Ender’s Shadow

This paragraph really resonates with me. So I wonder which a new factor disrupting my life falls under: comfortable/liked or quiet/blamed.

They were career military officers, all of them. Proven officers with real ability. But in the military you don’t get trusted positions just because of your ability. You also have to attract the notice of superior officers. You have to be liked. You have to fit in with the system. You have to look like what the officers above you think that officers should look like. You have to think in ways that they are comfortable with.

The result was that you ended up with a command structure that was top-heavy with guys who looked good in uniform and talked right and did well enough not to embarrass themselves, while the really good ones quietly did all the serious work and bailed out their superiors and got blamed for errors they had advised against until they eventually got out.
Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Shadow.

Higher education is similar. Graduate students have to make professors comfortable with the thought of the student joining a higher rank or face being blamed for why the research or teaching is substandard. Technology is even more similar. Things do fail, people will be blamed unless someone higher up protects the front line people. The question is: When the front line people pointed out what was needed to be successful and higher ups hedged bets by choosing higher risk over higher costs, will the front liners be blamed when things fail?

We like to pretend logic forms the basis for our decisions when really the decisions are based on manipulated emotions. Those we like we protect. Those we have no bond we cut loose. I just wish people were more forthcoming about the reasoning behind decisions.

Fine Print

One of the employees at Last Resort Grill was mutually entertaining a toddler. Overheard her talking about it, “He’s totally flirting with me.” I found it funny. When she happened by my table, I asked her about it.

She said entertaining the kids is part of the fine print of the job. Additionally, people have asked employees to take kids to the restroom, watch the kids for an undetermined amount of time, sanitary napkins on clothing, etc.

In answer to how all these experiences will help her career, she related dealing with all these issues to learning how to deal with unexpected circumstances.

Is there a job worth doing where we don’t have to think about what is being done? If someone cannot make creative decisions, then isn’t the job better done by technology?


Edupunk is “Do It Yourself” in education or instruction technology. Free or at least cheap tools suitable for classroom use are so ubiquitous, the faculty have plenty of alternatives to the monolithic “enterprise” LMS.

If edupunk was a boat, then what would it be? A bamboo raft?

Kid at an Apple IIeThis is not something new. My mom conned her principal into letting her have an Apple IIe for her classroom where she refused the computer teacher’s help. Instead, Mom found and installed programs herself for what she wanted to do. She was not going to become an extension of the computer teacher’s classroom. She maintained this DIY approach throughout her career. She was always annoyed with technology in education classes because she already knew about most of the technology they taught teachers to use and offered her experiences in not only how to make it work better but more recent technology which looked more promising.

Her approach was simple but methodical.

  1. Try something.
  2. Covertly pay attention to what the students are doing.
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness.
  4. Keep successful approaches and ditch failures.

This was her method in both K-12 and higher education. If she were faced with using something like Blackboard Vista or Academic Suite, then I have no doubt she would be looking for greener pastures. At the same time, she is proud of me for having the job that I do: running the monolithic “enterprise” LMS.

* Picture by Greg G. It was licensed Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.

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Vista’s Third Life?

Scott Schamp is teaching at UGA using Second Life. This is from his blog.

But last Friday, I found myself saying things I never thought I would have to say. “Please don’t sit on the fountain during class. Don’t forget that everyone needs to wear clothes the next time we meet. And, please, try and remember not to fly during class time.”
I Can’t Believe I Just Said That!

Its funny. Years ago, some enterprising faculty members latched onto email for use in conducting class without an actual classroom. Then the web sites become the new online classroom platform. Gee, if that had not happened, then I would have a different career.

Schamp has thoughts along the same lines for use of the web.

SL is a place for minds. It is going to take a while to figure out how we should use it. Frankly, now virtual worlds seem like a powerful creative solution. We just need to find the right problems for virtual worlds to solve. Back in 1994 I felt the same way about the web. It is going to take a lot of patient experimentation to find the best way to harness its potential.

Maybe it will take less than 5 years to see where this technology will take us.

IT Skillz

12 IT skills that employers can’t say no to:

[T]he market for IT talent is hot, but only if you have the right skills. If you want to be part of the wave, take a look at what eight experts — including recruiters, curriculum developers, computer science professors and other industry observers — say are the hottest skills of the near future.

Once Librarian Aspirations

A recent comment I made regarding to another blogger regarding my interest in getting an MLIS: Huh… Back in college, MLIS was part of my career path. That seems like forever ago, but it was only less than eight years?

It was a natural fit for me. As a university student, working in the library, I worked the Reference desk for fun. One summer, four of the eight Reference Librarian positions needed  to be hired, so they hired me as a staff member to work full time on the desk to answer questions and help people. That was the best job I’d ever had at that point. It was definitely something I loved doing. The University Librarian offered to hire me should I go off to library school and apply to work there.

Computers won. I got a job I loved just a little bit more working in Information Technology. So I was hooked.

The possibility of going back in the library direction seems ever present. At first it was the possibility of turning my IT experience into a great admission into an Automation Librarian MLIS degree. Later, when I become full time staff at a university, my graduate school thoughts turned towards other degrees I could get for free. Eventually, the university started an MLIS program. While observing its likelihood of obtaining accreditation, I left for another job.

Maybe I’ll get an MLIS eventually? Maybe I’ll go another route? Who knows. Futurology has never served me well.

Turn the Tables

CrossRoads Newsletter and Career Development Center:

With corporate recruiters and executive search firms now using blogs as a prescreening tool for candidates, Whitcomb advises people to create online journals to demonstrate their skills, share their expertise, and lend potential employers insight into their personality.

“You can write about projects you are working on, industry events, ongoing research, current trends, new products, and evaluations. You can also include articles or papers you have written, a bio, project histories, a downloadable résumé, and even audio or video presentations,” says Whitcomb.