Jesters Get Serious

On the day of the last session, we had hoped to set an agenda for further meetings. By far the biggest demand seemed to be for funding. Most felt that this is the next logical step. Some, like Eric Mercer call for more numerous and rigorous quantitative studies that would serve to back up the theoretical and anecdotal studies already undertaken and ongoing. Eric mentioned the work of several people on Diversity University. Gloria McMillan of Pima College is one of the people who is currently wrapping up a funded MOO study and will be releasing her report shortly. GLO will put something up soon, and I have a request into the Pima College folks for permission to point to this study.

While his study was not conducted on MOOs per se, Jerry Schutte of CSUN, just published a study, Virtual Teaching in Higher Education, which affirms that student work improved 20% over the course of the semester.

One concern that becomes clear, however, is that faculty and students need the training and resources in order to conduct these studies. To require "rigorous" studies before users haven't the means or the training to use the technology is asking for disaster. So while we have been building MOOs, providing the resources for MOO use, it will take time for people to find the training, time for teachers to learn how MOO fits with their pedagogical practices, time for administrators to visit and watch teachers use the environment.

We still need to hold open houses for visiting administrators. We need to show them how our work fills the need for their respective institutions' mission statements. We need to point to studies such as the Rand play study to affirm the value of play, not just in academia, but for "lifetime learning." We need to point out and remind our administrators that MOOs have been our source (sometimes out only source) of professional contact as many of us have been isolated at our own institutions as we have developed these technologies for pedagogical use. We need to point to the hours spent in labs, in offices (when we have had them) at home learning these new environments. We need to remind people of the time we have spent training and helping each other, regardless of the boundaries of institution, geography, discipline. And finally, we need to stand up for work and most importantly our play. We need to take our own play seriously. Yes. We should include all web work on our CV's. Yes we should include everything we have done. Until hiring committees, and others are faced with the work we have done, until such time as we fully own our play as educational ourselves, by citing such work, we will remain in the back corners of labs, offices and home. Here I think of the Brecht play _Mother Courage._ in scene such and such, Mother Courage finds herself in the waiting room with a young soldier, furious with his commanding officer. Mother Courage tests his rage and finds it lacking. She reminds herself with the song of capitulation what waiting in the ante room can do to passionate causes. Let us not wait. If our institutions will not value our play at this, id we allow ourselves to be put off with the waiting game, then we are sure to suffer burn-out, sure to lose the passion for play that brought most of here in the first place.

Table of Contents

Janet Cross

Kristian Fuglevik