cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by KLK Photos

I’ve been un-employed a week, and still soaking in the incredible response to my announcement and road plans… and now there are even more dots on the map to connect. That adventure will start sometime in June.

I have yet to spend a day on the couch or even to sit around and watch movies. My biggest current project is sanding and painting my two decks; the smaller one has already taken much longer than anticipated just to get to the point of painting (tomorrow).

But that does not mean I am vanishing from my edtech interests. I’m still doing my stuff for ds106, even now setting up some times for a show ida tomorrow for ds106 radio. I’ll be part of a rowdy panel on this at Northern Voice as well as doing another solo presentation (a version of Looking Through the Lens).

I’ve got a few WordPress paying jobs on the burner. I really have to knuckle down and round out the updated version of 50+ Ways to Tell a Story.

And I have been offered and intend to take up offers, for any speaking opportunities I can do while on the road (hey, look at the price of gas, and I am driving a guzzler that at best does 15 mpg).

All of this points to something I hope to explore when I return, and that is trying my hand at doing some free lance work.

The first dread is coming across as one of these guys

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by ‘PixelPlacebo’

And I hate to bring it up as I know it is a sore spot to my friend Jim Groom, but I have been long time mulling over what I thought I grasped in Leigh Blackall’s post on “lucrative teaching”. I think a lot of people, Jim included, felt like Leigh was comparing him to money grubbing “let’s make a buck off of teaching” shlockster.

What I got out of it was Leigh asking the question, could Jim be doing what he is doing outside of a university (and not be a slimy salesman). And it looks as though every person doing an massively (or not that big) open online course is doing so under the role of a paid employee of an educational or research institution.

My longer term question for myself, is there a way to make my living as an independent, yet doing the same sharing/creating/sharing that I have enjoyed in my two previous jobs? without becoming a “dreaded consultant”. I’ve talked to a few colleagues who have done this for a while, and none of them seems at all caught up in the Cult of Personality.

To that end of exploration, I am setting myself up as a one person shop, and having bought the domain first, hope to longer term build out a site of offerings. I call it “CogDog It” (the url is but there’s not much there) and am using that for now as my “employer” listed in Facebook/LinkedIn (my title is “Top Dog”.

I alo have some clean up some parts on this blog, and establish a corner of the CogDogHouse for my trip accountings, which I informally call an “odyssey”.

Again, I don’t know if this is what I want to be doing, and the whole idea of this time and long trip is to go out with a lot of questions and wait for the answers to emerge.

The answer to “What’s Next?” or “Now What?” is “TBD”…

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by hopeleslie

all of which will be excessively adorned with dog photos.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Gah! I missed the memo. I blame illness and crazy-busyness. Please do let me know if you’re in the Philadelphia area. I would love to catch up.

    And good luck in your new adventures–sounds wonderful!

  2. “And it looks as though every person doing an massively (or not that big) open online course is doing so under the role of a paid employee of an educational or research institution” – really? I think this statement is only true if you think MOOCs are something unique. To me they are simply formal education’s foray into informal online learning communities, which are *everywhere* and have been for a long time now. I think the statement makes more sense as “The only people ‘leading’ MOOCs *and getting paid for it* are doing so as employees of formal educational institutions.”

    1. Touché on the “this has been around a long while” and I like your edits.

      What I am trying to get to is figuring out how I can continue to share what I do and have done openly and freely (while getting a paycheck) and also finding ways to charge fees for other services w/o coming off like a guy in a cheap suit and bad toupee.

  3. Yeah, I get that. Not meaning to nitpick. It *is* challenging. It seems like you either offer it all up for free with a “please pay me” sign beside the tip cup, or go the route of offering lots for free with some “value added” component, either based on higher contact or more enhanced content, for a fee. Neither seem that appealing, but so far those seem to be the models I’m seeing. I’m sure there are more. It’s not trivial, and it requires both faith, intention and a realistic idea of what you need versus what you want, I think.

  4. Alan—here is my edited (for grammar and the like) version of the above comment :)

    What never gets mentioned is I get paid next to nothing my most standards at my current job, but I opt for the freedom and possibilities of being allowed to do whatever I want. Good luck with that in freelance work, there is a value to working within institutions just for that, and when you are tied to a client for particular “deliverables” you really aren’t any more free from institutional bonds than someone in my position, in fact quite the opposite. That said, I’m sure a lot of freelancers have done great stuff for edtech, but fact is most edtech still takes place inside institutions, which means you will probably still end up working for an institution in some form or another. True freedom from institutions is in many regards an illusion and that’s because our spectrum of possibilities is everywhere limited by our relationship, and almost blind dependence, on money to survive in just about every regard—just think about medical insurance in the US for one small example. I understand that is a fact of the system we live in, but given that, I sometimes wonder about the strong reactions on the part of some that you can’t do anything significant within an institution—many of whom work in those selfsame institutions. In fact, if you have some freedom within those boundaries and a few ideas, I’ve found you can do a ton of very cool stuff. And what’s more, you don’t have to cowtow to clients or sell your wares—which I am loathe to do.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. For me, work at an institution has been far more rewarding than anything I have done freelance—and I have done a lot—and that’s because I have the time to experiment and think in an institutional setting, haven’t found that to be the case with any of my freelance gigs. And I have seen what others have done when freelancing for grants and the like that are institutionally—whether state or federally funded—-and I can’t say the ability to see things happen and make something with your own hands is even there. You often become a “dreaded consultant” with far less input and control over what’s happening, and you are further removed from actually building something—and that’s what I wanna do.

    1. I hear ya, Reverend, and appreciate your remarks given the funk around the older CoP stuff.

      I’ve done edtech from within the institutions in two stints now, and had much of the freedom you describe and good salary, and it is maybe the best platform to do this. Maybe. I do know people who make a living from their work as a consultant and know at least 3 that are not slimy slugs.

      I’ve not lived off of my own work before, and it scares the beeswax out of me to ponder it. I am considering it, but am not making an iron clad decisions til I see the open road. I could try and break your assumptions. Maybe.

  5. Fact is Alan if anyone could it’s you, that is for certain. And I’ll go on record here saying I am not as nearly as brave in you in this regard—it takes serious chutzpah, but the fact is you would do awesome work from where ever you were, and you seem to build and define your own freedom. So, i may speaking from the defensive, but I am also speaking about what you do best—-you imagine big and execute regularly, you’re the full package. Can’t imagine there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t want to work with you, or have you work for them.

    But I kinda see you as training the next generation of edtech folks. Running a program, allowing folks to have the freedom to explore and imagine. Guiding that spirit. Seems to me to be the level of thinking and the spirit of what you do is at such a different level than a a traditional transactional relationship. Your at the edge of this field, the very edge, you should be training those that are coming up to it. That would be my dream for you, but who the hell am I?

    You’re a natural teacher, and you don’t need institutions for that necessarily, but it is a job of the highest order, whether paid or not.

    1. All that said, I guess that is what you do with your blog, but the idea of someone paying you to teach—that is the difference between paying and being paid as Melville noted in Moby Dic:

      Again, I always go to sea as a sailor, because they make a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of. On the contrary, passengers themselves must pay. And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid. The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us. But being paid,—what will compare with it? The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!</blockquote.

  6. Consulting is a strange gig. Sadly the bottom-dwelling, scum-sucking types get all the free press (see above), while we who operate with integrity and ethics keep missing out on the free plugs.

    I commend the life to you Doggy. You don’t always know where the next buck will come from; but you can choose who you work with, and people who like and appreciate you will choose to work with you.

    The tricky bit is the ‘paying’ bit. My experience is that this bit tends to ‘work out’. Focus on delivering value, and people will pay in ways and from sources you don’t even know about today.

    And if it doesn’t work out, or if you find an employee gig you are not willing to pass up, switch. It’s about the work, not the box the labour statisticians put you in.

    All the best!


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