Jesters Get Serious: Closure

Kristian says, "The jester project, with the meetings and the survey, went along very fine. The meetings were not filled with people, but the people there were a very good bunch. The discussions flowed like fresh water."

"The people who showed up were seriously concerned with the matters discussed. And we do like to hope that what we did, and will continue to do, got some people thinking, got some reactions outside the circle of "MOO addicts" already using the MOO, paid or not, recognized or not."

Consider this conversation from the first meeting:

EricM_guest asks Gofy, "You know why you got us all here, even though we're serious people?"
Gofy nods to EricM_guest and says, "Because it is a serious mather, and it is important to talk about."
EricM_guest says, "Desperation. Sheer desperation, I figure."
EricM_guest giggles
EricM_guest says, "Yeah, it's a serious matter, and we all do know it." (Log pointer)

"Which points out the need for MOO admins, teachers on MOOs -- all those people out there using MOOs for something, either to teach classes, socialize, or any other kind of use you can think about -- to meet and exchange ideas, if only to let off some steam."

Janet says, "Absolutely. And as Michael Day points out in the surveys, all too often we are isolated in our physical locations, our schools and work places. I come away from this with a much better sense of what people are doing on other MOOs. I have met many people whose work I have admired, whose work I have always felt should be showcased in some way."

Kristian says, "After reading all the logs over again, and again...I see a lot of stories out there, just waiting to be told. Even though some people think stories will not help, that we need "number studies," I think stories are a valid contribution to the fronting of MOOs as new, valid, in some ways even better than traditional teaching environments. Studies published in "serious" peer review journals will, of course, also help fronting MOOs, and will probably get the attention of some institutional admins, who are not fond of "fairy tales," but who need "hard facts." But as we discussed in the meetings, how can one "prove" that one's teaching method is better than another? Maybe we just have to try it out for a while."

Janet says, "Yes. I think the logs themselves are worth more than just their "brainstorming" potential. As each person reads them, they serve a variety of purposes. As you say, they tell numerous "stories." At the same time they "enact" MOO. As we went over the logs together and separately, I was struck anew by the different and differing perspectives they offered as we focused on individual threads. I truly think that what people find most disconcerting about using MOO logs is the actual richness of possibilities. We are so used to following the thinking and writing of that one solitary writer. We may even be able to read "with the grain" and "against the grain" as David Bartholomae suggests. Yet when we actually *enact* Mikhail Bahktin's notions of the "polyphony of voices" we are faced with a whole new conversation. We have not even begun to scratch the surface of possibilities for this medium. And we won't until more people get comfortable with the environment."

"I like the fact that I can finally point to people like Andrea Lunsford, who has taken the time and effort to explore the possibilities of online work. I respect her all the more because she does what she asks her students to do. She joins the conversation. In the following bit from an earlier Kairos, Lunsford chats with Mike Salvo, Becky Rickly and Susan West on the process of working online. A nice piece of reflection, noting the frustrations we all face -- and the rewards."

MJS: What do you think worked during the project? What drove you crazy? What did you enjoy about the project?

AL: Well, what really "worked" here was you and the Kairos folks. What has driven me crazy is my inability to work very effectively, and this inability stems both from my ineptness [with the technology of the World Wide Web] but also, and primarily, from my lack of time. I always write under stress of deadlines and competing projects--all of us do. But this opportunity arrived suddenly and in the midst of all the other projects I was working on, not to mention my two classes and their demands. So I have been tremendously frustrated by lack of time. I have enjoyed seeing a print text take on new shape. The Trickster figure seems an apt one for hypertext...and reminds me of what one of my graduate students, Melissa Goldthwaite, calls "coyote discourse," which demands that we give up old ideas of "mastery." I like that metaphor a lot.

Jesters, as tricksters, do challenge notions of "mastery," across the board, challenge our ideas of "intellectual property," ownership, rigor, traditional boundaries of service, research, and teaching. And I like that a lot."

Kristian says, "These meetings show that there is plenty of work going on in MOOs. I hope this gets reflected in this article. People are, and will be, using MOOs for all the different reasons mentioned in the meeting logs and the surveys. Institutional admins will have to get up to speed on what is going on in MOOdom, or else they will fail in getting the best people for the job."

Janet laughs and says, "I can't quibble with that! We know the frustration of being asked to implement MOO for the school and then be told that it is low priority. We know the utter frustration that comes with doing a job well and having that work go unnoticed or unvalued because the people in position of power will not take the time to visit. And I think the idea of a "site visit" then becomes oh so important to what we need to do. I do think we must start to insist that our administrators must meet us on the MOO if they are to evaluate the work we have done. Imagine middle management never making a site visit before making a report to the top brass. Unthinkable."

"Part of the evaluation process I must go through at every school where I teach includes classroom evaluation by tenured professors. How then will they evaluate the work my students and I do onMOO without visiting us onMOO? I really think the "burden of proof" has shifted. They just don't know it yet. My students and I literally enact the mission statements and the goals of the respective institutions, and they literally cannot see it because *they* do not have the skills. Funny reversal there where the teachers and students have the skills to "get the job done," and the administrators do not."

Work going on/work that could be done.

Table of Contents

Janet Cross

Kristian Fuglevik