Saturday, February 16, 2008

teaching virtual hell

I dutifully signed up for a wimba training session, checked the hour conversion from the States to NZ twice, signed in to my distant classroom and waited, ticking past one o'clock i discovered my capacity to travel time and space was faulty and came to the realisation that there also was a dateline to accommodate. I missed wimba 101, celebrating Waitangi day.
A week later I scheduled in for wimba 102.
A time lord in training, this time with success.
However, traversing time and relevant dimensions in space (tardis) isn't all there is. I wanted to know about teaching with voice tools accessible through the net, through blackboard, since thats what my institution utilizes.

This was the session where all the other teachers/lecturers present could smile politely in their unseen spaces and think "there but for the grace of God"...
We had, i think, all been there.
At least in our nightmares.
I am left feeling cautious re experiencing the same in a virtual reality.
Significant time was spent in ensuring audio links worked, phone in connections established for the people whose computer negated audio.
The visuals seemed 'sticky'. My experience of a screen of changes being portrayed on a
whiteboard looked more like a screen of words mashed reminiscent of scrambled eggs.
Having my posting comments text box spontaneously decide to work halfway through i could make a comment that another student gave me a workaround for.
In an hour I learned that the technology takes an hour to sort.
In the last 5 mins I managed to screw up just like any dutiful student could.
Sooo embarrassing on a world stage. While playing with the buttons mimicking the instructions for being a presenter given to another participant I spontaneously took control of the class, and inflicted a cute little wmv the facilitator had in a browser list for mad cats. The class enjoyed it. Being on a mac, I didnt get it; till i opened what downloaded for me....
A great facilitator modelling cool, calm, collected, in the face of adversity. She could have been a time lord.

video courtesy of chris, username ptftulsa.

Closing thought: Future time lords have to get with the times, a telephone box???
Maybe a portaloo....

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What dances am i invited into?

" Effective therapy often seems magical."
So begins Kenneth Gergen in unpacking the therapeutic relationship in an article on therapeutic relationships reconsidered. In 'quiet recesses' far removed from the site of turmoil with questions, answers, silences, stories, possibly tears... and then, as if by miraculous intervention, there is change. But what configuration of events brought about change? The problem brought to therapy is transformed, seen as less severe, or dissolved. He then focuses on the relationship generated; that there is something about the nature of the communicative interchange and asks what then might occur that facilitates or blocks or enhances such relationships. How might we be (more, or less) effective?

He then argues the relational character of communication.
In communicating, utterances acquire meaning when others coordinate themselves to the utterance. Talking without a listener, writing without a reader; the potential for meaning is realized through supplementary action. Utterance's of themselves have no meaning, a morpheme only has meaning when others coordinate themselves around the offering. We bring to any exchange, a preparedness to make meaning of the interaction based on prior exchanges. As stated by Gergen,
"In effect, meaningful communication in any given exchange ultimately depends on a protracted array of relationships, not only "right here, right now," but how is it that that you and I are related to a variety of others, and they still to others- and ultimately, one may say, to the, to the relational conditions of society as a whole."

In accepting such a proposition, he argues that there is profound implication: language is constitutive of relationships. While we frequently treat language as if it were describing reality, such a treatment is of itself a relational performance. His focus is on the interchange and its use of words, phrases, language used. He then asks, "What follows in a relationship when self or world is framed in just this way; what dances am I invited into when you use these phrases as opposed to others?"

I intend to take this relational stance on therapeutic communications further within my own study. With the use of computer and communication technologies in the form of text, email and Internet message board posting for counselling purposes, how is the 'dance' performed?