I interpreted a good portion of yesterday’s class as a discussion about control, and how to teach in a completely different environment than what we consider normal or perhaps traditional is a better word. I thought about this and remembered an experience that I had coaching little league one summer.

One summer my buddy asked me to help him coach a little league team in Burlington’s North End. I figured coaching’s coaching and I’ve coached swimming since I got out of college. What’s the difference? Have them run some drills, play some games, should be fun.

It was a nightmare.

Coaching swimming is a piece of cake compared to little league. In swimming, the kids are separated in lanes in groups of 6 or so and they swim back and forth. Occasionally you get the kid who keeps diving under the water, but you know he’s going to have to come up for air sometime. With little league, it’s like the field is infinite and there are no barriers. Just kids everywhere – running around, throwing the ball at each other, hitting each other with bats (yeah, there aren’t a lot of hard objects to throw at each other in swimming). It was complete chaos because the kids where running around everywhere and it’s difficult to keep them focused and on task.

Add to that my inexperience in coaching little league. I was an awful athlete as a kid and never made it past farm league. I love baseball and play softball now, but I never learned any drills or exercises. I had no idea what a little league practice looked like. These 5th graders had more experience playing on an organized baseball team that I did.

I think of new media and the new classroom as that little league practice. Students now have a huge little league field (www) and they know more about the game (technology) than the coach. It’s way easier for me to do what I know -coach swimming. It’s organized the kids are limited to what they can do (in a lane, back and forth) and I know it. What about those kids in the North End, many are poor and need that positive role model and positive experience? Am I, by not stepping out of my comfort zone, doing them a disservice?

That’s clearly big picture thinking and I know there’s a lot more to it when it comes to dealing with No Child, the administration and parents. You just can’t teach little leaguers how to play baseball in a pool.

Oh, and I learned that Jackie Robinson was once a VP for Chock Full o’ Nuts.

We’ve been talking a lot about Facebook in our communications meetings recently. I’ve also been talking about it in the grad class I’m taking as well. Discussion have been around, use (should we -SMC- have a presence on it, should admissions counselors be on it, should teachers have profiles, etc) and if we are on it, then what is the appropriate level and what should we do with it. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting and blogging on the subject for work and class. My opinion evolves everyday.

I think Facebook is a great tool. I have to admit that since creating my profile over 2 years ago, I’ve become totally addicted to it. I like to connectivity that it offers. For example, I’ve been playing a Scrabble game on Facebook with my sister (a student at Colby) and my brother who lives in San Francisco and has been traveling back and forth to China.

Another aspect of Facebook that I like is its design. It’s simple (although it’s becoming less so now that it’s open to non .edu’s and the application clutter is getting obnoxious). To me, that is what set Facebook apart from MySpace is the simplicity of it’s design. There were lot’s of complaints form webbies about the stiffness and lack of flexibility of Facebook, but IMO, 99% of MySpace pages look awful because they allow for customization. When it comes to web pages regardless of if it’s a college website, a blog, or a Myspace page, simple is always better.

So if Facebook is a good thing, then should Saint Michael’s College have a presence on it or should we leave it for the students?

I haven’t figured that one out yet completely, but for now, my answer is yes – with a few caveats.

Right now we have a presence in two main mediums. We have a generic Admissions page and a Class of 2012 group. I think those a two great methods for us to get important information out, and especially as the 2012 group gets bigger and as we get closer to the end of the summer it will be a great way for students to meet and get to know each other.

I don’t think you’ll ever find us actively looking to “Facebook” people or invite them to groups. I don’t think that’s our role here. IMO Facebook is your space and although there has been a proliferation of ads there recently, it’s not a place to be actively marketed at or to. The idea of going out and “Facebooking” students to get them to our site just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

The Facebook is going to be a hot topic for a while, or at least until the new big thing comes around. I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and opinions on our presence there and who we use Facebook and MySpace. Check out the Admission page and the Class of 2012 page, and you can find me there as well. Let me know what you think.

Cheers!

My job requires a lot of work in front of a computer. I’m constantly using email, IM, facebook, Excel, Word, editing our webpages, etc. Ironically, as I’m the “tech guru” in our office, I find my office, perhaps a because of the computer, a very difficult place to be creative. I think my trip to Jay last week was an example of that.

Another was a trip to Florida. I went down with the swim team on their training trip just after Christmas. For some reason, I was thinking about work all of the time down there. Not in a bad, I’m stressed out when I should be enjoying the time with the swimmers (I love coaching) manner, but in a very productive, creative way. Ideas kept coming and I eventually sat down with my tablet and wrote out a new e-communication plan – something that I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but have felt completely uninspired.

I’m figuring this out as a write this, so bare with me. You’re getting a stream of consciousness flow here.

So I really liked that I was away from the office, and being creative, but there’s another aspect that I’d like to talk about as well and that was the physical act of writing down these ideas. I am very much a pen and paper person on some levels and very much a e-file person in others. I love the act of writing – physically putting pen to paper. Love it. I don’t know why, but I seem to remember things better if I write them down. Organizationally, I do not do paper well. I don’t do files and filing cabinets. It just doesn’t work for me. When I go looking for something, it doesn’t even pop into my head too look in a file. When I go to file something, there may already be a folder for it, but I tend to create a new file folder with a totally different name. I’m a pile person. I pile things everywhere.

I don’t think I’m that unique when it comes to those two traits. I’m sure there are tons of boys in the school system that share similar traits. I think technology can help in this area. I’ve got one of the new tablet laptops and I absolutely love it. The pen feature is great because I can take notes and save them in a structure that makes sense to me. When I was a in school, I would take notes and inevitably, pages would fall out of my notebook, and float around my bag or locker and I’d never be able to find them again. This tablet provides a great solution.

I’ve got to run, but I’m sure there will be more on this.