One of the basic foundations when establishing roots somewhere is to be certain that you are able to dig a well and that it keeps you sustained and you can always cast down your bucket to draw up more sustenance from it’s source. The well in my example is the well of knowledge that I have established for myself at the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island.
As I settled down in 2014 in my role as Library Media Specialist at Tri county County Regional Vocational Technical High School I would draw from the knowledge I gained in the field of Information Studies and felt comfortable to seek guidance and further expert advice from Amanda Izenstark as I was seeking further guidance and expert knowledge in this ever expanding field. For some reason, perhaps because I was busy and involved with so many various activities and projects at Tri-County that I felt I did not need to go to the source of sustenance for some time.
In March, when Covid19 forced us to move education online I happened to speak with another library media specialist in MA that was influenced by regenerative properties of this well. I knew that my soul would benefit greatly from being able to make the “virtual” journey and cast my bucket to collect the elixir that would provide what I did not know at the time how much I needed.
Do you know that feeling when you drink or take in a breath of fresh air that it just makes you want to do it again? Well, that is exactly what happened. The more I went to the well, the more I was able to gain new sustenance and ideas that would help bring new life to my information garden garden of knowledge for the patrons of Tri County. Even though my garden was doing just fine, with each time I would draw another bucket from the well during Media Education Lab’s Virtually Viral Hangouts, I felt that I gained new perspectives and ways to enrich my “garden of lifelong learners”.
In the period between March and June I felt I have benefited immensely from a community of like minded professionals who were finding new methods and apply our knowledge of media literacy inn the digital domains while staying true to the core values of story telling and information science. The daily one hour gatherings at VVH well gave media professionals from around the nation and the world an opportunity to reflect and find new ways to make our community of learners become vibrant online when the norm happened to be online gatherings where some students wouldn’t turn on their screen or would not engage.
Between March and June I was able to reconnect again to my purpose of the big picture of creating behavioral change opportunity through gameplay. It was at the well that I managed to realign my compass and reignite the spark of my quest. The opportunities arose immediately during VVH where I lead a session using new online tools that I only learned about two days before and suddenly I was applying them in the session I lead on the importance of Game Play. I know for certain that without getting the splash of “rejuvenating water” from Renee Hobbs I would have not then followed with attending the Serious Play conference and Games for Change Festival. As well as participate as a panelist in the Media Ecology Association’s convention focused on communication choices and challenges.
In 2016 I traveled with my wife to Zion National Park and one of our treks in Kolob Canyon was supposed to be to the arch and back. But for some reason someone mentioned that just a few miles further there is a water fall. It was a hot day and we did not have the supplies needed to make it all the way to the fall and back but taking the extra effort was worth it all. This is my take on the steps I took when I took the extra steps to attend the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy. I had not needed to take any additional courses for professional development or earn more credits for my certification yet the same thing that drew me to move towards the waterfall path drew me now to attend 6 days of the most incredible thought provoking professional development on media literacy. For 6 days over 130 of us engaged and learned from one another stretching our minds in ways that we were “continuing to drink water from the well even though we were no longer thirsty”. Every day of the mealtime and anytime learning we had keynote speakers who just enriched us and engaged us in activities that we know have the potential to make our “learning community gardens” flourish.
My highlight in the institute was working with my Dyad partner from Monday-Thursday to create the beginning of something that both of us will be able to use in our community during the Design Studio project. Since I connected with another regional vocational technical library media specialist from Massachusetts, we were able to find common goals and objectives. I was challenged to push myself in new directions and feel that I was able to make some breakthroughs with my thought process in game development as it would apply to the exploratory process for the incoming freshman experience. I am excited of the opportunity that lies ahead and look to solicit feedback and make iterations that will allow “buy in” and engagement by all stakeholders ( administration, shop teachers, guidance staff, students and parents). Designing lesson that are engaging and leave a long lasting impact on student learning is difficult. Designing tranformational games is hard work but the potential for student impact is worth all the hard work it requires.
It is interesting the VVH initially ended in June but was revived the week prior to Summer Institute in Digital Literacy and continues now post SIDL. Each of us should always remember the importance of finding that source of sustenance (The Well) and make certain we continue to go back and draw from that source which can help sustain and replenish our creative process as educational leaders and informational/media specialists.