Jun 28, 2010

Seeing with our ears

(The following article is one in a series that I wrote for a distance learning-related blog I used to run. For posterity's sake, I am reposting it -and others- here)

I had the distinct "pleasure" of trying to explain how CIV bridging works during a radio interview once. Though it is not necessarily a complex procedure, explaining it to people who could not see me was a little daunting.

I began my explanation with something along the lines of: "The different sites around the world connect to their designated hubs…" and then I realized that this was not going to pass muster to a rural AM audience (not to mention the host was starting to glaze over).

As the panic of impending "dead air" was approaching (I was still talking, but knew that if I didn't change course quickly, I would stop talking altogether and really lose folks), I stopped myself and explained the best way I knew how and in a way that most folks who have learned anything about the Internet are familiar with: Roads.

I paused, and then I backtracked a little. "In Arkansas, each of the half-dozen sites that are hosting Megaconference Jr connects to St. Louis. Most of the sites worldwide connect to hubs, like cities, through their highways. Those highways, from the cities, connect to other, more centralized cities, and eventually everyone ends up connected to Ohio, where the main event is taking place." Those were not my exact words, but close enough. The host got it, and then he did a quick summary of what I said, and we moved on.

The host has some technical background, so he did a good job of prompting addition questions about how CIV works, how distance education works in the schools, etc. We also talked about the "novelty" and how we can still be WOWed even after we get more and more accustomed to the technology. I told him that even as we move from novelty to application, we still have to maintain that sense of wonder, because without it, we stop moving forward.

Of course, if I had been thinking on my feet, I would have said something like, "And, as Walt Disney said, 'keep moving forward…'" alas, I am not that clever…

It's been a while since my radio days, and this served as a reminder that not everyone SEES what we're doing. Sometimes, the only picture they have of distance learning is the one we paint for them in their minds….

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