Saturday, December 31, 2016

Crazy semester, crazy year, coming to an end...

So, vacation has begun! I've gotten out my movies, video games, and comic books that I want to read, play, or view in the next 20 days until school starts again!  Before that though, I wanted to have a quick look back, a year end review if you will, at this past academic year.  Wow... Now that was a crazy year!  Yes, there was a lot going on in the global and political arenas, but (just to be a tad bit selfish), let's put those aside for now and focus on me (hahaha...typical millennial, it's all about me, me, me... :p )

The year kicked off with EDDE 804, technically speaking my last course in the doctoral program I am in - but not really.  The course was a course in leadership in distance education (which reminded me a lot of my MBA days actually in terms of some of the discussions we had), and it was facilitated by Marti Cleveland-Innes (of CoI fame).  The course was interesting, challenging, and it definitely moved the doctoral ball forward. It actually got me thinking more about the connections between my (future) EdD (once I earn it) and my MBA, and academia in general. It also got me thinking more about the challenges of leadership (and management) of complex organizations.  It's easy to say "I'd do a better job" when confronted with problems of monumental proportion and complexity, but it's not all that easy (not, not a jab at the political arena, but it can apply there too).

Over the summer I took the option of brushing up on my qualitative research skills.  While I've been reading much on this topic for the past (more?) years, I thought it would be good to have a place where I could think out loud, get some peer review, and get some advice from someone who has a little more of a view of what AU expects of doc students in their dissertation.  It was a good opportunity to be in the same class as fellow students from Cohort 6, and a good opportunity to work on parts of my dissertation proposal.  Although, to be honest, I feel a bit like a slacker. I was aiming to do my literature review over the summer as well...but that didn't happen.

Fall came, and it brought with it EDDE 805. This is where the rubber meets the road, where dissertation proposal are initially formulated and feedback is given.  An old saying from our EdD orientation is something that came to mind: "we'll suffer together" (one of my cohortmates said this, but I don't remember who).   On the one hand, this seminar wasn't particularly hard.  But, on the other hand, it was quite hard.  It is where the rubber met the road in terms of us beginning the transitioning from students in a doctoral program to being doctoral candidates (after we defend our proposal). Decisions needed to be locked in, as far as what we might be doing, so we could move forward.  Sometimes that putting a stake in the sand is the hardest part of the process.

The year wasn't all about classes, however.  There were lots of  local, regional, and international events that I took part in.  Locally we presented with colleagues such as Alan, Carol, and Linda, regionally I co-organized our 3rd Instructional Design Symposium with my colleague Kevin, and nationally and internationally I worked with some really awesome colleagues like Maha, Aras, Sarah, Keith, Rebecca, Len, Autumm (and many more!) on papers, conference presentations, virtually connecting. Heck, I was even an on-site buddy for the first time! That was exciting to meet Brian, Stephen, and Amy in person (and get a better understanding of how hard on-site vconnecting buddying is).

So, despite how crazy the world in general is, I can always count on my academic buddies, at work, at vconnecting, in my cohort, to infuse a dose of sanity.  So...

Thank you for a great academic 2016. See you all in 2017 :-)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Conflict of interest?

I was thinking about this the other day...  I was reading the requirements for setting up review committees for my dissertation proposal and for my ultimate dissertation defense. One of the forms that people on committees need to fill out is a statement on conflict of interest.  This isn't unusual since I see it on the peer review side of things, be it in peer review journals, or (more recently) being on a conference program committee.

Normally I wouldn't have spend more time thinking about this, but I've been more active on social media as compared to some of my cohortmates.  Over the years I've met academics in my area on twitter, on google+, and even though I make it a point not to 'friend' people on facebook unless they are actually my friend (or family), I've added some academics on there who seem to be more active on facebook than other social media platforms.  And, of course, when I see something of interests on there I try to engage with them.  The same holds true for vConnecting.  I like going onto vConnecting because it's a way to see people I normally tweet to, but it's an opportunity to meet new folks and engage with them.  So, I started pondering this point.  If people get to know me better through social media before I reach the point of forming a committee, does this make my potential committee member pool smaller due to potential conflicts of interest?


Monday, December 19, 2016

The vConnecting about Cupcakes and Pokemon!

Another docublog from virtually connecting from a few weeks ago, at OpenEd Berlin with Alec Couros.  This one has the innovation of being the first "pop up" virtually connecting session.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Minerva? Why not Athena?!

The last virtually connecting session on my docublogging list.  In this episode we speak to Steve Kossly of Minerva.  This was from OLC Innovate 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The vConnecting/TOPcast crossover episode

Coming to your from OLC, this virtually connecting session is the vConnecting/TOPcast/ResearchInAction crossover!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Anatomy of a winter break

Happy winter break to everyone!  Classes are over and I guess I am supposed to start working on my candidacy exam...  This comic seems like it applies ;-)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Of Wearables diapers?!

A little more docublogging, this time from a virtually connecting session from the Wearables conference with George Siemens

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Academic Conferences: No change here, go about your business

I've been thinking about Rebecca's post for the past two weeks, the one titled What Trump means for academic conferences.  Now that the semester is over, and homework is off my plate (for another 35 days) it's time to commit some thoughts to (e)paper.  I'll say first that the whole travel advisory cited would carry more weight if it weren't coming from Turkey. There are things happening politically in that country that have nothing to do with Trump being elected (well, as of this writing there are 14 more days until the electoral college votes, so who knows...)

In any case, I would say that academic conferences, both those hosted in the USA, and those hosted elsewhere, are a venue for the academic elite, and in some cases those who are lucky enough to have a conference happening locally that they can either crash or find some other free means to attend. I don't think organizers will see the USA as a second tier place to host conferences.  Even if they did, for the sake of argument, move to Canada for the time being, the net result is the same: conferences are still geared toward the academic elite who can:

  • afford to pay conference registration fees
    • AAAL would cost me $325 to register.  The OLC Innovate conference in 2016 was around $700. The NMC summer conference is about $650.
  • afford to pay for travel 
    • for instance the AAAL conference in Portland Oregon would cost me around $500 if I were to attend. Orlando (OLC) is a little cheaper by comparison at $280. 
  • afford to pay for hotels while there
    • same conference would cost me about $1200 to stay at the conference hotel. Cheapest price I found elsewhere was $800 but I didn't map the distance from the conference venue, so let's call it a $400 convenience tax.
  • afford to take the time "off"
    • If you are on the tenure track, and expected to do these things, then you have much more flexibility to attend.  If you are an adjunct (and increasingly many in academia seem to be), or if you are like me - a professional but not full time in the teaching game - you need to use personal or vacation time to do this. If you work for a cool department, they might count it as a "work day" and it won't cost you vacation time, but not everyone has that luxury.

Even with the cheapest conference, the total cost for me would be around $2000 for a 3 day conference (more if there were plenaries I wanted to attend) plus whatever time off work I was charged.  While this might not be a lot of money to some, I tend to think of people who can attend a conference outside of their home turf as the academic elite. Having a new president of the USA won't change that, or make it more difficult for people internationally to come and present and meet with colleagues. 

Conferences were, and continue to be, a place where people with (at least some) privilege meet in person to do whatever it is they do.  As discussed in a virtually connecting session not too long ago (I forget which one) conferences need to evolve. Maybe the fear of a new presidency in the US will spur innovation in this arena. Maybe it won't. I think that we can't expect conference organizers (especially for long held conferences) to change their beat alone.  We (potential attendees) need to change the scene either with them, or without them.


Monday, December 5, 2016

On Open Dissertations

Trying to get back to blogging, and I'm going back through my backlog - so here is a quick post, documentation post really - from a recent Virtually Connecting session I sat in on on Open Dissertations.