Thoughts on Conversation as Art as Learning Activity


“There’s no doubt in my mind that collaboration, diversity, the exchange of ideas, and building on other people’s achievements are at the heart of the creative process.” – Sir Ken Robinson

It is no great surprise to anyone who knows me to any degree that I believe in process, the beautiful messiness of the creative act. I believe the process associated with the creative act in all of its forms requires a deep commitment to searching, to diving into the deep end, without complete understanding of what we’ll find there. I can remember viewing photos of Francis Bacon’s studio, walls covered in strokes of paint and chaos in physical form. This image of creativity was profoundly visceral for me, exciting and a little scary. I remember it accompanied a set of profound interviews with David Sylvester (a video example of one of these interviews can be viewed here). Note that Bacon explains that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he doesn’t have any story to tell.

Creativity that is truly about learning (learning about ourselves, our past, our future, each other) is always an unknown venture, one rife with much failure and lack of comfort. However, it is worth the risk of failure to discover and gain new knowledge. In my experience, art and education are two of the most direct methods for almost immediate access to the creative act of learning through the search itself. Both art and education can be viewed as conversations, either synchronous or asynchronous communication that is reciprocal in nature.

Art and education are forms of conversation in which the full potential of the creative act (or its initial creation) can only be experienced with the participation of the other. Whether the conversation is happening simultaneously (as in most classrooms or innovative online degree programs) or with the past (as in Adrienne Rich’s beautifully descriptive “Diving into the Wreck”), it must always include more than the lone individual (even if the other is experienced in mind/imagination only).

One example of dialogue with the audience of the imagination is Seamus Heaney’s “Digging”, a poem that describes his own connection to the past (and his lineage) and how writing poetry is similar to working in the soil to provide future nourishment. In this short work, we understand that Heaney is in dialogue with the past and present, family and himself. Martin Buber, in his philosophical work I and Thou, explains that humans define the world through our interactions with the other. These interactions can take place regardless of time and place. Heaney’s work is locked squarely in direct dialogue with memory, self-reflection, and his role in the patrilineality of his family.

Marcel Duchamp claimed that without the viewer/participant, the artistic act is stillborn and never really complete (Maria Popova shares this in her amazing blog, Brain Pickings, here). This really connects with me as a teacher. Teaching is a dynamic, ever-evolving act of creativity, a beautiful conversation (Tricia Whenham describes this very well on her blog).

Art is difficult. Real conversation is difficult. Learning makes us uncomfortable. There are reasons for this (not the least of which includes Piaget’s concept of equilibration). When we are in situations wherein we encounter something new, perhaps even unpredictable, we can become emotional. According to the concept of equilibration, we are having to cognitively accomodate for new information and assimilate within our existing schema (or our knowledge map of the world).


Conversation is one of the most basic creative acts. However, the act of real conversation may not be long for this world, if we believe the statistics collected by the Pew Research Center (2015) regarding the prevalence of cellphone usage in social settings. Teachers and artists must create the conversational act, must shape it to help generate deep thinking and self-reflection.

I have discussed the importance of creativity, conversation as pedagogical framework, and the impact of engaging learning experiences for months now. Even this is a process for me. Conversation is that important as a transformative activity. It is a contract with the unknown, the improvisational, and it is essential to understanding.

We Need Weapons of Compassion and Insight: A Brief Note on Love, Education, and Dialogue


It’s easy to misinterpret thoughts, acts, and beliefs that originate in fear as freedom; to do so is normal as we emotionally and cognitively mature. Dorothy Day warned that even when we believe we are headed in the right direction, we must continue to resolutely question our actions and motivations and those of others. She explains that many tyrannical leaders “were animated by the love of brother and this we must believe though their ends meant the seizure of power, and the building of mighty armies, the compulsion of concentration camps, the forced labor and torture and killing of tens of thousands, even millions” (1951).

To challenge ourselves to interrogate our beliefs and thinking requires real courage and a willingness to understand one another. The courage to investigate our beliefs and the world demands that we enter into dialogue with others. This dialogue may take the form of real-time discussions or engagement with the past (i.e., cultural artifacts). This dialogue, an act of learning through the co-construction of knowledge, is absolutely necessary to deeper learning and commitment to others. Paulo Freire refers to this act as an “existential necessity” that is founded on love (Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970, p. 89-90).

I believe that the recognition of love is synonymous with the evolution of our morality and capacity for understanding the complexity of the human experience both individually and as a species. Love, in other words, is education. Education is synonymous with love. Humility and the desire to learn are required for the acceptance of new understanding. Education, bell hooks declares, is “very much an act of love in that sense of love as something that promotes our spiritual and mental growth” (2004).


Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development, Public Domain

Cultivating our ability to move from an outlook based on fear to one founded on love is most likely the greatest and most courageous achievement. It is not an easy task to move to love. It is moving to the unknown, and this can disrupt our equilibrium and shake our existing individual schema of the world (Piaget, 1928).

This shift to the unknown (uncomfortable) is necessary for learning to take place, but it’s not easy. This shift to love, to the unknown, provides the opportunity for us to view the “fully present” world, and we can no longer afford not to accept responsibility for it (Martin Buber, 1937, p. 82). To love this way, with complete attention to learning and growing unexpectedly, is challenging. Attention of this sort, according to Simone Weil, is prayer (Gravity and Grace, 1952).

We must remind ourselves daily to attend to love, to seek learning, to allow ourselves dialogue with one another.



Window at Norman Hall, University of Florida College of Education (2013)

Links to Further Reading

Note: The title of this post is a partial quote from bell hooks’ Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations (2006)

Rough Notes on Art as Vital Learning Activity in Early Childhood


The deep link between creativity and education, although universally acknowledged in recent educational literature, was not always accepted as axiom.  The idea of creativity as an indicator of cognitive and emotional growth in the early education of children (as established in educational research) did not really catch on until the 20th Century.

Recently, I have been revisiting works about early childhood development and observed growth/development found in creative output. Further inspired by the work of Brosterman on the origins of kindergarten and Fröbel’s gifts, I have started keeping personal notes around the subject of early childhood and creativity as a vital learning activity. It seems as though Fröbel arrived at the notion of fostering the creative instinct as pedagogy first, because pedagogical research for the early 1800s isn’t exactly easy to find.

Beentz, Erntekindergartengruppe

Although one can easily locate Vygotsky’s The Psychology of Art, the work isn’t strictly about early learning, early childhood, pedagogical practice, or creative development outside of interpretation of artistic works. However, Vygotsky does discuss art as educational tool. In the introduction to one of the later chapters, he explains that “art has always been regarded as a means of education, that is, as a long-range program for changing our behavior and our organism…the significance of applied arts, involves the educational effect of art. Those who see a relationship between pedagogy and art find their view unexpectedly supported by psychological analysis” (Vygotsky, 1925).

Vygotsky is respectful of the work of others in the domain of teaching research. He shares that “we must take into account the specific peculiarities facing one who deals with children. Of course this is a separate field, a separate and independent study, because the domain of child art and the response of children to art is completely different…There are remarkable phenomena in the art of children” (Vygotsky, 1925).


Eleanor paints a picture (2015)

Although Vygotsky’s book dealt with some of these ideas at a superficial level with regard to early childhood, the work of Dewey and Piaget extended the idea of art as an experience associated with learning. Dewey was driven to promote the link of experience to learning (art being only one of the ways to engage in that experiential learning), and Piaget (and Inhelder) were observing the behavior of children to possibly gain insight into their cognitive development. The interpretation of childhood drawings can yield artifacts of psyhological and cognitive development. But, does one get a true picture of what is happening in the interior of the child’s thought?

Harriman and Zernich (1980) suggest that Piaget’s Cognitive-Structuralist Theory (and his own descriptive examples of a child’s cognitive development and response to increasingly abstract phenomena) can be observed in the artistic growth of children and that this increased complexity of thought and interpretation reveals a broader cognitive development at work. The limitations of this work are obvious considering the nature of the data collection and research: only observed actions were used to perceive possible changes in growth. The perception and creative output of children provides another, richer view of their experience and cognitive and emotional development.


Pre Kindergarten student draws me and the class (1995)

Taking account of the unique phenomenological experience of children for the purpose of understanding their cognitive and emotional development was really highlighted by Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the philosopher that occupied Piaget’s former chair at the Sorbonne, where he lectured on child psychology and education from 1949-1952. Although Merleau-Ponty was well-known in the areas of aesthetics and phenomenology, this period of his writing provides a great bridge between art, psychology, philosophy, and early childhood.

Merleau-Ponty built on Vygotsky’s (pre-Existentialism!) idea that learning is experienced through the body, not just the mind. His work of this period seems to echo Vygotsky’s idea that “art performs with our bodies and through our bodies” (1925). In this way, experience is surely unique for every person. Even if an experience is shared, our own interpretations of it and the implications of its assimilation may be vastly different from one person to another. This complicates pedagogy. It is the basis for the differentiation of instruction.

What does this mean for art as a tool in today’s early childhood centers or elementary schools with which to engage learners individually? It seems Fröbel was tapping into something which we now better understand. However, where is art education today? Is it soley a piece of our pre-kindergarten experiences, never to be addressed in middle or later childhood?

Experience and cognition are not separate activities, and every one of these thinkers mentioned understood that to some degree. Early childhood seems to be one of those areas that we don’t really completely understand. There is no formula for educating all children, because each child uniquely experiences the world.







Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience

Hardiman, G., & Zernich, T. (1980). Some considerations of Piaget’s Cognitive-Structuralist Theory and children’s artistic development. Studies in Art Education, 21(3), 12-19. doi:1. Retrieved from

Vygotsky, L. (1925). The psychology of art

Merleau-Ponty, M. (2010) Child psychology and pedagogy: The Sorbonne lectures 1949-1952

Piaget, J. & Inhelder, B. (1956). The child’s conception of space.

Draft of Conference Proposal on Video-based Learning for Instructional Improvement


Conference Session Proposal Draft

Title: Enhancing Teacher Preparation Online through Video-based Modeling and Feedback


Although video of teaching practice has long been a part of the national discussion concerning teacher observation and evaluation (i.e., TIMSS 1999 Video Study), online video-based pedagogical practice has only recently been acknowledged in the research literature as a cornerstone for effective online and face-to-face teacher preparation and continued professional development (i.e., Archer, Cantrell, Holtzman, Joe, Tocci, & Wood, 2016; Borko, Koellner, Jacobs, & Seago, 2011; Derry, Sherin, & Sherin, 2015; Gaudin & Chaliès, 2015).

The University of Florida College of Education faculty and staff have unique expertise in planning and implementing innovative online video-based pedagogy for the purpose of improving teacher and leader preparation and professional development. Motivation of online students played a key factor in the initial decisions to redesign coursework to include professional video in addition to synchronous observation video software (i.e., Guo, Kim, & Rubin, 2014). Some examples of our efforts include the implementation of synchronous and asynchronous video solutions (with annotation) for teacher observation and pre-service mentoring, embedded video of UF graduates modeling teaching best practices within our online courses, expert and practitioner interviews and case studies woven through online discussions, and targeted video demonstrations of instructional strategies for teaching students with dyslexia.

In this session, the demonstration and effectiveness of these design changes will be discussed, including the sharing of student feedback regarding how these changes have impacted their instruction in the field.


Archer, J., Cantrell, S., Holtzman, S. L., Joe, J. N., Tocci, C. M., & Wood, J. (2016). Better feedback for better learning: A practical guide to improving classroom observations. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA.

Borko, H., Koellner, K., Jacobs, J., & Seago, N. (2011). Using video representations of teaching in practice-based professional development programs. ZDM Mathematics Education, 43, 175-187.

Derry , S., Sherin , M., & Sherin , B. (2014). Multimedia learning with video. In R. Mayer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning (pp. 785–812). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gaudin, C. & Chaliès, S. (2015). Video viewing in teacher education and professional development: A literature review. Educational Research Review, 16, (41-67)

Guo, P. J., Kim, J., & Rubin, R. (2014). How video production affects student engagement: An empirical study of MOOC videos. Paper presented at Learning @ Scale 2014 Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA.

 More at-

Searching through Language: Translations of Hadrian (W.S. Merwin) & Limits of Human Perception


Below, I have included a couple of translations of the only poem ever to have been found attributed to Hadrian (A.D. 76-138). The first word in the original Latin, animula, translates to little soul or small soul.

These first three photographs capture the relatively hard-to-find Pheonix Book Shop chapbook, Three Poems. I have a copy (only 100 were ever made, and it is signed by the author in 1968). The second poem is Animula. This was a kind of translation, I believe. But, it was more of Merwin’s work than an actual translation of the original.

The fourth photograph is from Merwin’s Selected Translations (2013, Copper Canyon Press) and includes a small bit of description about the origin and attempt to truly provide an adequate translation of Hadrian’s work. This is also included at the end of Merwin’s 2009 collection, The Shadow of Sirius (also Copper Canyon Press), which won the author his second Pulitzer Prize. His first Pulitzer was for the collection, The Carrier of Ladders (Atheneum), in 1971.


These variations on the poem are vastly different from one another in content, form, and intent. You can read a little about Merwin’s thoughts on translation and the impact of this act on the rest of his learning in his interview with Paul HoldenGräber in 2010 (here), or watch his discussion with Michael Silverblatt in 2012 (here). A nice, printable pdf version can be found at the Poetry Society website (here). The first version included here is probably (since it was published in The Carrier of Ladders as well as the chapbook) an attempt to create anew from the inspiration drawn from the original Hadrian poem. However, it could be the lifelong pursuit of understanding that sometimes takes the form of endless revisions. This is what I would like to believe.

Language, in one description, is a temporary attempt to articulate this experience of being alive and being human. Language may attempt to communicate; however, The most important things in this life are not easily communicated in any form (including verbal and written languages, visual representations in paint or sculpture or architecture, music, etc.). Language is temporal at best. It “works” well enough for a time. Then, it must evolve to something new. Sometimes, this can mean an entire language changing or being lost. With spoken and written languages disappearing at an alarming rate, we are reminded of the temporal nature of everything. Language, like our individual lives, does not last forever (here is a list of extinct languages).

This small poem that has interested Merwin for a good portion of his life could be symbolic of humankind’s attempts to grapple with larger meaning. But, it is only a poem, a short verse. How could it convey so much? I am reminded of Adrienne Rich’s (a friend of Merwin) title for her final book, Tonight No Poetry Will Serve (2011). Poetry can be fawlty. It can evolve. It is indicative of what it conveys. It is temporary. For me, this poem (and this author) are reminders to keep searching, to not completely become comfortable with what I believe I know. Merwin wrote (in “The Nomad Flute,”another poem from The Shadow of Sirius), “I have with me / all that I do not know / I have lost none of it.” Merwin reflects often on the limits of memory and language. The Shadow of Sirius is probably the collection which captures this so starkly throughout its poems. Here is the complete text of “Going” from the same collection:


Only humans believe
there is a word for goodbye
we have one in every language
one of the first words we learn
it is made out of greeting
but they are going away
the raised hand waiving
the face the person the place
the animal the day
leaving the word behind
and what it was meant to say

There is a constant wrestling with the limits of communication. These very brief poems carry the weight of the world, prophetic and powerful, not unlike traditional religious texts. This is probably not accidental. Merwin wrote hymns as a young boy. His father, a Presbyterian minister, would have probably remarked on the following passage from Corinthians (King James Bible): While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Even as language is a temporal excercise, Merwin describes the thumbing through pages of his father’s 1922 copy of Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language “in search of meaning” (from the poem “Inheritence,” The Shadow of Sirius, p. 32). In one of his three “forwards” to each section of the Selected Translations, Merwin admits that this practice of translation (and, maybe all writing) has “evolved” and is essentially an “unfinished art” (2013, p. 281).

Maybe, I am rambling beyond what I attempted to describe in the beginning, which was just the dissimilarity of two translations by the same author. Maybe I’m searching for something that’s not in these texts, something that is just beyond them. Maybe it’s in the past, and I am wrestling with some existential questions that one of my favorite poets can’t help me resolve.

These “eternal” things (2 Corinthians 4:18) are perhaps the mysteries that will keep us pursuing clearer understanding…although Joseph Joubert (as translated by Paul Auster) warns that in some cases, it may “rob them of their illusions.” Of course, Joubert is referring to one of man’s symbolic preoccupations, looking at the stars. Merwin continues to search, not worrying of the loss of mystery. He knows that his attempts to capture the uncapturable are futile, but they are attempts nonetheless. Perception changes as we age, as we experience new things. We attempt to hold experiences, thoughts, and create things from these elements. They may not be good forever. But, as John Berryman told Merwin (and Merwin passed on to the reader in the poem, “Berryman”:

I had hardly begun to read
I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can’t

you can’t you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don’t write

Knowing we may fail is not an excuse to try to communicate, to connect with others. That is where the magic is- in the trying. Maybe this is what Merwin meant when he admits in yet another poem from the life-changing volume that won him the second Pulitzer,”from what we cannot hold the stars are made” (from “Youth,” The Shadow of Sirius, p. 39).


Selected References

Auster, P. (1997). Translations (Selection of Joseph Joubert’s Notebooks). Marsilio Publishers.

Merwin, W.S. (2013). Selected translations. Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press.

Merwin, W. S. (2012). Interviewed by Michael Silverblatt on April 18, 2012. Retrieved from

Merwin, W. S. (2010). Interviewed by Paul Holdengräber on October 22, 2010 at NYPL. Retrieved from

Merwin, W. S. (2009). The shadow of Sirius. Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press.

Merwin, W. S. (1997) Flower and hand: Poems 1977-1983. Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press.

Merwin, W. S. (1970). The carrier of ladders. New York: Atheneum.

Vidal, J. (2014). As forests are cleared and species vanish, there’s one other loss: a world of languages. The Guardian (US Edition). Retrieved on April 28, 2016 from

Brief Reflective Notes on the Leadership of E-Learning, Technology and Creative Services


Although, this department (ETC) has been a fixture of UF’s College of Education for a number of years, this year has been a year of optimization of services.  Throughout the past year, our department has coalesced into a very agile and forward-thinking group composed of five distinct sub-teams. These teams, usually not found clustered in one department, all work intimately to help our faculty to reinvent online education practice, implement new ways of teaching and learning; build engagement and support for alumni, current, and future students; create web designs that leverage learning, usability, and aesthetic design; and, support the building of collective efficacy and collaboration through internal marketing and awareness. The main pursuit of this office is to become leaders of instructional design for the university and the field of higher education.

Instructional Design for Online Learning in Higher Education

It is generally acknowledged that online educational experiences offered by most institutions of higher education do not reflect identified high-yield learning strategies (e.g., Hattie, 2009; Marzano, 2009), specific strategies (including frequent and specific feedback) for the online environment (Mandernach & Garrett, 2014; Mayer, 2015), or the teacher presence (Ragan, 2015) found in their analogous face-to-face counterparts (Berrett, 2016). A recent national survey conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (2016) suggests the problem may rest in multiple areas, including the preparation of faculty and staff to create pedagogically sound digital learning opportunities. The report suggests, “high-impact educational practices are offered by many institutions, but rarely required.” Additionally, the findings indicate that approximately 36% of Chief Academic Officers report that “most of their current faculty members are using digital learning tools effectively in their courses.” This seems to ring true. Incidentally, the UF College of Education (CoE) has earned its first #1 ranking from U.S. News and World Report for our online graduate programs during my tenure. However, “faculty credentials and training” was still cited as an area of need in the scores that make up this ranking.

Our College of Education and its faculty have the greatest experience on campus in planning and implementing innovative pedagogical change in any context, including but not limited to online learning. This wellspring of expertise must inform future University of Florida endeavors in online education. Recent work in the area of multidisciplinary approaches to teacher preparation being offered online include the newly formed Center for Elementary Excellence in Teacher Preparation, the cross-department institution of teacher observation and mentoring through synchronous and annotated video solutions, cutting-edge research agenda (including the exploration of cognitive and social neuroscience methodologies and technologies) of Educational Technology faculty, video-based research conducted in SESPECS, and the digital outreach efforts to communities of learners led by our CoE-based centers. It is imperative that the teaching and learning research ecosystem fostered here at the College of Education is leveraged in support of the growing need for expanded online degree offerings and highly individualized learning environments.

Brief Notes re: Strategies in Redesigning ETC in 2015-2016

Communication and Collaboration

One of the main goals for this past year for ETC has been investing in relationships, connecting departments doing similar or complementary work, and supporting the improvement of all online activities. The first collaborations included the analysis and restructuring of hardware (servers) and the gap analysis of current websites. This massive undertaking (three months) was a change that could happen through collaboration with IT and wouldn’t necessarily impact the ETC staff directly. In effect, this change, and the rebuilding of the relationship between the two offices, allowed the instructional and cultural changes to happen more gradually. This direction allowed for the planning of slower change of “behaviors of people” in our department over time (Deutschman, 2005).

Relationships with key stakeholders of faculty, specifically department chairs, were revisited with renewed vigor and transparency. I led this charge, supported by our administration and instructional design. Additionally, the web design team leader assisted with the “soft sell” of our services, creating digital “profiles” for key department areas.

Employing Research-based Attributes of Highly Effective Online Learning

Our team has led the way for the implementation of attributes associated with effective online learning, backed by the understanding that designing online educational experiences founded in learner motivation and interest rely on shared contextual learning activities that promote the use of technology in service of creating authentic online collaboration and interaction (Sawyer, 2016) while supporting a personalized learning approach (U.S. Office of Educational Technology, 2016).

Specifically, we have worked to offer online learning opportunities that promote explicit articulation of student outcomes, the integration of assessments (formative and summative), learning designs promoting self-directed and collaborative learning, and implementing professional development strategies that assist faculty in embracing and utilizing technology effectively for teaching and learning (U.S. Office of Educational Technology, 2016).

Learning Asset Production and Digital Asset Management

Early on in the transition, it was agreed that investment in high-quality videography and other learning material design was a priority in enhancing and/or redesigning the existing online courses, and we created a mobile video unit and a small studio. Furthermore, the investment in these resources would help other areas of the College of Education, including the Office for Alumni Affairs and News and Communications. The video and photography digital learning assets produced support three main areas of work:

  1. Research-based video observation for learning (e.g., teacher video self-reflection or leader preparation in observation practice to inform instructional improvement). This focus is supported by recent research in video-based teacher observation for reflection on practice (e.g., Gates Foundation, 2010; Stigler et al., 1999), in teacher preparation and professional development support (Guaden & Chalies, 2015), and evaluation (e.g., Kane, Wooten, Taylor & Tyler, 2011).
  2. Classroom video examples, lectures, and expert interviews as digital pedagogical support. The literature informing this work includes the measurement of student engagement in video-rich MOOCs (e.g., Guo, Kim, & Rubin, 2014), the examination of the impact of case-based video assets for instructional design (e.g., Gomez, Zottman, Fischer, & Schrader, 2010), and the review of the impact of teaching video used in professional development courses (Borko, Koellner, Jacobs, & Seago, 2011).
  3. Marketing and awareness video for external stakeholders of the College of Education (including alumni, partners, and legislators).

In addition to video, which has increasingly become vital to our work, our department has employed instructional, user-centric design principals to everything from websites to paper-based marketing material for programs. The team has built and maintains a digital asset management (DAM) system with photography and video archives that may be accessed by media and communications personnel throughout the college. Illustration, animation, graphic design, and branding were all employed to assist in redesigning the aesthetic look of courses, websites, ideas (e.g., STEM Hub and logic models for grant applications), and physical space (e.g., banners, posters).

Cultural Change

In the effort to improve the culture of the College of Education’s Office for E-Learning, Technology, and Creative Services (ETC), we have explicitly engaged in an initiative that has motivated the internal stakeholders of our office to revisit our commitment to improving and supporting online and hybrid instruction for all degree and certification programs. I have worked closely with each of our internal teams (instructional design, web design, creative media production, systems administration, and student support services) to establish attainable but rigorous goals and have provided opportunities to build processes to achieve their goals. We planned a retreat to revisit and explore our identity and better understand our mission, to interrogate our shared beliefs and values as a group, and to plan strategies to build and strengthen relationships across our college and the university (Wheatley, 2005).

Mark Dinsmore (Associate Director for Enterprise Systems) and I targeted staff to take on informal and unofficial but recognized leadership roles, mentoring and reinforcing goals and objectives daily within small groups. We instituted a weekly department huddle with a focus on shared “project-based” discussion. We also created an “on boarding” series of strategic meetings for all new programs and those being redesigned, including every facet of the department. This continuous project/program-based improvement model in group meetings and individual mentoring allowed all teams to engage in discussions.

Implementing Uniformity in Processes of Support and Production

All sub-departments of ETC have been assisted in documenting and codifying processes for production of digital learning assets, courses, websites, reports, etc. This work has been difficult but has provided uniformity to the stages of design and delivery of learning experiences for all courses and programs. Our team has worked to become cohesive and build on strengths associated with assisting faculty, students, and the College of Education.

Some Foci of the Department in 2015-2016

  • Creating innovative CoE course content production that includes video, photography, graphics, animation, software, etc.
  • Designing or optimizing online pedagogy, supported on researched best practices.
  • Refining of data analysis for strategic support for all departments.
  • Supporting faculty innovations, research, and outreach/communications.
  • Supporting student recruitment, alumni and student engagement, and success through effective web strategy (social media, web redesigns, graphic design, illustration, etc.) and student services.
  • Hosting and supporting infrastructure of products as diverse as web applications to large databases used in research or in testing.



Association of American Colleges and Universities. (2016). Recent trends in general education design, learning outcomes, and teaching approaches. Retieved on April 1, 2016 from

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (2010). Measures of effective teaching (MET) project–Working with teachers to develop fair and reliable measures of effective teaching. Retrieved on December, 7, 2012  from

Berrett, D. (2016). Instructional design: Demand grows for a new breed of academic. The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 4, 2016.

Borko, H., Koellner, K., Jacobs, J., & Seago, N. (2011). Using video representations of teaching in practice-based professional development programs. ZDM Mathematics Education, 43, 175-187.

Derry , S., Pea , R., Barron , B., Engle , R., Erickson , F., Goldman , R., Hall , R., Koschmann, T., Lemke , J., Sherin , M., & Sherin , B. (2010). Conducting video research in the learning sciences: Guidance on selection, analysis, technology, and ethics. Journal of the Learning Sciences , 19, 1–51.

Derry , S., Sherin , M., & Sherin , B. (2014). Multimedia learning with video. In R. Mayer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning (pp. 785–812). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Deutschman, A. (2005). Change or die. Fast Company, 94, 53-57.

Fullan, M. (2009). Turnaround leadership for higher education. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA.

Goeze, A., Zottman, J. Schrader, J. & Fischer, F. (2010). Instructional support for case-based learning with digital videos: Fostering pre-service teachers’ acquisition of the competency to diagnose pedagogical situations. In D. Gibson & B. Dodge (Eds.), Proceedings of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) International Conference 2010 (pp. 1098-1104). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible-learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York: Routledge.

Kane , T. J., Wooten , A. L., Taylor , E. S., & Tyler , J. H. (2011). Evaluating teacher effectiveness in Cincinnati public schools. EducationNext, 11(3).

Mandernach, B. J. & Garrett, J. (2014). Efficient and effective feedback in the online classroom. Magna Publications White Paper. Retrieved on March 28, 2016 from   

Marzano, R. J. (2009). Setting the record straight on “high-yield” strategies. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(1) 30-37.

Mayer, R. E. (2015). The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning (2nd Edition). Cambridge University Press: New York, NY.

Ragan, L. (2012). Creating a Sense of Instructor Presence in the Online Classroom, Online Classroom, 12(10), 1-3.

Sawyer, K. (2016). The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (2nd ed.) Cambridge University Press: New York, NY.

U. S. Office of Educational Technology. (2016). Characteristics of future ready leadership: A research synthesis. Retrieved on April 2, 2016 from

Wheatley, M. (2005). Finding our way: Leadership for an uncertain time. Barrett-Koehler: San Francisco, CA.

Stream of Conscience Morning Rambling on Recent Reading


Simone Weil’s describes the potential beauty of popular will in its purest form and once it is corrupted by collective passions triumphing over individuals in her last essay, On the Abolition of All Political Parties (1943).

“Similarly, a certain mass of water, even though it is made of particles in constant movement and endlessly colliding, achieves perfect balance and stillness. It reflects the images of objects with unfailing accuracy; it appears perfectly flat; it reveals the exact density of any immersed object…When water is set in motion by a violent, impetuous current, it ceases to reflect images. Its surface is no longer level; it can no more measure densities. Whether it is moved by a single current or by several conflicting ones, the disturbance is the same.”

Weil proposes that this eventual inner ethical conflict is detrimental for mankind and can have grave consequences.

“If a man, member of a party, is absolutely determined to follow, in all his thinking, nothing but the inner light, to the exclusion of everything else, he cannot make known to the party such a resolution. To that extent, he is deceiving the party. He’s thus finds himself in a state of mendacity; the only reason why he tolerates such a situation is that she needs to join a party in order to play an effective part in public affairs. But then this need is evil, and one must put an end to it by abolishing political parties.”

Although Weil is not technically discussing the social philosophy concept of “Groupthink” (coined by William Whyte in a 1952 Fortune Magazine article), the group dynamics that include the “rationalized conformity” associated with Groupthink are present. Weil is pointing to the idea that independent thinking is lost in the blind group loyalty. Weil is concerned with the individual being lost in the decisions made to support group passions. I would suggest that this inner conflict isn’t far from the concept of society’s accepted form of schizophrenia posed by Deleuze and Guattari in their Anti-Oedipus (1972). In their (arguably rambling) text, the authors describe individuals as alienated from the start in a society built upon capitalism (and I would add…any other man made conceptual structures to guide society as a whole).

Isn’t this same concept of smothering the individual in support of the group mirrored in the concepts discussed in Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire, 1970)? In his text, Freire uses the terms of “colonizer” and “colonized” but is accurately describing the oppression of one group by another. Some of these oppressive actions may include those that are perpetrated by the oppressed individuals, unintentionally complicit and diminishing of the self in service of the new group’s will.

Some reading from the past month (citations are possibly incorrect):

Blocker, J. (2016). Becoming past: History in contemporary art. University of Minnesota Press.

Deleuze, G. & Guattari, F. (1972). Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Penguin.

Freire, P. (1968). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Publishing. New York, NY.

Guattari, F. (2008). Chaosophy: Text and interviews 1972-1976. MIT Press: Semiotext(e).

Guattari, F. (2009). Soft subversions: Text and interviews 1977-1985. MIT Press: Semiotext(e).

Weil, S. (2004). The notebooks of Simone Weil. Routledge.

Weil, S. (2014). On the abolishment of all political parties. NYRB Classics. New York, NY.

3 Poems (Originally Published by NNATAN)


Three of my poems that were published originally by NNATAN but no longer available online



Beyond words,
birds are burning,
& I’m walking with nothing but a snaking horn,
Singing photographs from silent stars
into whisperwalls


the camera of time’s tiny bones
partially buried backwards through the sound or rhythms

Missing from music.

When those birds
can’t sing
above their own flames,

Attempt to veil softly, reflecting any feather artifacts
closer to mine.

when we are blind:

Keep the birds clean,
& even angels won’t understand
your eyelids.


The stampede of lost lambs tore into the painting,
lost limbs coloring the sky in Artaudian ecstasy
Filthy with desire,

and loud

So much stampede sky
drizzling into every sky we drink now.

The fallen chain link fence.


A field,
strewn across,
or sewn through

the field

Under no stars!

A hymnal-less hymnal.

A flip book of photographs:
discrete, at least;

at least;

nine hours in the making,
at least.

Monkey Puzzle

Your prayers have been answered:

your boy,
your boy has returned home.

Your childhood’s reality,

or your version of it, in another’s body

behind your eyes once he’s inside
(into yourself forever)

has returned home.

Where have you been, his sister asks.

In language,
the open hymen appears.

Open hymen.

It sounds too much like your surname.

Sounds too much like

The Initial Stage in Analysis Involves Perception


A wash of white uncertainty suffers

history & pastels pour
from openings left in the sky.

Our boat, constructed
from stringless cellos, slides
on ribbons of fish.

Above, wings of flesh reflect fire
as blue
bodies over St. Francis.

Our adopted sails, imitating
southern crosses & temporary bridges,
orbit a sunrise of text.

We move ghosts to see again
in any form other
than hovering weightlessness.

Indoor animals push against the walls
of our craft.

Time swells into repeated singing-
homeless, screaming.

Every mother aboard moves quietly
from one outstretched palm to another
recreating rainfall.

The Monkey’s Paw


Monkey’s Paw (First Version)


the stampede of lost lambs tore into the painting,

coloring the sky in Artaud ecstasy

loud & filthy with desire

strewn across the field

of bodies sewn through the fallen chain link fence.

Lifeless but full of motion,

they are a bloodless hymnal-
a flip book of photographs- discrete

images lie          sometimes, but these are at least

nine hours in the making.

Under no stars,           but so much swirling

sky drips into everything we drink now.


Close your childhood, tightly.

A fleshy specter appears

in light circadian logic

behind your eyes

before everything cries through glass.

Where have you been, a sister asks

in language

woven into


Everything’s slipping




                                          your boy.

Your boy has returned home

                              as broken geometry,

all angles in reflection.                   Open hymen

sounds too much like your surname,

too much like Hinderman.

Your sin sees damage like you

                              never did

(in reverse)

& no mysteries exist in these words.

Your son has returned home,

                               & he’s currently beating

prayer into the TV             while you watch.

You asked for this emptiness, he screams.

                  You’re shot talentless

into reality.

Bullets know distance
only matters in formal math.

   You have returned home in another body,

as energy,

             as longing.

You can stare into yourself       forever

              once he’s inside.

Look to the door           shaking


                 into your fingertips.

Your little boy has returned.

Your boy has come home

                 to a version

of you.

He’s waiting for you.

      Lambs will grow wild        in the absence

of good.


go now.

                      Go right now.

Open your door,

                 & let him in.

Poetry Favorites: Jason Dean Arnold


Straight Forward

Who is your favorite living poet?

There are so many great poets working right now, it may be hard to narrow to one. But, I can include a very diverse cast that includes Dorothea Lasky, Franz Wright, Ed Skoog, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Marie Howe, Zachary Schomburg, Sharon Olds, Bianca Stone, Emily Kendall Frey, W.S. Merwin, Matthew Zapruder, Michael Dickman, Matthew Dickman, Mary Ruefle, Steve Dalachinsky, Matthew Henriksen, Clark Lunberry, Eileen Myles, Heather Christle, Richard Siken, Lucy Brock-Broido, Joshua Beckman, Major Jackson, and on and on…

Who is your favorite dead poet?
This also may be a long list of names that at least starts with the most recent passing of Seamus Heaney and Galway Kinnell. The diverse list would include more recent poets lost, such…

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Fragments as Compositional Style

Composition as Fragments- List and Thoughts (January 2015)
  • Maggie Nelson- Bluets
  • Susan Sontag– anything, but the second diary is the best. To pair that with her essays of the period re: photography, film, and visual art is mind-blowing.
  • Jenny OffillDept. of Speculation
  • Emily DickinsonEnvelope poems. The essay by Susan Howe is worth the price of the book. Just Google the terms “Dickinson” and “envelope poems”…you’ll be amazed.
  • Wittgenstien– especially his writings around culture and value…but the Tractatus and Investigations are both consumed with language and are basically amazing.
  • And of course…some others I’m thinking of as I write…Emil Cioran, Paul Valery,

Maybe, we are writing more like we think. This is my thinking about any postmodernistic trend that has turned to many individuals writing in fragments. I believe the fluidity of the writing tool (computer) and the publishing tool (internet) have allowed writers to start creating as the thoughts come. That is not always a good thing…bad writing, etc.

Also, it could be the result of really looking at our collective cultural history in a fragmented way. This is how history is largely taught, completely separate from art, from mathematics. We spend a great deal of our lives (if we are even interested in these things) in realizing that Van Gogh was painting his masterpieces at the same time as Jack the Ripper was murdering (thanks to Patton Oswalt’s new book, Silver Screen Fiend, for this reference). What we have from the past prior to publishing seems to disappear.

Even film and music succumb to decay in memory and in practicality-

Example 1 (film created from the destruction of the actual film…like a distorted memory)- Bill Morrison’s Decasia

Example 2 (disintegration of tape, played as it self-destroys)- Basinski’s Disintegration Loops
As usual, I’m just jotting these thoughts as they arrive, with little to no editing…and, this will make little to no sense to anyone else. It is probably just a map of my thinking about random ideas. Obviously, fragments and decayed artistic works and memory are possibly linked but not in any really tangible way. At least, I can’t communicate well enough to make the link tangible at this time.