Yikes, I am a month behind in blogging. I loathe back blogging. No one, of course really cares. Well I do.

But the rest of my trip on Australia, the part following the part of the trip for the ISS Institute fellowship are needing this reflection. I could have zipped home after my two weeks, but if you fly half way around the world to a place, it’s pretty obvious its worth it to see as much as possible.

So it was part of my plan to spend time with some key Australian educators, and to see some parts of the country outside of the city here I had been the first half of the trip.

It made sense to plan a trip north “across the border” of Victoria to visit Tim Klapdor who is an Online Learning Technology Leader at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga (I was told early on that people who know the place that you just have to say one “Wagga” for Australians to know the place).

I’ve read and followed Tim’s blog for a while, but have gotten to know him well twice from conferences, meetings he’s attended here in the US. The first in person meet up was at a small Indie Ed-Tech gathering at Davidson College in March 2016. There is some sad message that the event web site is gone, but The Google has a lot of summary blog posts.

And I also spent a good bit of Tim in 2017 at the Reclaim Hosting Domains Conference in Oklahoma City. When Tim travels in the USA, he likes to plan long drives, as he did when I approached him about visiting Wagga.

He asked if I’d be willing to do a half day of talks/workshops at CSU (“of course” is the answer). They could not offer a speakers fee (which as not expected) but Tim had my travel to Wagga covered, two nights stay, meals, and then, the icing on top, he could get a car to drive me on the scenic route after to Wollongong.

The Back Roads to Wagga
The Back Roads to Wagga flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

As my last ISS Institute talk was at Wodonga, Tim had offered to drive down and meet me, and show me a scenic country road route to Wagga.

I was treated to a lovely home cooked meal at his home and met his wife and adorable daughter. If you have followed Tim’s blog, you may appreciate the story of being able to sit in his home that was restored after a fire.

Tim is not only a sharp technical person and designer, but also quite the cook! I totally enjoyed the chicken cooked standing up

Cooking Genius of Tim Klapdor
Cooking Genius of Tim Klapdor flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

This was not my first Wagga ride. I spent a day at CSU back in 2000 during my sabbatical where mostly I was in Albury at the Riverina TAFE. But I did go to Wagga and visited some IT folks at the CSU campus in mid November 2000. My memory was fuzzy, I recall visiting the wine school.

Framing Charles Sturt University
Framing Charles Sturt University flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Tim took me on a little driving tour of the CSU Wagga Wagga campus (we saw more in foot the next morning). It’s quite unlike most university campuses I have seen; it’s situated on a wide open large piece of land that wraps around a small hilltop (also a nature reserve). It’s almost like a small village, all low profile buildings of different styles. It seems to follow a lot of green design principles, using solar electricity, etc.

I was set up to present in a pretty sophisticated classroom used for teaching remotely (of which CSU does a lot with a great deal of teaching between different centers. I did a pretty good job of standing in the wrong spot in the room, but as Australians go, it’s not big deal. We had a handful of people watching remotely; I know Wendy Taleo called in from Alice Springs. I’m bummed I could not plan this trip well enough to visit, Wendy, please forgive me.

Tim Starts The Show
Tim Starts The Show flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

It was also a great thrill to meet Helen South (@helsouth) someone I’ve crossed some great twitter conversations.

The morning talk Tim asked me to talk about something like “Beyond the LMS – Exploring Connected Learning using the Open Web”. I used as a base a talk one I had done in New Zealand in 2014, but revamped/updated most of it for this talk (there are no repeats with The CogDog):

I do start out talking about shower fixtures, instructions, and added some new appliances and other bathroom devices with plumbing. A number of those shower fixtures were ones I saw on my 2000 visit to Australia, and I had somehow thought of how problematic your design was if a shower faucet required retailed instructions (I have a showerinstructions tag in flickr) (because I can).

But that time around I had used the idea of “affordances” in design to what I had read in Donald Norman’s Design of Everyday Things as to how well something conveys its function or purpose.

For the CSU talk I dug in farther to the origin of the concept of Affordance to psychologist James J. Gibson’s “The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception”:

The affordances of the environment are what it offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill. The verb to afford is found in the dictionary, the noun affordance is not. I have made it up. I mean by it something that refers to both the environment and the animal in a way that no existing term does. It implies the complementarity of the animal and the environment.

I find this even more appropriate to talking about the open web, it’s neither “good” nor “bad”, affordance is really about the relationship of an individual to the system (quote from Wikipedia):

The key to understanding affordance is that it is relational and characterizes the suitability of the environment to the observer, and so, depends on their current intentions and their capabilities. For instance, a set of steps which rises four feet high does not afford climbing to the crawling infant, yet might provide rest to a tired adult or the opportunity to move to another floor for an adult who wished to reach an alternative destination.

As it was, several in the room were familiar Gibson’s work (more than me!), which led to some tangential discussions. They quibbled some with my examples of the three kinds of technology affordances that William Gaver described in a 1991 talk

public domain pixabay image https://pixabay.com/en/texture-wood-door-red-door-knob-2119315/

I found irony in the open web affordance that Gaver’s paper is behind a paywall but one google search found a few versions freely available. Hah. Well I thought that was clever.

Take that, paywall!

I went on to talking about the ideas of blogging as “narrating what we do” (hat tip to Jon Udell) and the manifestation as Domain of One’s own. I pulled out my comparison of the “affordances” of a hotel room versus a personal bedroom. I use from the recent eCampus Ontario Extend intro to domains work from this summer the notion of a domain as not one site or blog, but a possibility space, a plot of land for multiple structures.

Then I did a quick romp through the history of DS106, it’s “affordance” of syndication using a distributed network design, and then a quick fly by of a handful of other Feed WordPress / Syndication sites I have done, and ones others have done using my Feed WordPress 101 guide.

It was fast, but I don’t think it was furious. But it was time for lunch.

In the afternoon, for a smaller group, we did a bit of hands on exploration of the Staking Your Claim on the Open Web workshop I did at DML conference with Kim Jaxon.

As I had talked through the concepts of domains in the morning, I just provided an overview for the whole workshop, talked some about the way it had pre-built wordpress installs for things like feed syndication hubs, ds106-like assignment banks but also for SPLOTs too.

Everyone quickly made their accounts on StateU.org and I had them create a quick calling card landing page using the Site Publisher (always folks, this is just a placeholder for something better)

As a warm up, and to show what SPLOT cound do, I gave everyone the assignment to find something the room that could be a metaphor for the web and had them post their image (all used mobile phones) to a version of the Image Collector SPLOT; and I went back and tagged them to put the images from the group together

Photos added to the splot during the workshop

You can tell what kind of awesome group it was right from there. I then had people try out doing one of the pre-built calling card themes.

It was a lot to cover quickly, but there was quite a bit of interest in the room (well Tim has been advocating Domains for a while, and the visual arts department already uses some kind of shared wordpress platform).

And then all the presenting on this trip was done. Tim showed me fabulous dinner and tasting at the Thirsty Crow Brewery in Wagga (one Wagga).

Quite a day.

But Tim and I had some more road adventure, but that’s another post.

At least I got a stroll on Wagga Beach before I left…

A Quiet Day at Wagga Beach
A Quiet Day at Wagga Beach flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Featured image: Sturt Was Here flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com 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.

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