Thursday, January 24, 2008

Just Plain Busy

It is ironic. There has been much to think about and to share. However the reality is I've been too busy to reflectively record what has been happening and how I've been thinking about it all. One of the elements that has been capturing my energy is the start of the semester and teaching a course that I've haven't taught before. 

Last semester I was not in the classroom but our dean, Jeff Rutenbeck was. I vividly remember how good he felt about it. This week I had to tell him how I completely understood how much joy it gave him. Teaching gives back as much as one gives. At the same time, it is totally humbling. In the classroom, it does not matter how much one had accomplished or who one may be to the 
outer world. The only thing that matters is who one is at the moment and what one delivers now. It is a constant prodding to do better. It is ironic because the critical audience, young strangers in many ways, become individuals that one cares deeply about and that one wants to see accomplish great things. The teacher comes to know the potential for impact in each student. I want to give them the best of my self that can enable them to their greatness. Already I am here in the semester and evaluating how best to propel them forward.

At the same time a lot has been happening with those I do know and have been working with and for. The Emergent Media Center 
is buzzing with activity. Joining Ray McCarthy-Bergeron and myself is Sarah Jerger. Again ironic. Ray and Sarah are former excellent students of mine. They are the energy and drive that will enable us to accomplish great goals. 

Our students are deeply involved in a number of projects. We are at deadline with the IBM project which is both good and bad. The level of creative activity and thought is so thick that you can feel the neurons swirl when you enter the room. This is good. Soon we will have met our goal and then I am afraid we will lose John Cohn. This is bad. His energy charges the room, the students and us. This week President Finney visited and got a taste. Few words but by his smile he acknowledged the powerful learning that was happening in our small space.

Also this week two collaborative proposals went out that could use emergent media and games created by our students to touch many others in life altering ways.  At the same time Ray and I met with Janet Cottrell and Sarah Cohen from our library to decide on the information literacy game projects proposed by our students that we will move forward on. We had seven independent submissions and our students are anxious to know which we have chosen. Tomorrow is the evening. In this same timeframe, the grant to work with CIMIT on the RIPS project has arrived. It has been a long time coming and is a partnership that now feels more like a common goal. We are selecting students that are best suited for the first phase of the project. 

Selecting students. This may be the most important part of where we are now. Students are showing up in our doorways, while we traverse campus, unannounced and through e-mail. They inexplicably know about our activities and want to take part. I would say that more students have knowledge of and understand what we are doing than the general campus community does. At the student level, the Emergent Media Center has become viral. This is a very good thing because this is who we are working for. They inherently understand emergent forms of communication and the value for the greater community.

Which brings me to another ironic platform. We are reaching parts of the community that can see the vision and want to continue the forward momentum. As a sampling these past two weeks, I have been working with Meeting Professional's International on student created games to encourage change, the International Game Developer's Association preparing a presentation at GDC, the IEEE Computer Society to create a Technology Summit on Game Development and on accreditation of degree programs, the local business community for an event entitled Creative Jam 3.0, and the Vermont government on encouraging emergent media business development. 

All of these are steps towards new forms of teaching, learning, community building and business. Each step is strategic and vital towards examining and creating our future. Again irony. It comes down to empowering strangers to accomplish great things. These strangers are keeping me just plain busy.

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