Freelance writer, editor, and instructional designer
Author Archives: Carole Coulson
A single mom, cancer survivor, a lover of animals, with a wacky sense of humor. I love words and their power to evoke wonderful, powerful images and stories in our minds. My favorite authors are Janet Evanovich, Stephen King, and Bill Bryson. We live in central Pennsylvania with Lily the Beagle, Cleo the Himalayan cat, and 2 foster kittens.
Happy Thursday! A day late, so sorry. Life has been crazy and we haven’t even traveled anywhere. My daughter turned 18, our neighbor passed away from COVID-19, and my car is at a garage. Did you ever learn a new word and suddenly you hear or see that word everwhere? I had never known about car tires popping from the heat. It seems in extreme heat the pressure in your tires increases by 4 to 6 psi due to the heat of the road and the sun shinging on them. They mentioned this on my local news and I was surprised. I mentioned it to a friend who said her sister’s tire had just popped from the heat. Yesterday we were out running errands that couldn’t wait until the end of the heat wave. I heard a pop and then we heard an odd sound. It turned out to be the air rushing out of my tire! We were able to make it home but my car had to go to the garage for a new tire. Our car came with one of those “donut” spare tires and ours has been used so many times over the years that we need a new one but they don’t sell them anywhere, not even at the dealership. The car will be back later today and all will be well.
Previously, I had told you that I was planning a blog featuring these wonderful blogs that I have discovered, but that will be coming next week. I decided that my opinion on these blogs isn’t enough – I will be reaching out to the authors and asking them to describe their blogs for my readers. That way the direction and the intent of the blogs will be straight from the creators.
Do any of you have the desire to write? If you do, I know that I have mentioned NaNoWriMo before – National Novel Writing Month, that takes place every November. During NaNoWriMo the goal is to write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. Succeeding is the goal, but just dedicating time each day to write is a great way to start getting in the habit of practicing your craft. Also, you can join the community and get buddies who help inspire you (they might be in your local area or others who write in your genre). They also have write-ins where people meet up at cafes, libraries, etc.
July is a Camp NaNoWriMo month. There are two Camp months – April and July. You don’t need to write a whole novel, you can write poetry, short stories, whatever you like. To join in all you need to do is click here and follow the directions. Join the forums as well so you can participate in the community. People can help when you get stuck for ideas, cheer you on when you are feel as is you aren’t making progress, etc.
For those of you who decide to (or are already participating) please post what project you’re working on, how things are going, and if you normally participate in November. Feel free to add me as a buddie if you wish – I am under the name Coulsongirls on NaNoWriMo. Best of luck! I will return next week.
Happy Sunday! I apologize. A life issue prevented my regular Wednesday posting and for that I am truly sorry. If you are in the United States, Happy 4th of July, and for my Canadian neighbors, a belated Happy Canada Day.
My blog will return on Wednesday with my promised sharing of some very worthwhile blogs that I follow. Have a wonderful day and see you on Wednesday.
Happy Wednesday! Tomorrow we will be able to view a “strawberry moon”. A strawberry moon is the last full moon of June and the first full moon of summer. The term strawberry moon comes from multiple Indigenous tribes of North America who associated the moon with the ripening of the strawberries.
Here is a heads up that next Wednesday I will be taking a break from the story to give a shout out to some wonderful blogs in the WordPress world that are just too good to miss.
PIcking up where I left off last week, the story continues. Content warning: sexual content
Her dreams were filled with dancing. She was in a beautiful gown dancing at a masque ball. There were people all around, yet their faces were indistinct. Near a table loaded with beautiful fruits and cheeses stood Esme in a ball gown. She held up a mask covering her eyes with one hand as she chatted with an unrecognizable man. Jocelyne looked around. Across the ball room were several men who seemed as if they were going to approach her and request a dance. A hand on the small of her back made her turn around and she looked up into the face of Baraqiel. Despite the mask he wore she knew the contours of his face so well that she had no doubt that it was him. No longer in a blue robe, he was dressed for the masque, blending in with everyone. He led her to the edge of the floor, and they began to dance. His movements were fluid, balletic. Even more amazing was that as he guided her amongst the other dancers, she felt herself dancing better than she ever had in her life. She was acutely aware of every place that their bodies touched, and she felt the rising heat of desire again. What was it about this man that he had this effect on her? As the throng of dancers about them grew they found themselves pressed tighter together. She felt the warmth of his body along hers and she pressed herself, unnecessarily, harder against him. His body’s reaction was immediate, and she had a self-congratulating moment in her mind. They danced until the end of the song at which point, he led her by her hand outside to a beautiful veranda. Standing behind her he pointed out the stars above, telling her about each constellation. Jocelyne was only half listening; most of her mind was paying attention to the feel of his warm breath on the back of her neck, his hands rubbing up and down her arms to warm her, and the hard press of his arousal on the back of her dress which was too thick and firm to be ignored. She wanted nothing more than to turn around and face him and as she did so, she reached her arms up to pull him down for a kiss.
The sudden loud snap and crackle of the logs on the fire awoke her. Disoriented, her brain still on the veranda at the masque, it took her several long seconds to realize she was in her bed. Immediately she craned her neck around to see if he had awoken, but he was no longer there. He must not have been gone long-the warm impression on the goose down mattress still retained the shape of his body. She sat up and looked around.
The yearning in her voice surprised even her. Only the low crackling of the fire responded. The shadows in the corners if the room did not hide him; Baraqiel was gone. But why? Why would he come to lay in her bed and then leave without a word? Laying back she scooted over to where he had been laying, soaking up the last remnants of his body heat and smelling that unique smell that belonged to him. She was surprised at how disappointed she was that he had gone. She had known him less than a day and here she was missing and desiring him. Despite his protests, she was convinced that this must be something he was doing to her. Closing her eyes, she fell back to sleep until the morning.
All day she saw clients as was her normal routine. Whilst this had been her life for the past few years, a life that had contented her, now she found it tedious. She wanted to see Baraqiel, and she wanted to see him now. It was all she could do to go through the motions of her readings and make small talk with her clients. The later the hour grew without the appearance of Baraqiel the longer the day seemed. Esme noticed her mood and tried to make her laugh, but Jocelyne remained distracted. She wanted to speak to Esme, to tell her all that had happened, but she was afraid that her friend would think her mad. Or perhaps she would think even worse – that she was some sort of a witch. Already working as a palm reader and fortune teller put her life in danger from those zealots who belonged to The Hammer. The Hammer was a group that retained the fear of the Middle Ages and the Salem witch trials. They believed that anyone who had what they deemed “unnatural knowledge” needed to be killed to protect good Christian society. Because the most she did was advise women, and because she stayed out of the business of men, she had been left alone during their witch hunts. As much as she trusted Esme, she still was afraid to say anything. As of late Esme had begun attending mass at St. Francis Catholic church more often than usual. Jocelyne still went on Sundays; again, more to appease the neighbors rather than a profound belief of her own. Truth be told, she believed in God, but she wasn’t sure how many rules were from God and how many were from men. She had a hard time believing the book of Isaiah-could God really be as petty and judgmental as to say what women should and should not wear in their hair? She also thought that Genesis gave women a bad reputation what with the eating of the fruit of knowledge. After all, God had told Adam not to eat from the tree before he had even created Eve, so why were women blamed when God had not told Eve? She dared not ask this of the priest as these types of questions could make her a target.
Hello everyone – I am a bit late today in my posting – sorry! At least I am getting it in under the wire. I will be picking up from where I left off last week with Jocelyne & Baraqiel. Still a title for this work eludes me. Hopefully you are all having a great week. As a reminder, this story contains sexual content. Now, back to our story…
“You said you could help me, how so?”
“I see all, Jocelyne. I can check on any person at any time that I wish. If you need information to help you with your clients, you need not the boy; I can help you.”
“And why would you help me? What’s in it for you? I certainly hope you don’t expect me to pay you” Her haughty tone concealed her desire to go to him, caress his face and feel his lips upon hers. She’d never found her husband attractive or sexy and had only been with him out of duty. The weakness in her knees, the wetness between her legs, the yearning – all of this was new to her. Deep down she still believed he was consciously causing this and was even more determined not to give in.
“Do not worry – payment is not expected” His smile broadened as he watched her reaction.
“Then why would you help me?” As she asked this, she realized she was considering a partnership with this …thing. His answer would also reveal the true reason for his presence, and she could then take back control of the situation.
“Call it boredom. For ages I’ve watched mankind, the big events, sometimes picking a person out to see their life, but always I’ve been disappointed. But you are enchanting – you make me laugh which is something that I’ve not done for eons” His face gave no sign of anything but honesty. After several more minutes of silence, Jocelyne relented.
“Alright, I shall let you help me. But mark my words, I owe you nothing. The information that you bring me best be true, for if your goal is to jeopardize my livelihood, fallen angel or not, I shall seek my vengeance”.
“If I sought to harm you in any way, believe me, you could not stop me, and it would already be done. That so fair a face could hide such a devilish temperament! I shall return this evening with information for you” The words were still hanging in the air as he disappeared.
Not sure if she’d just hallucinated, Jocelyne got up and walked around the table to where Baraqiel had been sitting. She touched the cushion and looked about, yet no signs remained that he had ever been there. She grabbed her basket, slipped her purse into her pocket, grabbed her list and left for the market.
“It smells wonderful in here” Esme declared as she came through the back door. Hanging her cape on the wall she turned, smiling, towards Jocelyne. “Alexander gave me some wonderful information- you remember Monsieur Andive who visited town last year? He is, at this very moment, on his way back here. He plans on choosing a bride and he has narrowed it down to either Mlle. Fleur or Mlle. Gautreau!”
“Wonderful! And the timing could not be more perfect! Oh, Esme, this shall get us quite a fair price from both ladies! How much do we owe the boy?” asked Jocelyne as she reached for her purse.
“I’ve already paid him. He had no coat for winter, and I took the fox pelts that Monsieur Poivre paid us last spring and made a coat for the boy. He is so happy that he said he’d get more information if I can bring him gloves and a hat next.”
“Esme, you never cease to amaze me! Your talents are boundless. Hopefully, my cooking will be as good as yours. I’ll put dinner on the table if you will bring a pitcher of water and a bottle of wine”.
Hours later, after both women had eaten their fill and discussed the best strategies for dealing with the two clients who had caught Monsieur Andive’s eye, Esme went upstairs to prepare Jocelyne’s bed for her. Jocelyne sipped her wine and stared at the glowing embers in the fireplace. Had it been real? Had an angel appeared to her and offered to help her scam clients? That hardly seemed angelic but then again, he did say fallen angel. Perhaps she’d been overworked, or maybe she’d eaten something earlier that caused hallucinations? As far as hallucinations went, he was a great one. Had living without a man these past years finally begun to take its toll on her sanity? Deciding the best answer to all these questions was a good night’s sleep, she went upstairs.
Esme had the fire burning brightly in her bedroom when Jocelyne walked in, the warmth beginning to penetrate the early autumn chill. Even though it was on the Gulf coast, New Orleans still was chilly in the autumn and winter. Looking out the window she shrugged off her dress and put it on the chair for tomorrow’s wash. In her emerald green slip she washed her face and watched the sun’s final rays slip down over the tree line. When the last orange tendril had departed, she turned to go to bed. The light from the fireplace partially illuminated her bed and her heart stood still. He was there – lying in her bed. Asleep. What kind of man just appears in a woman’s bedroom, in her bed no less, and then just falls asleep? Had he no common decency? Of course, he wasn’t a man so perhaps she should stop expecting him to behave as one. Quietly she approached the bed and stood staring down at him. His black hair fell carelessly over his face, his eyes shut, the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest almost hypnotic. She was unsure what to do – she was exhausted and now this gorgeous creature was lying in her bed, awakening that part of her that hitherto this afternoon she had not been aware. Whispering his name, she saw him stir slightly but he did not awaken. Jocelyne was unsure what she wanted to do. Did she want him to wake up and disappear again? Was she ready to have a profound conversation with this other worldly being? In the end she decided neither was an option at this time of night. Hesitantly she slid under the covers trying not to awaken him. She slid in front of him so that she would be able to feel the warmth of the fire. She didn’t want to touch him as the translucence of his skin gave the impression that his body would be ice cold. Half expecting him to awaken, she held her breath and lay there waiting for something to happen. When nothing did, she exhaled and closed her eyes.
Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope you all have had a wonderful week. My daughter graduated from HS – the ceremony was online so it was a bit different. You never realize how used to using the fast forward on your TV remote you have become until you sit listening to the names of 600 students read aloud while staring at your laptop! My daughter is at the beginning of the alphabet so it was a long wait for the finale.
While my daughter is Gen Z, today at the park we were surrounded by Brood X! Brood X is the name for the 17 year cicadas that have come out of the ground now. Not only were they swarming in the bushes and trees, they were crawling through the grass, and there were holes everywhere in the ground from where they had emerged. Many just flew in pointless circles through the air hitting cars, trees, and anyone walking. The noise was amazing (and scary). There were a lot of happy birds swooping down and grabbing a meal.
Enough stalling on my part. As promised, this week I am posting part of Chapter 1 of my book, Baraqiel and Jocelyne. Here we go. Content Warning: Includes sexual content.
Chapter One: The Lightning Strikes
Baraqiel watched, amused, as Jocelyne took another client into her parlor. Society women were willing to pay a great amount to discover their destiny; who would they wed, how many children, would they be coming into money any time soon? For this they paid Jocelyne handsomely and, to ensure their patronage, she delivered the messages they wished to hear.
Jocelyne did not have psychic abilities but rather a gift for remembering gossip overheard at the market and the ability to interpret body language. Playing it safe, she also paid a small boy for a little spying outside to gather details regarding her clientele.
Her long, dark, hair fell across her face as she leaned forward to see the vision within her large crystal ball. Although the client only saw the reflection of the red jacquard print of the tablecloth in the crystal ball, the woman had no doubt that Jocelyne was seeing exactly what she was describing
“Yes, yes, Mademoiselle, you will be meeting him soon, this man who will make you his wife. He is a businessman of good repute, from a good family, not shy, but reticent when it comes to dealing with the fairer sex. That is the reason for his having remained a bachelor. Have faith my friend, for you shall meet him before the next full moon.”
Without losing a beat Jocelyne added
“The vision is fading, I’m afraid that is all the spirits will reveal today. But no matter, ma chèrie, you have things to do – a pretty new outfit to buy for the ball? Perhaps some indulgences such as a brooch or necklace to offset your bosom? After all, a woman must use all her blessings, n’est ce pas?”
Baraqiel found himself laughing out loud. Of course, neither Jocelyne nor her client could hear him, for he was one of the Grigori. Yes, he was a fallen angel, but was he not also one of the Chiefs of Tens? Mortals could see and hear him when he chose. For all these thousands of years he had chosen not to reveal himself. He’d had relationships with women in the past if for no other reason than he was bored. After the deluge, Samyaza, their leader, had forbidden them to pursue the mortal women and for Baraqiel that had not been a sacrifice.
However, this Jocelyne creature might change that. Her beauty was alluring- but he’d seen other beauties throughout the ages. This attraction was more – it was her sense of humor, her ability to pull off this sham of a business so convincingly, and she was smart. She never said too much, nor did she reveal anything about her life to the townsfolk.
Jocelyne called to Esme, her maid. They’d lived together so long that Esme was more like a sister at this point. Twenty-four years old, Jocelyne had been living on her own for the past 7. Forced by her father at 16 to marry a man, forty-five years her senior, she had no illusions of romance. Not only did she find him ugly in both his appearance and behavior, he also took her away from her little sister whom she’d adored. She’d fought the marriage every step of the way but the money this suitor was offering won her father over. Luckily for Jocelyne her husband had suffered a heart attack shortly after their wedding day. Having no desire to end her widowhood and shackle herself to another man, she remained single, earning her own money. Esme was the only other person she’d allowed into her private life.
“Esme, call for Alexander, I need him to check on a few things for me. Tell him I shall pay him well for this”.
“Ah oui, I shall summon him right away. What are you going to do?”
Jocelyne turned and said “Today I think I shall do the shopping for us. I need to get out of this house – I could use some sunshine. Perhaps I shall make something special for our dinner.”
“You’re cooking? You really must be bored. Let me go get the boy” Esme said as she turned and left the room.
She wasn’t sure she heard it at first but then the whisper came again…
“You don’t need the boy. I can help you. Let me help you, Jocelyne.”
She jumped to her feet and spun around. No one was in the room with her. Walking to the windows she looked behind the long drapes, but no one was there. She didn’t know what to think. Was she going insane? Had her dalliances with the crystal ball summoned the devil? How did this person, or thing, know her name?? That was the most disconcerting part of it all.
“Jocelyne, let me help you. Do not be afraid, I mean you no harm.”
This time the whisper came from just a few feet away.
Her voice sounded much more confident than she felt. Inside she wanted to collapse. She hoped that nothing would happen but still she held her breath as she waited for a response.
Slowly, yet at the same time instantaneously, a shimmering appeared across the table from her. As her eyes adjusted, she realized it was a man, a beautiful man. Stunningly handsome with black hair and blue eyes, his cinnamon-colored skin seemed to glow from the inside making him appear almost translucent. She felt her knees begin to buckle and she sank into the chair she used for her readings. Hoping he wasn’t aware of how scared she was, she tried to play it cool. She also hoped that he could not see how attracted to him she felt. It was almost physical, this desire to go to him.
“Who are you? And how do you know my name?” She asked the questions without blinking, staring straight at his beautiful face, watching as his full lips broadened into a smile.
“Jocelyne, I know your name because I have been watching you. As for myself, my name is Baraqiel.”
“What are you?” She asked the question, worried it might seem rude, yet reminding herself he had just materialized in front of her, so he was most definitely not human.
“I am called many things. Grigori, Watcher, a Chief of Ten, fallen angel…but no, I am not a demon or some other type of monster. I know you are worrying about that now” he answered. His voice was calming and yet sensual at the same time. She loved the way he had said her name. He had a slight accent, but she could not place it. He walked to the chair at the other end of the table.
“May I?” he asked. She wondered why he’d asked her permission, for after all, he did not seek her permission to enter her mind and house.
“Yes, yes please, sit. I’m sorry, you startled me”. Why was she apologizing? He was the one who had arrived without an invitation. And why was she inviting him to sit down? This wasn’t what you were supposed to do when a man just appears out of thin air in your home. Then again, who would know the proper etiquette for this situation? His royal blue robe fluttered slightly as he settled into the chair at the other end. For several moments they just regarded each other. Jocelyne felt her face begin to flush and looked down. Her attraction to him was almost palpable.
“Is this part of being a Watcher – this attraction to you? Do you make women desire you?” The words had flown from her mouth before she’d had time to think.
Raising an eyebrow, he looked at her with a devilish grin “Do I make women desire me? No, I’m sorry, if you are attracted to me, but that is coming from you, not from me. I merely said that I could help you out, I did not come here to seduce you.”
Mortified, her face turned crimson, and she felt the heat rising from her neck and up her face. Struggling to hide her embarrassment and to give the impression of nonchalance, she wracked her brain for the proper retort. Finding none, she sat in silence looking at him. Baraqiel merely looked at her with an amused, questioning look- not seeming to be in a hurry to go anywhere.
In between parenting and schoolwork I’ve been debating on whether to share one story at a time or alternate between books. My stories are fiction novels, not short stories. Therefore, I will share chapters of just one story until it is completed. Alteranting between books could be confusing. The first story will be the one that I finished for NaNoWriMo this past November. However, it has been altered slightly. As I mentioned in the previous post, you need to just put it down on the page and worry about editing later. As I edit I find myself, at times, taking the story in a different direction.
This first book has the working title Jocelyne and Baraqiel. I am still working on the title, perhaps the final iteration will give me a great idea. At this point I have called it Jocelyne and Baraqiel for so long, that it might be stuck with that.
The story involves a woman living in late 19th century New Orleans – this is Jocelyne. She is viewed as somewhat of an outcast due to her desire to remain unmarried and because she is successful at making her own way financially. Her life is turned upside down with the appearance of Baraqiel, one of the Nephilim (he is the 9th watcher and one of the 20 leaders of the 200 strong nephilim mentioned in the Book of Enoch). Jocelyne’s secretive adventures with Baraqiel place her in danger. To share the rest without spoilers I will just say that also in the mix are a werewolf, reincarntation, witch hunters, and a love story that spans centuries. Please be aware that this story does include sexual content.
My intent is to publish every Wednesday. I hope that you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. See you back here next week. For my LGBTQIA+ readers, Happy Pride Month!
This website had been a hodgepodge of my personal blog combined with blogs from different instructional design courses at grad school. It now has a new look and a new focus. The instructional design blogs remain (and are marked as ID blogs). The new focus is my writing. I will be sharing chapters from books that I have completed (although are they complete? Editing never seems to end and when it is your own work you see even more things you would like to change) as well as others I have been playing with on and off. In addition to sharing my chapters as I complete them, I will also share news, musings, and fun facts that I happen across. Hopefully I will inspire others to share their work with us.
For eleven years I have participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and, for the first time ever, I won in 2020! For those who don’t know, winning doesn’t mean that I beat anyone other than my own procrastinating tendencies. If you meet the goal of writing 50,000 words during the month of November, you have won. It sounds much easier than it is. One of the great parts of NaNoWriMo is the community – fellow writers meeting up (in pre-Covid times people met locally in coffee shops, libraries, etc. but this past year there were also Zoom meetings) to inspire and cheer each other on. At times you may feel like the only person who hasn’t started (I was busy with school work – I am on working on my doctorate now although not at the dissertation stage yet) and could not start until the second week of November. Panic set in as I saw others posting their milestones of 5,000 and 10,000 words and I had not even started. One thing the years have taught me is that you cannot finish NaNoWriMo if you’re going to get hung up editing everything you have written before moving on. There will be time enough for editing when you finish your 50,000 words. But for the first few years I did not realize that and spent precious time re-writing pages until I realized it was too late to hit my goal.
By committing to sharing my chapters with you, I am pushing myself to commit to writing, and even more importantly, to finishing. I have several stories all without endings because I don’t want an ending that is obvious, but at the same time I don’t want to manufacture an ending to make it a surprise. It needs to flow naturally and yet stay true to my vision. If that makes any sense to you. I hope you enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoy writing it.
You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page. – Jodi Picoult
When I started out taking The Adult as Learner course, I thought “how hard can it be?” Teaching adults is the same as teaching kids, you just use bigger words, LOL So many things showed me that I had not even scratched the surface of thinking about this. Just learning the difference between pedagogy and andragogy wasn’t enough. No, we pushed on into learning what is essential in andragogy: respect for the adult’s life experiences, creating a space in which they don’t feel judged – a place where they feel safe to discuss their ideas and opinions. Even though they may be the same age as the instructor, the instructor must be able to facilitate without appearing condescending.
Wait! I forgot – before all of this we had to consider when does someone become an adult? Because you may work but not be an adult (same with being a parent). Are you an adult if, at age 24, you live with your parents, you don’t work and you pay for nothing? On the other hand, what if you are 19 years old and living on your own, working, and putting yourself through college? While single parenting? Are you an adult yet? I had taken for granted the mere meaning of the word adult when I signed up for this class.
We moved on to motivations – why are people taking the class? Because whether their motivations are internal (wanting to master a subject or skill), or external (they will get a better job or promotion) changes how they react to things and how they engage. Why do some people get past many barriers to continue education while others seemingly can’t get past one? It’s not a character flaw, just personal experience. How does someone see themself as a student? Did they finish high school thinking that they were lucky to graduate and were they told that they were not smart? How will that person embrace taking a class to get ahead at work? Will they look forward to it or just try to get through it? Will they expect, or demand, much of themselves?
Where are you in life? Have you had children? Don’t want kids? Are you married or part of a couple? Are you single? Have you survived a trauma? Are you starting out in the working world or are you an upper-level manager trying to push through to the top tier at work? All of these things define you as a student.
As I think about beginning to create a course, the thought of designing a course for adults with just these thoughts to contend with- it is intimidating. But wait, there’s more! When were you born? Because your generation defines your attitude towards technology, education, and the workforce.
Then there are the learning theories. Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Social Cognitivism, Connectivism, Communities of Practice, etc. You learn which parts of the brain are utilized and how each is affecting memory, processing new information, how is it being stored, and so on. So much to think of. When you design your class will it be asynchronous or synchronous? Will your students be tech savvy? How will you reach them? There are cones, and zones, and Pavlov and Piaget. So much to consider, at times from opposing viewpoints. How do you make sense of it all?
I told my classmate, Lou, that I think everything is a learning theory now-that if I look at my watch and see the time, that there is some theory out there to say that I’ve just learned because my mind has now placed me in the moment of 10:15 in the world, something I didn’t know minutes before. I think that this course was great – it introduced us to so much. While it does seem overwhelming, as I continue on my journey of learning in Instructional Design, that these theories will come up again and again and make more sense the more I read, the more I learn – I’m happy to have such a broad base to build upon. Our class was synchronous and in the asynchronous world of ID, I found synchronous to be helpful. I enjoyed hearing and reading comments from my classmates and professor, insights from sources that weren’t always in my reading. It was a pleasure to get to know my classmates, to work on a group project (even though my group’s big lesson was what happens when the technology fails you, but we persevered). Another bonus of the synchronous classes was learning to use Blackboard and it’s breakout rooms. It made it much easier for us to use when doing our group presentation. I will miss this class but hopefully I’ll find Professor Manning and my classmates elsewhere on the ID journey.
Connectivism is one of those theories that again makes me think “This is learning?” I don’t mean that in an insulting way. But there are things that we do, in our daily life, that seem normal, just “going about your business” type stuff, yet these things turn out to be learning theories.
In the weekly synch session, we were sent to break-out rooms to search for certain products online. The searching combined with asking each other questions and using online chat was all part of connectivism. The poster child for connectivism should be Kevin Bacon; the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon has been around at least since the early 90’s, if not before.
It is amazing how connected we all are; we are all constantly learning from each other. Sometimes it is how not to act when behind the wheel of a car, sometimes it’s how to get that darn copy machine unjammed, and other times it is a secret that another parent shares with you that ends up being one of those priceless gems that make parenting so much easier.
Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the image of Kevin Bacon.
For years I had wanted to return to school to pursue my master’s degree. I wasn’t sure for which subject exactly, but I knew it had to do with education. I thought of working with special needs children but that required another bachelor’s degree before moving on. My BA in Humanities wasn’t going to work for grad school special needs. So I pursued other ideas. As a working, single mom, I needed to be present as a parent. I didn’t want to be one of those people whose child comes home from school then eats dinner alone because mom has gone from work to night school. I’m not saying that is wrong, it was just not the right path for me. After losing my best friend and others at the World Trade Center I never take for granted that I will see someone the next day, or even later that day. This is something that has worked against me mentally at times, I must admit.
As time wore on it started to seem that returning to school was ridiculous and a waste of money, in my 40s, and even more so once I hit 50, . My friend, Karen, stopped her work as a CPA, got student loans, and went to law school for tax law. At the time I worried greatly for her, taking on debt so late in life. And then it happened.
In March 2015, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had the mastectomy, had the mediport put in my jugular, did the chemo (thankfully didn’t need radiation), and everything else that goes with it. Of course, I thought about death. I thought about life. I realized that where I was working at the time I was surrounded by women in their 70s who were still working. Not because they wanted to get out of the house but because they relied on the income. Social Security is not enough. I also realized that these women are 15-20 years older than myself. If I’m going to still be working at that point, I don’t want it to be for some low-paying job that has become routine to me. I want to do something I will enjoy and that will benefit others. I want to do something that will offer financial stability. I realized grad school was only 3 years and why wasn’t I going back? I spoke to a couple of people and as luck would have it, my cancer support group leader was an Instructional Designer. I had no idea what that was, but I questioned her and was excited about what she did. I think I may have been a little too excited, she had that “Single White Female” scared face for a few minutes. But once she realized I wasn’t out to take over her identity, only to settle on a program for grad school, all was well. I researched online grad schools for ID. I got a list and it had Boise as the number one choice and UMass Boston as number three. But for some reason the moment I saw UMass Boston I felt compelled to apply there. I did not apply anywhere else, this was my first choice. I was so excited to get in. Here I am now, finishing up my first semester – stressing over my group and individual projects and papers but still here, still surviving. I even have an upcoming surgery on May 9th, my final surgery of this cancer escapade (I hope) yet my focus is on school. I’m still excited. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the reading but now I’m looking at people on TV, the people I see in stores, etc., differently. Because what I thought was just a decision to return to school turned out to be a type of learning – experiential learning. According to this learning theory, I encountered a trauma that made me think and re-assess my place in the world. Once that reassessment was done, and I had my new viewpoint, I proceeded to act upon it by applying to UMass Boston and enroll. It reminds me of the cliché that my grandmother used to say all the time “You learn something new everyday” But I think the addendum to that should be “even when you don’t realize that it’s learning”. Sometimes the trauma you encounter is your cocoon and when you reassess and take action, you come out as a beautiful butterfly.