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Opinion Updates Yearly Wipe

2020: Are We There Yet?

I write a wrap up of each year because it helps get my head in order to face the new year. This was one hell of a year. There were massive milestones, profound happiness and sadness, incredible isolation and togetherness. The year swung between extremes, sometimes so quickly I was literally left spinning. I saw the best of some people and some of the worst behaviour I can imagine. I rose up and crashed down so many times in the last 12 months that I feel bruised and beaten as December comes to a close.

This was the year I turned 40. It was the year my wife turned 40. It was the year that marked 20 years together. We were going to do something big, but all our plans were scuppered by COVID. Instead we snuck across the border to share the day with our family and friends. And then spent 14 days in complete isolation in quarantine.

I felt like I found my feet at work and then found out I’d be required to swim for the rest of the year. And despite everything that got thrown at me and the amazing team around me, we didn’t sink. We didn’t even falter, we just carried on and got the work done regardless. It was impressive and astounding, and to me, completely justified the risky move of migrating interstate. I’m part of an amazing team whose work I am incredibly proud of.

And what a heap of work we did. 6 brand new MOOCs were designed, developed, built, launched and were running by July. These are courses to be proud of and a testament to the fantastic team who worked on them, every one bought their A-game and it shows. We wrote and ratified a Quality Framework for our online programs that’s not a checklist but a deep and constructive guide to all aspects of course design and the student experience. We reviewed 20 courses, each one including a course design document, modules, video scripts and complete final review of the complete course. We worked with stakeholders across the institution and leant in to resolve issues from remote teaching, production bottlenecks and to deal with the impact that life itself has on work. I’m immensely proud of the team and what we have achieved, because given the circumstances we faced – it would have been justifiable that none of this happened.

I got to experience my first Mad March here in Adelaide. The craziness of the festival, fringe and WOMAD. I looooved WOMAD – four days of music from every corner of the world in the most pleasant environment I could have imagined. I laughed so hard at Will Anderson, Tom Ballard and Ivan Aristeguieta and sat in stunned silence mouth on the flaw watching the acrobatics of the African Circus. Ms A and I were wowed by magic and we had so many fun family moments, hanging and laughing and together.

We also cried and slammed doors and longed for space and silence.

We spent so much time never wanting to be apart again, and other times longing for some separation. Isolation and lock down does strange things to you. We felt the 1000km distance between “home” and Adelaide more than ever. We made new friends and cried for old ones. I feel in love with the land here – the country is amazing – bush and beaches, hills and plains. I walked and explored and saw more koalas this year than I ever have before.

I watched from afar as our friends overseas were ravaged by the virus and the conditions they found themselves so radically different from ours. I felt too lucky, too safe and sure. I cried at their pain and felt it as my own. Lost for words and unable to make meaning out of what was going on. I hid away and watched and read their accounts and felt completely hopeless and powerless.

The fires burned all summer and I watched places I loved turn to ash. I felt lucky I didn’t have to see it and experience it myself – I think it would have broken me.

I felt the elasticity and relativity of time more than ever before. Days felt like weeks and sometimes years. Weeks were like days and sometimes months too.

This wasn’t a year to measure in time, but in emotion. It felt like I was jumping from state to state, and time just wasn’t material. It didn’t really measure anything, just acted as a marker to prompt the question “are we there yet?”.

As we wind down the calendar I realise how very, very lucky I was to have had the year I did. As I look back I recognise that while I missed out on a lot, I didn’t lose anything. And for that I am incredibly grateful, because so many people lost a lot this year. Homes and loved ones. Safety and security. The tangible and intangible losses that 2020 will come to mark and represent. What I can only hope is that those of you who lost haven’t lost is hope. Hope in tomorrow, in yourself and the strength that you have shown just surviving this year. Your resilience has provided so many with strength that you may not know.


Peace and love to all of you this year. I’ve been so keen to unplug this year and I’ve often forgotten that means not being there or connected to others. But if you want to catchup for a chat over the next few weeks and into the new year – hit me up on Twitter or in the comments. I’m more than happy to work out a time that suits (timezones be damned!) to have a chat over coffee, beer or something else entirely.

By Tim Klapdor

Passionate about good design, motivated by the power of media and enchanted by the opportunities of technology.

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