Cohort Collab —> Tech Support Collab

Screenshot from Minecraft game. Character holding egg falls backward into lava.

Image Source: http://unpluggedcontrollers.blogspot.com/2013/04/an-unplugged-look-at-minecraft.html

Well…damnit. I can’t tell you all how much I wanted the multiplayer Minecraft world to work, and I promise it wasn’t for lack of trying. This was a project that should have had a test run before the idea was brought to the group, and in retrospect I should have figured out a better way to communicate with them throughout the process. But it was an interesting/frustrating/time-suck of an experience regardless (which is everything a good group project should be, right?). So, after losing a week of my life to test running Minecraft Education Edition, I’m ready to throw on some rose-colored glasses and see if I got anything out of this. Here are my top contenders for “most important thing I learned “:

  1. I am more stubborn and motivated by frustration than I previously thought. Part of me didn’t want to let the group crash and burn after going along with my idea, and the other part of me had rage eyes and forgot there was a group at all. At some point it went beyond earning 20 points, and what was a low key project turned into this battle to overcome all technological barriers (and firewalls) to make this game work. And I had never even played Minecraft before, but clearly that didn’t matter.
  2. There are other people who are equally stubborn when it comes to fixing tech problems (and God bless them). If I continue down this tech-focused career path, I’m glad to know that there are tech savvy saviors just an email away. And if they don’t know the answer to a question they will find someone who does, and that person will help you at a moment’s notice even if they’ve never met you. Your router provider may charge you for this help, but everyone else…free!
  3. I learned more about my computer in the span of 5 days than I have in 5 years. I’m relatively new to the Mac world, so figuring out how to use terminal for entering commands, and how to open ports and download servers was all brand new to me. And not just being able to do it, but then being able to communicate what you had done without DM-ing someone a novel. Even when letting my group know about how to access the game, or writing to tech support, it was a challenge to use language in a way that was both precise and accessible.
  4. Minecraft Education Edition was not ready to be released, but software developers don’t really get “take backsies” so I guess it can only get better. My first email to Minecraft Education Edition support was on July 8th and went non-stop until July 14th. Their last message, “We’re sorry you are experiencing this bug. We will log it so the developers can make sure this doesn’t happen again.” Stab me in the heart! I thought we had developed a rapport. Don’t leave me in the wilderness! But really, they had no idea how to help me, and there was zero online community discussion about it because it was so new (and don’t confuse Minecraft Education Edition with MinecraftEDU which has lots of community support but of course doesn’t pertain to the former at all).

And after all this you’d think I’d never want to see that little blocky world again, but in all honesty I can’t wait to get into my computer lab at school and see if I can get the multiplayer worlds running. Never say die!

Big shout-outs to the following:

  • my ever-patient group members (sorry guys!)
  • Chris, for sticking it out and trying every possible solution with me
  • Owen and D’Arcy, for running “Add Server” tests at the drop of a hat
  • Philip, for not only knowing how to play Minecraft but being willing to teach me how
  • Minecraft support, for emailing me back even when I started using exclamation marks, and pretending to care even when they had no idea how to fix the issue
  • Linksys support, for charging me to poke around on my computer and eventually just telling me to contact Minecraft support

Metathink – Exploring Digital Citizenship

This was one of those topics that you could have written a dissertation on, but you know that no one wants to read more than a few paragraphs, and in fact, they’d actually prefer to just see a visual depiction of the information. I really struggle during the writing process when there’s JUST SO MUCH INFORMATION and I have the task of sifting and connecting it so that it becomes an easily readable document. One page papers are often harder than 8 page papers. Note that I’ve also been ignoring the “Search & Research” assignments for a similar reason. I want to do ALL the research, and come out of it saying something profound, though really I should be more accepting of imperfection and willing to explore/question/fail as part of the process.

So, to make the “Exploring Digital Citizenship” assignment easier for myself, I decided to use a specific frame. I wanted to look at where digital citizenship sat in relation to cybersecurity and digital literacy. Where do they overlap? Where are the boundaries? Using this frame helped focus my attention when I was conducting research (looking for models that discussed each of the three terms). It also allowed me to explore just one aspect of defining digital citizenship which was far more productive for me than taking on the concept as a whole.

For those about to explore: If your assignment is feeling a little chaotic, choose a specific frame or perspective from which to approach the topic.

Metathink- Blog Engine

Having my own website/blog/portfolio for the ONID program has made me far more eager to use personal sites in my own classroom. I’m not 100% sure I could help every student through the process of Reclaimhosting and installing WordPress (even though the provided instructions were well written), but even if were just a Google Site I think it’s a great place to collect student work. Especially if students are creating digitally born media most of the time, an online portfolio just makes sense. For secondary teachers, I think Google Sites even has some privacy settings that could take out a portion of “students publishing publically” headache. There can be all sorts of policy weirdness there, but I think doing the legwork to make it happen would be worth it.

My own domain has kind of taken a back seat to all the work that I’m posting. The “About” section has sat empty since I created the site, and I’m not sure I want to put something there quite yet, so I’m open to interesting suggestions for a stand in. I also think I could be using the “tag” feature more efficiently as up till now I’ve just been categorizing posts by course number. I think I’ve reached the point where I should have vision for what it should look like in the long run. Needless to say I’m excited to spend some time on the “Bling Your Blog” assignment!

Advice to future lords of new domains –

Don’t be afraid to try a new WordPress theme if you’re starting to fall out of love with your portfolio.

Metathink – Twitter

Twitter has been a requirement in my ONID classes since last September and I’m still trying to get in a groove with posting. I do a lot of poking around to see what other people are saying and I’ll share articles and sometimes pictures. What is completely missing is engagement in active conversations. I want to be better at Twitter. I need to be better at Twitter. It is an important part of my web presence (especially as my only social media platform that is public). I also recognize how awesome it is as an aspect of a professional learning network and how useful it can be for an online cohort. But, I hesitate every time I think of posting. What is the deal? Am I a shy tweeter? Am I afraid Margaret Atwood will actually read one of my tweets?

I think part of the issue is that I’m lumping together the whole Twitter experience. Maybe I’ll find that I’m more comfortable replying than being the original poster, or I’ll just back deep into the cave of direct messaging (which is a new feature for me this summer!). This cohort is already so active on Twitter, and I can feel that it’s time to join in. So, I’m setting myself a challenge. Every week I will try and post at least 5 times (as a reply, original post, or a DM). This may seem small time for most of you, but just know that I spent the whole time writing this trying to talk myself down from 4 posts a week. Let’s see how it goes!

Advice for future tweeters –

Jump in! And if you find yourself still standing on the dock, set a weekly goal. And if you’re really competitive like I am, call it a challenge.

Metathink – Barbaric Yawp!

I have to admit, I stumbled around for a whole day trying to write my yawp post. Mostly, I struggled to organize my ideas and find a through line for my writing. It was clear what information I wanted to share, but I wasn’t sure how to share it in a cohesive way. What kills me is that the assignment begs for a post that is “jumbled” and “isn’t perfect,” and I still couldn’t write anything down. In fact, I had such a hard time relating to Whitman’s yawp that I felt the need to change my narrative frame to a “YOP!” that I saw as a little more tame. I’m not sure if I particularly like what that says about me, but so it goes. As someone who only writes in academic settings, I think I’ve grown so use to writing to a prompt that I may have gotten a bit spooked by the idea of free writing about myself and I desperately wanted more guidance. My writing may actually have Stockholm syndrome after being in school for so long.

For all the frustration, I can’t deny that it’s a really good first writing assignment for the class. Asking us to put the elevator pitches aside hopefully reduced the amount of superficial writing we posted to our blogs and maybe even resulted in introductions that showed personality. The cohort doesn’t want to read the same ole bio any more than the instructor does. In the end though, I think it was the lists that really stole the show. By throwing in that requirement, it reinforced the idea that the assignment is a collection of ideas and information about the author and not necessarily a straightforward introduction. Putting together the lists was my favorite part of the assignment, and I really enjoyed seeing how others in the cohort used them as well.

Advice to future students about to yawp –

If you, like I, are the kind of person who is initially intimidated by open prompts, go to the lists first. I read through the “list of lists” and it actually gives you a moment of introspection before you try to write about yourself.