What a magical summer it has become! It’s only August 1st, and I must say, 2015 has been a summer of epic proportions. I feel truly blessed by the love, warmth and fellowship of many old and new friends and colleagues whose lives have intersected with mine this summer.
India. The summer started early in February, when I got to go to Ahmenabad, India to participate in a conference on digital futures at MICA, India’s premier school for strategic communication. What a treat to meet new friends Manisha Pathak-Shelat, TT Sreekumar, Saumya Pant and Shobha Vadrevu. The opportunity to visit the home and ashram of Mahatma Gandhi reminded me that I must live as if I were to die tomorrow and learn as if I were to live forever. As the summer of love warmed me in this beautiful place, I was reminded that love is the strongest force the world possesses, yet it is the humblest imaginable.
Croatia. It was late April and yet, the weather was warm and sunny when I spent a week at the University of Zagreb with the amazing Igor Kanijaz, where were worked with a top-notch team of elementary educators exploring media literacy. Igor welcomed me into his home where I met his lovely wife and son. The warmth and brilliance of these dedicated teachers made me feel truly inspired and optimistic about the future of digital and media literacy in Eastern Europe.
Israel. I basked in the warmth, brilliance and generosity of Gila Ben-Har, the inspiring leader of the Center for Educational Technology (CET), the nation’s most innovative educational publisher while attending the Shaping the Future 3 conference. For the first time ever, I got deep into the art of coding by participating in a hackathon in a very special Negev Desert event developed by Avi Warshavsky, the creative mind behind MindCET, which is the research and development wing of CET. Among the many delights of that visit was a chance for conversations with Guy Levi and David Weinberger that were simultaneously deep and playful, and the chance to share ideas with the many talented CET staff members. I enjoyed making new friends including Robert Gehorsam, Peggy Weil, Dale Dougherty, and Steven Hodas.
DML & ICA. Off to Los Angeles for the DML conference, it was a treat to see Gardner Campbell‘s amazing talk about the history of radio brilliantly framed in relation to new media and Jonathan Worth’s Phonar Nation, an open access youth photography program. It was great to feel the love from mega-talents including Mindy Faber, architect of the amazing Convergence Academies in Chicago. Then the International Communication Association conference in San Juan gave me a chance to connect with respected academic thought leaders Paul Mihailidis, danah boyd, and Srivi Ramasubramanian.
On a sad and poignant note, little did I know that my luncheon with the esteemed scholar and generous colleague Wolfgang Donsbach would be the last time I would see him, as he died suddenly of a heart attack just a few weeks later. I miss him already…
NAMLE & ISTE Philadelphia. By the time summer had officially arrived, it was time for the National Association for Media Literacy Education conference and of course, I was excited to see my many friends, colleagues and former students from all across the country and all over the world. It was great to learn about Alton Grizzle’s dissertation research and brainstorm a collaborative project with Damiano Felini. But two highlights stand out for me: getting a special award from Michelle Lipkin and Sherri Hope Culver for meritorious service at a glossy event at the Kimmel Center, playing and singing our hearts out at a wild and wonderful karaoke night at our old haunt, Fuji Mountain, with my dearest former students and friends David Cooper Moore, Kelsey Greene, Michael RobbGrieco, Jiwon Yoon, Zoey Wang, Tony Streit, Yonty Friesem, Elizaveta Friesem and my daughter, Rachel LeCure. It was then that I felt the summer of love ramping up to what would indeed become it full epic scope. ISTE 2015 followed on the heels of NAMLE with all the excitement and hubbub of 24,000 attendees and it was an honor to present a talk on copyright and fair use with Sandy Hayes and Kristin Hokanson and explore the topic of surveillance with Monica Bulger and Hector Postigo.
The Wedding of Monster and Chicken. But the real reason why 2015 is the summer of love is, of course, the wedding of Yonty Friesem and Elizaveta Provorova, which brought us an amazing three days of celebration at our home in Newport. I felt the love from my husband, Randy and my best friend, Mary O’Connor, who did all the decorating for the wedding. I am so grateful to them both! It was a delight to spend time with Yonty and Lisa’s amazing family and awesome friends including Sait Tuzel, Sahana Sarkar, Frank Romanelli, Jeannine Chartier, Zoey Wang and Tal and Nir. What a treat to celebrate the union of Monster and Chicken in this playful, beautiful and emotionally meaningful once-in-a-lifetime event!
Summer Institute in Digital Literacy. The summer acceleration continued with a culminating event, where more than 160 educators, librarians and media professionals gathered in Providence for an intense 42-hour week of play and learning. Boy, did I feel the love! What a delight to spend time with the legendary Howard Rheingold and get to meet his daughter Mamie, a technology entrepreneur herself. Over and over that week, I felt the love from Julie Coiro, my brilliant and gracious partner-in-crime for this initiative. How great to be inspired by our amazing faculty including Jill Castek, Charlie Coiro, Yonty Friesem, Dave Quinn, Kristin Hokanson, Mary Moen, Diana McMasters, and Kara Clayton, my longtime friend and the first graduate of the Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy. And what an amazing group of new friends and colleagues came into my life including Peggy Finucane, Sheryl Rabbit, Laura Gogia, John Vaporis, Jess Geremia, Amy Hodges, Sandra Markus, Natasia Kasey, Reza Clifton, Ed McDonough, and John West. My current and former students shined brilliantly and made me so proud: Jiwon Yoon, Michael RobbGrieco, Stephanie Viens, Clarissa Walker, Jillian Belanger, Amanda Murphy, Jen Robinson, Caighla Healy, and Alex Xenophontos. What a special personal family treat to have Kristin Hokanson, Jeannine Cook and Sarah and Regina RobbGrieco share a summer meal of bouillabaisse and spend time with us at home!
Now, I believe, it’s time for a rest. In August, I’m happy to get some quality time with Turkish professor Sait Tuzel, who will be completing his two-year term as Visiting Scholar at the Media Education Lab. I will cherish this summer of love and appreciate the learning opportunities I have received from so many kind, smart and talented people. I am planning to detach from technology in August as I will be basking in the sun, swimming in the ocean, sailing on the bay, reading on the front porch, and writing, of course. See you in September!