All posts by Alan Levine aka CogDog

6x6x6 Tiny Stories in the Rarely Seen Internet Corners

With time and the accretion of stuff that accumulate from years of tossing things on the web, again and again I stub my toe happily onto very small bits of serendipity that quietly sits there, doing it’s own, unnoticed bit of marvelousity (yes web editor red underline, I made up my own word).

Note: This is a last installment in my participation in the 2022 Write 6×6 Challenge, where has the weeks gone? But hardly the last blog post here, hope the other 6ers keep going.

I have been in the twitters and here on the blog doing semi regular bit of web yodeling for my collection of web serendipty stories.

This one here is not quite in the vein, but it resonates more with what I find many people miss about this. And that a story is not just “this happened, here’s the tweet”. The story is all context that surrounds it and also a telling that gets at to some kind of emotional level. It’s not Joe Friday imploring, “Just the story facts, ma’am.”

Actually I was flitting around trying to find a topic for his post, looking through a few browser tabs that have been sitting there long enough to be showing web dust. One was my own photo that I had plans to use for a new post, and it was sitting in the tab so long, I forgot what the post was about.

I think I was trying to recruit volunteers to take over a recurring (fun) web task. Maybe I do remember, But that’s not this post. Sure Unsplash is full of photos that look so professionally perfect and so like all the others there, that I often look for things in my own flickr pile first. I probably searched on “help wanted” and found this image:

Odd Job Names 1
Odd Job Names 1 flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

It’s a job advertisement from a New Zealand newspaper, that alone hints at the antiquity of the photo (November 2004). That time ripples off the memory cells and clicks that that was maybe the 2nd of 3 times my colleague Richard Elliot in Auckland had found a way to invite me to his institution (UNITEC) to do some workshops and visits.

That alone, a point in time and a location trigger a whole stream of connective pieces. That’s why I think that the A in AI is the bigger factor in making sense of Artificial Intelligence. I guess I was being intrigued by the names of jobs, an “All Rounder” needed for a bakery.

I did not have (or maybe just did not use) online dictionaries, I can easily now find it’s not a reference to the cricket position but I did a fair job of inference in my caption to the photo:

Funny names for “help wanted” ads- I guess this is for an “all around” worker?

The camera information on my photo sends more associative trails- flickr reminds me I took the photo with an Olympus C4040Z maybe my first personal digital camera? I remember that I had access to one at my work at the Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction (for the MCLI still around, now the I stands for Innovation) and I ended up buying one for my personal use.

Adjacent photos indicate I was intrigued by the Kiwi job titles – Panel beaters and Paper Runners are all very descriptive of the work.

But going back to the All Rounders photo, I spotted a comment:

Hi – Borrowed your photo to illustrate a blog post which asks where’s the green job revolution, that was promised as Thanet off-shore wind farm goes live in the UK amidst figures that only 20% of the 900 million spent went to UK companies.

(there now I’ve gone and spoilt the plot!)

Thanks for sharing your photo – very keenly observed.
Cheers – Jonathan.

p.s here’s a link to your photo in situ:

I would have seen this… 12 years ago when the comment was added! That seems almost surreal that a web sie would be around long enough to keep ancient comments alive. But better yet, that blog link to the Solar Panel Quoter blog is still alive (alas they gave up the blog posting in 2014, last new post).

It was a nice find for me as over the last maybe 6 years I have been tracking known reuses of my flickr photos in an album, and the All Rounder photo needed to be added.

So it took me 11+ years to respond to the comment but I did

Ha! It only took me 11 years to see your note of reuse, thanks, and its a welcome relief that your post is still alive. I hope the green revolution finally got “’round” to it

I guess they last bit if interesting finds in this flickr photo is, woah, this little silly thing has been seen 7,683 times!

This is hardly a crowning post in the realm of blogging, but to me it’s all these little threads and memory jogs that can come from a tiny little quiet corner of the internet that gives me a good feeling about things.

The little things and the mind ripples they can generate, that is much more exciting to me than cryptocurrency and the metawurst.

Featured Image: My Google Images search for “tiny flower cracks” (with results set o Creative Commons license only) yielded a result from pxfuel – from experience I know that sites like that just yank from the source sites, so I went upstream to locate the original image from Pixabay by klimkin. I always try to not just grab free photo but get them from a place where I can give credit, even if a license says I do not have to.

6x6x5 That One Thing

a hand with the first finger in the air against a solid blue sky

Now I slide down a potentially slippery incline plane to make a case for a life philosophy based on a line from a cheesy comedy-western film. Hardly the fodder for rigorous academic inquiry.

Note: This is another installment in my participation in the 2022 Write 6×6 Challenge, they must sometimes shake their heads at what gets syndicated into their site! PS who even remembers what I mean by blog syndications? Oops I am already writing off my intended path…

But there was always something more to this sequence between Billy Crystal’s Mitch character and Jack Palance’s Curly in City Slickers:

Here I have the dialogue:

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?

Curly: This. [holds up one finger]

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.

Mitch: But what is the “one thing?”

Curly: [smiles] That’s what you gotta figure out.

As usual with the internet, I am hardly the first or only to find meaning in it.

You find Curly’s Law used in blog posts that offer wisdom in marketing / branding, purpose-finding, theology, even skeet shooting. My first reference and maybe one of the more clever is Jeff Atwoods framing for an approach to programming.

To me I think in the edtech field there is often a Secret of Life desire for the “best tool” or teaching strategy or resource or X, this is the allure of solutionism (AI! eportfolios! Blogs! Web 2.0! Web3! Metaverse! the LMS! Badges!) when the better approach as a practitioner (be it teaching, using technology, etc) is that you have to (a) work at something like a practice (“stick to it”) and (b) that you need to figure out what it is, not rely on some company/blogger/consultant/keynoter to tell you what it is (“That’s what you gotta figure out”).

The one thing is… there is no one thing.

For me this has been at the core of things like a [obsessive] Daily Photo practice, the merging of that approach with the DS106 Daily Create, (which evolved into a WordPress theme for doing your own daily prompt activities) at one time it was running (which I still hate).

It’s not the most Important Thing (c.f. love, family, etc) it’s one thing you choose to devote energy to as a practice.

And yes I even once presented on this at Glendale Community College!

That’s fine, the usual CogDogBlog trope of sweeping up crumbs of the past. What about 2022?


I am slated to do an online conference session May 6 (yes I am being fuzzy on the details, still waiting confirmation) pitched as:

Take all suggestions for pitched solutions to pandemic sized challenges, inspirational messages from keynote speakers, promises of educational technology tools or teaching strategies as a magic fix, with the largest grain of salt. What can we get from a cliché dialogue from a Hollywood western character? Maybe more than you might think. I offer some lessons learned from the serendipity of the internet, tours of rabbit holes of curiosity, kitchen metaphors, image thinking, all to drive some discussion about finding and sticking to your one thing.

What’s Your One Thing?

I am seeking examples of types of “things” educators… well actually anyone, takes up in a Curly-like fashion. Something you do, likely outside the worky-work stuff, that you just stick with. That you find the practice eventually awards in maybe an achievement (running a marathon, baking a quiche, building a giant sculpture) but also, that gives you an internal sense of that Curly spirit.

It’s not something you are passionate about, it’s a thing you take on with a regular practice.

Is anyone willing to share their one thing? Often it is something our colleagues may not even know about.

What’s Someone Else’s One Thing?

If you are stuck on that, share what you know from a friend, colleague, maybe someone you see signs of the one thing in social media as a “One Thing” they seem to do…

Like I know Dave Cormier builds doors and garden gnomes and other wood things in his workshop.

Or Laura Ritchie runs a lot and wrote a book!). I see other colleagues building log cabins, long distance trail runners, being master gardeners, flying planes, making beer at home, heck I know 5 colleagues who make wood pens.

You see, these One Things would not really work for me, but it works for them. That’s a key.

It’s more than a hobby- I have a sense that the focus and practice that goes into someone’s one thing helps them decompress and even rethink their work or teaching practice.

That’s my experience when I take that deliberate time each day to go outside with a camera, try to relax and find something that would make for an interesting photo. I’ve not been doing Daily Photo thing 15 years to get an award or claim some achievement, it’s that the practice, the focus itself is the real reward.

Again I ask, what is your One Thing (and likely you have more than one, it’s not exclusionary). What is something you “stick to” doing on a regular basis? What does it do for you?

Featured Image: Yes a bit ironic that my photo was posted for the original @DailyShoot challenge (which inspired the DS106 Daily Create) but also references Curly’s Law.

Curly's Law
Curly’s Law flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

6x6x4 Chasing Blurry Bigfoot Down the Rabbit Hole

A statue of a large brown creature, it's face blurred, in front of a red, wooden front store

I have a problem.

Last week, instead of investigating an issue with one of my project platforms, I was exploring via Google Streetview a town in British Columbia verifying that photos of certain mysterious creatures inexplicably had their faces blurred by Uncle Google’s algorithms.

In an upcoming “thing” in a few weeks I hope to be making a case for the power of maybe misusing my “productivity time” for the exercise of following a curiosity signal. There’s something important to me, at least, about exercising that tingling when there is a promise of a trip down the rabbit hole– and it’s never about catching the rabbit, but just the chase.

Twitter of course excels in providing these jump off points… and I can hardly spend all my days chasing rabbits, but a good run, say 45 minutes, is something I can make room for. It feels like good brain exercise. This one started from a great source I have followed so long I cannot remember, ResearchBuzz:

I cannot fully identify why this tweet, among so many, was one that called to click. I am not one of the devoted trackers of these hypothetical creatures. Sasquatch is hardly a center of interest though as I unpack below, it/he/they (what are the pronouns?) is a metaphor I have exploited before.

And in Tweetdeck I did not even have the links preview like above which means the entrance to the hole was merely the text of the tweet “Everyone deserves #privacy . Even sasquatches. (Sasquatchii?) #GoogleMaps” and previously built in experience that @ResearchBuzz tweets good stuff.

The Rabbit Hole Entrance

The story Sasquatch censored? Harrison’s landmark carving is camera shy in Google StreetView’s eyes is from the Vernon (B.C.) Morning Star, noting a quirk identified by others about its town’s welcome sign statue gets the personal privacy treatment in Google Streetview.

Local Facebook groups were amused by a quirk of the interactive map-making technology that normally blurs the faces of people pictured in StreetView pictures. According to an observation originally posted on Twitter from CBC Vancouver municipal affairs reporter Justin McElroy, it seems the face-hiding feature also works on large wooden statues; the grinning face of the iconic Sasquatch statue that sits outside the welcome sign at the entrance of Harrison Hot Springs has also been blurred.

My curiosity could have ended there. The typical response might be to retweet, send a link to a friend, and move on to the more important work of the day. But something kicked off the switch here. And this goes back to the information literacy stuff I followed long ago from Mike Caulfield when he was calling it the Four Moves strategy and now is SIFT– the act of following sources upstream. I often do this as much of what is reported on web sites is a reframing of something published elsewhere, often itself a recasting of… It’s the act of reading of a summary of a research study, and going to the bother of finding the source.

But still, this blurring of Sasquatch statues hardly beckons for further research. I do not doubt the story in the Vernon Morning Star. And it’s questionably of importance. It’s something else…

Maybe it is an associative trail? There was some trigger of connection- I have never been to Harrison Springs but saw the signs for it many times in 2014-2015 when I was in Kamloops for a few months of a fellowship at Thompson Rivers University. And I actually recognized the statue!

Earlier that year I did a talk playfully comparing the myth of OER reuse being as challenging to track as finding clear photos of Bigfoot, Nessie, et al. I collected examples shared by colleagues as a collection of Amazing Stories of OpennessTannis Morgan took on the full spirit in her sharing and even tweeted about it– posed with the said Sasquatch blurred by Google!

But the real call is that this is eminently repeatable. Google Streetview is wide open for you to go anywhere in the world their car mounted cameras have gone, and explore yourself. It’s got so many, close to infinitely interesting elements for creative or explorative learning activities. Heck one time on a highway I spotted the Streetview car coming at me, and I waved– it took a year but I did find myself there.

Into the Hole

It’s easy enough to find Harrison Hot Springs in Google Maps and then drop the streetview icon, I am able to “drive” up the road into town.

Heading north on Hot Springs Road

This probably is not the efficient way to search for blurry Sasquatch… but I did get luck, I spotted a statue outside the the RV resort, a different statue than what was in the news story. But OMG, yes, the statue’s face is blurred:

Who is that blurred face creature outside the Springs RV resort?

Just wandering around the streets was interesting if not efficient. So if I use a search on “Sasquatch Statue” while in this area, it gets much easier:

Searching for Sasquatch Statues near Harrison Hot Springs, BC

Very quickly I found one (face blurred) near the waterfront:

Looks like Sasquatch. Maybe. As usually, the figure is blurry, and even more so in the face.

And then the main one featured in the news story, identified in Google Maps as Sasquatch Statue 3

Confirmed the news story!

Now here is a fun thing you may not know, Google Streetview keeps a timeline of photos from different time periods, so if you click the date in the top left, you can see the same location taken on different dates. So I am able to document that Sasquatch, blurry or not, was there greeting visitors in September 2015, but not in August 2011!

While poking around, I noticed some interesting things with Streetview. It does blur the face of humans walking around, but not dogs.

The privacy of humans is protected by a blur, but not for pooches.

And the blurring on statues is not even consistent- I found this one at a housing development, and the woord statue seems to have blurred the figure with an eagle head, but not the bears.

Which statues get the blur treatment? Only Google’s algorithm knows

So there is some kind of hierarchy for facial shapes that get the blur treatment? Again, the relative importance of this is highly questionable (especially if anyone is left reading this). But that is maybe not my point

Do I have one?.

What’s the Point Alan?

There’s something to be said for just reading and interpreting information versus interacting with the sources behind it. There’s not enough time in any day to do this (or perhaps not enough justification), but these small acts can plant seeds for other ideas that may emerge later. Knowing/reinforcing a few things here:

  • Google Streetview is a fully navigable immersive world
  • Every single view can be referenced, shared with a URL.
  • You can search for things within the geographical context of a map location
  • And the Streetview has a timeline, to see the same view across different years
  • The application of the face blurring, to protect privacy, has some interesting loopholes in it.

I would never have gotten this by reading a story and retweeting it.

This also reminds me of some interesting digital art I came when I learned of the work of visual artist Emilio Vavarella… in his Google Trilogy, he exploited Google’s Streetview to examine unintended effects such as glitches, or the accidental appearance of the camera’s operator, as part of questioning of the people, technology, and errors in the large data sets we use regularly.

So maps are useful for finding locations, getting from one place to another, but there is so much more potential when you look with a curious eye.

That’s what I find, emerging from the rabbit hole.

PS This is an installment of my participating in the 2022 Write 6×6 Challenge, they may never anticipate what the heck gets syndicated into their site!

Featured Image: Not in the original, but I added my own blur to a statue of Bigfoot I saw in a small California town in 2014. I leave it to someone else to find in Google Streetview.

A statue of a large brown creature, it's face blurred, in front of a red, wooden front store
Based on Bigfoot Wants Beer flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

6x6x3 Me and The Unevenly Distributed Now

Hah! I was not only off by 1 in my opening for Write 6×6 I somehow missed last week, being this thing called “Spring Break” was a bonus week (?). According to the Writing Ideas page, this is week 2, so I am off by one ahead. Do I stop?

Shrug, rules need not apply here. This is my blog. Pffffffft.

The suggested theme is “Growth: What lessons are you learning as we live and work amidst a pandemic? How has your work or teaching practice evolved since the spring of 2020?”

I’ve had this one in that draft space in my grey matter, and have kept the tab open with the featured image for… weeks?

Back Then: A ~Clever Presentation Slide

In that ever fading past, that part of my career when I was trying to rev up excitement for educational technology at the Maricopa Community Colleges (yes anyone at the Write 6×6 home at Glendale Community College, I used to be a “District Person” at the Maricopa Center for Learning & Instruction oh now the I is for Innovation, that’s better).

It might take time to find when I started using it, but it seemed to make me feel prescient to reference the clever phrasing of writer William F Gibson that goes back to the 1990s:

The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed

William F. Gibson, maybe in the 1990s

You can feel a swell of profoundness just uttering it. Or tossing it on a screen. Wearing it on a t-shirt (preferably black).

This is all hindsight. At the time, the context of the work I was doing (horizon reporting et al), it was, well pretty good.

It worked well to talk about new technologies, the things that might be futuristic were likely present somewhere. I found I used it in a 2005 presentation for the TCC Online conference where somehow I framed it around the Harry Mudd character from the ancient Star Trek series.

harry_mudd07 flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Now it seems more like a stretch to be clever. Or sound so. But that saying seemed fitting at the time. 2005.

What was in the future? Was a global pandemic and societal lockdown unevenly distributed? I had read / watched my share of apocalyptic future sci fi (cough, many views of The Andromeda Strain as a kid).

March 2020: Enter Together

I must have missed the announcement of 2 years since the COVID lockdowns, is it marked on a calendar? We all have our tales. Cori and I were following news stories in January 2020, and worrying in February. I recall stocking up on food supplies, even filling 2 containers of spare fuel stored out in the shed.

Still we had a planned trip to Arizona in mid February, the last time we were on a plane. Doing “normal” things. We were staying overnight in mid-March in Regina at a hotel where Cori had a few days of a professional workshop development. I think her school closures were announced March 16.

And that was something I have mulled over a while. It seemed like the world entered this together, at least in time (?). There seemed maybe a shared understanding of being in this together, cooperating to “flatten the curve.” Might there be unity? Cooperation at a global level?

Wow does that seem quaint.

For me, not much changed with the way I work. I have been doing full time remote work since 2006. The how was not new. Conferences I was part of helping organize were all online, were before that was an occasional, almost exotic (?) thing. The difference? Mostly everyone else was working from home too. Meeting on screens in boxes.

March 2022: The Unevenly Distributed Exit (?)

Here we are. It’s somewhere two years past the lockdown (is that marked in some weird calendar as some anti-holiday?).

What I never really thought about was how uneven the exit, if it is that, from covid-19. It’s more than unevenly distributed, it’s shredded tattered. Mandate is a dirty word, and then were decreed null/void at all kinds of different times at different places. Is there even a curve to look at and do something about the shape? People are getting sick and that’s gotten just normalized, something to wade out, to do your turn.

A piece of cloth is a stifling of your freedom?

That “in this together” seems completely naive. The world has moved on to war and melting the ice caps.

My photo, yet to be uploaded to flickr, but it shall be released under CC0.

And there is this idea, it seems to me, if schools, restaurants, airports, etc, all “open” again and we go back there, it will be okay. Things will fix themselves. Or just not this.

Listening to the School’s Out Forever episode of This American Life really brought home how un-magical or wildly magical our thinking is.

I’d like to say more about it, but then it would be a spoiler.. except from Act One, where what we think of as school might just be a television show. I cannot urge you enough to take in this episode. Well, maybe all of their episodes.

My Own Uneven Distributedness

This is my blog, so I get to make me a topic if I want, right? Just re-establishing our practices of pre-March 2020 makes me feel out of synch. I find my focus really, well out of focus, and heap of uncertainty about finding the sparks in work, projects, things that fired me up before… just are not quite firing.

And so the lopsidedness of this pandemic entry/exit hit me now. The logistics of going into lockdown mode were not a challenge- that was how I have worked a long time. I can’t figure out why this side of the tube has me so un at ease. Things in the places around me look the same, I go about doing errands (right now working from the mechanics)… it should feel the same it did pre march 2020, but it just does not. Even SPLOTs are not getting much juice any more.

My wheels are spinning in my own mud.

Now I know I am going to far from unique at this state of unease, even if it seems like the rest of the edtech world is joyfulling posting Wordle scores and tweeting the trials and tribulations of conference travel. We are so far from really even knowing the long term implication of pandemic stress. Hah, what a fool, somehow I thought I might be immune.

What I do have is an amazing and loving wife, a home in the country with space, foxes, and sunsets, a happy dog, and 2 playful cats.

So What?

When this post was bouncing around the draft space of my brain, it seemed to have good points to make. But I lost that when I started writing (hah, in the past it worked the other way, a fuzzy idea would coalesce to something in the writing process).

I will say this, though, and maybe I did drift from the practice. The brain engagement of chewing on ideas that blogging thoughts, ideas, etc still is important to me. I do not get this same mental workout in the status app scrolling. The blogging, the outboard brain thinking, does seem to do what it always did. Gotta get back on this wagon more.

But another shtick from those mid-2000s presentations kind of haunts me. Back then, what I remember was trying to address the dread I seemed to hear from educators, like “there’s too much good stuff, I cannot keep up”. Imagine, the stress was just being exposed to too many resources and ideas.

I would try to offer comfort with a question of, how do we face this world, with a sense of dread:

Slide07 flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

And I would say, maybe we can just look at the same world with a sense of curiosity, joy?

Slide08 flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

It seemed like how we could face the same world was really on us, and if we could keep the possibility in mind, rather than the dread of mastery.

That seemed simple then. I used those slides a lot.

Now I have to try it again on myself.

Pick a slide, Alan, (1) or (2). Maybe it’s both. Or neither.

How is your sampling of the unevenly handed out future? Is your slice tastier than mine?

Featured Image:

2013/365/46 Braided Flow
2013/365/46 Braided Flow flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

6x6x2 Open Pedagogy 1980s Style

Because my current work now is centered in open education, and coming off of Open Education Week, I was swimming much in conversations, workshops about Open Pedagogy (often as acronym OEP).

I am not here to offer Yet Another Definition (check one of the best resources). I welcome this as moving beyond Open Education as “stuff” (courses, resources, textbooks) but the practice of teaching.

I am here to state that it’s hardly new. It did not come about with the internet or from Pressbooks. And if you speak with more primary school teachers (like a podcast I did with two of them recently, check it out), the practices of inquiry-based learning that is novel in higher education is every day stuff for elementary level teachers.

Comments in some sessions were emphasizing the benefits of students as teachers and also contributing to publications is key practices.

My memories fired off in realizing I had experienced these as a student… in the 1980s. And I am confident you can find examples done, forgotten that go much further back.

This is no criticism of what people are discovering now. It is more an awareness of rather innovative practices I experienced in my education. If they had buzzwords for what they were doing, we did not hear of them.

I Have to Teach WHAT to My Fellow Math Students? (1980)

Differences between Euclidean and non-Eucl. geometries, Wikimedia Commons Image by  Pbroks13 licensed CC BY-SA.

Let’s hop in the time machine to maybe, 1980, in my 10th grade math (or maybe it was Geometry) class at Milford Mill High School in Baltimore. I had a young, young teacher (he had pimples), maybe it was his first or second year teaching, blessed with the probably unfortunate name of “Mr Pitz.” To a math nerd he was anything but “the pits.”

I believe he recognized me and maybe three other kids were well ahead of the class in understanding. One day Mr. Pitz pulled us aside to give us a special project to work on while he taught the rest of the class. We had to research, learn ourselves, and teach to him and the rest of the class a topic that maybe still bends my mind.

The geometry we are all taught is Euclidean, based on what we learn that parallel lines never intersect. You know, two points make a line and it goes forever off the edge of your paper to the end of the universe. Non-Euclidean Geometry is based on that not being true, that parallel lines can intersect.

The place where maybe it makes sense is thinking about lines on a sphere, like longitude.

It hurts the head, right? Especially 10th grade ones. I cannot remember the specific assignment, but we had a few weeks to learn enough of this, including some proofs and equations, to teach a class on it. I am not sure what resources we had to work with (no one had heard of the internet), probably some books Mr Pitz provided and whatever else we could find in our library.

Having a Wikipedia article helps! The importance of this alternative geometry is a lot about changing the way we understand knowledge, and gets into philosophy:

The discovery of the non-Euclidean geometries had a ripple effect which went far beyond the boundaries of mathematics and science. The philosopher Immanuel Kant‘s treatment of human knowledge had a special role for geometry. It was his prime example of synthetic a priori knowledge; not derived from the senses nor deduced through logic — our knowledge of space was a truth that we were born with….

Non-Euclidean geometry is an example of a scientific revolution in the history of science, in which mathematicians and scientists changed the way they viewed their subjects. Some geometers called Lobachevsky the “Copernicus of Geometry” due to the revolutionary character of his work.

I remember less about this topic than this unexpected way which class was done. Given a challenge like this fed some young minds which might have been bored in math class.

flickr photo by pscf11 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Kudos to you Mr Pitz, not only this, but for 11th grade when you taught my first class in computer programming- where we got on busses to go to the school on the other side of town that had a VAX computer for processing our punch cards.

That experience alone was integral to where I am today.

Contributing to a Textbook (1984)

Perhaps the most commonly activity associated with Open Pedagogy is asking students to research and write chapters in an open textbook, almost always Pressbooks. I have no quarrels with this, and it was the podcast with University of Alberta student Nicole who cited this experience in a course with Verena Roberts, that propelled her into more acts of open education.

I experienced this myself as an undergraduate students in a Structural Geology course at the University of Maryland, circa 1984. I had just transferred there from another program and knew little about the program or faculty. Our professor was from outside the University- he worked for NASA a Goddard Space Flight Center.

As it turns out, he was thus unconventional. I had no idea how important Paul D. Lowman was as a scientist, he was just my professors. Only later do I discover he was one of the original scientists at Goddard, maybe the first geologist hired at NASA:

Lowman helped plan the early Apollo missions and later became involved in analyzing lunar samples and interpreting data from the Apollo 15 and Apollo 16 missions. He did early “comparative planetology,” researching what new information from the Moon and Mars could tell us about Earth. He is considered to be the father of Earth orbital photography which led to multispectral imaging of Earth and Landsat satellite imagery.

Structural Geology is about faults, and folds, and landforms that shape the earth we see and walk around on. He spoke early about using satellites to see from far above the earth the landforms we were studying. Later Dr Lowman introduced a project (without mention of Open Pedagogy) where were each given a photo of a Landsat satellite image of a key structural geology feature, with a name and location. Our task was to use the LIbrary to research as much background geology we could discover. Our research would be used to write a summary of the image in a book that would be published.

I don’t have my paper, and I likely did not keep the photo image (maybe we had to return) but I can always remember that I was assigned the Pine Mountain Thrust, demonstrating the classic Valley and Ridge geology of the Appalachian mountains. It’s down there in the junction of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

I cannot say much about how much of my writing made it into the final version, but I have a copy of the very book it was published in, Geomorphology From Space.

In This Book
In This Book flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

A web version was once published on a NASA site, but all I can find is a clone sitting on a site at the Geographical and Geological Sciences, University of Adam Mickiewicz, Poland. It is so old it has no license (I would think as a NASA project it was public domain).

Plate T-13 has the image I was assigned and the description of this Landsat scene:

My Research Here
My Research Here flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

How many words there were mine? I cannot even guess as I tossed most of my assignments (hah, does that make this a disposable non-disposable assignment?). Inside the book is a letter to me from the primary author, Nicholas Short:

Letter From Author
Letter From Author flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

The letter dated March 19, 1987, aka 35 years ago, reads:

Dear Mr Levine

Three years after your participation in the Landsat Tectonic Project in Dr. Lowman’s Structural Geology class, the book that may have used your contributions has at last been published. As I promised then, I am pleased to send you this complimentary copy of the NASA Book, Geomorphology From Space, in recognition of this contribution (see page 707).

Nicholas Short

There’s my proof… well actually is there on page 707 (bottom of appendix in online version, in the photo below I blurred other student names for privacy sake).

Class Credits
Class Credits flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

The section above our names reads:

The following students in the Spring 1984 class in Structural Geology (Geol. 341) at the University of Maryland-College Park (Paul D. Lowman, Jr., Instructor) are gratefully acknowledged for their assistance in researching background material for many of the Plates comprising the Tectonic Landforms Chapter:

So this may not strictly be “Open Pedagogy” as the published book is not openly licensed (name the licenses available in 1984?) and also it was not exactly like writing a whole chapter, I contributed some research notes that likely the expert authors knew.

But that is not the point. Dr. Lowman had, from who knows where, created a project that was not just an assignment, but some real research that was a contribution for a larger work. The effect on me as a student is immeasurable- this is the only thing I remember from not only this one class, but all the classes I took that semester.

So What?

I am not writing this to make some early claim about open pedagogy. It more affirms that I experienced not only these two, but many experiences of effective pedagogy as a student (heck I never knew it was a word). That is what great teachers, memorable ones, have always done.

Or it is just as likely, for me in my second Write 6×6 post, that I am just using it as an excuse to do some Alan-based storytelling from the Proto-Archaic Pre-Internet Era.

Featured Image: A mashup of my own photo, In This Book flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) with public domain Free Clip Art image 1980s Era Logo by j4p4n plus a screenshot of a portion of the Wikipedia page for Non-Euclidean Geometry — that might make this end up as CC BY-SA?

6x6x1 Two Things To Stand On

Earlier in the week I thought I might have 6 for this post as part of the Write 6×6 thing I signed up for. I was thinking of experiences I had this week that affirm or support what (I think) I know.

These were triggered by interactions this week as the organization I work for, Open Education Global was hosting Open Education Week.

Note: as a blogger I hardly ever keep blog posts around as drafts, once started I like to finish. But I do often drafting in my head, letting ideas percolate (or evaporate) until something coalesces or I just decide to start writing and see what happens (this is the latter).

First of all, my ideas are far from universally adaptable, nor are they profoundly original, nor worth glossing the title of a published book. I find these ideas more like long term wood sculptures, I just keep chipping away at, wondering if it is done. They are never done.

Thing 1 & Thing 2
Thing 1 & Thing 2 flickr photo by WBUR shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Thing 1. Asking For Help (in public)

One of the activities I created this year (it does not matter much what it was, but you can ask) was a public space to ask questions about a technology. This sometimes is what I think the internet was built for. Many of you know that feeling when you type into a search box a “how to ____” search.

Google search with completions for how to fix including how to fix a a zipper, how to fix ingrown toenail, how to fix a clogged sink, and more
Google you complete me? What does google know about my toenails?

I was and was not surprised when someone chose not to post a question in public, but sought out my email address to ask a question. I may not have to explain why people do not want to ask questions in public, it has to do with our own “ingrown” fear of not wanting to look … hey this could almost be wordle? S T _ _ _ D. Everybody else know how to do this but me?

A class, be it online or not is always a community, that is not a cliche. But if everything is just between one student and a teacher, maybe I could just be a vending machine. If one student has a question, more likely do. And if you design courses with public spaces, can there be anything better than an environment where other students answer each others questions?

Long ago I saw this in media classes I was teaching. Students had a forum to ask, twitter, and they had their own blogs to document their projects. I saw over and over that students would include in their weekly reflection things like “I spent an hour trying to figure out how to manipulate an alpha mask in GIMP.”

So I invoked what I call the Fifteen Minute Rule– if you are stuck on a task, a concept, trying to find a resource, if you have not found an answer on your own in fifteen minutes, stop, and ask your classmates. Not that this was a rule to enforce, but just a suggestion that it’s always better to ask, regardless of what you think it means to not know.

I have come to believe that this is a key (I don’t think skill is the right word) practices to have especially in networked public spaces. Ask for help. Often. And there is so much to be said for a class environment where other students can offer answers. The best was when it happened before I could even notice the question. I do not need to assert my expertise and Pretend I Know Everything.

This seems obvious, and here I am thinking anyone reading his will reach for a Homer Simpson DOH! meme. Here I will save you the trouble

Season 3 Wall GIF by The Simpsons - Find & Share on GIPHY
From giphy

Do you feel okay to not be an expert in public? I sure am. I prefer playing the know it none.

Thing 2. No Best _______ on the Internet

The internet is pretty big, right? Can I insert another Homer Simpson GIF?

So I do get questions (see Number 1) where people want to know the Best Tool for ______ or the Best Resources for _______. Anyone who confidently answers those questions like they have seen everything is… suspect.

I find the best part of the internet is that there is always more to unturn, dig up, stumble upon.

For a number of years I have had an interest in a group of technologies that are able to provide the kinds of activities, experiences we have connected to the internet… when we are not. This has such importance for parts of the world where connectivity is slim. Or none. And there are a host of clever solutions, Internet in a Box style.

I’d like to think I have come across a lot of these. But O am always reminder that there is a giant tsk-tsk finger waving from the Orb of the Internet. Just a year ago during Open Education Week, I randomly attended a session where I heard about the use in the Northwest Territories of a platform developed in South Africa called Nimble. And people replied with other examples, like Wikifundi … then World Possible then Kolibri.

Woah. Well, after heating of these I felt rather informed.

That’s dangerous.

I am sure know I know much less about this topic than exists.

In another discussion I was introduced to another platform that, as mom used to say, “blew me away” called Kiwix, one open source tool that lets you download vast amounts (or very specific parts) of resources like Wikipedia, to run stand alone from off devices or even on a phone without connectivity.

When people offer their informed opinions, keep in mind it’s largely centered on things they know about. If you ask me about what to use to make web sites, chances are I am going to recommend WordPress. Need a computer? Well, I am likely to recommend an Apple device. My experience is heavily centered on what I know and work with.

If ever you apply Thing 1 to ask a question in public, always keep in mind Thing 2— understand that there is often more.

This again is really my experience, I cannot prescribe them for you. But that’s what this blog is for, my outloud, likely to be easily proven wrong, ideas.

Okay, that is week 1 for my Write 6×6. Gotta start the brain percolating for something new next week.

Featured Image:

Two Paws
Two Paws flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Counting to 6×6 Starts at 0

I’m putting my stake in the ground to be part of the Write 6×6 extravaganza, but starting here a number 0 (also doing so to establish my tag).

Writing 6 blog posts in 6 weeks should not be a challenge, it’s more about joining a group of colleagues doing the writing challenge together.

As many times it happens, it’s the result of me tweeting some blarney about blogging (that might be the first official post). A long time colleague from Maricopa Community Colleges dared me in to join this 2022 challenge from the Glendale Community College Center for Teaching, Learning, and Engagement.

I’ve known of this for a long time as I observed my friend and colleague Todd Conaway ran these efforts at Yavapai College as the original 9x9x25 Challenge (Oh look I did it in 2018).

And my whole career was made possible by my start and 14 years in the Maricopa system. So there might be some nostalgia in my 6 pack of posts.

Arizona Six Pack
Arizona Six Pack flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

But let’s not get ahead of myself with the posts. There are 6 six more to come.

And there is the nerdy computer science idea that in programming with arrays, you start the count from 0.

This is c=0 where c represents my count.

Next week is c++.

And there will not be too much more techny nerd outs. Join in the route 6×6 activity… and if you need a boost, try their writing ideas.

I’m starting at 0 to set up the blog tag, well and also, to loosen up the blogging muscles.

Featured Image: My array of 6 is being counted by juniper berries sitting in between cracks of sandstone…

Six in the Notch
Six in the Notch flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)