Back to my future

This post has been delayed. It seems fitting that this week has also been full of “Back to the future” nostalgia then. 2015 has gone by in a blur for me. So much has happened and in comparison to a few years ago, dealing with institutional trolls the last two years feel like I’ve emerged from the kind of acid fog that teens routinely find deadly in YA novels. This year I have put 110% into my new school job, which as any good teacher knows, means putting 110% into getting to know the students and figuring out how best to help them. I always think it’s arrogance mashed with ignorance to believe I or anyone can move from one school to another without taking a long look at how to do this — and I gave myself three terms to get it right, before starting to think more about how to improve and add value to that day-to-day school experience.

Along the way, I loved being able to co-write a Masters Unit for CSU in Game Based Learning. That has been a real high for me as I vividly remember @heyjude telling me years ago – before Jude was at CSU, how real change happens though member organisations and institutions. Of course I was brash, so thought change could be done though the pre-hashtag channel of social media, but seeing ‘games’ in a Master’s Course really did validate over a decade of exploration and talking about their potential. I’m not discounting social media and networking here, but as a society there remains value in learning though scholarship and I’d argue that our course is an effective blend of game-culture, information-fluency, pedagogy and practical fun.

I’m still enjoying working with MQ on EDUC106 – As I love the sociological aspect of mass education and being able to add some value to that – for first year student mostly – helps me keep focused, and hopefully I add some value beyond marking etc.,

Now it’s time to get back on track with my thesis too. Having done the annual round of paperwork, I’m setting up my ‘research blog’ today. My initial survey is ready to deploy, but I’ve had endless battles with my web-host — Arvixe.

I’ve used them for several years, but each year, their support deteriorates. Currently my two domains (www.mobspawner.com) and (www.negotiationsofplay.com) are broken. Their WP consoles are crippled by 403 and 500 errors and despite logging tickets, attempting to use so called “live chat” to resolve, they seem uninterested. The only part of their service that works is the automatic billing cycle it seems. It’s a shame, as when they are new/smaller, they are pretty good value for money.

I then made a mistake. I signed up for BlueHost. I didn’t realise at the time, Arvixe and Blue Host are owned by the same company. From Australian (and I assume other International locations) they don’t tell you that they want a phone-call verification to move your domain (same company remember) and that Live Chat insist you do that between X and Y office hours, Mountain time. Why is that an issue? Simple, the International number doesn’t work, Live Chats is hopeless and I ended up on Twitter irritating a corporate brand pacifier to gain attention. It somewhat worked, and apparently I’ll see a refund soon. They also charge 12 months in advance, which was also not too clear, nor the adding charge for something called SafeLock.

What is interesting is the flood of automated “welcome” emails one gets from people with corporate titles – and yet they are all black hole accounts. Thankfully Ben Harwood suggested I try Reclaim Hosting as it’s designed for educators. WordPress and more for just USD$25 a year. I now have to unlock my domains from Arvixe … sigh … so finger’s crossed I can get my Thesis Blog up soon.

I’ve used WordPress forever it seems. I’ve run eCommerce sites for my ex-bike shop and numerous blogs for friends. For my thesis, I’ve been looking at Scalar. It blogs, but it also works like a book, or rather pathways though a book. I saw an academic blog called Bad Objects and this is what has prompted me to look into it and give it a try.

I’ll sign off by saying that I’m getting back into my research into families and games. My thesis blog will be up and I hope that parents will take part. I’ll keep this blog going of course … and my class blog is at http://deangroom.edublogs.com – thanks to Sue Waters. My year 7/8 class is using it to learn about research and writing in my technology class – some 85 kids!

Thanks for sticking with me all these years!

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