In the “I’m not ready for more of this department” two days ago a good colleague from my days of yore at the Maricopa texted with a message sharing sad news that Rod Freeman had passed away.

Googling his name will not reveal much, but Rod was special as he was the very first faculty at Maricopa I worked with as a budding instructional technologist on a multimedia (as it was known in those days). That project was called “Research Mentor” that I built in HyperCard. Look at the 1990s vintage media!

I’ve already blogged about it in a long winded post of my HyperCard era. Somewhere on an old zip drive in the closet I might have a stack and at some time I slapped screen shots into a YouTubed video.

My memory is even more fuzzy on those early days working with Rod, an English teacher at Estrella Mountain Community College, one of the founding faculty who was there when the campus opened on the west side of Phoenix in 1990. The memorable things about Rod was his height! He must have been 6 foot 2 or more, with really a warm and gentle persona. It seems he had a clear idea and conceptual design for what he wanted me to build, I’m thinking he worked with one of the instructional designers in my office. I do have a web version of a short article he wrote about Research Mentor for our MCLI news letter in February 1993.

From this need the Research Mentor is developed – an organizational template/menu to mentor the student through the research-composition process.

Rather than have a program matched to one text or to one philosophy of research, I wished to create an adaptive program which would address as many diverse learning styles as possible. The aim of this package was an organizational template to be utilized outside the classroom to focus student effort – teaching research as a recursive process… Through modules the students learn to focus their topic, compile a preliminary annotated bibliography, avoid plagiarism, take effective and useful notes; paraphrase, summarize, and quote material; develop effective thesis statements; plan composition through outlines; distinguish between fact and opinion; write the rough draft; document the research paper; and successfully answer essay questions. In addition to these competencies, students become acquainted not only to the traditional paper resources, but also to the electronic dimensions of research. Students will use Electronic Forum and Internet to communicate with local, national, and international students and forums, electronic atlases for demographic and geographic information, electronic encyclopedia and dictionaries, multimedia resources, electronic databases and on-line catalogs and other resources. The philosophy of each module is to introduce the research resource, show how it integrates with other resources, provide practice in utilizing the resource, and provide the student with actual practice, relevant to the individual learner, in utilizing the resource to meet the course competencies.

The intent, therefore, is not to be all things to all instructors and students – an impossible task. Rather, the hope is to provide a tutorial, a framework, a mentor, which will empower the student to complete a research project. The program implements Classroom Research methods providing me with immediate and anonymous feedback from students. In design and content, the software is relevant to the individual learner. It is as personalized as I, the instructor, wish it to be. I may tailor assignments week-by-week to allow each student to explore as restricted or as open an assignment as I wish to communicate to them

https://mcli.cogdogblog.com/labyforum/Feb93/Feb93L3.html

Since I only started at the MCLI in May 1992, I must have learned a lot of Hypercard scripting to build a lot of features, there is a whole part of it that has a means for the instructor to customize it

Research Mentor configuration

It must have been set up to run on a local AppleTalk server, as it had features for learners to save their work to a common area and give each other feedback.

But again what stood out was how clear Rod was on the functionality he wanted. I guess in 2024 all the research mentorship would be sloughed off to AI

I digress.

I rummaged around my archives to find a photo of Rod from my early Maricopa years; he would have been involved with the Ocotillo project my office ran. Those photos are floating around in an box full of old CD-ROMs I may never get to organize.

The photo I do have of and with Rod was from when I returned to Maricopa for a conference at his college in 2015, and his greeting and smile was the same from 12 years earlier.

#mtech15 Selfie: Rod Freeman
#mtech15 Selfie: Rod Freeman flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

That was also the last time I would have seen or had any connection to Rod. I do not have any info on what happened to him, I am not finding any obituaries, and being outside of Facebook I guess I can’t tap into that stream. I found his faculty profile at Estrella Mountain where his Spring 2024 courses are listed; he is still teaching the ENG102 course he built Research Mentor for, plus courses in Cinema, Mythology, and general Humanities. His bio also includes those bits that give a broader picture:

I enjoy hiking, golfing, painting/drawing (graphite, pen/ink, watercolor, acrylic, and oil), building (furniture, stained glass windows, and scale modeling), reading (pretty much anything and everything), listening to music (again, a wide range), watching cinema (independent, sci-fi, horror, action-adventure–and comedy of course), building miniatures, playing board games, and I love spending time with my wife, our family: a greenwing macaw, a cat, and German Shepherd.

Rod Freeman’s directory profile at Estrella Mountain Community College

All I do have is this tiny candle of a warm memory, and I can try to cup my hands around the flame, but it’s fading out. My only act here is one more retell.

Hoping there is peace for Rod at the end of the long life research process… and mentorship along the way.


Featured Image: Composite of the Research Mentor screens I had build in the 1990s plus and overlay of my photo of Rod and me in 2015, #mtech15 Selfie: Rod Freeman flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Two smiling men, arms around other, the one on the left bearing a name tag of "ROd" is much taller than thee one on he right, with te name tag of "Alan". Behind them is a faded collage of two computer screens for a piece of old software called Research Mentor
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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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