Marica's meanderings

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Life without internet access

I have just been in Melbourne on holiday for six days (planned well before being selected as a FLLinNZ!) and have suffered severe internet withdrawal. The budget hotel we stayed at told me there was no internet access from my room but I could use their coin operated computer which cost a fortune. This however didn't stop me - I pulled apart the phone connection in my room, found a Dick Smith electronics store, bought the correct phone connection and purchased prepaid internet access through Optus, only to find nothing worked because the hotel was operating an old PABX telephone system. For my next trip I am making sure my hotel room has internet access!

I found the prepaid internet connection option a great idea. I paid AUD$19.95 for 25 hours of internet access which I have yet to have had the priviledge of using though. You receive a CD ROM with all the instructions on how to set it up and it seems to be incredibly straightforward. Have a look at www.optus.com.au. Other telecommunication companies offer similar deals.

By the way I found very few internet cafes around the city. When I inquired about this I was told that there had been a glut of them so some started closing down and now the situation was the complete opposite.

It was weird not being online at all over this past week. I had set up this blog to start recording my experiences and thoughts and then I had to do without. My laptop however was put to good use as I downloaded all the pictures I had taken with my new digital camera I was given, for my birthday a week ago.

I should have made the most of the break away from the internet because now I have so much to do I am not exactly sure where to start. I am in the thick of planning visits and trying to juggle lots of things at once. I can see I am already back into bad habits of staying up late to get things done!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

New beginnings

My wonderful husband Lynsey set all of this up for me back in August when I mentioned I wanted to start a blog to document and share my experiences of my year as a Flexible Learning Leader in New Zealand. I was so excited that I sat down and wrote a long message which I somehow lost as I tried to publish it. This annoyed me so much I decided to give up in disgust.

Well, the time has come to begin anew. I have realised I need an outlet to express everything that is going on and I am currently trying to store far too much information in my head. I am ready to try again, so here I go...

I cannot adequately describe how much has happened since the afternoon of the 13 July when I received the phone call from Nola Campbell, FLLinNZ Project Director, The University of Waikato. My heart was pounding and my mind was racing as I heard Nola introduce herself on the phone - she surely wouldn't be ringing me to tell me I wasn't selected?????? This meant my application must have been successful. I had to control my excitement just in case I was wrong. Nola did inform me I had been selected as one of New Zealand’s “First 15” – Flexible Learning Leaders that is, and not a flexible New Zealand rugby team! It took a while for my feet to touch the ground and so began the roller coaster ride that seems to have become my life. If this is not making much sense to you have a look at the FLLinNZ website and if you want to find out more about me go to my profile page.

I could hardly wait to find out who the other leaders were. We all met for the first time at the National Induction Workshop held in Hamilton during August. We are a diverse group of people and even though some of our goals have similar themes each of us is hoping to achieve something different. We all have the common bond to learn more and share our new learning within our institutions and with the wider flexible learning community.

I have agonsied over my goal and my Professional Development Plan. I believe our development as leaders begins with this challenging task. The only limitation is to get the maximum learning and development you can out of the allocated $20,000 to enable me to achieve my goal before the year finishes in June 2005. There are so many possibilities and very quickly I learnt the need to become really specific and focused. I also realised this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am determined to make the most of it. I have become ruthless with my budgeting to ensure I get the full benefit out of my allocated funding! I keep asking myself what do I hope to achieve and how best might I achieve this? Initially my professional development goal underwent a number of transformations and until I reached a version which made sense to me I couldn’t seem to get my head around developing the associated plan. This plan has also undergone a similar revision process. I have considered many possbiliaties and eventually discounted many of them. The time this has all taken has been enormous. I am about to publish version 2 onto the FLLinNZ website and I don't anticipate there will be many other changes. Now it is all down to the minutiae of the planning process and making it all become reality. Oh yes, and I forgot to mention that in between all this I am still doing my job and trying to be a loving, supportive wife and mother! I have decided this is not a challenge for the faint hearted.

One of the things I am finding particularly difficult is allocating time to reflect on what I have learnt. I am hoping to use this environment for some of that reflection and I look forward to your comments on my entries.