Saturday, May 16, 2020

New Learning: The Struggle is Real

Some people who read the blog may not realize that Rob - at one point in his life - worked on a 'double PhD' - and completed it.  It was all rolled into one degree for Computer Science Education, but the reality is that I completed a research dissertation and a full-blown philosophy of teaching and learning.  Given what I do now, many of you are probably wondering what in the world I was thinking at the time...

Well, one thing I was thinking was that the best way for an educator to get back in touch with their students is to learn something new and different - especially if that new and different thing is well outside of your normal comfort zone.  Failing that, try learning a WHOLE BUNCH of new things so that the stress of trying to assimilate it all roughly mirrors what your students must be experiencing.

I will say this - it sure did make me want to do everything I could to be an ally for their learning.  This doesn't mean I made it easy for them.  What it means is that I admitted that real learning was hard and could be taxing and there was no way I could do it for them.  But I was going to be there lending a hand and providing support if they wanted it.

2020: New Learning Overload?
Everyone already had some ideas that 2020 was going to be a bit of a learning curve for the two of us as we were looking to change how the Genuine Faux Farm worked.  For the first time since 2005, there was not going to be a Farm Share CSA program.  We were looking to figure out how add swales (shallow ditches) to deal with excess water and we were considering what things would look like if Rob took a part-time job for some off-farm income.

Well, here we are.  Rob has a new job with PAN, which has certainly required that he climb the learning curve all new jobs seem to have.  We've dug our first two (of about six) swales and we're adjusting to a Prepaid Farm Credit program instead of the CSA.  By itself, that's a hand full.

While we're at it, let's add Tammy having to figure out - on the fly - how to change all of her classes to distance learning and deal with all of the school related things that tend to require some face to face efforts.  Yep, we got to add all of the things a pandemic brings with it as well.

I don't think anyone believes we needed more character.  Yet, here we are, building more character!

How Little Learning Curves Become Big Learning Curves
One of the side effects of my new job and Tammy working from home is that the internet services we had were simply NOT going to cut it.  We figure a one hour "zoom" meeting can eat through 1 gigabyte of data pretty easily.  Our prior service plan had a max of 8 gigabytes... for a month.  We started going through that much IN A DAY.

While neither of us is completely unfamiliar with technology (remember - computer science?), there is always a learning curve to climb when you have to shop around.  Even if the concept of the technology isn't hard to understand for me, figuring out the acronyms or labels that are in current use can be a bit of a trial.  Add to that the issue that we do live in the country in an area where internet service has always been spotty.

What do we mean by spotty?  Hey, that's a good question.

Let me put it this way.  We live in a place where you can call a service provider and ask if your area is covered.  The sales person must be REQUIRED to say 'yes.'  Then, they ask where you live.  You tell them.  They ask again.  You tell them again... more slowly this time.  You can tell they are typing it in and getting a response they do not like.  They say something like, "that place doesn't exist" or "are you sure you gave me the correct address?"

One time, I told the person to do a quick map lookup.  They did.  Then they said.... "oh."  Nope, they don't cover our area.  Or if they do, they don't necessarily cover it well.

In any event, my point here was that Tammy and I tend to make things that are small learning curve items into big learning curve items simply because we just don't fit the norms.  Alas for us!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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