I love all of my classes the most.

I love all of my children classes the most

Today is the day! My learning theory class begins! I love teaching learning theory. I love it the most! It’s my favorite class to teach! I always get excited by the class on the first day – and why not? It’s learning theory! Fascinating stuff. Explains so much of how the human world works.

I get that I perhaps shouldn’t be so excited. It’s a required 5000-level graduate course. Most (all?) students take it because they’re required to. It’s not the course they’ve all dreamed of taking for years, at least not when they enroll. I just hope that by the end they’ve grown to find the topic as mesmerizing and useful as I do.

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My new magic potion

This summer I discovered what I’m sure will be the key to my academic success moving forward.

Admittedly, this is not the first time I’ve made this claim. I’ve had other “lifechangers” along the way. Let’s see …

…there was the iPad with keyboard. Hmmm, I’m writing on it right now. Love it. It’s super convenient, small enough to use effectively on a plane, large enough to see enough of the screen to write (remember the eee? I had high hopes, but it was too small and limited. Before that I had a foldable keyboard for a palm pilot – was I really typing on that?). I love my iPad, truly. However, I’m not sure that it’s been the key to success. Continue reading

Enough.

I wrote this piece earlier this summer, but didn’t post it. I’m not sure why I held on to it, but now that summer is ending and the new school year is about to begin, I’m finding myself standing face-to-face with old habits and patterns, wondering who or what will win.

I’ve long known that academe will suck up all of the time and energy that it can, and it will tell you that it’s still not enough, but this past school year a series of challenges came at me with full force and as I struggled to allocate attention between my life (home, family, friends, my scholarship) and work (the teaching and administration of academe), I started to think that my values, the ones that pushed me to stay up late and put in just another 30 minutes or agree to yet one more small service task, were messed up. I can’t do it all. I can’t prioritize it all. And it’s not worth trying.

So here are my ramblings from May. It’s interesting to consider the ways in which my thoughts and actions have (not) progressed since then. Continue reading

400 Words

Start time: 5:29 pm

Writing. So many people in academic environments struggle with writing, and I am no exception. My typical problems include procrastination and overcommitment, which then combine to paralyze me at times. Rather than writing anything, I write nothing (not to fear, I’m still working because there’s always plenty to grade, edit, report on, etc.). For the last several years, I’ve tended to put myself last, which means that writing has been last on my to do list. I would have inner dialogues that went something like this:

Okay, it’s 9 am. Why not give yourself 30 minutes to catch up on email, then knock out those letters of recommendation, check in with the online class, do the manuscript review for the journal, and then you’ll be clear to write your own manuscript for the rest of the day. 

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Who’s your people? On building online networks

“Who’s your people?” She demanded, looking him straight in the eye.

“Ummm. Pardon me, ma’am?” He replied, tentatively.

I was not sure if he couldn’t understand her thick southern accent, or if he couldn’t understand the nature of her question.

“Who’s your people?” She asked again.

After a moment, her daughter – my great aunt – who was playing hostess and serving up delicious slices of pecan pie jumped into the conversation to help out, “Oh, Mama, he’s not from around here. You don’t know his people.”

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Twitter: for the birds?

This spring, my research collaborators and I interviewed more than 50 people about (among other things) their Twitter use. This was on the heels of spending 3 days in two high school classrooms last year interacting with teens about their social media use and attitudes (including Twitter). And now I find myself once again with 35 of my own students in a course focused on social media, in which I alternately introduce my students to, reunite them with, or simply play alongside them on Twitter. All of this is to say that I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about how people perceive and use Twitter. And tonight I’m thinking a lot about how to discuss Twitter — and why/how some people use it and others don’t — with my students.

My bracketing statement, before I go any further:

I am primarily a situational Twitter user, and I tweet mostly on topics related to my profession, although occasionally share something that amuses me or that is more personal. Mostly I tweet during events, such as conferences. I also tweet each summer when I teach my social media class. (Full disclosure, I also tweet with a class during the school year, but not from my personal account so I’m not really counting that. It’s a very deliberate and scheduled act then, not at all naturalistic or exploratory.) Passively, I use Twitter sporadically (sometimes I go a month without logging on). If I’m killing time, I’ll open the app and see if there’s anything interesting to read. If a ‘news event’ is unfolding, especially something local, I may go on Twitter to try to figure out what is going on. Hurricane Hermine (hiding in my basement while 2 huge trees fell on my house) and the shooting at the FSU Library (I heard the many sirens) would be two such instances. So, who do I follow? A collection of local places, thought leaders, professional organizations, colleagues, media outlets/magazines, and some random accounts that amuse me. Put that all together, and that’s my Twitter experience. Oh, and let’s not forget that I’m American. Although I follow people in various countries, I know my perspective is an American one and the people with whom I’ve discussed Twitter recently are either American or living/studying in the United States.

So, what have I learned? Continue reading

Presence is a blessing, omnipresence is a curse

I’ve been thinking about an instructor’s social presence in learning environments a lot lately. I just wrapped co-editing a special issue of Distance Education on Social Presence and Identity (still awaiting issue assignment), and also facilitated a module on social presence for online educators (for those who are interested, see some of my teaching resources on this topic linked below). Plus I’m teaching online all summer, and I find that I’m constantly thinking about how I am — and am not — present for my students in different ways and at different times.

Instructor presence in a course is expected. In classrooms, it cannot be avoided other than through absence. If an instructor is teaching, she is present. Even if she speaks softly and doesn’t exude much personality, she is still present. We can describe how she speaks, how she dresses, how she moves, where she stand, and how her gaze falls as she faces the class. We learn a lot about her from these things. She is more than just a volume of information tumbling across the room.

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