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A dialog about our new bridge and these web pages

Overview. As a pointy-headed university professor, my weekend project of bridge photography and building these web pages generated many questions and introduced me to just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity chasing and learning.

Learning usually requires repetition while forgetting occurs when I infrequently use information. Many young learners do not understand the importance of repetition. Weekly visits to the bridge provided the repetition necessary to detect changes in the bridge and consequently generated many questions and opportunities for learning. Over the course of the bridge project, I had access to few experts for answering questions. Rather than a liability, this became an asset and pushed me to improve my search skills with Google. Soon, I found that answers to questions encountered during my weekly photo shoots were often only a Google-search away - (see Restoring the Joy in Learning). Consequently Google + Internet became dependable extensions of my memory.

The bridge story is a work in progress and is evolving from a simple collections of photographs to an experiment with Internet-centric just-in-time learning. Insights I gain from you will find their way into the learning centers of MUSC. Palmetto Bridge Constructors, a joint venture between Tidewater Skanska and Flatiron Constructors, as well as High Steel Structures, Freyssinet, the SCDOT and the Federal Highway Commission Office of Bridge Technology guided much of my learning. I also learn from many of you and from Google-linked resources. More important is the e-mail encouragement I receive from many of you.

Mon, 28 Mar 2005

March 28, 2005: This past weekend was full of surprises.
First the Charleston Post and Courier (specifically Jim Parker and his team) ran a wonderful piece about me, the bridge / spider web pages and issues of learning, forgetting and the Internet that are near and dear to my heart.

In addition, I received more than my usual weekend share of email about the bridge web pages. As many of you know, I love learning and enabling others to learn. Among the weekend emails, Lewis Hudgins of Athens Georgia related a delightful story about the early days of the project.

"I lived in Charleston for several years.  I was Joe Riley's Executive Assistant.
I didn't think the nuances of the construction could possibly interest me as 
much as the prolonged political intrigue which, happily, resulted in an 
agreement to get the new Cooper River Bridge built. I was wrong. Your pictures 
and narratives have been wonderful.  It made all of us feel we were up there 
with the crews.  Also, it makes us want to know more about them and what 
happens to them now. And, the awesome, technical aspect of the work was made 
easier to understand because of you. (Who knew about the wax?)"

What we have all created with this web site, I believe, is a new sense of community and being part of something that is remote from many of us. As many of you know, many engineers and lay people have provided me with particular insights and questions. PBC, SCDOT, Freyssinet, High Steel Structures and the FHWA Bridge Division, have opened many doors that gave me an insider look at things I never imagined (like injecting wax into the cable anchors). Together we have built a learning site where we are all able to contribute in many different ways. This is my time to thank all of you!!!

posted at: 13:57 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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