Mario Accepting a well-deservd award for being the OG Blogfesor
Image credit: Grisrodrig’s “Mario Nuñez and Cristina Pomales”
It seems like I was at Blogfesores 2009 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico two months ago, but it has only been a little over a week. I guess that what’s happen when you return to find UMW’s 14th Faculty Academy in full swing. So not until now have I had a free minute to site down and get some thoughts down about my experience at the University of Mayaguez. Going there was a particular treat for me because I finally got to meet Mario Núñez (or the DigiZen himself) who in many ways I consider a fellow traveler and inspiration.
Mario has been the impetus behind the establishment of the Blogfesores Congress, which is a large group of faculty/librarians at the University of Mayaguez who are experimenting with an impressive range of open source and open access online tools for teaching and learning. There were presentations on everything from WPMu to Joomla to Oh My News (an online newspaper in Seoul, Korea that is almost entirely fueled by citizen journalism) to the Open Journal Systems. It was a pretty amazing range of discussions, and it was touching to see how much the Mayaguez community looks to Mario for both inspiration and a kind of reserved and pensive poetry for imagining the possibilities. He, look all the good folks thinking about edtech right now, works through poetry—and I can only see and hear that while being there and foraging around for translations and context.
Beyond catching up with Mario, I was also able to re-connect with professor Antonio Vantaggiato who is working diligently to bring this conversation to the Sciences at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón—a recent Symposium he put together featuring Michael Wesch is an excellent example of this.
But, as seems to be the case with any university or college where there stuff is happening, there is no one or two people to turn to, there are so many I couldn’t begin to list them all here. I met an amazing amount of people, I was particularly impressed with the library contingent at Mayaguez, including Grisell Rodriguez and Jaqui Alvarez, the latter of whom I had the pleasure of spending a good amount of time talking to about a wide range of projects, issues, and the larger culture of the university—I wouldn’t leave her alone 🙂
Prisma Digital (Radamés Toro) was also a twittering and blogging force that I am still beholding, and it was folks like this that represented the lion share of the conference attendees. I was particularly impressed with the forum at the end of the day, which basically opened up discussion around the theme of the conference (which was open access) to all the participants for an impromptu conversation and discussion. I was really impressed by the way the community was not simply cheerleading the charge, but asking the very particular questions and outlining the specifics challenges for a campus like Mayaguez that is predominantly a science, and even more specifically an engineering, school.
That said, I was more than a little self-conscious given my Spanish is non-existent, but I was fortunate that everyone was far too polite in forgiving my ignorance. I presented what I thought was a pretty fun talk about how the “Revolution will be Syndicated.” A theme for which I depended heavily on video for the first 10 to 15 minutes, which is a style I really like if I can make it a little smoother and less “blocky.” (I would love to be able to seamlessly integrate video clips into a presentation as I am walking around and talking like others do with slides. A kind of re-mixed commentary on the commentary through film clips would be awesome, something to shoot for.) But in the mean time I just basically discussed what a syndication platform might mean for open access, and how UMW Blogs has enabled our institution to “back into openness” through a form of experimentation and praxis, rather than any over-arching, universal theory of what open is or what it must be. We discovered the power of open access for ourselves through a kind of community exploration and discovery, rather than an administrative mandate or some kind of plastic public relations maneuver. Here is the video of the talk if you are interested, if nothing else the videos within the video are good 🙂
My only regret is that I didn’t get to see much of Puerto Rico at all, it was far too quick. On the drive back to the airport Saturday morning I realized this thanks to some stunning vistas, and I was truly bummed that I wasn’t able to separate from my work for long enough to enjoy a good body surf or two because the island is absolutely magnificent.