Started off with a 7AM journey to the Bronx; and me being the nervous-nelly-me but also me being someone who knows if I get to a place early I can always spend my time looking at weeds or architecture or something unexpectedly captivating, I got to my destination about 30 minutes early. But I arrived to Lehman College in the Bronx for an #EdTech conference:
Also me being me I just start opening doors and getting lost; but eventually some kind soul directs me to the correct location, which was a basement-y school hall “Multimedia Center” that was a newer installation carved out in the space between two hallways:
It was a bunch of breakout classrooms with upgraded features like call-in conference lines and multi-AV projectors, and, notably, glass walls; basically a bunch of spaces that looked like this:
Nothing super snazzy but about 8 of them concentrated in one location makes for a certain climate.
The concurrent sessions were all pretty rapid; they only ran for 20-30 minutes and there wasn’t any time between sessions, so if the presenter gave an extended talk then there wasn’t any time for Q&A or even processing what you just heard before having to uproot and move to the next session. So even now as I write this I haven’t really processed everything I heard, because I’m still processing it; but thankfully I took down some notes (I still prefer to take notes by hand). In the spirit of all-things-open I’m transcribing my notes here for posterity:
OpenLab to OpenLabs
“culture of open at BMCC”
internally hosted on a server at BMCC
(no 24/7 support – hoping to move off-campus next semester)
Charlie Edwards – “Web Work” (math app?)
mentioned “Reclaim Hosting”
“HYPOTHESIS” app mentioned
commenter: “MAPPING BROOKLYN project in OpenLab” name/credentials-dropping “is there someone?”
Student Engagement / Digital Devices
Oral (Socrates), Paper (Gut. press?), Electronic/mobile
‘with digital also the role of the presenter changed’
“mobile devices are great, and they are only the tool” Vyacheslav Dushenkov
Sculptris – app for sculpting 3D forms
3D Pen – “how do you get English involved? how do you get social sciences involved?” MARK LENNERTON
3D-printed mold + homemade play-doh for object
“it is for everyone as long as you are curious” SEHER ATAMTURKTUR on 3DCAD
-Mark used an analogy about not needing to know how a Xerox printer works for students to learn how to write paragraphs to print essays for assignments
(Now, not necessarily because the above presentation was the most interesting but because these presenters had a lot of relevant information to my day-to-day operations – and because at this point I finally realized there was little time for Q&A as mentioned above – I took an abundant number of photos of their slides, shown next.)
All of this by 11:50AM! (There was a final presenter that went until 12:20PM but it’s not worth mentioning for “technical difficulty” reasons.) Afterwards we broke for lunch which included a light stroll across campus to the “East Dining Hall.”
As you can see this was a slightly misty and overcast day – which actually lends itself quite well to the character and layout of the land. The buildings are a combination of older stone structures constructed in the Tudor style, and brutalist poured concrete walkways and lower structures that drip and drab in the overcast envelope. (I love these adjacent combinations of styles!)
The next hour+ – post-lunch – was filled with presentations by 3 CUNY prezzes, and then Dr. Christine Shakespeare of 2U Inc; one thing she mentioned that I noted was “innovation’s only definition is not scale.”
This is, frankly, where things got really interesting. There was a second keynote-ish speaker which was likely to be very good and all but I simply didn’t want to sit still for another hour when there were other things on campus we passed by on the walk over I wanted to take a look at – before the day got away from me. So I took a stroll around, making my way to the “Art Gallery” I glanced at earlier, taking a look at details about the campus & buildings, and other sites:
and then I took a stroll over to the Leonard Lief Library:
The Library was a fairly dank place. I reckon the ground floor was recently flooded, as there was a bunch of carpet torn up and fans running; that kind of thing. Even then the upper floors also have a musty smell to them, likely from the glue and other adhesives used to secure all that carpet down I suspect 30-40 years ago (by the look and feel of it all). There are administrative sections of the Library that are a bit head-scratching to me; they’re sort of plopped in places and largely inaccessible, or it’s not clear why they are where they are. There are some odd decisions at play as well, indicative of something an “administrator” decided 15-20 years ago that are still in effect. That said I thought the exercise bikes against the back window overlooking a baseball field was a good idea!
the Library did include this wonderful architectural diorama circa 1994 or so by “Adult Degree student” Pete Sánchez:
(Sure enough upon review the Library was constructed 1980-82, 40 years ago as suspected.)
Whew. Okay, almost there – just a bit more to go!
I left the Library in time to catch the tail end of the PSC/CUNY Press Conference with State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (didn’t catch her talk – I think that’s her in pink dress and black overcoat) in support of the PSC’s current contractural demands:
Some of these people were also staffing the operations at the Bronx Ed Tech event that I opened with at the top of this blog – which is simply to say that some people in this city work extremely hard and long hours to achieve a meaningful impact on the bottom line of the city’s fabric, and are not justly rewarded financially; they should be.
Per my usual want I left via a direction that I didn’t arrive from, so as to see something new I might not get another opportunity to see another time. I’m glad I did, as it took me over the Bedford Park Blvd W bridge with a south-facing view of the Concourse/Mosholu Yard — it’s hard to describe unless you walk around here, but the sense of scale in The Bronx is absolutely unrivaled anywhere else I’ve been. I mean cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo have big, dense buildings. But The Bronx is as stoic as the bedrock it is built upon, and there’s really nothing else like this sense of scale or perspective, and if you spend any time in The Bronx you’ll sense it and know it too:
those are two 8-car trains on the left side, and an abandoned railcar along the ramp, in a yard of towering lights – makes the whole thing look like a miniature, and gives an indication that the buildings in the background (beyond the yard!) must be absolutely gargantuan to be that big that far away.
1.5 hours on the trains home and I’m greeted by this on a Friday evening:
Life is okay – and yesterday ’twas a good day!
(All these pictures were taken with my mobile phone; and so these images don’t include what I would consider a few really good images taken with my actual RX100 M4; I simply can’t work those images as fast as I can the mobile ones – le sigh)