21st century education
From the Beginning

From the Beginning

mulholland drive

One of the first posts I made within the walled garden of the PBRA/NovoEd’s Team Journal, from around October 17 — I was waiting for my other teammates to show up. They had names like Q1456 and Tom Ford and William Kheel. Vanessa and I were already talking, but we were not yet part of each other’s team. Soon after this, Vanessa founded Team Blueberry, and it’s when the course took off for me.

Auto-ethnographic Journal Entry
Christa Forster
Writer, Performer
Project: “What’s on [My] Mind?”

Specialist Knowledge: (a) Writing: creating a voice, indicating conflict through imagery, dialogue, scene, characterization

(b) Performing: performing live for an audience; using the energy in the audience to buoy the delivery of what is being presented.  

Auto-ethnographic Journal Sample:
Having to articulate to Vanessa [Blaylock] an aspect of my project helped me hone an idea: my story is not unique, but the paradise that was lost was so profoundly beautiful. This caused me to go to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, which I have not read. My father-in-law, a poet, tried to argue that he hasn’t read it because it’s really an epic about empire, and he doesn’t know enough about the time period for the poem to matter to him. But even if it is an epic about empire (and if it is, even better for me, for my story is one about empire), the poem means beyond its time period because it resonates with universals — anger and vengeance as products of supreme loss.

So I’m reading the epic and copying notes from it into my notebook (not virtual, just paper — beautiful, “Mobile Ideal Original writing paper,” from Japan, a Kokuyo Campus notebook, my standard ). I transcribe lines from the poem —

Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner [in a place of utter darkness, fitliest called Chaos, they lie on the burning lake, thunderstruck…

and as I write these words, thunder is rumbling and striking over the roof of my own house in Houston, TX. The synchronicity seems apt. I live for synchronicities like this to let me know I’m on the right track.

To these [legions] Satan directs his speech; comforts them with hope yet of regaining heaven….for now the thought both of lost happiness and lasting pain torments him….

Another sublime synchronicity happens a few hours later, when I’m on my way out of a meeting. Johnny Miller, whom I haven’t seen in years, calls out to me as I make my way through the rain puddles to my car.”Write the great epic,” he commands.

He has no idea what I’m working on.

Johnny Miller, a dark angel, one of William Blake’s devils?

(A cool thing about this post is that one of the professors — Leslie Hill — gave me feedback, which in a MOOC is pretty rare.)

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Bonyuet, Isaac. “Photos.” Los Angeles from Mulholland Drive, a Photo from California, West. Internet Brands Company, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 17 Dec. 2013.


  1. haha, Angel or Devil… is there a difference? This is a lovely autoethnographic journal entry Christa. And also what a nice idea to look through materials we may have posted on NovoEd and repost things we like. Leslie says we can still use the NovoEd site, but you may have noticed that NovoEd already flipped the class to “over” mode and it now takes me a couple more clicks to actually get in. You can’t see any NovoEd content without joining NovoEd, and you can’t see class content without joining the class, and PBR can’t be joined any longer. So whether or not they take the content down, the eyes allowed access are limited. (over on the Site Dance / Coursera site that Molly and I took, Steve Koplowitz asked Coursera to leave the forums open for us, but even then our work will still be deleted in advance of a new offering of the Site Dance class.)

    Yes, that 1st week when we were all randomly assigned to groups where we were each the only active person in the group was weird! NovoEd rocks for having groups! The other 3 MOOCs I’ve taken didn’t have them, but that 1st week “nobody home” thing was bad. They just shouldn’t have any groups till the next week. If you recall there was mass hysteria in the forums! Back then we didn’t know that MIA faculty would be SOP, and I wrote this about it:

  2. Christa,

    It was great to hnagout with you last week, Kate Johnson, who recently also joined PBRe/search, also liked what you said. Kate inadvertantly became a sort of ‘slient Blueberry’ because we somehow always scheduled our Blueberry group and individual hangouts during times when Kate and I would both be at the studio.

    Hope you give more thought to doing a version of your What’s on [My] Mind? project virtually, transmitting it live, via i.e. google hangouts, to places such as EZTV in LA, and simultaneously to several other places around the world.It would be a practice based type of research/performance and distribution experiment, that seems like it would be a natural outgrowth of the Stanford MOOC.

  3. Ah, Michael. Thank you for this. I’ve been meaning to write up a reflection from our meeting, but I’m on vacay (in Southern California, no less). I am glad Kate’s become part of our cohort! I am absolutely giving more thought to your suggestion for how to perform “What’s on [My] Mind.” It is a great idea, and I appreciate your suggestion and insight so much. Thank you!

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