We’re small; the job is huge

I’m at the end of holidays, so permit me to get a little whimsical. I don’t blog about my thoughts often, so don’t be shocked.

I’m sitting in my circa 1923 living/dining room admiring the work my family and I did this summer. It all started when we moved of the furniture into the sunroom and refinished the floors. That was the entire plan.  But hey, the floors looked great and the walls were kind of…awful…by comparison.  So we hired a professional painter who could deal with our crown moulding.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention we also sold our dining room furniture.  We replaced it last weekend and I assembled it last night. I’ll know I’m wealthy when I buy furniture I don’t have to assemble. Then there was the deck, and the family room, and the colour of the kitchen.  You know what happened next.

Then I do a 180, and I see our magnificent back yard and garden.  Wonderful.  Really, an oasis I often use to decompress from a department meeting or something unpleasant from my Dean.

But here’s the point:  it’s wonderful, but it is so small.  I take great comfort in puttering around in my own small family environment.  We plant, we transplant, we manicure, and we fertilize.  We even talk to a few of the plants, and nearly every evening we do grand rounds in our little plastic shoes to visit with our perennials and veggies.

And similarly, I so often feel like I make such a small difference in my own professional environment. I build a course. I help move a program.  I do my best to reach out to students. I slave over discussion boards and the kinds of things so many of my colleagues think don’t matter.  I worry about the design of my courses.  I get concerned about the quality of the experience my distance students are having compared to the students in front of me. I lose sleep the night before my student defends a thesis — every time.  I fret over the last draft of a paper submitted for publication, and I die a little when I see a typo in the first paragraph — my fault, not theirs.

All of it is so small.  And all of it is so wonderful. I regularly mention to anyone who will listen that I have the best job in the world. I get paid to chase ideas I think are significant, and share and argue about them with anyone who will listen.

Yes, it is small, but I don’t think it is insignificant. I admire the people who move, or try to move, nations — Mandela, Kennedy, Trudeau, Obama, Gandhi, Suzuki (go ahead, make your own list). But just as much, I admire the people who are moving big ideas — Rheingold, Couros, Wiley, Siemens, Downes,  But here’s the point again:  I’m proud to be a member of a legion of other people, a chorus of voices, who believe in moving nations and ideas, and who are willing to jump into the yoke to help move everything forward. I encounter so many positive people who care about making a difference. These same people create ideas, motivate change.  These are the folks who blow me away, and I’m proud to be in their number. We’re comparatively small in stature but greater in number, and we small make a difference.  Each of us contributes.  We really do. And isn’t it a wonderful place to reside?

There’s change happening, and it’s finally happening because the numbers are shifting. We are becoming the majority.  What will we do with that responsibility when we finally have it?  Most groups drop the ball.  Will we? I don’t think so. I know you.

Distance Education, Volume 33 (2) on OER



Gráinne Conole
pages 131-134

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.700563
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 0


A review of the role of national policy and institutional mission in European distance teaching universities with respect to widening participation in higher education study through open educational resources

Andy Lane
pages 135-150

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.692067
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 0


Carina BossuDavid Bull & Mark Brown
pages 151-164

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.692050
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 
The OER mix in higher education: purpose, process, product, and policy

Samuel Nikoi & Alejandro Armellini
pages 165-184

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.697439
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 0
Further Information
Equity considerations for open educational resources in the glocalization of education

Julie Willems & Carina Bossu
pages 185-199

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.692051
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 0
Open educational resources: education for the world?

Thomas Richter & Maggie McPherson
pages 201-219

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.692068
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 0
Open educational resources in support of science learning: tools for inquiry and observation

Eileen Scanlon
pages 221-236

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.692053
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 0
Making a difference—inclusive learning and teaching in higher education through open educational resources

Christine HockingsPaul Brett & Mat Terentjevs
pages 237-252

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.692066
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 0
The role of postgraduate students in co-authoring open educational resources to promote social inclusion: a case study at the University of Cape Town

Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams & Michael Paskevicius
pages 253-269

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.692052
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 0


Non-government distance education funding: the need for equity in Australian schooling

Terry Harding
pages 271-278

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.692069
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 0
Politics, practices, and possibilities of open educational resources

Liam Phelan
pages 279-282

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.692070
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 0
OER perspectives: emerging issues for universities

Don Olcott Jr.
pages 283-290

  • DOI:10.1080/01587919.2012.700561
  • Version of record first published: 24 Jul 2012
  • Citations: 0
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Journal of Interactive Learning Research Vol. 23, No. 3 (July 2012)

The latest issue of “Journal of Interactive Learning Research” is now available on the Ed/ITLib Digital Library. 
Journal of Interactive Learning Research Vol. 23, No. 3  (July 2012) [http://go.editlib.org/j/JILR/v/23/n/3

Table of Contents 

Can interactive working memory training improving learning?
Tracy Alloway, University of North Florida, USA
Abstract: http://www.editlib.org/p/36119

Students’ use of Self-regulatory Tool and Critical Inquiry in Online Discussions
Hua Bai, Northeastern Illinois University, USA
Abstract: http://www.editlib.org/p/37588

Template Authoring Environment for the 
Automatic Generation of Narrative Content
Maria Fernanda Caropreso, Diana Inkpen, Fazel Keshtkar & Shahzad Khan, University of Ottawa, Canada
Abstract: http://www.editlib.org/p/37515

Computer games and learning:  
The relationship between design, gameplay and outcomes
Claudia Schrader & Theo Bastiaens, Open University in Hagen, Germany
Abstract: http://www.editlib.org/p/36201

The ideal science student: Exploring the relationship of students’ perceptions to their problem solving activity in a robotics context
Florence Sullivan, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA; Xiadong Lin, Teachers College, Columbia University, USA
Abstract: http://www.editlib.org/p/37115