Since September I have been volunteering at least one day a week at St. Bonaventure University’s Warming House. My friend Br. Kevin Kriso, OFM recommended it as an activity I might like as I transitioned into retirement. Unsure of myself at first in the new surroundings and lacking confidence in my culinary skills I decided that I could best help by washing dishes. Dinner for twenty to thirty people provides along with the cooking pots and utensils to feed them provides enough to keep one busy in the dishwater. The young ladies who serve as Meal Coordinators invited me to make desserts. At first I was hesitant even though I used to bake with my Grandmother when I was a child. No-bake cheesecake, muffins, apple sauce bread, apple crisp and more have made me more confident in the kitchen. Yesterday, Arielle suggested that I could make pumpkin cake and provided me with a list of the ingredients. Two cups of margarine melted, four cups of flour, three and half cups of sugar, four eggs and more along with plenty of stirring resulted in a delicious dessert. Arielle’s delicious turkey soup and fresh chocolate pudding made for an appetizing meal.
The Warming House is the oldest student run soup kitchen in the United States. Meals served there surpass anything I have seen or tasted in other such kitchens. The patrons who come each day bring forth the best in all of us. I am impressed with the cooking skills of the coordinators too. Each day they put together a tasty meal from what they find on the shelves of the storeroom and cooler. But, the Warming House is more than food. It is an community of people, young and old who come together for the common good. It is at its heart very Franciscan and emblematic of the Incarnation itself. It is tangible evidence of the goodness that resides in the hearts of all creation. Those who serve are served by those who come to eat. I am grateful to be a participant in this wonderful experience of love.
This is a season of thanksgiving and in that spirit I am thinking of the many ways that I have been blessed this year and in my life in general. I’m grateful for my life, my wife and family too. In a few weeks I’ll be sixty-one. Each year everyone seems to be getting younger and my definition of what constitutes an elderly person gets older. I’m grateful to be retired and volunteering at The Warming House and Blount Library. On Friday I was asked to serve on the Blount Library Board. That’s a great honor and I’ll be reunited with some of my former colleagues. I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend daily Mass at St. Philomena’s Church in Franklinville. I’m grateful to have worked with so many wonderful people at Franklinville Central School, who treated me to a wonderful dinner at the VFW and presents from the Franklinville Teachers Association. I’m grateful to be able to renew my passion for reading in general. Today I finished a book I borrowed yesterday from the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System. It was an ebook that I borrowed wirelessly, Dr. J: An Autobiography. I’m grateful for the new opportunities to serve and grow. I’m even grateful for the snow and winter that has arrived.
A couple of days ago I signed up for my first ever MOOC and then I visited the Coursesites.com and signed up for a course about Locating, Creating, Licensing and Utilizing OER (Open Educational Resources). MOOCs are potentially disruptive innovation. They are free courses primarily from higher education institutions that have traditionally charged tuition for such opportunities. Regardless of the implications I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about open educational resources (OER). It’s an area that has interested me ever since I began to explore open source software and open source resources. I’ve found the course I’m taking to be very engaging and already I have learned a great deal. I’ve found out about Coursesites and Coursera. I’ve learned more about OER Commons and how to add your own open educational resource and license it properly using Creative Commons. I’ve learned about resources that support the open educational resource community like Merlot.org and added to the knowledge I already had about other sites like CK-12 which allows teachers to create their own Common Core aligned texts which can be shared in a browser or on any tablet that can view portable documents (PDF).
Whether massive online courses are the future or not few can say. But one thing is for sure they along with pervasive broadband and wireless have changed the landscape of traditional higher education and will transform aspects of K-12 as well.
Last night our family attended the St. Bonaventure University vs. Canisius College men’s basketball game at The Reilly Center. We sat in Section 10 and had a birdseye view of the court. We participated in a rich tradition that spans decades. My Mom and Dad attended these games at the Olean Armory when I was a preschooler. I’ve been an active St. Bonaventure fan since the days of Bob Lanier, Billy Kalbaugh and Jim Satalin. My first time at the Reilly Center was in 1967, I saw Bonaventure beat Loyola of Chicago. Thirty-two years ago next month my wife and I came on our first date to a St. Bonaventure game at Reilly Center. Coming to St. Bonaventure games is sacramental. Last night as I sat with my father-in-law, wife, daughter Dara and her fiancée Shaun I felt a sense of gratitude and joy for our participation in this rich tradition. The appeal of the Bonnies is inter generational. My wife, daughter and I are all St. Bonaventure alumni too. That’s a point of pride for us. We’ve been treated to many great games over the years and last night’s game against Canisius was no exception. The cast of players changes each year but the mystique continues. Thank you to St. Bonaventure University their opponents the Canisius Golden Griffins and to the coaches for a wonderful evening of memories.
That’s part of the title for a course of study I signed up for today. It’s being offered through the University of Maryland. This is my first course with Coursera. I’m an entrepreneur and the owner of my own business and I’m looking for opportunities to grow professionally. The course is being taught by Dr. James Green. I’ve taken graduate courses on line before so this is not an entirely new experience. However, this is the first time I’ve taken any courses at the University of Maryland. I’ve been following Coursera on Twitter for over a year and reading about them on educational technology blogs. Coursera is a Massive Online Open Course or MOOC and I’ve been interested in how MOOCs could shape our educational future.