2020 Week 04


I’m normal! And I’ve got the data to prove it! After 4 years of low hemoglobin, dropping into the holy crap you should probably fix this range, I’m now 6 months post-treatment and it’s finally climbed back to the normal range. Awesome. I’m hopeful that it’ll keep on creeping up as I continue maintenance for the next year and a half…

chemo hemoglobin curve The last few years of hemoglobin (moving left-to-right), with the bottom just before treatment started. Finally back in the green!

Terry Greene interviewed me before Christmas for episode #95 of Gettin' Air, which was released on Friday. It was a fun chat, and I don’t think I said anything that will get me fired. I’ve binge-listened all previous episodes, and he’s doing a fantastic job with the podcast. I’m glad he briefly lowered the bar significantly to include me.

I clarified my work plan for the W2020 semester, trying to reduce my focus to key initiatives rather than trying to do everything. I’m learning to let go of things in order to make room for the stuff I need to keep doing, and for new things as they come my way.

I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with these weekly posts. My initial intent was to get to a more reflective practice, but I think it’s just become a laundry list of stuff without real reflection. Maybe that’s part of it? I wonder if keeping the Read sections is getting in the way of writing separate blog or aside posts?

⚙️ Work

  • A team member returned from leave. Awesome! Working to support their transition back into things.
  • I managed to carve off some time to work on several documents I needed to get done by Jan. 1. It’s… after Jan. 1. And counting. (and… that time evaporated quickly… going to have to keep kicking that can down the road…)
  • Picked the least-bad time for the Learning Technologies Advisory Committee’s Processes Working Group’s first meeting - next week. Progress!

Alberta’s Post-secondary funding model is changing

Early feedback on The Model™ is along the lines of “OMG Law Of Unintended Consequences” - but this is 100% intentional and punitive by design. April is going to be bad. The following April will be even worse. And the one after that. This is going to get much uglier before things bottom out.

🤔 PhD

no time to think about it this week

📚 Reading

  • Alison Green: My Employees Keep Going Over My Head

  • Jane Brody in NYTimes: When Life Throws You Curveballs, Embrace the ‘New Normal’

  • Brenna Clarke Gray: Digital Detox #5: Questions to Ask Before Giving Up: As the kids say, THIS. Ask 2 questions for every thing you use:

    1. What does this tool improve or enhance?
    2. Who is profiting from this tool, and how?
  • Veronica Chambers in NYTimes: I Quit My Job After a Particularly Good Beach Day

  • John Timmer: One immune cell type appears to attack any type of cancer - describing the research just published in Nature. Maybe a way to scale up something like CAR-T therapy?

    This indicates that the immune cells can help keep cancer in check but may not be able to consistently eradicate it.

    (which sounds very much like the effects of Rituximab, which I get a boost of on Monday… 2).

    This bit sounds interesting:

    They hypothesize that it’s a metabolite that’s specific to cancer cells, but they have no idea what it might be.

    We have no idea what the T-Cells are triggered by in this case. It’s obviously something, but it could be a bunch of things. I mean, this is cool. The protein is on healthy cells too, and it pumps metabolites from inside the cell out onto the surface, where these T-Cells freak out. Why don’t the T-cells seem to kill normal cells? (maybe they do - that’s where more research is needed. last thing we need is something that looks like a cure, except in some people it also kills a certain kind of neuron or something…). There’s apparently/possibly some different - and previously unknown - metabolite that is unique to cancer cells, which is being pulled out of the cells by the protein. More research is needed, but none of this would have been possible just a few years ago. Using the CRISPR gene editing stuff to reverse engineer processes that kill cancer cells so it can be weaponized to manage cancer using a patient’s own immune system. This is amazing.

  • John Baker: In a time of change, D2L stays the course - all of the other commercial LMS vendors are now owned by Private Equity. D2L isn’t, and that’s good. I’m looking forward to seeing how they take advantage of this PE climate. They’re already strong on privacy, with no need to sell or monetize student data. Now, they’re strong on autonomy and the ability to own a long-term strategy without having their hands forced by PE managers…

  • Wade Tyler Millward: Instructure Lays Off About 100 As It Urges Shareholders to Support Sale - while prepping to sell the company to a private equity firm, they lay off 100 people who were working on their corporate product. Because revenue was only up 34% this year. That’s insane. The apparent need for PE to focus solely on profit (and on demanding constantly-accelerating increased profit) is toxic. 34% increase in revenue should be great news for any company planning on sustainability.

  • Bond, M., Buntins, K., Bedenlier, S. et al. (2020). Mapping research in student engagement and educational technology in higher education: a systematic evidence map. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education. 17, 2. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-019-0176-8

    Few studies provided a definition of student engagement, and less than half were guided by a theoretical framework. The courses investigated used blended learning and text-based tools (e.g. discussion forums) most often, with undergraduate students as the primary target group. Stemming from the use of educational technology, behavioural engagement was by far the most often identified dimension, followed by affective and cognitive engagement.

  • Some really interesting features coming up for the Mersive Solstice Pods

  • Sean Gallagher in ArsTechnica: Time check: Examining the Doomsday Clock’s move to 100 seconds to midnight

    “Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond,” the Science and Security Board members wrote in a joint statement. “The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.”

🧺 Other

  • I gave up on using Edge as default browser. It works well, but I got tired of funky 1password integration. Convenience trumps shiny.
  • The latest coronavirus is building steam. Yikes. May need to prep online learning options if it reaches Canada and things get locked down ala SARS in 2003…

🗓️ Focus for next week

  • Getting a dose of mouse proteins on Monday.
  • Preparation for the 2020 UCalgary Conference on Post-secondary Learning and Teaching peer review process.
  • D2L Fusion Steering Committee - but I’m triple-booked then, so may have to tune into the recording later.
  • Information Asset Management Committee
  • LTAC Processes Working Group meeting - what process are used across campus, re: learning technologies (how do people ask for new ones? how do we evaluate them? support? integrate? decommission? …)
  • D2L W2021 Course Creation pilot project meeting
  • Maybe, if the stars and planets align, a lunchtime game session with the extended PhD research group…

  1. I wonder how many times this press release will be reported to Alberta’s Red Tape Reduction reporting hotline↩︎

  2. again - look at the chart at the top of this post - it works, even though it’s not a cure ↩︎


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