Dusting off this space

Cough, cough … is this thing on? Ah, yes, it seems to be.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written in this space, and there are many factors at play. To list a few:

  • I’ve spent my time doing other things. (Obvious, no? I was going to say that I’ve been really busy, but isn’t that a trite thing to say? Aren’t we all busy? Don’t we all simply make choices — even when we find ourselves in times when we feel we have little choice — about what to do?)
  • I focused my energy on tasks that would lead to promotion (and blogging wasn’t one of them).
  • I was struggling to find my voice in this venue and determine (a) why I would post; (b) for whom I would post; (c) what I would post; and (d) how frequently I would post.

Some of the things I’ve been doing during the last few years include a lot of reviewing and editing, not quite enough writing, and plenty of teaching and mentoring. Along the way I’ve jotted down hundreds (maybe thousands?) of words on notepads, representing ideas that I’ve had. I’m starting to revisit those notes, and exploring where I want my career to go next. Why? Well, I earned that promotion to full professor (point #2 above) and the result (after a happy celebration) has been a period of exploration. I have more than 20 years left before retirement (supposing I retire “on time”), and I want to do something worthwhile during that time. My mentors suggested that now is the time to figure out how I want to make a difference in the world. I’m definitely seeking that path right now, although it’s not yet sufficiently well-formed to post a road sign on it.

I’m not entirely sure I have all of the answers for what I’m doing right now, or even what I’m doing on this here blog (see point #3 above), but I know now that I’m posting for me, and for anyone else who wants to join in and read or have a conversation. I’ll probably collect some of my thoughts-in-progress, observations, experiences, questions, artifacts, etc. and share them here. They won’t all be well formed, but that’s part of the point of a blog, right?

Eek! A MOOC! (The why and how of it)

So, I’m about to embark on a MOOC adventure on the instructor side of the fence. It’s not unexpected. I’ve been thinking about doing a MOOC for a while, and I have a really important reason why: my students.

(An aside — to find out more about the MOOC, click here. Or to enroll in the MOOC, which is on Social Media for Active Learning and which will be active from March 24 – April 20, click here.)

My graduate students in Instructional Systems at FSU kept asking why no one from FSU was doing a MOOC. They indicated an interest in being involved in the design and development of a MOOC. They were interested, plain and simple. And while I couldn’t answer for the university or other faculty regarding other MOOC initiatives, I could decide to offer a MOOC … with their assistance. 🙂

Thus the idea for the Social Media for Active Learning MOOC — which we’ve been affectionately calling SMOOC — was born. I offered a seminar during the Spring 2014 term on Open Learning and MOOCs. I determined the topic for my MOOC (gee, it conveniently aligns with my own scholarly interests and expertise). I began to design the MOOC. And then, as the Spring 2014 term began, the students began to work with me on developing the MOOC. When it begins in two weeks, they’ll be the instructional support team.

The process of developing a MOOC as a course project has been an interesting one, and I’m sure to write more on that later. In the meantime, I’m busy with finishing touches on the MOOC itself and opening it up to enrollments. Everyone keeps asking if it will really get massive. I honestly have no idea — either how we might define “massive” or whether it will reach that level of enrollment. I’m not sure that it matters. It’s been a great experience for us so far, and I’m confident it will be for our MOOC participants as well.

So, if you’re reading this post feel free to join us, and feel free to spread the word:
Social Media for Active Learning (web site — or enroll here)
Course Dates: March 24 – April 20, 2014
Brief Description: A 4-week professional development course designed to help instructors, trainers, and instructional designers learn how to better use social media to support learning, whether in an informal networking sense or by embedding social media into more formal learning contexts. Designed in a modular format for maximum flexibility — each week a new topic.

Why blog, why now?

I’ve thought about having a blog for a long time.

Wait. I should clarify. I’ve thought about having this blog for a long time.

I’ve had many blogs over the years. I’ve blogged with and for my students. I’ve blogged for my department. I’ve blogged about fitness, cooking, and parenting. (Yes, hitting on most of the 30/40-something female clichés there.) What I’ve not done, however, is put myself out here on the Web with my own blog, under my real name, posting about issues related to my work.

There have been many occasions on which I haven’t started this blog. Why? Oh, it’s a laundry list of reasons:

  • no time
  • not sure exactly what I would focus on
  • not sure if I would have enough content to keep it going
  • not sure if it would be worthwhile (will I benefit from writing it? will anyone read it? will it promote some useful discourse?)
  • fear of what happens when my self-published words get repeated back to me, verbatim, x years from now (a cringeworthy thought)

And yet I kept coming back to the idea. Clearly it’s something I want to do.

I know I could find the time. I know I have the content. How? Oh, because I am always talking with people about ideas. And talking about ideas has been beneficial to me as a scholar for two reasons: I work through my own ideas in the conversation, and I get new perspectives from my conversation partners. A blog is just a change of venue. I can work through my ideas in writing here, and I might access some new conversation partners.

And now the time seems right. I’m on sabbatical this term (a good time to get started with a blog, I think). I just finished teaching a summer course on social media, which got me back in the blogging habit. Several students have encouraged me. For whatever reason, I’m not worrying (too much) right now about how cringeworthy it will be to read this blog in the future. And I’m part of the team organizing a symposium on Quality in Online Learning, which has led to all sorts of interesting conversations which, in turn, have given me a lot of ideas for blogging.

I imagine this space will feature a variety of content: thoughts related to learning in online settings; advice I’m giving my students (so much easier to type it out and point here than repeat it each term); thoughts on sabbatical; ideas for teaching with online tools; and highlights from some of my work.

And so it begins …