Seen & Heard

Fear of Trying

Know an educator who's afraid to jump feet-first into the world of 21st century teaching? If so, pass this along.

Katherine Grayson

It is Tuesday, and as Maeve marches to her colleague's office in the Classics department, she can feel herself starting to hyperventilate. She throws open the door, slams it behind her, and collapses against it. Anne, at her desk,looks up from a stack of papers.

"Good Lord, Maeve, what is it?" she asks her clearly distraught friend.

The woman struggles to get her breath. "It's... it's... that blasted immersive ed directive," she sputters.

"Now, now," Anne says soothingly. She leaves her seat, puts her arm around her friend's shoulder, and leads her to a chair. "You're just upset because you missed the first Virtual Worlds seminar, and you're feeling behind--"

"Behind?" Maeve groans. "I'm so far behind, I'm in the Dark Ages. They're talking about 'avatars' and I only learned how to 'Google' a week ago! Everyone is blogging, chatting, and tweeting, and I'm supposed to find my students on a cloud somewhere. I feel like I'm in a bad remake of The Body Snatchers! Anne, why do we have to learn all this technology mumbo-jumbo, just to teach ancient Greek and Roman literature?"

"AthenaGirl," her friend corrects her.

Maeve blinks back at her. "What?"

"AthenaGirl," Anne says again, more firmly. "That's my avatar name. I've decided to go by it whenever I'm in my physical office, as well as my virtual one. So I don't confuse the kids," she tosses off casually. She goes back to her desk.

Maeve shakes her head in disbelief. "When did you go over to the other side?" she utters.

"Oh, it's been coming on gradually," AthenaGirl tells her. "You learn a little here, a little there, and before you know it, you're flying across your virtual classroom, dropping exams onto your students' desks. Honestly, Maeve, if it were so difficult, do you think Jack Rightman would be able to teach immersively?"

Maeve stares back at her colleague. "Jack Rightman? Jack can't even work the microwave in the Classics lounge!"

"Precisely."

After a moment, Maeve wonders out loud, "Maybe I should try that Virtual Worlds lunch meeting tomorrow..."

"Excellent, Maeve," her friend agrees.

"ClassicsLass," Maeve corrects her, getting up and heading for the door. She takes one last glance back at her colleague. "See ya in Second World!" she calls out as she departs.

AthenaGirl smiles. "Well, she almost got it right..."

Moving into 21st century instruction is not always easy for educators-- nor is it easy for the creators of those environments. Hear Aaron Walsh, bestselling author, Grid Institute director, and Boston College faculty member, discuss his own inspirations, advances, and setbacks, at Campus Technology 2009, July 27-30, in Boston.

--Katherine Grayson, Editor-In-Chief

FAREWELL! It is with the deepest regret that I say goodbye to our Campus Technology and T.H.E. Journal readers,site visitors, and conference attendees.I have taken great pleasure in the work we have done together over the past years, and will miss meeting with you at industry events. I pass the torch to the wonderful Rhea Kelly.Contact with me continues atgrayson53@aol.com. Cheers!-- Kathy
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