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Greg McVerry

Taken Down By the Smallest Bugs

1 min read

flickr photo shared by John Tann under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

I had big plans for these last two days. I was going to catch up on reading and posting to student blogs. More importantly I have blocked out large swaths of time to spend with my family. They deserve a break from 70 hour work weeks as much as me, probably more.

Yet now I find myself utterly useless. I spent 13 hours asleep yesteday. My side burns, my muscles ache, I am always hot, and thinking hurts. Literally.

All because of a bug (well the bacteria floating around its belly).

There is a metaphor here. Being taken down by something smaller than a finger nail. The idea of a "bug" in software. I should be able to connect the dots I just can't.

Greg McVerry

In order to close the budget gap for the Connecticut State College System CSCU president Mark E. Ojakian asked staff to voluntarily use unpaid leave as a kind of a "furlough day."

It is awesome when some who gets:
-335,000 a year in salary
-A free car
-car insurance
-free vehicle repairs

asks someone who makes under 70,000 a year in state salary, has 500 a month in student loans, pays for his own car, and insurance to take unpaid "days off."

Furlough days do not work for faculty. We do not get off time. Students need feedback and classes must still be taught. Faculty positions are not 9-5. Do I furlough the countless hours I spend after my kids go to bed when I record instructional videos? Do I furlough the hours where I sneak out of bed the next day at 5AM to squeeze in another hour or two of work?

I donate hundreds of hours a year beyond what my contract requires and now Ojakian wants more.

He and Malloy need to stop calling this a budget crisis. It has been this way since the day I started at Southern. A crisis can not be permanent by definition, and the budget can't be fixed by me working for free.

I do enough of that already.

How about the family events I miss, like my sons birthday, so I can provide programming on campus on the weekends?

Do I take a furlough day when my reviews are due to journals on tight deadlines?

Do I take furlough days when I finally have time to write and try to get published?

I love how the rich assume that shared sacrifice means just getting a little bit more out of those who can not afford it.

I already donate a large portion of my salary to pay for retirement health benefits I will never see. Literally I have to fork over cash twice a month because the state made promises they could never afford.

No wonder businesses and people want out of Connecticut as quick as possible.

Greg McVerry

Disney: Don't Kill your Chance at a Female Yoda

2 min read

Ahsoka Tano, until Rey appeared, fought as the only female Jedi in the official Star Wars canon. Disney now has the chance in Star Wars "Rebels" to finally answer the question, "Who is the female Yoda?"

The Female Yoda

Yes I know the prequels and the Clone Wars have many female Jedi. Yet look at the make-up of the Council in Attack of the  Clones. Looks like the boardroom of any tech comapny. Only less nerdier.

Yes, yes I know technically there is a "literal" female Yoda, Yaddle, who sat on the council.  She made a brief appearance in AOTC, and rumored to make an appearance in a flim.

Still Ahsoka kicks ass. She brings complexity to the role and her leaving the Order after being falsely accused provides an allegory for the tribulations women face in a patriarchical society.

I know she has to die.

The rule of two demands it. I just don't want it to be soon.

I think Ahsoka should take on the training of Kanan and Ezra. She should get a shot at being a rebel leader and the "Female Yoda." Let her voice be one of reason and of the Force in Rebels.

The last two episodes of the current season are named, "Twilight of the Apprentice." This does not bode well for Ahsoka. It sounds like a final showdown with Vader which has been building all season.

It seems too soon. Disney don't kill off Ahsoka so early in the history of Rebels. Have her rise to the call and become a great teacher.

Make the tension between her and Vader real. Let us see the struggle in Vader as he tries to turn Ahsoka and take her place by his side. Let us see her anger and fear rise as she blames herself for the death of Anakin.

Better yet maybe she escapes, we see a flash of good in Vader, and when Rey goes to see Luke for training his only role, and line, will be to point Rey in Ahsoka's direction. 


Greg McVerry

Republicans, Hate Trump? Blame your Party

2 min read

Last night Trump trounced the Republican party. A brand mogul whose bravado lead this bashing Trump will either be the Republican nominee or see the party ingore the will of the people at a brokered convention

I see Trump's rise as a direct result of gerrymandering after the 2010 mid-term elections. Obama was cast as a socialist boogeyman. Republicans ignored the undercurrent of race that fueled the initial Tea Party rise. You would here every pundit state it, "has nothing to do with race but ignoring the constitution." Meanwhile if you walked into any working class white bar you would probably hear some kind of off-color remark about, "The black guy giving away Obama phones to Mexicans." Instead of addressing this sentiment the Republican party doubled down.

The Republican sweep of state houses lead to crazy boundaries being drawn that solidified the hate against the current President. In trying to protect their "10 year majority" Republicans instead invited primary challenges from the angry white man class.

This lead to a seismic shift to the right in the Republican party, the decimation of center-right blue dog democrats, and where folks like John Kasich now look like moderate alternatives.

Trump is the result of the 2012 redistricting.

Yet there is also a strong technology angle to Trump's rise. Trump pwns social media. He is the 4chan of the right wing. In fact Trump and his minoins have successfuly run the first virtual campaign with no boots on the ground. We will look back on this for a long time, as we do the Kennedy and Nixon debates. New media shaping a new future.

It highlights we need to not help build a better Web that is inclusive and available to all voices. His rise has as much to do with Republicans ignoring their flanks as it does with us not protecting the web.

Hate speech needs protection, that is essential to the first ammendment, but that does not mean vitriol should go unchallenged. That does not mean we can not organize our own community or safe spaces online.

Greg McVerry

Racialization in 10+ Tweets with @whimsylibrarian @patriciae1 and @Ebonyteach

3 min read

So the notification went off.  I pulled down the shade to take a look.

I looked at the previous Tweet and my interest grew. 

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and Patricia Encisco were discussing something cool. I had to know.  

When @ebonyteach drops knowledge on Twitter the only thing you can do is listen. If you follow one scholar this year on Twitter you should make a column just for @ebonyteach.

From conversations on the latest graphic novel to introspective tweetstorms on the power of race and academia Ebony has a voice that rings true.

So I went and traced the conversation back as far as I could. I had to take a screenshot because of the embedded quote that kicked it all off. 

In our class Power of Prose class I get the privilege of listening and learning from my students.

After our discussion on the Miami Police Department's boycott of Beyonce the students sparked a frank conversation on race.

Biracial students who express feelings of being a nowhere man from a nowhere land. Students laughing off a mix of anger and disappointment recalling how their parents often deal with race and prejudice. Others expressed the importance of understanding all perspectives. Real conversations.

I am thankful when I get to listen to conversations on Twitter or with my students. 

Recently as part of Letters 2 the Next President campaign. Students explained what civic engagement of youth meant to them. We invite you to listen.

The power of the Web allows me to connect the young schoalrs I work with to models in the field like @whimsylibrarian, @patriciae1, and @Ebonyteach.

Greg McVerry

How the @GitHub Update Could Be a Game Changer For #GAFE Teachers

2 min read

GitHub made a recent update to their web interface that now makes me believe it is a place every educator belongs.

flickr photo shared by Bernie Goldbach under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

You can now create and drag and drop files into your repos. Think of a repo as a cabinet,that holds both files and folders. Attached to your "cabinet" is a clipboard where people record issues they  have. A repo uses the same feature in GitHub.

Teachers. I know you love Google. I do to. My journey to the open web began through Google Apps.

GitHub is a little different. It is yours.

Here is mine.

Teachers, all the  work you do in Google Apps does it belong to you? When you leave your district they can and will take away your GAFE rights.

What happens to everything you built? Do you take it with you? Did you copy everything over to a personal account or is this act banned by district policy?

Maybe its time to be building into Git, even if your bring it to GAFE later. I never recommended GitHub for most educators. It was simply too hard to use.

The metaphors in design are confusing and unrelated (pull request, branch, fork, commit), but most discouraging was having to use "Terminal."

I know, most of you have no idea what "Terminal" is, and the need no longer exists.  GitHub now allows you to drag and drop files and add new files from their web interface.

The metaphors still suck but they are rooted in a long history of programming. It will be a discourse teachers might just have to pick up. 

Even with having to learn the affordances of the tools and discourses of the communities teachers should start using GitHub.

Why not own what you make?

I do hope you use a license that lets other teachers remix what you made , but you don't have to, and that is the whole point.

Take control of your content.

Greg McVerry

Replied to a post on :

Great post on OER @audreywatters In the end there has to be some kind of platform or if we are going platformless with OER some kind of standard that allows resources to have tagged metadata.

Do you know how good people are at when it comes to tagging?

I agree OER needs something such as GitHub. So I have a challenge to everyone go get three teachers. Tell them to take there three best lessons, convert them to Markdown, and get them up on Github.

Watch heads explode. 

It has taken me a year to get to a point where I am comfortable enough to screw things up on GitHub. You can not ask teachers to open up terminal and expect any contributions.

So I have hopes for — or something similar. I think fedwiki is awesome but it suffers from the same problem as github only worse. Any UX that needs or looks like documentation is a non-starter for norms.

Thus Mike Caulfield’s need to puddle participants at conferences in order to grasp at meaning.

Yet OER does not need to be an act of titling at windmills or involve pink elephants at all.

What OER databases need, and this is something Hannah Kane has written about ( is a content creation first approach. That is something the Mozilla community is focused on. We need a lightweight, dare I say, CMS that has two buttons: publish and remix. 

I am hoping whatever we create will be as platformless as possible but there needs to be some level of discovery, and discovery takes search, and search takes tagging.

. Hopefully much of the sausage making will not be visible.

This vision is what Mike Caulfield brings: curriculum not as a repo but as an organism.

Greg McVerry

I broke one of the most important promises I heve made to myself

1 min read

Not one minute. Not one dime. I made that promise May 19th, 1999 when I woke my brother Perez up from his slumber at the midngith release of Phantom Menace.

I would never watch the first prequeln or give George Lucas any of my money for the movie.

For sixteen years I kept that promise. Last night the credo blew up as predictably as some planet size laser.

My boys really wanted to watch Phantom Menace. I had avoided this day knowing it would come. We had watched every other movie and some of the Clone Wars. 

My kids are not nuts on Star Wars. Still haven't seen the Force Awakens with them.

Yet they asked. I could not say no. And yet somehow they like the Full House meets CSPAN and F-Zero. I mean really liked it.

I now understand why it is pointless to argue with a millenial on how bad this movie turly is.

Greg McVerry

I get to teach High School classes!! #GearUpWorks #NHV #connectedlearning

2 min read

flickr photo shared by Hldrmn under a Creative Commons ( BY-ND ) license

We held  our first session of Power and Passion-Writing for Change as part of . I am always inspired by the scholars who join us.

This semester Gear Up New Haven is offering after school academic programs on our main campus. New Haven Public Schools has donated the transportation and SCSU has donated the faculty time to run classes in math, English, and the Arts.

As literacy and technology coordinator I curate the learnign opportunities in the literacy strand. Mainly I just show up and learn.

In our first session we completed a challenge in the "Letters to the Next President" series. Specifically we completed a "Do Now" that had students define what it meant to be politically enaged. We recorded our definitions using iPads and I will be remixing these into a video.

Next week we will have two tasks:

Words have power. They are shaped by those with power to mantain a narrative and words provide power to the powerless. In our class this semster we are asking youth, "How will you use your words?"

Greg McVerry

@slamteacher @mcjsa @KrisGiere @Bali_Maha @edtechinsight Or do we need to cause some disruption and be empathetic to struggle?

My students demand rubricized and structured online learning modules. They want step by step walk-throughs of every task.

Is it more empathetic to build the learning space that gaurantees success or do we just provide support when students fall in the inevitable pits of non-linear learning?