October 1, 2011


I am in the process of migrating this blog to a new site - http://www.educationalexperimentalist.com/blog. Until I get that all complete, there might be a few broken links and goofy formating. Please be patient :)

September 23, 2011

comment from a student

Everything seems to be going fine in the class. The things that continue to be a challenge are the juggling that I must do in my life to "fit everything in!" I already knew that school starting is a busy time of year for me, but adding a graduate class to those precious few "left over" hours is the hardest part! Your post in the "water cooler" when you explained how you organized your time was sooo helpful and gave great suggestions to us on how to do that in our own lives.

I like the way the instructions have been easy to understand and follow. And I LOVE that you are so accessible to us! I know that you must have to set aside a lot of your time to be "available" to us. I am grateful for your kind, reassuring spirit and your willingness to understand the problem(s) that we are having.

~Jenni F, EDU520

September 19, 2011

viewpoints on momhood

For some reason, thoughts about how others view me as a mom keep crossing my mind. I wonder how Andy and Kym feel about me as their mom, now that they've both been out on their own for a number of years. Has age and experience given them perspective on why I do what I do, and what I have done? What do they remember when they think back to their younger years? And how does that differ from what Emilee, Rachel, and Matt might think? When the older two were at the age of the younger three, life was much more chaotic and turbulent because I was in the throes of a nasty divorce (as if there are any other kinds). When Andy and Kym were young, I was the room mom for all of their classes, substituted at their schools once in a while, was involved as a 4-H club leader, working only part time if at all, and going to school for my BA. When Emilee, Rachel, and Matt were young, I was working full time, going to graduate school for part of that period, and although in constant contact with their teachers, my schedule didn't allow me to spend a lot of time in their actual classrooms. Up to the divorce, I was very active in church callings and checked off all of the appropriate boxes. Reflections on that subject are topic for another blog post. I wonder what they think of all of that and how they view me now?

I wonder how Cassie, Gabe and Adam see me, the woman who isn't their mom, but who has stepped into that role, at first part time, and now full time. I frequently don't feel like I am particularly good at being a mom, and that feeling is often accentuated when I interact with Steve's kids, who are now my kids also. I wonder what their mom thinks about me as a mom to the kids she has decided not to mother because following her own dreams was more important than nurturing theirs.

I wonder how my husband sees me as a mother, and if my ex-husband ever saw me as a mother. It seems like he resents the fact that I am the mother of his children, even though by all accounts, they seem to be turning out ok. I wonder if that will ever change?

I wonder how others see me as a mother, and if they really see the me that I see. There's so much more to it than just facebook posts, cute quotes and mobile phone picture uploads. Does what I put out there reflect how things really are?

I wonder if what I see in myself as a mother is really what is there, or if it's just a shadow of what it should be. Do I have an accurate view or have I been deceived by a lie that I agreed to?

I wonder what God thinks of me as a mother. Am I doing what needs to be done to help his children grow to love and serve Him? 


Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in. 

Leonardo da Vinci
Italian engineer, painter, & sculptor (1452 - 1519)

September 17, 2011

a couple of decades ago

Wow... I tried like crazy last night to post a quick blog about something and kept running into password roadblocks, even though I was pretty sure I knew what it was. I tried a few different combinations but none of them worked and the host blocked my IP from accessing the site because of repeated failed attempts (I found out later). I got them to unblock it pretty quickly and was going to log into my cpanel to update the directory password to something I *could* remember. Of course, then I couldn't remember that either. After a few tries, I gave up, posted a help desk ticket to the host and went to bed. As is obvious, I got it figured out this morning. I am sure there is a metaphor in there related to what I wanted to write about.

So, what was I trying to post about last night? Nothing major. I was in Lowe's yesterday with Matthew and realized that it was September 16th. I hadn't thought about that date in a long time, probably not for the last couple of years. On September 16th, 1989, I gathered with some friends and family at a church I no longer attend to exchange vows with a man I no longer am married to. Twenty-two years ago we started something with such hope that ended with such bitterness that we still, seven years after it ended, don't speak to each other unless we absolutely have to. It was a marriage built on false hopes and an incomplete understanding of self that probably would have never happened if I had not become pregnant with one of the biggest blessings of my life. And so, therein lies the irony. Had I not entered into a misguided union, I would have missed the opportunity to love my children. My hope is that some of those lessons learned can be shared with my daughters and my sons so that they avoid some of the same mistakes I made. I guess that's the hope of every parent, that their children will learn from the lessons of those who have gone before them.   

September 9, 2011

rejecting the gospel of grace

Any church that will not accept that it consists of sinful men and women, and exists for them, implicitly rejects the gospel of grace.

‎"The story goes that a public sinner was excommunicated and forbidden entry into the church. 

He took his woes to God, "They won't let me in, Lord, because I am a sinner."

"What are you complaining about?" said God. "They won't let Me in either."

~Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

Who needs anxiety?

"Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6,7)

September 8, 2011

servant leader

When we serve and sacrifice for others, we build authority and influence... and when we build authority with people, then we have earned the right to be called leader.
~James C. Hunter, The Servant

September 6, 2011

the quest

I feel as if I am on a quest... a spiritual quest... and emotional quest... maybe even an academic quest. It is a parallel quest because even as I strive with my husband to build a consistent, value-driven life for our children, I am on a personal quest to find out what how to relate to God and what that means for me as an individual. For some reason, I am very self-conscious about it all. It's hard to talk about. I don't want to be caught reading or thinking or writing about it. I'm pretty sure that's just a smoke screen to keep me from taking this personal journey but sometimes it's pretty hard to see through. 

I started yoga last week. It was sort of strange. We went today again. There's lots of stretching in ways my body doesn't really want to go, but that I know are good for me. It makes me slow down, something I've been saying I've wanted to do for years. My life is typically very fast paced and very noisy. Yoga is very peaceful and relaxing and it might give me time to think. At the end of the session, the teacher and everyone else in the room just sort of stays in the final position and meditates. Today, as I awkwardly didn't want to be the first one to get up and break the mood, I thought that maybe I should take that time to pray, and listen to God. Maybe this spiritual quest is similar. It's stretching me in ways I know are good for me, but it will give me peace and time to think. 

For the past two weeks, we've attended a Sabbath evening service at the High Desert Church. It's one of those mega-churches with thousands of members. I was really curious about how that works and about how they connect with individual people. They have small groups called "oikos" that connect people in small groups that meet weekly to discuss the topic of the week. They've just started a series called Gear-up: Building Spiritual Momentum. The first week, the lesson was on regaining your enthusiasm. That is something I have been lacking in the last months and years. Being a word geek, I was of course very interested to learn that "enthusiasm" comes from the Greek meaning "in God (theos)". One who is filled with enthusiasm is filled with God. 

This past week the lesson was about rejecting old excuses. We were asked to think of an excuse that we like to fall back on. I had to think really hard, because I don't typically like to use excuses. However, I came up with one: "I'm too busy". I usually use that in reference to doing things that have to do with me. I'm not usually too busy for others. I do lots for my kids. Lots for my students. Lots for my 4-H club. But when it comes to my own well-being (physical, mental, spiritual), I'm too busy. I'm too busy to exercise. I'm too busy to learn better nutrition. I'm too busy to read and understand my Bible. I'm just too busy. Everyone knows I work full time, have 6 kids at home, am involved in community groups and social networks. Of course, I'm too busy! Who would blame me? 

We were asked to think about our excuse and answer three questions. I didn't at the time, but I will now.

1) What responsibility are you trying to avoid when you use this excuse?

Responsibility for my own well-being. It's so much easier to say that I'm not exercising because I'm too busy than to get out there and get sweaty. It's so much easier to grab a granola bar for breakfast than to make something healthy to start my day. It's so much easier to try and ride the coat-tails of my husband's spirituality than to strengthen my own connections with God.

2) What would be the downside of taking responsibility in this area of your life?

In the health and nutrition categories, nothing. I'd probably be much better off. In the spiritual category... well... opening myself up, exposing old wounds, having to change... and I might cry. I hate to cry.

3) How could your attempt to shield yourself from responsibility in this area be cheating you out of becoming more like Jesus?  

I think this is something that is holding me way back actually. I remember being told once, by a student that I had my first semester at Cerro Coso, that she felt I was a "natural Christian". I asked her what that meant, and she said I just came across as a Christian in the way I interacted with people and by how much you could tell I cared about my students. I think, however, that I spent a great deal of time giving everything I had to everyone but myself, and now I find myself in a state of drought. It feels like there's nothing left to give, that I'm just pushing through life with brute force effort without any joy, without any enthusiasm. I don't want it to be that way. 

Steve told one of the kids recently that one of the reasons to read the bible is to help fill your spiritual tank so that when life comes at you, you have a reserve to draw from. I think "I'm too busy" has kept me from refueling and my reserves are dangerously low. I've said for the past few years that I just needed some time to think and reflect, a break from the chaos to regroup. Well. Regardless of how it turns out, I have a break this semester from the biggest source of chaos in my life. What am I going to do with it? Will I get to the other end, in a few months, and kick myself for not taking advantage of the space? For making excuses? Or will I come out from the experience more balanced and focused on the big picture? More sure of what it is that God is calling me, and our family, to do for Him?   

August 31, 2011


Last spring, Janet Hunt asked if I would mind sharing some ideas for a computer literacy class she was developing for the Mono County Department of Education and of course, I said sure! She was a student in my Moodle class several years ago and we've kept in contact and worked together on a few projects since then. She knows what the current status is at CC. Tonight she sent me this note:

Definition of Irony: Deanna Campbell offering to let MCOE use the Mammoth Lakes Cerro Coso Computer Lab to teach the Adult Ed version of Debby Kurti's Computer Literacy course, that she is not allowed to teach.....


August 22, 2011


In the face of your fears, you discover the foundations of your faith.

A new school year begins...

Students - be curious, be engaged, wonder why & how... get to know your teachers and ask lots of questions... seek to find relevance beyond what is presented in the classroom... create your own learning network beyond the classroom walls... and you will succeed, not just in school, but in life. Now go forth, and learn!

August 20, 2011

this weekend...

This is the weekend that I would normally be preparing for my new classes. I would have already sent out the welcome email and I would be fielding messages from students anxious to succeed in my classes. I would be reassuring students who have been away from school for many years, or students who have never taken an online course, or first time students out of high school that they will do just fine if they relax, pay attention, ask lots of questions, and engage in the course. I might even be making a few phone calls to let students know they can actually talk to me and I'd definitely be chatting with some of them online.  I'd be shaking my head at a few of the emails that came in with messages like "I don't get it" but no subject line, name, or class listed... because there are always a few of those. I'd be making last minute updates right up to the last minute, always tweaking my course documents, always making sure my content was current and relevant, always striving to be clearer, more effective, and easier for the students to follow. I'd be checking my rosters and cross checking the waitlist, making sure that I contacted any late additions to the class with the syllabus and welcome message so that they could come up to speed as quickly as possible.

Despite all of the work, this is the weekend when I think to myself "the students are coming! the students are coming! the students are coming!" and mentally bounce across the room because I know that there will always be a few who stand out in the crowd, there will always be a few who need me to let them know they can do it, and possibly even a few who will become new friends. I always wonder who they will be and am curious about why people take my classes and this is the weekend when those questions begin to be answered. This is the weekend that my "alumni" students reconnect to let me know they are excited to be in another one of my classes. This is the weekend that I start getting new friend requests on facebook and new followers on twitter as students navigate the fuzzy line between professional and personal as they dive into the sometimes unfamiliar realm of social media. This is the weekend I begin to build a relationship that will last for the next 16 weeks and I know how important it is to start off with the right tone and on the right foot. What I do now, in the beginning, and how they perceive my willingness to help will determine how much trust they place in me to take them to places they've never been before. It will determine their "buy-in" to the learning experience I have planned for them. It is the place where it all begins...

This is the weekend, this year, for the first time since 1997, that I won't be teaching my classes starting on the first day of the fall semester. I have very mixed feelings about that because on one hand it is a relief to know that I won't have to go back into that hostile work environment, at least for the moment. However, it is very unsettling because I am still getting contacted by students and I can't say anything. I can't post anything. I can't make public the cause of my grief. I have a union lawyer dangling the prospect of a large settlement in front of me based on the merits of my case, if I can only persist and proceed long enough to see it through. I was ready to walk. I really was. But I am responsible. A settlement would pay off bills. It would take care of several things. It might even take my entire family to Australia for a month. If I can only make it to the end of the semester. And then through next semester. It might be resolved and I can move on. Except that's what I've been doing for the last 3 years. Making it to the end of the semester. And then to the end of the next one. And in the back of my mind the discontent grows, and the ability to handle it all diminishes, and I hear the voice of a mentor telling me that once it's all about the money, it's time to go do something else.

I did go do something else. I really did think that I would be moving on this fall. I tossed out the net and made some connections and was ready to leave it all behind for a brighter future. I was asked to teach two classes, one online and one on campus, at the local college. I was asked to teach an online graduate class for a university in Connecticut. I had the opportunity to facilitate a very successful (and lucrative) workshop for an ed tech organization. I was on the verge of launching myself into a consulting career and pursuing independent teaching opportunities. I didn't jump in with two feet, but I did dip my toes in and the water was fine. I was getting excited, for the first time in a long time, about the possibilities. I had psyched myself up, climbed up the ladder, and was just about ready to jump off the high dive... And then... and then I went against my instincts and decided to at least listen to what the union president and my husband and the CTA lawyer had to say. I worked long and hard and for many years to earn the position of "professor" and someone should have to pay for trying to take that away. Dollar signs were dangled in front of me and an appeal was made to my sense of justice. Maybe there was a chance... maybe I could make the people who caused me this much grief over the last several years pay for what they've done... it really isn't about the money, that's just a nice fringe benefit if this all works out... but at what cost?

My health? My sanity? My family? My future opportunities? Because that's the trade-off I see. That's the cost of pursuing this, even though I feel I have been wronged and even though I know someone has to stop this from continuing. When I met with the department chair of the local college to let him know I couldn't teach for him this fall, my heart sank. He said he understood and I think he really did, but as I walked out of my meeting with him, I felt like I had just made a huge mistake. Everything I had finally ramped myself up for has been put on hold because of an uncertain outcome that *might* have a beneficial reward. How am I supposed to rest and recover and take the time to think through my priorities this semester with this huge burden hanging over me? While I prepare district level complaints and mount a defense and work with a lawyer to strategize? When it feels like I just violated my own sense of integrity and values and chose "being right" over "what is right" for myself and my family?

August 19, 2011

9th Blogaversary

The entry that started it all...

On the Web Too Much - August 19, 2002

It was written as I was starting my graduate program at Pepperdine University as a way to keep track of my learning journey. Lots has happened since then. Many, many changes. The past few years I haven't been as prolific in writing as I'd like, but I've still managed to post 2,068 messages here and 182 messages in Inner Space. That's a lot of writing. I always wonder if it adds up to anything or if it will mean anything once I am gone. For whatever it's worth, here it is. It is me. 

July 9, 2011

Don't be mistaken...

Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom. 
~Clifford Stoll

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