...written for #MakeCycle 1, which is part of #clmooc, a connected learning course run by the National Writing Project ...
I grew up in a community where everyone built their own houses and live in one now where no one does. We just pay others for our residences, often until we die.
Luckily, though, I can make my own abode(s) in the digital world, as I am doing this week. I’m moving a blog from a free WordPress site (that had reached about 5000 views) to my own domain and site (where I only used to host a more static, hand-coded website that took forever to make any updates). It feels like I can now “work from home” in the digital world. I’m glad it’s easier to build our digital abodes today.
The idea of constructing, designing, and thinking analytically and rhetorically about one’s digital spaces goes deep into my teaching and scholarship as well. In one way or another, I help all my students to showcase their knowledge and skills, to connect to relevant communities beyond the class, and to contribute to the world of ideas–by making and maintaining their own personal and professional digital spaces.
In lower division undergraduate courses, I teach students how to build academic portfolios by organizing, reflecting on, and sharing their ideas about the relevance and value of their learning. In upper division courses, I help students develop professional portfolios with increasingly specific contexts, audiences, and purposes in mind.
In a course titled Writing For Your Profession (@Write4Pro) this past spring, students created “blog-folios” (a combination of static web pages and a blog). The pages represent different areas of their academic, personal, and professional experiences and achievements; by integrating blogging to their sites, students develop and present a voice on their academic majors or professional interests, connect formal learning to conversations in the profession and society outside, engage or build a community of like-minded people starting with their peers in the classroom, and implement and showcase their writing and media skills. In other words, these students “make” something out of their college education, and use that tangible product as they prepare to enter the professions and in order order to engage with the world beyond the classroom.
The blogfolios that students in the Write4Pro course in turn inspire me to design my own blogfolio (because I want to make myself the things I teach them); I am currently exploring the best ways to integrate my online CV with my engagements with my professional communities online. I am trying do the latter more regularly.
When I first started thinking about what I wanted to “make” for #MakeCycle1, a project through which participants of the #clmooc are sharing something that they made with the community, I was nervous. I thought that I have “made nothing” since I left the community of farmers two and a half decades ago.
Have I stopped making anything anymore? Well, if this one counts, my three-year-old daughter, five-year-old son, and I built a fire truck and piggy bank
last week! And, well, I also worked on this little garden in the backyard and this beautiful hanging flower garden in the front porch for most of the day yesterday. Making things and making things work, especially when they are tangible, give me a deep satisfaction that nothing else does.
I have witnessed or personally made the switch from agriculture- to industry- to service- to knowledge- to (now) attention- dominated economies. In that process, I had to learn to value things that are less tangible by understanding or participating in making them, or at least adapting their functions and giving them more meaning and value, even when they are not tangible.
As a teacher, working alongside my students in a very different time and place than when/where I grew up, and as I make and help them make things and spaces, communities and conversations, I continue to take pride in and convey the value of making things and making them work– instead of having everything made for us.
And I’m glad to be able to join, learn from, and share things that we make with the #elmooc community.
Happy Making, Everyone!