Friday, September 30, 2016

Tenure Differences for Private vs. Public Higher Education Institutions

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Having worked at both public and private institutions, I have noticed a few differences here and there.  Private institutions tend to have smaller campuses and smaller class sizes.  Public institutions tend to have more resources and funds for infrastructure and specific projects.  Both have differences regarding student and faculty diversity, student conduct, faculty conduct, and so on.

One of the noticeable differences on the faculty side, at least at the small, private Christian college I work at currently, is that tenure is viewed differently.   Currently, I am taking a class with other fellow instructors who are planning to apply for tenure.  I have only attended one meeting so far, so I cannot thoroughly explain the differences between the tenure process at my college verses the tenure process at other institutions.  However, one of the main differences, at least at my college is the requirement for faculty members to address faith and/or ethics in their curriculum.  This is very different at other colleges I have worked at where the only requirements included whether or not the course was writing intensive or whether or not the course incorporated global and/or multicultural perspectives.

To help aid us with our "faith" integration, the facilitators of the tenure class have assigned my colleagues and me our first book to read, Faith and Learning: A Guide for Faculty by Patrick Allen and Kenneth Badly.  I have only read the first couple of chapters, so I cannot provide an accurate description of what the books is about or whether or not I like it.  However, I am looking forward to learning about integrating faith into my curriculum and instruction.  I will keep you posted on my thoughts later on.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Gamification Infographic

Recently, I created a poster about Gamification to place on the bulletin board outside of the my office.  I designed it similar to that of an infographic and decided to post it here for whoever wants to use it.  Note the Creative Commons License at the bottom of the page.  For a larger version of the poster, feel free to email me.

If I were to go back and work on the poster again, I would probably change a few of its features.  First of all, I wouldn't have used so much text.  Just a single sentence or two below each point would have worked.  Also, the text is too small; I would have made it bigger.  Secondly, I would have picked a more neutral background.  Even though most of the infographic is fairly neutral as is, the floor part at the bottom is a bit distracting.  Also, the pictures inside of the shapes are a bit distracting as well.  I would have went with more basic shapes (maybe with some gradient) and not placed pictures inside of them with huge borders wrapped around the shapes.

However, this was my first attempt at an infographic/education poster, so I applaud myself for even trying.  After all, failing is a part of the gamification process, right?  Any feedback for this infographic is welcomed as well.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Messy office = productive genius?

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According to an article in the Huffington Post last year, messy people are actually productive geniuses.  I have always been a messy person, so does that mean I'm a genius?  On the other end of the spectrum, researchers at Princeton University conducted a study a few years back that found that physical clutter prevents your ability to focus. So which is it?

Many of the professors I worked with in the past were messy for the most part.  In some of their offices, I had to climb over boxes of unorganized papers and books to eventually arrive at an actual chair I could sit on.  Still there were others that managed to keep their "mess" at a moderate level.  I've never really entered an office of an academic that was completely uncluttered and pristine.  However, this could possibly change with more and more professors relying on the cloud for document storage and utilizing ebooks for their texts.

For now, I'll stick to staying messy.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Book of the Semester: The Slow Professor

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Recently, my dean at the college I work at assigned my fellow coworkers and me a new book to read for the semester.  We always read a new book each semester, so this was not a big surprise.  Last year was Whistling Vivaldi by Claude M. Steele, which I found quite interesting and learned a lot from.

This year we are reading a new book called The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy by Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber.  I've only read the Preface and part of the Introduction so far, so I can't provide an accurate review of the book yet, but I love the premise.

A few months ago, I was reading an Education blog that noted how most of the work Professors are engrossed with is more managerial rather than actual teaching.  I find this sad and I wonder if this book will actually address this.  I'm noticing this occurrence more and more everyday from the interactions I have with other professors as well.  I'm curious as to how the book will suggest we slow down, yet keep our jobs at the same time.  I believe that as professors and academics we need to place our focus back on academia and provide the best for our students by having colleges provide us more time for reflection, professional development, and growth in our field.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Getting hired as a PhD.

Finding a job is rough, even when you have a PhD.  It took me 3 years after I graduated to even find a job as an assistant professor.  Below is some advice for those still on the hunt for that higher ed position.

Location, location, location

What goes for real estate and for business, also goes for finding a job in academia.  The hard truth is that some locations have more jobs available in your field than others.  For example, when you want to become an actress, you go to Hollywood or New York.  When you want to work in the tech industry, you apply for jobs in Seattle, Silicon Valley, or Austin.  Want to be a professor?  Well, those jobs are in every state. Yet, believe it or not, some states contain universities or colleges that favor certain programs over others.

For instance, the University of Hawaii has a lot of programs involving Asian-American and Pacific Islander culture.  If you specialize in a field that involves Asian-American languages, literature, history, etc... the University of Hawaii or other colleges around Hawaii might be the right place for you.  Do a Google search and you'll find that other colleges and universities across the United States, outside of Hawaii, are less likely to have programs that focus on Asian-American and Pacific Islander culture (although I'm not saying those colleges don't have any at all, just less likely).

However, let's say you are an Instructional Designer, like I am.  You can find tons of jobs as an instructional designer in Seattle and the surrounding area, yet the majority of colleges around the area have no Instructional Design programs whatsoever (interestingly, the majority of instructional designers around Washington that I have encountered are transplants from out-of-state or had to travel elsewhere to obtain a degree in Instructional Design).  Therefore, you may not want to focus your job search in Washington if you want an Instructional Design teaching job.

My advice: Think about your specialization and then think about the location where these jobs are most likely to occur.

Vary your search

Interestingly, right before I found my current job, I wasn't actively looking for another job.  I was simply browsing college sites here and there looking at their job listings, not really expecting to find an opening.  But lo-and-behold, there happened to be an opening for an Assistant Professor in Education at the university I am working at now.  I then asked the person who hired me what places online this position was listed in, and interestingly, it was only listed on their website and one other job board online.  And the position didn't even show up on the traditional job aggregator sites for higher education jobs.

Only relying on one or two sites is not going to find you a job.  You need to vary your search.  Don't only look on job boards, but look at the colleges and universities themselves.  And even though they don't list a job that matches you right away, take a break, and look again at a later time.  Your job is out there for you!  You might just be looking in the wrong places.

Be flexible and think beyond your job title

Although my degree is a PhD in Education with a specialization in Educational Technology, my current position is mainly an Assistant Professor in Education.  I am teaching an Educational Technology course, but I am also teaching a Multicultural Education class since I have experience working with students from diverse backgrounds.  Be flexible when offered certain classes to teach.

What it comes down to is being flexible.  Sure, my job title isn't exactly Assistant Professor in Educational Technology, but I am okay with that.  A lot of what I learned as an instructional designer and teacher also applies to other areas of Education.

Be Patient and Get Some Experience (or more experience!)

If you can't find a job right away, don't be afraid to work in other non higher education industries.  After I moved to Washington State while completing my research online, I worked as an admin assistant (temporarily) at Nintendo and as an Instructional Designer for two other organizations.  Those years were very valuable to me in regards to the experience I received working in these industries.  Working outside of higher education helped me with my management and Instructional Design skills, much of which I apply to my current job.    I feel that I am now a better instructor and coordinator because of these experiences and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

Therefore, remember to keep your location in mind, vary your search, be flexible and be patient.  You never know what job will come your way or which job you may find.  Feel free to contact me for more advice.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Making History Fun with "Alternate History Hub"

One of my favorite YouTube channels that I love to watch is Alternative History Hub.  Alternate History Hub features several videos that asks the FanFic writers in all of us "What if (insert historical event here) didn't happen?  What if events in certain movies or video games (i.e. The Day After Tomorrow or Fallout 4) actually happened?  What if certain people in history or groups of people didn't exist?  What would our world look like today?"

Of course, we can't travel back in time and change what has happened.  The past is the past.  But it's fun to ponder about our world today and think about the what could have happened and how our world would appear and feel much different from what we are experiencing now.

I believe this channel is great for educators.  It presents history in a fun way with humorous and simple stick figure animations, along with a few stock photos and pictures here and there, and the narrator has lots of funny quips he inserts while narrating the videos.  What's also great about these videos is it allows the viewers to think about and reflect on what has happened in the past as well as how important events or major figures in society can quickly change our world with the impact lasting decades or even hundreds of years.

What I believe is missing in most social studies and history classes is the "why" element.  Why are we learning this?  What's the point of learning about history?  Watching this channel more than makes up for the the "purpose" missing in most history classes.  It presents a lot of background information on certain historical events and then proceeds to show its audience how these events majorly changed the course of history, but then it also presents "alternate" what-if scenario alongside it, providing a "non-example" of the historical occurrence presented.  In turn, the videos helps its audience see why we should pay attention to history and how events in our present time could impact us for several generations to come.

In addition to showing videos to the class, teachers can assign students their own "Alternate History" projects.  Having students write about an alternate history scenario or having them create their own video about what they would think history would be like with or without a certain event occurring would be a fun way to have them reflect on history, investigate the effects of people and events in the past, and harness their creative side at the same time.

Monday, August 22, 2016

I'm Back

"Sometimes knowing when something is not working and pivoting to something new leads to our greatest opportunities and successes." - Kristina Saffran 

Keeping up with the blogosphere is very easy now with RSS aggregator tools such as Feedly.  However, posting on a blog is another story.  I used to be a very active videoblogger about ten years ago as a graduate student.  This was in the pre-YouTube days where not everyone could post a video online and being Internet famous was not a "thing" yet.

There was a few select videobloggers that were slightly well known due to their combination of Blogger and or  Such vloggers included Josh Leo, Michael Tyas, missbhavens, Ryanne, and Bre Pettis.  Only a few of us really knew how to create vlogs and we all had our own little community, commenting on each others vlogs and meeting at Vloggercon every year or so.  This provided us the incentive to keep actively vlogging, discovering new vloggers, and following the adventures of the more seasoned ones.  At one point, one of my videos was even featured at a small New York film festival that featured interesting Internet videos.

However, the vlogging community was soon overshadowed by the giant known as YouTube and its various Internet "celebrities."  YouTube enabled everyone (and their mother) to post videos and share content.  Now, keep in mind, I don't see this as a bad occurrence necessarily. YouTube provides everyone (at least those with an Internet connection, video recording device, and a smartphone or computer) to post videos, which I see as a plus in regards to enabling access to this type of technology to everyone.

Yet, this is what I see as the moment vlogging died or at least the point where it evolved into the behemoth that it is now.  The YouTube movement was so big that our small little Internet community was washed away in one fell swoop.  These vloggers were now "gone" from our lives.  In other words, we were distracted by this new shiny product (YouTube) in the store window.  Along with their disappearance, nevertheless, something better came along.  Not only did sharing access increase for everyone via YouTube and social media, but the vloggers from our original community moved on to bigger and better projects.  Bre Pettis is now one of the biggest leaders of the Maker Movement. Michael Tyas and Josh Leo have moved on to other media work.  I now work in higher education as an assistant professor, teaching Education students about technology integration into their curriculum.  We moved on to the next project, while the next generation grabbed the torch and vlogged in better ways than anyone ever imagined.  

So back to my job as a blogger.  Now, that I am one year into my new role in higher education, I need to start blogging again.  I feel that there are insights that I can post about, but I tend to keep to myself.  I need to find time to blog and not be afraid to write.  Research writing is not the problem as this type of writing is something that I am used to as well as the type of criticism that comes along with it, but personal writing such as this blog is scary, yet necessary.  I need to open myself up to criticism on my personal thoughts.  I want to grow as a blogger and will attempt to post more frequently, not only for myself, but for the academic community.  I want to have the same passion for blogging as I did for vlogging, and now is as good as time as any to start doing so.