Archive for December, 2010

SODO Moscow web strategy

December 26, 2010

At the urging of Karen Lewis (“you need a web page”) and after checking around and having the real estate broker alert the property owner, I launched SODO Moscow site. You can learn more about SODO there. This post is a place to pull together my web strategy thinking.

Karen’s suggestion to work in public fit what I had been learning at WSU in my work with student ePortfolios (see Learning Portfolio Strategy: Be Public). Another part of working in public is to work where the community interested in your problem is already working. For this project, Facebook seemed a logical place. I created a FB group SODO Moscow after exploring the idea of creating a new FB account and using its personal page or creating a FB page. I choose the group approach because it seemed to allow its members the most equal footing in a collaborative space.

One of the things we learned at CTLT was that a learner’s portfolio needs to deliberately build “Google Juice” around its problem to attract a community of collaborators (why else work in public?). The decision to use Facebook worked against gaining Google Juice, because Facebook is a private island that Google does not index. The SODO Moscow blog in Blogger was chosen as a Google friendly place to be the public anchor for the project.

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Updating my resume to reflect who I am

December 7, 2010

WSU is providing me the opportunity to reflect on who I am and what I want to do, and importantly, how to communicate those ideas. As I previously noted, a resume (here) spanning 30 years of work is poorly suited to either communicate the themes of that work or to span the transition in that work from print journals to blogs and wikis. For example, here is a whiteboard where I tried to capture a timeline of the ideas and problems I was working on across my work life and personal life from 2000 to 2008.

Left end of whiteboard timeline small Right end of whiteboard timeline small

The last two years, working on the Harvesting Gradebook, has had me thinking about the impact of the Internet on learning and higher education as presently constituted. My focus swings between learners getting feedback to aid the learning and learning being credentialed (assessment for and of learning).

I am not formally credentialed for almost all the work I’ve done in the last 30 years — my credentials from that work  and are community based.

Jayme Community CredentialJacobson created this graphic to help describe four different model implementations of the university. I now see the bottom right element of that graphic has a problem (reproduced at left). Regarding credentialing it says “the employer gets what they help design.”

But what if the learner is trying to join a community that hasn’t designed credentialing criteria? What if the learner is trying to forge a community around a problem?

That is my situation. I have a variety of experiences, but they are not specific to the new “sustainable Moscow” work that is my passion. I need a way to create a CV that converts my experiences into credentials that a new community values.

I should not be Mayor of Moscow

December 7, 2010

A couple of friends were thinking about my pending unemployment and decided I should be Mayor of Moscow. Aside from the fact that the job is taken, I don’t think so (much to my wife’s relief.)

I’m flattered to think my friends value my left-of-center activism, but I’ve looked at the job since Nancy Chaney got elected in 2005 and concluded it’s not the place for me to work on the problem that interests me most — despite the fact that the problem is the sustainable development of Moscow.

If you have ideas about how I can follow my passion related to sustainable Moscow, and put some beans on the table, let me know.

Building a simple rocket stove

December 7, 2010

As part of my interest in low-tech cooking I’ve wanted to build a rocket stove. Last summer I spent time at a lake cabin with a beach fire ring made of cement blocks. The gentle on-shore breeze inspired me to try making a forced ventilation rocket stove with the cement blocks.

Rocket stove made of concrete blocksView down into Rocket Stove

The base was a V of solid blocks. The V was topped with more solid blocks. The chimney sat above the point of the V, and was two 8×8″ hollow cement blocks. I chinked gaps between the blocks with piles of dry sand.

I only got to play with it one afternoon, but it worked quite well. I used flotsam on the beach for fuel, mostly 1/2″ diameter stuff. The fire really roared and was quite smokeless. Several hours after the fire was out I returned to dismantle things and burned myself on the still hot blocks.

Building a solar water heater

December 5, 2010

As part of a needed re-roof of my cold cellar I decided to build a place for a solar hot water collector. The idea is to site build the collector using copper pipe with fins attached. The system will be a drain back (that is a pump will run when the temp in the collector is high enough. If the temp falls, or the power fails, the pump stops and the fluid drains out of the collector, protecting it from freezing.) Ideally I will use a solar panel to power the pump.

2x6 framing for DIY solar panel

Also, the working fluid in the system is isolated from the city water (good because we have hard water that could lead to buildup in the collector) This means I need a heat exchanger between the solar panel and an old 50 gallon conventional hot water heater that I will use as storage.

The collector sits on the surface of a monitor built on the cold cellar roof. The monitor gives me both a north facing skylight in the cold cellar and a way to bring the pipes from the collector directly indoors for ease of access and protection from the elements.

Next steps are to finish the remodel and re-organization inside the cold cellar and then start making the insulated cabinet for the HW tank (cold cellar is unheated and cold, but never freezing).