Makin’ It


Throwing by madpotter1, on Flickr; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I’m starting to feel a difference between my new gig in general instructional technology and my previous one in language technology as concerns the position of potential collaborators along the maker–manageraxis. My language lector partners were nearly all, whether by individual inclination or by structural requirement or both, predominantly focused on the making. This is a natural fit for me most of the time. When I finally got into technology professionally, it felt right to have something to point to at the end of the day (or week or half-year) that had my stamp on it.

20F01.01 Western Log Saw

20F01.01 Western Log Saw by Garrett Wade, on Flickr; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

When I dabble in wood butchery (known to more effective practitioners as carpentry or cabinetry), I get the same deep sense of satisfaction. Fortunately, perhaps, my projects so far have been in working with people who are very interested in moving the project forward, in getting things done. (Working with people who are smart and get things done is a thing of beauty and helps me think I’m both of those as well.)
All of this gives me some perspective to understand why in particular the instructional technologists and the language instructors should be friends. (My digital humanities friends very much count here as well, but the title of this particular publication you are reading is Language Lab Unleashed, not Hooray for Digital Humanities.) We make, we use tools, we mod, we adapt, we reconstruct, we mash-up, we build, we get our hands dirty, we cook. We hack.


X11_0056 by neonzu1, on Flickr; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The thing is, and what I’ve been coy about so far in this post, is that Graham’s short essay is not about the educational world, where the paradigm holds from an administrative perspective but breaks apart when you get to the sites of learning and teaching. What are students, what are academics? The traditional aim of education, or at least elite higher education, is allegedly to take people off the continuum by helping them develop into thinkers rather than explicitly makers or managers, but in practice the end is to make students into managers. Here’s a place for a unity among language teachers and instructional technologists: Show and manifest the elegance of craftsmanship, the transcendence of creating, the beauty of developing something too often derided as “just” a skill or stepping-stone.

And just because it’s the weekend, I’ll leave you with a little disco:
Makin It by David Naughton on Grooveshark

I've been called many things in my life. My current occupational title is Senior Instructional Technologist at an Ivy League university. My interests are broad and varied, but at the end of the day I tend toward the practical: What can we get done (and done well) with what we have? I also own a copy of The Wiz soundtrack on vinyl.

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