Brief thoughts

I’m in the middle of a four-day training session in Blackboard, the educational technology that most educators I know hate. I use it to teach online and hybrid (half online) courses, and I like teaching online, but the software we use is … not perfect. We are moving to a new version of Blackboard that’s very different from the old one, and some of what I’m learning is useful, but much is not. A lot of today’s session focused on creating and grading tests, and I don’t give tests in my online classes (relying on papers and other projects instead). So much for that. Now that I’ve been a teacher for a while, I’ve gotten much more impatient when I have to be a student, but particularly so when it comes to learning technology. I want to learn it on my own time in my own way, and I don’t want to listen to someone lecturing about it. I got through the day by complaining on Twitter, checking the stock market, and reading blogs. When technology instruction is boring, technology itself was there to save me!

But on to some good news. I’m extremely happy for a very good fiction writer friend of mine, Elizabeth Gentry, who just won the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writers Residency Prize! It’s at Lake Forest College outside Chicago, and I’m looking forward to visiting her there in February or March when she’s in residency. I’ve been reading Elizabeth’s novel manuscripts for a while now, and they are very, very good, exactly the kinds of novels I like to read. One of the best things about this prize is that, pending completion and editorial approval, her winning manuscript will get published by &NOW Books, which is part of Lake Forest College Press. That’s very exciting; I can’t wait to see her book in print. So, yay!

One final thought. As I was reading Wendy McClure’s The Wilder Life, I kept talking about how fun it would be to reread the Little House on the Prairie series, but I don’t own the the books anymore. I’m not sure what happened to the ones I read as a kid. So, since it was our anniversary last weekend, Hobgoblin surprised me with the complete set! Now I’m all set to read them whenever I get the urge, which may be soon.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Brief thoughts

  1. Jillian ♣

    How fun! I love the Little House series. :-)

  2. Congrats to your friend, that’s so great! Enjoy the Little House series and I hope you’ll keep us posted on how the reading of those go.

  3. We’ve had Blackboard training over the summer too but since I don’t teach I missed out on all the fun. That’s really cool about your friend winning the residency prize. If your trip to Chicago takes you anywhere close to Minneapolis, let me know even if it is only for an hour :) Also, happy anniversary and gold start to Hobgoblin for getting you such a nice gift!

  4. Happy Anniversary and congratulations to your friend! Both such lovely celebrations. I do feel for you, though, having to sit through dull training, and I laughed a lot at your various coping mechanisms. I completely empathise. There’s nothing like a boring conference to make me play truant and go shopping! :)

  5. Jenny

    I have managed to skip all the Blackboard training sessions so far. Ugh. I, too, would rather figure things out in my own way. Happy anniversary!

  6. When it comes to technology I am so with you on preferring to just figure it out myself. Long training sessions strike me as so pointless given that I’ll forget most of the material from the lecture anyway whereas the same amount of time spent actually USING the software could have me near-proficient by the end of it. Gah.

    Well, congrats on the Wilder set, anyway. I was never a huge Wilder fan but I have a huge soft spot for “setups” of anything – boxed sets, picnic baskets complete with glasses & utensils, pencil & pen sets – whatever.

  7. Jillian — it IS fun! I’ve already finished the first book, and it was great.

    Iliana — yes, I’m very pleased for her. I will certainly be posting about my Little House reading, when I can find the time!

    Stefanie — oh, you sure did miss the fun. I’ll bet you are still disappointed :) Definitely if I get anywhere near Minneapolis, I will let you know!

    Litlove — thank you! I agree about bad conferences — it’s so fun to escape from them, isn’t it? It hardly matters what you do, just so you don’t have to be there!

    Jenny — I would too. I did learn some useful things, but it was an awful lot of time for a few useful things.

    Emily — it’s so much more efficient just to play around with the technology and learn it that way. And if there is someone around to ask questions of if I have any, then I’m set. But none of that matters now, because the training is OVER! Yay!

  8. Happy Anniversary! What a lovely gift. I never read the Little House books, but I gather I’ve missed something. I hope you have a lovely trip to Chicago, where I was born and grew up. Lake Forest is lovely. Congratulations to your friend. P.S. Go to Unos or Ginos for pizza. This is a must. There was always a rivalry between them as to who was best. (I was a Ginos fan but they are both fabulous).

  9. How wonderful for your friend! I have to say that your first sentence threw me for a loop, as you’re someone I would’ve thought of as a Blackboard pro, but it made sense once you explained that it’s a new version. You’ll have to let me know what you think of the Little House books at this age. I reread the first two a number of years ago and still enjoyed them very much.

  10. Very cool about your friend–that’s exciting news and exciting that you’ve been able to read her work all along! I loved the Little House books and we were just talking about them at work this week. I would love to reread them sometime, but I don’t think I own them anymore either. I could borrow from the library, but for books like those–it’s much nicer to own them! (Sorry about Blackboard–we also use it but I don’t have to worry about it since I am just library staff–not sure what the students/faculty here think of it).

  11. Grad — thanks for the recommendations! I wonder what it would be like to read the Little House books for the first time as an adult. Hard for me to tell!

    Emily B. — I’m part of a “pilot” group tackling the new system early, so I guess I’m sort of a pro. I’m a guinea pig, at any rate :) I’m in the fourth book of the series, and enjoying them very much.

    Danielle — rereading the series has been great, and they read so fast, it’s fun to fly through the books. I’ve read 3 1/2 already. I agree that it’s nicer to own them, so I’m very grateful for my anniversary gift!

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