Warren Hall Implosion

Destruction of a College Building.

I chose this as my commons in Hayward. Warren Hall was a building in which college classes were held for fifty years. Additionally, the administration offices were in Warren Hall as well. I had many classes here at California State University East Bay. As an institution of higher learning that relies heavily on public funding, CSUEB is home to over 20,000 students. Known as a commuter school, it is one that has a huge diversity of students, old and young, many ethnicities, and celebrates that fact offering many programs completely attainable in evening classes. Warren Hall was a place to communicate ideas, help one another achieve goals, and most importantly give everyone on campus a sense of belonging to an institution that cared about its students. Even in its destruction the college showed its concern for the well-being of the community of students participating in courses.

I chose this video because it shows the destruction of a building for the safety of the students. Here in California we have a lot of earthquakes and it would have cost far too much to retrofit the building to be earthquake safe. On the one hand it’s good that they were concerned, but on the other a lot of spending has occurred around gymnasiums, parking lots (which have yet to be built and I graduated in 2008 with my MA) and more administration buildings. Things such as fees have been raised, quality Professors have been either let go or delegated to adjunct status, and one of the recent Presidents was investigated for fraud.

Awareness of the safety of the students is imperative an environment of learning yet it was the focus of the campus for over five years. Rather than concerning itself with building new buildings or destroying old ones, the campus needs to consider that as a State school a diverse group of students attend courses as well as the fact that the quality of the education has been falling rapidly. Students have assembled several times in order to protest the wages of the former President, the loss of quality professors, and rising costs. They must continue to do so as well as using their voices in every possible form of media on the campus. The Pioneer (the campus paper) needs to inform students of any actions regarding classes that have been cut, advertise future rallies to support change in the right direction, and fraternities and sororities must be willing to do more than hold bake sales.  Often they are the most visible of the many extracurricular groups on campus and they owe it to themselves to participate in the progress of the campus.

The destruction of Warren Hall seems to bear witness to issues surrounding the decay of the education system, yet it also shows the desire for CSUEB to become a better campus with an outcome of success through communication and learning in a safe environment.





Portus Museum Project

The instructors for the Portus MOOC asked us to consider a museum we would make with artifacts from Portus and what we’d include. I decided to do a pictorial blog! (Links to all images and information will be placed at the end of the blog)   portushead

The Portus Head, discovered by Dr. Simon Keay

The first artifact I would include would be the Portus Head. it is assumed that it represents a fisherman, which makes sense considering the importance of the sea to the Port and its inhabitants. It is a lovely representation of the Port, finely detailed and belongs in any collection associated with Portus.

Photograph of an amphora

Ceramics and glass project digital image

Examples of amphorae would be extremely important, both because of the reliance on amphorae to trade within the Empire and because of the vast amount of sherds and vessels found at the site of Portus.


Portus, Present Day


Trajanic Basin, Present Day

Relationship of Portus to Ostia.

I would also include various maps and pictures to explain the relationship of the port in Ancient Rome, what’s there today, maps, etc.

Portus on a coin of Nero

Coins would also play a large part in my museum. Not only do they offer a view into coinage itself, they remain important in terms of what Portus was for. As a huge complex dedicated to trade, money played an important part of life in Portus. Additionally, coins give us insight into the politics, religion, and technology in relation to the site.

Brick stamps would be necessary to include as they give us important information regarding standards and practices both within Rome and Portus.

Also important would be to include much of the CGI work so that the museum patrons would be able to see a computer image of some of the ruins. 

Computer graphic simulation of the interior of the Grandi Magazzini

Mosaics and reconstructions give people an idea of the artistry and lifestyle of Portus and Rome.

As well as friezes. 

The history of the Emperors associated with Rome and Portus would also be essential. 

Trajan's Column, Rome

Trajan’s Column

Trajan, Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus Augustus: 98 – 117

Bust of Emperor Hadrian. Born: January 24, 76 AD, Italica, Spain Died: July 10, 138 AD








Claudius crop.jpg

Emperor Claudius, Reign- 24 January 41 – 13 October 54 (13 years)

Finally, any personal finds and artifacts showing the daily life of the people in Portus would need to be displayed. I wanted to show a picture of the hair pin that was found and shown on the videos from the class, but I couldn’t find an image. There is one of a beautiful copper alloy crucifix, which if you’d like to see it can be found here:


I would also offer some hands on (if this were not on the net) displays for kids and adults. We could wash pottery sherds, have a “dig” with organic materials and a “skeleton”, coloring activities,  and access to online activities through a computer lab. 













Review: Futurelearn’s Start Writing Fiction and Week 1 of Global Health and Humanitarianism

Futurelearn’s Start Writing Fiction which can be found here:  https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/start-writing-fiction   is one of the more popular courses in the Futurelearn catalog and was what started my obsession with MOOCs. As mentioned before, I’ve been having something of an issue with writer’s block and I thought that a class focusing on writing fiction might jumpstart the desire to write as that’s what my problem has been. There were some positives to the class, but it was less motivating than I’d hoped.

First, it was very difficult to workshop a piece. In fact, you really couldn’t. You submitted one short 500 word piece and then a 1000 word piece and got some feedback, never for it to be seen again. Which brings me to the second issue, the message board set up for Futurelearn is often problematic, but really, really clunky in this case. You can get back to your work by clicking here, then there, then over there. It’s not organic. By the time you click around there’s even more messages and it goes round and round. For other classes this is not such an issue, I usually just pick and choose, but for workshopping fiction work it’s too cumbersome. This is not the instructor’s fault as this is an issue with Futurelearn as a rule. The biggest issue I had was also not the instructor’s fault, per se.

I’ve done many writing classes, and the title did say Start Writing Fiction, so I should have known that it would be pretty simplistic. But it’s main focus was to keep a notebook. Drink coffee, write in a notebook. Watch TV or listen to the radio, write in the notebook. Wake up in the morning use the notebook. This is pretty standard. It’s not something I do but I do appreciate that many writers, and many famous ones, do indeed keep a notebook. What was irritating was that other than a few excerpts and some small commentary two or three weeks was taken up with talking about this notebook, writing about the notebook, and I’m pretty sure there was even a quiz question regarding the damn notebook. This time could have been spent elsewhere, in my opinion. But, to be fair, it wasn’t the worst class. There was some really good information and the people that I did interact with were lovely, lively, and engaged. I know that classes run more than once, and I’m a firm believer in feedback so my suggestions were to revamp their messaging system and to either offer a more advanced class or to stop with the notebook and give some suggestions to outside writing like Stephen King’s On Writing. which while King does indeed suggest having a notebook, he also gives great advice for other methods to start you on your way. Hopefully by the time they run the course again they will have addressed the forum situation as Futurelearn has admitted to the issues.



  The second class I’d like to talk about is Global Health and Humanitarianism, found here: Global Health and Humanitarianism. This class is very well structured and slightly different than other courses, even those on Coursera.  The typical assessments are there, three quizzes and three writing assignments. but they offer a few short lectures with documentary films added into the mix as well as links to optional readings to further your understanding, which is slightly different from most courses that are generally one Professor talking to the camera without much outside media. One film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns_nR3HtNGU

offers a look at the situation surrounding care for pregnant mothers in Bangladesh as well as the focus of sending educators from the community to inform women of their rights and given them information regarding marriage and pregnancy as well as providing the women with access to health care.



The class was stimulating and I enjoyed the extra videos and appreciated looking at Global Health in terms of more than vaccinations and epidemics. One of the aspects of Global Health is obviously access, but access doesn’t always mean economic access. There are also issues with geographic location and violence against women, among others. While this was a very introductory module, it bodes well for future classes.

If I had one little gripe it would be about the Prof. in charge of the lectures. She’s very stoic. I’m sure I’ll get use to her, though, so that’s pretty much a tiny problem.

Glen Coe, the Beach and the Landscapes That Move Me



Image from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/holidaytypeshub/article-620054/Here-I-Coe-wilds.html


For my Sustainability, Society, and You course we were asked to think of landscapes that we feel are the most beautiful. I have two, the very specific Glen Coe, and Northern California beaches.

Glen Coe, in the Scottish Highlands, is stunning. The colors vary depending on the time of year you visit, and the various greens of the hills are velvety and sumptuous and when the light fades those hills turn a majestic purple. Water glistens, heather blooms, and the peace that flows through the valleys invades every sense. It has a specific smell, almost minty, definitely woodsy and fresh, and the quiet (even with tourists) is incredibly refresing. When I went there was a bagpiper standing by a hillside, lending to Glen Coe an almost surreal atmosphere (yes, I realize he was a cheesy tourist attraction), one in which you could leave the bustling city of Edinburgh (which I also love) drive for a bit, and journey back in time to a pristine landscape, one that has been preserved and untouched. I felt I was home and its peaceful energy felt like an embrace.

I also love the raucous nature of Northern California beaches. I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area and I grew up driving up and down Highway 1, one of the most beautiful drive in the world.

Mendocino Coast, California

Image from:http://www.best-california-beach.com/northern-california-vacation.html

We are very blessed in California. We have mountains, and forests, beaches, lakes, snow, sun, desert, and everything in between. But it’s the beaches that are my favorite places to go. The salty smell, the soft sand under my feet, and the roar of the waves all bring back both childhood memories and joy at infinite beauty. As you look out over the crashing waves you fully understand how vast the ocean is and it might be a cliche’ but you really do understand how insignificant you really are. The kaleidoscope of blue and green water is not found anywhere else, and often you can see sea lions, otters, and even whales.

I haven’t blogged in quite a while, mostly as I’ve been having some writer’s block, but with my new obsession there’s plenty for me to say. MOOC’s, or Massively Online Open Courses, give me an opportunity to learn more about subjects I love as well as subjects I would normally not have picked to study as they didn’t fit into my program. That they are free just makes them all the better.

I have to admit, I went a little crazy. But this new (to me) aspect of learning is so exciting that I can’t help myself and I’m maintaining so it’s fine. As long as I can also read the extra materials and participate in fora that I enjoy, I’ll keep adding to my list. Because I don’t think you can ever stop learning.

There are several MOOC providers out there, with Coursera and Futurelearn being the most well-known. There are others out there, though, and everyone has a different take on how successful each one is. EdX, Canvas.net, and Open2study all have several free courses, and there’s some random schools getting involved. A mutual MOOC addict found this one.


at American Public University.

What people need to understand is that these are not just fun little courses, although I find them very entertaining. These are classes that are created and structured by Professors who are tops in their fields who enlist colleagues to help them make courses that are stimulating, informative, and interactive in a way that hasn’t been seen before.

Most importantly is that these classes connect us in a global way, one that is revolutionary. One student shared a story that without MOOCs, students in her country would not be able to learn about the subject (in this case,  a class focused on various aspects of the Bible which I will discuss later) or many others as they are restricted. MOOCs are truly the future of global learning and if given the chance, will alter many perceptions and many lives.

On a personal level, I just love to learn, and MOOCs allow me to do it. I have a list that I check off every day and then I start again. I have finished only two of them, but I would like to start blogging more and do some reviews. Sometimes the most popular courses are repeated, so if you missed them this round, please check them out. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn!

Issues and benefits of the providers I’ve used:

Probably the easiest to use, the classes are divided in an easy to use fashion, generally several videos for the week, a quiz, and some peer edited writing. The discussion boards are also easily used, and if you subscribe to them you can get the responses through email. Coursera offers a wide range of MOOCs, from the Humanities, to Math, to Sustainability, to Forensic Science. The one downside is the anonymous posting. If there’s a troll, it’s generally an anonymous poster as well as pretty much every person with a petty complaint about the course.

Their content and the effort put into the courses is amazing and they also offer a great many courses with a lot of diversity. Their discussion system, depending on the course, is sometimes very difficult to navigate. In most cases once you get used to it, it’s fine, but I have a creative writing course in which it’s impossible to actually receive any valuable criticism.

Some of the best content out there, but again their structure for discussion is really problematic. I resolved myself to just posting and finding one or two posts that I enjoyed and comment on those. The staff for Tangible Things recognized this difficulty and assigned groups, which was helpful.

This one is a mixed bag. I’m taking the History of The Vietnam War and Dr. Michael Brooks has structured and created  a fantastic course, equal to actual history courses I took in college for my BA in history. But I actually dropped another course because there was no interaction. Brooks speaks with us, responds to our questions personally, and comments on our work, also expecting actual papers with research and the like.

Interesting offerings, but I often forget to do the classes because they’re very short, and the interaction between students is really, really hard to do. All of the discussion is smashed into one small window and it’s too difficult to actually interact.


Go at your own pace courses, really just videos and you can discuss if you’d like, but few do.

Here’s my list of courses:


The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Nubia (Completed)

History of Rock, Part One

The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future

Greek and Roman Mythology

Introduction to Forensic Science

The Changing Global Order

Ocean Solutions

Paradoxes of War

Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World

Greek and Roman Mythology

Deciphering Secrets: Unlocking the Manuscripts of Medieval Spain

Global Health and Humanitarianism

Marriage and the Movies: A History (Completed)







Tangible Things

Natural Disasters


The History of the Vietnam War


I’ve finished Marriage and the Movies and The Art and Archaeology of Nubia. Both were incredibly enjoyable.
Professor Jeanine Basinger taught Marriage and the Movies in an easy, fresh style, one in which you could see that not only is she exceptionally knowledgeable she also had passion for movies that translated to very enjoyable lectures. Taking an exploration through silent film to The War of the Roses and Heartburn, she examines how Hollywood portrays marriage, gender, humor, and tragedy within restrictions of morality clauses an and audience reaction. I highly recommend this course if it’s repeated.

orchids Suspicion-(1941)---Cary-Grant,-Joan-Fontaine-791379

(Wild Orchids)                                                                                (Suspicion)


I’m going to try to do at least a review a week, and I also have one class that requires a blog.

Consider a MOOC or two. You won’t be disappointed.