny compared to other words that pop out.

I was fortunate in that my emersion into the Web 2.0 stream occurred over an 18-month period, with supporting friends locally and globally helping me out.  Where I paddled, my students are now being hit with a firehose (mixed metaphors…but you know what I mean).  There are some excited swimmers in the lot, and my role is to create that same sense of excitement in the rest.  I think that it is going to be fun.

Photo Credit: zanzibar}