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.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tech Tip of the Month: Growing as an Educator through Feedly

A screenshot of my Feedly page
Greetings everyone!  This was quite a busy week for me, so I was not able to blog and tweet as much as I would have liked to.  However, I wanted to leave one nugget of advice this week for those in higher education, although this might help those in primary and secondary education as well.

Often times, we are so caught up in our work for the week, especially in the education field, we forget to learn and grow as educators.  As an educator, I like to make a habit of learning something new every week.  However, how do we make time to do that?

Introducing the news aggregator!  Several news (or RSS) aggregators have existed online for several years.  Most recently they have evolved into apps.  However, I prefer Feedly since, in my opinion, it is the most clean-looking of the news aggregators and it's free!

How Feedly works is it allows you to create lists of blogs and news sites that you want to follow.  Every time a blog or news site adds a new post or article, the title of the post and a brief preview of the content appears on your Feedly page.  By visiting your Feedly page, you can briefly scan new posts regarding your favorite topics and quickly learn about new discoveries or insights into the topic of your choice.  If you want to learn more about a particular post, you can click on the title of the post to read the full post.

By using a news aggregator, you can quickly shuffle through all the new insights and news of the day, and get the parts of your topic that really interest you. Plus, it's a time saver!  I would highly recommend using a news aggregator, especially for professional development purposes.  Blogs and sites that I would highly recommend following are listed below:

Chronicle of Higher Education
Free Technology for Teachers
Inside Higher Ed: Technology and Learning
Educational Technology and Mobile Learning

Friday, August 7, 2015

Utilizing YouTube to Teach Students and Enabling Them to Develop into Creators of Their Own Content

Although I've been following this channel for awhile, I wanted to share this resource with my fellow education bloggers in case they were unaware of it.  Crash Course on YouTube is a great resource for educators and students alike.  Brothers John and Hank Green of Vlogbrothers fame, and now Craig aka WheezyWaiter, present fun, informational videos about a variety of subjects including Economics, Astronomy, U.S. Government and Politics, Anatomy and Physiology, World History, Psychology, Chemistry, and U.S. History.

What I like about these videos is they provide interesting colorful animations, insert a touch of humor here and there, and often relate their topics back to modern day concerns and events.  The hosts are very personable and keep the videos lively and interesting.  The videos are also about 6-14 minutes in length, just enough to keep your students focused and not have them glance at their smartphones every minute.

After showing these videos in class, instructors can ask their students to make their own "Crash Course" videos as a possible assignment.  Instructors can either assign or have their students choose a topic within their current unit and ask the students to write a script for their video. Then, they could use Office Mix (free from Microsoft), Adobe Captivate, or other types of software to create and narrate their own videos to share with the class, and possibly upload the videos later to YouTube.  If uploading to YouTube, instructors need to make sure that no identifiable information is present.

Have you done anything like this with your class?  Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, July 27, 2015

My Thoughts: Rachel Dolezal and the Race Discussion

Recently, I was assigned at my college to teach a Multicultural Education course in the near future.  And interestingly, Rachel Dolezal appears in the news around the same time.  I find it fascinating that many people are intrigued by this: a woman who is racial white, identifying ethnically and culturally as black.

While a controversial story to say the least, I find it a valuable lesson for society.  Fitting people into categories does not necessarily help one another. We are not a one-size-fits-all society.  I remember while an undergraduate in Hawaii, I heard from an Ethnic Literature professor of mine about a racially white man who identified ethically as Chinese.  I also know of white people who identify more with black culture than the culture they were born into (if they were born into a predominately white community).  And then there are multiracial people like myself who choose to identify with the all the cultures they were born into.  Fitting anybody into a category makes the person who identifying the "other" person feel "safe," but the person being identified is now restricted. 

Although some may feel that Rachel Dolezal hurt the NAACP, I believe she actually helped the organization.  By forcing the NAACP to respond to the situation, they reaffirmed their original statement, that "In every corner of this country, the NAACP remains committed to securing political, educational, and economic justice for all people, and we encourage Americans of all stripes to become members and serve as leaders in our organization."  The stereotype that people of certain races can only belong to and participate in certain racial/cultural organizations is what is prevalent in our national psyche.  However, by reaffirming and reminding us as a nation that we can champion for the equal rights of others, even those that do not identify with our personal race and culture, we can partner with and/or join with these organizations and work toward a better society for everyone, helping one another in the process.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

What are you an expert in?

Note: This is a blog post about education.  I promise!  Read through to the end.

I have a secret that most people don't know about me.  I love couponing.  Yes, there I said it.  I love doing it, I love watching those couponing shows, and I love scouring the blogosphere for the best deals out there. Am I an actual couponer?  Not...even...close.

While I love couponing, I have to admit trying it on my own, clipping the coupons, scanning over the deals within the latest newspaper insert from stores, and trying to match the store deals or rewards with the manufacturer coupons didn't work for me.  I still ended up paying a lot more for items that regular couponers paid a few cents for or even got free.  So, what did I do?  I gave it up for awhile, but then a few months later decided to give it another try.

What I did was change my game plan.  I clearly wasn't an expert in couponing, yet clearly there are others who are.  And interestingly, these experts were posting their strategies and finds on their blogs daily.  I remember once my mentor and former boss told me "Don't try to reinvent the wheel."  In other words, there are other people who have probably done in the past what you are trying to do now, so why not use their resources or advice to complete your task rather than trying to do it on your own?

So, instead, at least for my goal of successfully couponing, I went to the experts.  I started scanning the blogs of couponers in my area and mimicked what they did with their coupons.  I looked for items they mentioned on their blog that I needed, printed out or clipped the coupons they shared on their blog, went the store they mentioned, and then bought the item either for free or for a few cents.  And... bingo!  I became a successful couponer.  Well, not an expert couponer, but one that used the experts to help me with my goal of couponing.

And this where the education part comes in.  We aren't experts in everything.  Yet, with the Internet, we have access to all kinds of experts in every topic imaginable, so we can get advice on practically anything.  However, did you know we are experts as well?  Maybe not in couponing per se, but we all have hobbies, interests, and other topics we have studied and honed over the years.

Instead of being consumers of information, why don't we become creators of information?  Why not teach our students to be the creators and how to share their creations?  Students may not be "experts" in the traditional subjects we introduce them to in their early years.  Yet, they will eventually be the new "experts" within the next few years.  Why not empower them?  Why not show them how to responsibly share their expertise?  Why not show them they are not just consumers, but innovators, creators, and leaders within their own interests and fields?

Activities that instructors can assign is have students create their own blogs or do group blogs, have them create their own websites, or even have them write their own book and have it published via hard copy or digital?   Their publication doesn't have to be about the particular subject area you are teaching.  Have them choose a topic of their own, one that they most know about. There are so many ways to empower students.  Provide them with the knowledge that they can create and then perhaps they can help someone else who is a "beginner" in their field.  Have them be the "expert couponer" within their own lives and education.