I so loved the OER20 Conference #ThisIsMe activity- they encouraged participants in this online conference (I writer this as if there are any other kinds now) to tweet and photo of their participation location. You get great windows into participants from both the top tweets (hi Martin) and the latest tweets.

It’s a very small thing to organize and do, but there is a huge connective payoff in getting a window into the places and surroundings where people are quarantining, together being not together.

There’s an unintended effect here that I remember what happened long ago in an early DS106 Daily Create called Keychain Stories (the old site won’t display videos but you can find many of them still in the back corner of YouTube).

People from different places did this video assignments at home, and as a group we got a peek (not the surveillance kind) inside the rooms, homes, dorms where people did their work. You got to know each other simply by seeing the stuff the people make important, plus their pets, kids, partners, etc.

That even happened in the NetNarr class I co-teach with Mia Zamora, in our first COVID-19 video class meeting, one of the students noted how neat it was to see each other in our home spaces.

The #ThisIsMe reminded me of an activity I learned long ago from my early years at Maricopa, from my colleague Donna Rebadow, called The View from Where I Sit. This was something she used in the paleolithic internet era of text-only BBS like environments. I found it’s entry from the Maricopa Learning eXchange still alive in the Internet Archive.

The idea was as an intro activity in an online class to describe, in words, the place they are doing their online work. Donna notes that it was important then (as is now) to set a tone with a first entry:

She cites the source of this activity as an “ASU Summer Institute workshop.” but also notes how it is successful because of unexpected outcomes:

The discussion takes many twists and turns that I would never have figured on or predicted. These are very powerful sharings.


Here’s what one of my students recently wrote:

“…I come from xxx State and just moved out here in Arizona from xxx for about 3-4 months now. I was prior active U.S.Navy for about four years and had a lot of fun traveling and being on the USS xxx aircraft carrier for about xxx years of my military career. I also participate in being in the Reserves and also working part-time on top of college…. The view from where I sit is very rewarding because I finally am able to be a college student full time and the best thing too is that I won’t have to struggle as much because the military has helped me become more motivated in my activities, goals, and commitment for my success…..”

This student received lots of answers with lots of support.

Here I was – thinking about a “physical space” as my “view” and they write about “personal space….”

The View From Where I Sit by Donna Rebadow (Internet Archive)

This is stuff from the 1990s folks. It still works.

For the OER20 prompt I remembered doing something this in 2005, for the TCC Online Conference. I participated from my office at the Maricopa Community Colleges, here I sit with maybe my 2nd MacBookPro laptop (not the iSight camera). Long ago.

Where I Sit
Where I Sit flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

So 15 years later, I tried as best I could to recreate this scene in my home kitchen in Mortlach, Saskatchewan.

From Where I Sit (for OER20)
From Where I Sit (for OER20) flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Not much change!

These things we do “online” do not have to be complex or done in some app or platform. The better ones are simpler, and often involve doing something away from the screen. I’ve seen these more likely to generate the unexpected kind of results that Donna described.

If she ends up finding this post, I’d love to hear more stories about it. We had a blast in those early web years doing workshops like Technology & learning: magic, mirage, or reality? and What a Site!


Featured Image: Combined image of Where I Sit flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) and From Where I Sit (for OER20) flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
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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