That is true – a beautiful month in Puerto Rico; that was my February of 2016 thanks to an invitation from Antonio Vantaggiato to spend a month with him and staff/students in the STEMmED project at Universidad del Sagrado del Corazón in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
And it’s not the first time Antonio has been so gracious; first was in 2013 and second was just this past October when he asked me to speak at their TEDx USagradoCorazon event.
I put together a summary of the things there as a quasi portfolio type thing, but also so they knew where “stuff” was, as a page on the STEMmED site
- Cool Stuff: Memes, GIFs, and the Open Web – a talk for students. No need to explain GIFs or Memes to them.
- Inside the World of Catfishing twice presented to students. Wow, I got a chance to talk in public about what seems to be my major blog topic? They mostly knew the term from the MTV show, and many had experiences with fake accounts being used for bullying/harassment (mean while Facebook fiddles while fake accounts freely burn people).
- Silly / Useful Web Tricks a workshop for faculty. It turns out that sharing links is still a good thing.
- I participated and planned a few things for Antonio’s New Media class, INF115 where you can see a lot of ideas riffed from ds106 / connected courses. All the students write in their own wordpress.com space. I created a version of the Daily Create, in our case it was a Daily Photo site Una Foto Cata Día — which up to today netted 298 responses to 38 challenges (and showed the intersection with the open, since we had outside participation by Sandy Jensen Brown and Claudia Ceraso, thanks friends). On the last day, I turned the keys over to the students; I made an editing account for them to use, so that they could keep the site going. When I checked yesterday, there were scheduled challenges well past mid-March.
I set up a number of activities/assignments for the class, including doing some animated GIFs from videos, and audio exercise where they first used their mobile devices to ask people about their opinions of using Wikipedia as an academic tool, uploading to SoundCloud, and then editing with Audacity they are assembling Vox Populi type mixes of each others recordings. Last week, I did a demo of Hypothes.is where the students will be using it to annotate two different positions on the impact of mobile phones on how we converse
- Give ’em SPLOTS – I had hopes of getting SPLOT tools set up on their web site. I found a bit of WordPress Multisite hijinks- their main site is set up to do multisite by domains, but I found out the sub-sites could only be seen on the campus network (I am guessing the DNS is not set up to allow wildcard subdomains). Then I thought, well I can set up a multisite as a sub directory stand alone site. Another dead end- without some other htaccess and sunrise.php juggling, you cannot have a multisite in a sub directory of another multisite. Boing.
In the end, because it was my last few days, I set these up as stand alone WP installs, just so they would be there for Antonio and his students/staff to experiment with. An Image Pool, a TRU Writer, and a Bank [of Something]. Plus I made a copy of the WordPress as Presenter site I used for the faculty workshop
That was just a part of the experience. There was the beach I could walk to. The mofongo. A free library in the street (two locations). Old San Juan. The mix of decay and modern in just a few blocks of Ponce de Leon Avenue. Stunning street art and murals on small and large scale. A student I met named Jose who showed me the lively culture in the Rio Piedras area. And road trips with Antonio and his wife to see the mountains and shore areas outside of the city.
And the warmth and welcome of people at Sagrado like Gladys, Bernabé, Sheila, Giovannie, Dorabel, John, Myra (a few Myras), and many more whose names I got mixed up.
And stunning sunsets. Stunning.
I wish I could say my Spanish improved significantly, but quizás un poco? Actually just walking around and reading as many signs as possible felt like it helped some. At least I will stop pronouncing it as “POR-toe REE-koh”
It is a place of such contrasts.
And always possibility. With all the challenges this place faces, I have seen much to be optimistic about.
Top / Featured Image: That’s my own photo https://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/24863152095 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license. This is the original and main campus building of Universidad del Sagrado del Corazón in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
As you can see they are catering to interests in social media with these signs that were set up- my first weekend was an open house for prospective students, quite a festive atmosphere.