#AdjunctChat is Coming; What does that mean to You?

I have taught as an adjunct faculty member at New York University and Pace University since 2005 and 2009 respectively, and while I do it for the love of teaching and academic discourse, I also realize that my commitment to the universities is only for that semester in which I am hired to teach. There is little ongoing support or communication outside of my ongoing teaching appointments. While I do not expect anything more from the institutions–after all, adjunct faculty are effectively (highly educated) contract workers–I do have some needs for support and communication and sharing and discussing these experiences with others who may also be in the same or similar situations.

It appears I am not alone.

In fact, the Chronicle of Higher Education cites the number at 70% of higher education faculty as off the tenure track. While not all of them are adjuncts, a good number of them, or us, are.

After so much personal success and academic fulfillment while completing my PhD through the wonderfully supportive community that is #phdchat, I felt my needs begin to shift, leading to my thoughts about a similar chat for adjuncts, or those who generally teach less than full-time and are not on the tenure track. That is the initial idea behind #adjunctchat.

AdjunctChatWhile I know others seem to find this idea useful, I am not sure what it may mean in practice, so with that I am looking forward to a first synchronous #AdjunctChat on Twitter on  Tues, May 14, 4:00pm EDT.

All that remains now is to brainstorm what to chat about!

Successful Viva = PhD

As I mentioned in my Tweet on March 25, 2013, I successfully passed my Viva Voce exam at Lancaster University and was awarded my PhD in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning (Educational Research) forthwith. In the British system, passing a viva forthwith means I passed without corrections and was thus awarded the degree.

Jeffrey Keefer Viva Tweet

As a result, my doctoral thesis, entitled Navigating Liminality: The Experience of Troublesome Periods and Distance During Doctoral Study, is being printed and bound at the university.

I especially want to thank my supervisor, Professor Malcolm Tight,  (standing next to me in the image below), and my examiners Professor Paul Trowler (in the left on the picture) and Dr. Margaret Kiley (who attended remotely from Australia). Alice Jesmont (also in the picture below) has been invaluable in her assistance while I attended Lancaster University, along with Dr. Gale Parchoma, who started off as part of my supervisory team before moving on to the University of Calgary.

Jeffrey Keefer Viva

I am now working at publishing some of the results of my work, so hope to have lots more to share. Thanks goes to all who have supported, guided, and helped me along the way, about which I will also speak more in the near future.

Making Sense of Theorizing the Web 2013 #TtW13

TtW13This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend the Theorizing the Web 2013 Conference that was held here in New York City at the CUNY Graduate Center. I attended the 2012 conference from a distance last year, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet some of the presenters, participants, and organizers in person this time.

The program was filled both with speakers of note and those not yet widely known, and being around such positive energy of people doing, discussing, and debating theory on the phenomenon known as the Web provided for an engaging experience. In fact, I realize that I have not been challenged to follow along with and discuss some of these issues in a very long time, if at all. While I love discussing theory and how it applies to practice, it is not very often that I can spend some time discussing this in such an intensive way. I had a conference high that is still swirling around in my mind, and only wish I had enough time to read all the articles and books that were mentioned and about which I know little.

The main theme for this conference seemed to be surveillance, related to law enforcement / government as well as to corporate interest and influence in what, how, and when I see things online. Closely linked with this is the persistent topic of free speech and what this freedom means in theory as well as in practice online.

All of the presenters, organizers, participants, and hash tag moderators (me!) are on the Participants page. From David Lyon to Alice Marwick to Stéphane Vial to danah boyd and beyond, I have a lot of people’s’ works on my next-to-read list.  

The CUNY Graduate Center space was a great conference venue, with powerful and fast wifi throughout. Furthermore, its new JustPublics@365 project has many promising communication initiatives to come! As I work so close to the Grad Center, I am hoping they continue to have events open and welcoming to the public.

TtW13Now, to be fair, I don’t want to make it seem this conference was perfect or the single best thing since pizza and red wine. There are always a few minor wrinkles or distractors (there was not any coffee or food of any sort on Saturday, we had to vacate the building just before its closing at 6:00 on Saturday that resulted in our not having an opportunity to thank the organizers or otherwise establish a sense of closure, there was an issue with the gender neutral bathrooms (that did not have a bath in them, BTW!) and privacy within them, and there was not sufficient time in the presenter sessions to ask and discuss anywhere near as many questions as were conveyed in the room and via the specific Twitter room hash tags). While these various things can be a bit distracting at the time, in the larger scheme of things they are all minor (except the questions and discussions after the speaker presentations!) and are listed here more as a memory of what happens when a few dedicated volunteers put on a free conference; there are bound to be a few minors issues. However, all things being equal, there is really nothing to complain about — kudos to Nathan, PJ, Jessie, and the entire planning committee!

Given all this, what are my own next steps?

  1. Read. I gathered a number of articles and books that I already ordered and downloaded in the specific areas of surveillance, Twitter (an ongoing area of personal /professional / academic interest), and the notion of our cyborg identity (with a bit more of a journey into actor-network theory).
  2. Engage. I met a number of really interesting, very smart, and highly creative academics and theorists at this conference, and I have to make a conscious effort to maintain some of those connections (even if that means I need to move past my near-infatuation with Twitter).
  3. Contribute. What good is all this reading and engaging with others and their ideas if I do not integrate them into my own thinking, perspectives, research, and theorizing. There is no reason why I cannot pursue some of this on my own, especially as I am nearing completion of my PhD studies. Furthermore, I am glad I was able to act in the role of a hashtag moderator, though I think I want to become a little more involved in some way. We’ll see what that may mean (perhaps even based on my 2 previous next steps!); surely in some interesting way!

I look forward to seeing some of the archived sessions once they are online and available, as well as some of the online photos. Until then, onward and upward as we continue to theorize the web and what that means in our lives.

Viva Voce Scheduled for March 25

My viva voce (by live voice), otherwise known as the doctoral defense, is scheduled for March 25. Time to start my preparation (as if the previous 4 years were not enough!!).


and no, I will NOT be making anything up!

How can I “Acknowledge the Opposite” when Preparing to Teach? #fslt12

As I am putting the final tweaks in my preparation for my 3-hour on-campus session of my Pace University course, NURS 840: Teaching and Learning in Advanced Practice Nursing, I am again pausing for a moment to explore and further develop my COWIL model (Consider the Opposite of What I Like) to better meet the needs for my students. Students who like what I like or think similarly as I do are already fine — I will meet their learning needs more easily as we are already approaching learning in a similar manner. The trick is being able to meet the needs of other students who don’t approach teaching and learning as I do. Yes, I can focus on my methods that already seem to work, but is that really taking them where they are and working with them? Is that really respecting some of their own interests?

I cannot consider the opposite unless I am clearer on what I like. While I did enough of that to get me started on this process, I want to turn my reflective attention to considering what I do not like, or to put it more gently, to more clearly articulate what does not resonate as much with me. To do so, I will reach out again to borrow from the work of Stephen Brookfield, this time his work around around the critical thinking process:

  1. Identify assumptions embedded in words & actions (discourses & systems)
  2. Assess grounds – evidence, accuracy & validity
  3. Take alternative perspectives – intersubjective understanding / perspective taking
  4. Take informed action / agency

While I am not seeking to critically think through things at this time, I do want to focus on the assumptions aspect, namely to identify those things I assume — those taken for granted beliefs about the world, and our place within it, that seem so obvious to us as not to need to be stated explicitly (again, from Brookfield).

As I see my COWIL model developing, I intentionally want to identify the things I assume are not the case about the world and my place in it, in this context teaching and learning, and explore if there is some way I can bring those things into my class as UNDOUBTEDLY there will be people who think differently enough that perhaps their needs may be met.

Let’s try a simple example I have in mind. I assume people learn by discussing (constructionist) and also by internally grappling with content based on personal experience. However, this assumption does not readily allow for watching videos and then discussing them (as I personally do not watch a lot of television, videos, movies or the like). However, in Considering the Opposite of What I Like (COWIL), perhaps I should try a video or two (like we try all things in class to see if they work for the learners, content, time, etc.) in the course.

Yes, this is a simple example that may not need a degree in education to see, but what better place to start than with something simple as I am exploring and fleshing out this model? After all, if a video or something more multimedia does not work, what has been lost? If nothing else, it becomes another teachable moment as the experience (consider actor-network theory) may more closely resonate with common learning approaches for some. 

I will let you know what I find, though working through COWIL from the critical thinking frame to flesh out those assumptions can be quite useful.

Transcription Review is Complete!

I am happy to say that yesterday I FINALLY completed the transcription review and editing step in my doctoral thesis research by sending the transcripts to my interviewees for member checking. The entire transcription and checking / editing the final transcript by relistening to the interviews again and making corrections has been the single longest part of my research to date, and I was only able to accomplish it through using the Pomodoro technique.

Previous experience has shown me, upon reflection, that the transcription-related step has always been my biggest hurdle, after which I tend to make consistent and steady progress (knock wood). I am glad that my interviewees (I have the best interviewees anybody could ever ask for!) have already started to reply that they received it (with even a few corrections, edits, additions, and clarifications). I am thus hoping to begin my formal analysis in about a month.  

I am very thankful for the support of my interviewees and my research network; while I cannot mention many of you by name, I do thank you for your support.

Revised Doctoral Thesis (Research) Overview

I revised the overview / summary I keep on my website about my doctoral thesis, as had to write a summary of it and wanted to show a current sketch for where my work is at this time. You can find it in the DOCTORAL THESIS (RESEARCH) link above, as per the image.

Any feedback for it will be appreciated.