Personal Goals for 2015

While I had mixed results with my 2014 Goals and Intentions, I want to focus on moving forward rather than looking back. After all, measuring my previous personal success won’t get me very far now that we are into the new year. Onward and upward!

Having thought about these for some time now, these are my Personal 2015 Goals:

1. Engage in Timely Communication

I want to maintain Inbox ZERO (delete, delegate, respond, defer, or do) for Email and Social Media (Twitter replies, Facebook replies, etc.). Remaining current enables a discipline that I have long struggled to maintain, with the side effect of more strongly connecting me with my networks.

2. Communicate the Connections between my Learning and Teaching

I am always learning something or another, yet I do not always share this with my networks at the time. I want to more intentionally do this through social media, my blog, and other channels.

3. Attain Financial Balance

A fool and his (her) money is soon parted, and I am tired of playing the fool.

Some progress is better than none at all!

 

#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.

 

A Model for Using Twitter as a PLN

I had a request to break out my Using Twitter as a PLN (Personal Learning Network) model from my Using Twitter for Personal & Professional Development workshop, so here it is. I added a cc license for it as well in case anybody wants to use it and try it out.

This is how I use Twitter and find it to be a rewarding experience for developing my personal learning network. It is like Karma — give so you can get.  The best way I have found to get suggestions, answers, resources, help, and support is to offer the same first. Why should somebody spend any time replying to my Tweets if I have not shown myself willing to share and give the same? Give encouragement and answers and offers of whatever is needed, and that initial discussion and trust and acknowledgement that I exist online and want to be a member of a community of sharing will then build online credibility and a sense of presence. Share first and it is more likely somebody will then want to share back, at least in the world where I find most of my support, namely via Twitter.

Using Twitter as a PLN

While I am especially considering this use of Karma on Twitter as a guide for a personal learning network, i comes from my experiences “offline” as well–the time to ask for help or a job or resources is not when nobody knows who I am, being an unknown quantity, but only after I have developed a reason for people to want to help. Think of when you are moving; that is not the time to make friends who will help–that all has to come first before you need anything. Give so you can get.

This means, in effect, that conversations do not simply happen–they require effort. If I create a profile and follow a few people and then nothing more, it is unlikely that anything will come of it. I have to first give people a reason to want to talk. That is why a personal learning network is not magic, and indeed does not come without a price–I have to work on it and constantly develop it, otherwise I will not be able to rely on it when needed. This may be easier for some people than others, but for those of us who love process issues, few things beat the experience of sharing and helping others as its own reward while engaging in social media. Let the discussions and ultimate learning then follow.

 

Using Twitter for Personal & Professional Development

Last week I did a workshop for my organization’s Learning and Development Forum, where I discussed Using Twitter for Personal & Professional Development. I posited Twitter usage as a Personal Learning Network (PLN) , where it works best for you to “get” something from it only after you “give” something to it. While many of my slide presentations are not fully intelligible without attending the presentation itself, I hope these may be useful.

 

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.

 

Using Reflective Practice to Plan for Friday’s Class (via #COWIL and #ANT for #fslt12)

This Friday is the first of my five on-campus sessions for my course at Pace University, NURS 840: Teaching and Learning in Advanced Practice Nursing, so there is no better time than the present to further develop the COWIL (Consider the Opposite of What I Like) model I started to develop in my post yesterday (Reflective Teaching and Learning via COWIL). I really appreciate this consideration opportunity as part of the First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education mooc.

I have chosen to focus on the Areas of Activity Dimension of the Framework as part of my reflective practice:

  1. A1  Design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study
  2. A2  Teach and/or support learning
  3. A3  Assess and give feedback to learners
  4. A4  Develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance
  5. A5  Engage in continuing professional development in subjects/disciplines and their pedagogy, incorporating research, scholarship and the evaluation of professional practices

When I planned to use actor-network theory (ANT) in this reflective exercise, it was due in part to its focus on treating “everything in the social and natural worlds as a continuously generated effect of the webs of relations within which they are located” (pg. 1). In other words, thinking about my first on-campus session, we will all be there in a network of all our experiences, held in place at that time with all our technologies, artifacts, perspectives, likes and dislikes, etc.

What does that mean for my own preparation, especially in relationship to these Areas of Activity? Choosing only one of them to consider right now, such as “A3 Develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance,” I will now apply COWIL, which begins with my thinking about what I like.

Let’s see, in a class of adult learner degree students, I like discussion, open ended questions, answers that are not closed or limited, more questions than answers, and a certain discomfort in pushing new ideas. What don’t I like? Lecture, pretending to give all the answers, and students not reading the texts and preparing for the discussion ahead of time.

Hmm, ANT would also remind me about the other factors that will combine into Friday’s 3-hour class session, such as the food that will be provided, the room set-up, computer and other technologies in the room, unspoken student expectation, biases against the course topical area, questions about my own background, concerns about tuition payments, the air conditioning, etc.

What am I doing here? In considering how I will normally prepare for my class (the content, objectives, clarifications over assignments, and the like), it is easy to assume (or simply not even notice) the effect all these other factors bring to the room and help maintain the interaction of the experience together. How can I consider and give voice and experience to some of these other factors if I am going to focus on the effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance? Perhaps I can use a brief YouTube video or chart for some of the content (neither of which I want to do, but both of them may help learners capture some of the sense of the material and experience I want them to have). Perhaps we can address the food and air conditioning to see if they meet the needs? The room set-up can accommodate changing the tables and seats (as I just learned) if we change the classroom (something else I just learned is possible). While I don’t like lecture, perhaps I can model some of the way my own thinking has developed over my years of study of this content, something that will allow the content to be discussed without lecture (these are all bright DNP students; they can read and do not need lecture on this topic).

These are some of the things I am considering regarding the learning environment and approach to my first on-campus class in this blended course. I hope that  including elements of the opposite of what I want (COWIL), along with some of the non-human elements of the expected learning (ANT) will help all of us in the course have a more engaging and open-ended experience that promotes more personal and critical learning.