An eLearning Christmas Carol
Have you ever wondered what a world would look like with miserly professors who irresponsibly resist what is best for their students? Chances are you have not only wondered, but have actually experienced this first hand. The Dr. Boris's of the world are many. We at Elearning Experts are not only fans of Charles Dickens, but also of a good parody. So please enjoy this, our version of the venerated and well-loved, Christmas Carol, by the master of dramatically opinionated narratives himself, our man, Charley D.
Mahoney was dead. That was for certain. No getting around it. No rescheduling it. No refusing it. There had to be time for it. For the funeral in any case. There was, however, no time for mourning. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. Dr. Boris did, though, plan to mourn his long-time colleague in his own way. He would drink their usual whiskey, smoke their usual cigars, read their usual Poe and, above all, try to imagine the best ways to bring students to tears. In the usual way. Their usual way. The way they had celebrated Christmas for the past twenty years.
Twenty years of smoke-filled rooms, blurred vision and countless imagined cruelties. Real high-quality individuals these two, yes indeed. High-quality jerks. And they knew it, and the students knew it, and the administration knew it. But they were too brilliant to be discarded. And this they knew, and they knew that everyone else knew, too. And so, they stayed and berated and criticized and brought to tears countless numbers of students, colleagues, passersby and even the occasional impertinent shrub.
Boris trudged the mile back to his office through the slush and the mud, and the grime that had once been snow. He walked stiffly, with his usual precise steps, stubbornly not noticing the icy-wet stabs that had begun to punctuate his every step.
It is important to reiterated the deadness, the absolute and irreversible quality of the utter lack of life that was the dead colleague. He was dead. As dead as Hamlet's father was then and as dead as Dickens is now. Mahoney was dead. And if you do not know this with an absolute surety, then the story we are about to related will, in fact, seem utterly ridiculous. For that and that fact alone, obviously.
For, the story which is about to be related to you, is one of ghosts and goules and all that is magical and unexplainable.
Upon reaching his office, his grey and bleak and incredibly dusty office, Boris sunk immediately into his old swivel chair and rested a haggard face in chapped and still-thawing hands.
Boris was not an old man. He was not yet fifty. He could have been handsome even, had it not been for the incredibly ugly inside which was worn very clearly on the outside, so much so that you ended up forgetting about the eyes or hair or smile that could have been charming, or any other feature beyond that prevailing dark cloud which so often encompassed him.
Boris had lived a life of bitterness and had allowed bitterness to become so much of who he was, he could not remember a happiness that did not involve making others unhappy.
So, it was in this state, this dark and bitterly cloudy state that he sat, and pondered existence. His and Mahoney's in particular, which, for obvious reasons, Boris usually avoided. But today, as he sat and thought about the two people who had been at his friends funeral, he wondered--what had it all been for? His friend, who had been brilliant beyond comprehension, the greatest academic and most accomplished scholar in their already highly acclaimed circle, was now gone.
Gone. And what did he have to show for it? Mahoney had been too cruel to share much of his expertise. The books he had written, although profound, were so brazenly mean and cruelly-intentioned to anyone who differed in opinion, that they had neither done well financially, nor made the incredible global impact that they could have done.
The students, upon receiving the news--at Boris's hand--had seemed relieved, the faculty had expressed polite condolences, and anyone else Boris had told had unapologetically laughed in the "good-riddance" type of way which so often happens in books and movies and apparently happens in real-life, too.
He decided he needed to drink for both of them now. He drank one, then two, and then two more.
Gone. And for what? It was in this introspective and intoxicated space that Boris came to the realization that his life, although shorter than Mahoney's, had not been one bit less harmful, or one bit less --nothing. Nothing.
Nothing. And it was into nothingness Boris fell, as he drifted off in an exhausted hazed from confusion, grief and more than a little whiskey.
Now, this is the point in the story in which the protagonist will inevitably--and in accordance with the original tale-- experience a personal journey of intense spiritual and moral development.
In the interest of time, and of the reader's sanity, we will summarize this portion of the story in the most succinct and un-Dickens-like fashion possible.
Boris found himself in a frenzy of past, present and future Christmases. Finding that he had became a bitter, cynical and cruel teacher at the hands of bitter, cynical and cruel teachers. He had absorbed negativity and learned that education was to be a way to display his own brilliance and a way to grind those beneath him further into the ground.
Boris found himself in the lessons of Christmases spent drinking and smoking and ignoring how his gifts could be used to improve the outlook of humanity. Ignoring the pleas for help from students and the olive branches of friendship from other colleagues.
The culminating event in this drunken fervor of soul wrenching introspection was his own demise. Boris saw what he most feared, an early death--no one to mourn him. No works to be remembered by, no protegés to continue his research, no people in far corners of the world taking a moment to remember the person who had changed their lives. Nothing.
Again, nothing and nothing and it was from a fall into nothing that he awoke from the haze into something--his own something. His life now seemed pointed, he had a mission. To create and disseminate the learning technology that could change the fate of so many people through the world, to pass his knowledge onto eager young minds, and to take those olive branches firmly and grow them into strong groves of not-so-literal olive trees and more-so-literal life-long friendships and collaborations.
And from a life of nothing, Boris leapt full force into a life of something. Of substance and of vigor.
Within a few short years he had single-handedly turned the distance learning and educational system on its head- making substantial and high-quality education via open source learning management systems, available to all.
And with that--Boris as with Scrooge before him--lived out his remaining many years with a love of Christmas and a respect for those experiences whether real or imagined, which had jolted him out of aimlessness into purpose. Boris became an actual high-class individual, and a dedicated educator at that. And the best of all, was that he knew it and the students grew to know it and the admins who were initially in disbelief of it eventually came to know it too. That Dr. Boris was a changed person, and a person who would change the history of education for all.
And this, we hope can be said of all of us--as educators and as the individuals in charge of learning--may we all value and further the mission of education for all.
And so, as we at Elearning Experts have maintained and will forever maintain, education is for all, everyone!