Scholarship and Hiring Practices

I’ll admit, I haven’t been able to focus much on digPINS this week. It’s been a tough one, marked by exhaustion, overeating of carbs (for good reason, colleague got her PhD), and an unfortunate and hostile situation with a faculty member. I have a little space to write today, and I want to document some of my thoughts about basic digital scholarship (or maybe professional development) and hiring practices. This is me, as an instructional designer, looking from the outside at faculty who teach online.

  • I’m fortunate that the majority of faculty I partner with are excellent online instructors, and if they aren’t excellent, they are invested in bettering themselves through various means available to them.

  • There is a small, but highly visible, group of faculty who are slated to teach online but lack basic digital literacy and more importantly: the desire to teach online.

  • These faculty often want someone to sit next to them as they build their entire course in an LMS, or worse, expect someone else to build their class for them.

  • These faculty often are adjunct faculty, self described as the “bottom of the barrel,” and “forced” to teach on online class.

  • Most academic technology (or similar) departments are not equipped for this (slash their departments are not intended to provide white glove service), and if they are, it’s not scalable >>> the staff burdened with accommodating these faculty quickly become burnt out.

It becomes a point of contention, these are questions I have heard/seen: Why aren’t you helping me? Why are you turning my faculty away? What do you even do anyway?

Also: There are spoken/unspoken opinions about adjunct faculty. One is an elitist take that adjunct instructors create less quality learning experiences. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE. This attitude pisses me off, to be frank. It comes from a place of privilege and obliviousness. Really, this mentality is a symptom of the bigger problem: hiring practices for faculty.

Here are some of my easy questions for schools/departments/units about their hiring practices.

  • Are you transparent in the interview process about the probability of this position teaching online?

  • Do you ask about experiences in teaching online, using technologies (including an LMS)?

  • How do you onboard faculty to your department? Whether they teach f2f or online, digital literacy and digital scholarship are integral parts of higher ed.

I am tired. This is a starting point.

Some grouchy hot takes on technology and pedagogy

Warning: I’m feeling a little sharp tongued today, so my writing may be seasoned with some expletives. If you’ve spoken with me (in any format), this will not be a huge surprise.

There are a few things sticking in my craw lately about technology and pedagogy. I want to preface this post to remind/inform you that I love technology, use it daily, and value its use in the f2f/online classroom.

Working in online education means that I often see the full spectrum of using tech in the classroom: the good, the bad, and the snarky. Here are some of my hot takes:

  1. I recently co-facilitated a session on the cool tool traps in ed-tech and one piece of feedback was that a faculty member would never go to a session like that because they want to explore cool tools. First, the session was about two things: LTIs lack of transparency/taking ownership of FERPA sensitive student data (HELLO PUBLIC LTI SETTINGS) and not letting technology drive pedagogy*. I need to remind myself that one ill-informed comment does not overshadow the “holy shit” looks of realization from attendees who realized they had power in limiting data sent to vendors. USE ALL THE TOOLS YOU WANT JUST EXAMINE THEM CRITICALLY BEFORE COMMODIFYING STUDENT DATA.

  2. I recently met with a faculty member who is doing amazing things in her courses. She is focusing on students first rather than leading with technology. She is facilitating opportunities for exploring theory and praxis using basic tools like Zoom. She is providing multiple options for students to demonstrate skills and the knowledge that goes with those skills. And of course, she is getting pushback from sage-on-the-stage colleagues.

    1. One decontextualized example: students needed to coordinate a synchronous meeting. When one student couldn’t attend, they arranged to have a debrief with the group leader. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS IN REAL LIFE. When I can’t make a meeting (because life happens), I get debriefed by a colleague or stakeholder. Also: Students turned in the recording of the meeting and the instructor used it to learn about her students: what they liked, didn’t like, what they spoke about, how their experiences related to course concepts. She didn’t use the recording to assess them, but to become a better instructor. What a concept!

  3. The relationship of technology and pedagogy has me asking: Is the explosion of ed tech tools a good thing on the whole? I don’t know, and I don’t think it’s a yea or no answer. Maybe? Sometimes I think these tools are marketed/spun to fill a need when really they are creating more opportunities for instructors to do any of the following (and more):

    1. Not trust their students or invest time in building trust/relationships (hello plagiarism/cheating tools)

    2. Micromanage learning (MUST SEE ALL THE THINGS TO GRADE IT. HOW DID IT HAPPEN IF I DID NOT SEE IT ALL HAPPEN? Again, see trust.)

    3. Focus on tasks vs. skills (wow you do a click on these auto-graded quiz buttons, good jobs!)

    4. Prioritize boring-ass things.

I have more thoughts, but it’s also exhausting to be grouchy. I think I’ve been a sourpuss long enough for today. Just like the weather here in Colorado, wait five minutes and it (I) will change. Onto my brightly scheduled brain programming…

Note: awarding myself a cool frickin’ trophy for not going full swearbear here.

*Sometimes technology has to dictate pedagogy, a specific example is using industry standard software/hardware.

DigPINS: Networks

Oh networking, something I’ve been considering often as of late.

Side-note-but-at-the-beginning note: This Thursday I will be at the CU Online Spring Symposium- which is a fun day of learning and f2f networking, primarily with faculty who teach online at CU Denver (with some other great institutions as well)! Sad to miss the slow chat going on, but I will survive :)

N-E-T-W-O-R-K-S

Professionally: I interact with my CU colleagues, Pedagome gnomes, EDSurge Loop participants, and people within and beyond my LinkedIn connections. Sometimes I feel like I’ve stunted my professional networking because I do not like to take work home. I’m a big proponent of work/life balance, and since I know that about myself, I should (WILL!) dedicate time each day (week?) towards networking. I have so much more to say about my personal networks…

Personally: This is a bit in flux because I am trying to mindfully stay off Facebook (some days are better than others). I used to be a member of several groups that are an offshoot of a popular parenting podcast, but I chose to leave almost all of them a few weeks ago. The short reason for this was that people were being assholes within an echo chamber. I follow a few pages on FB (and IG) that represent marginalized voices. I use these to learn more than network and I want to do more of this.

On Snapchat, I interact with friends and family members- I like the little sneak peeks into their daily lives.

I use FB Messenger primarily for a group chat with 11 other moms who all had babies around the same time I did. It’s a good place to share milestones, let off some steam, ask for advice.

On IG I follow mostly friends and family with a few tattoo artists, celebs, and progressive influencers thrown in. I probably should go through and follow/unfollow more on IG.

Current favorite follows and where I follow them:

  • the_yvesdropper (IG)

  • nothing_to_worry_about (IG)

  • theLLAG (Twitter)

  • nancy.birthwhistle (IG)

I’m trying to consciously visit/subscribe to spaces that do not represent me and/or help me grow. I am a cishet white woman, there are millions of places on the internet dominated by people like me. The internet/world is not just for people like me. My network does not need to be made of people just like me. There are things that could potentially set me apart (atheist, first generation college student) but I can easily pass in most spaces with my white privilege backpack.

Random thoughts

  1. Thinking about my approach to working through content, I’m pretty sure I embody the nightmare student for many professors/instructors/facilitators. I rarely look at things in their prescribed order. I never look at the intro video first. EVER. And I rarely peruse didactic content in listed order. Haha (or muhahah?). But honestly, it helps me frame discussions with faculty designing online courses- unless you really need to prescribe order, don’t do it! You can’t/shouldn’t control your students. Also, I wrote this post before commenting on last weeks posts from my #DigPINS colleagues. Oops?

  2. The Wisdom and Madness of Crowds was not my thing. I struggle with puzzles, especially logic ones. It took me a lot longer than 30 minutes. I had to take breaks because I didn’t want to end up so frustrated that I would miss out on the underlying meaning. I probably would have handled it better if I partnered with someone. Now that I think of it, if I show my puzzle loving husband, he will probably “solve” the prompts easily.

  3. My approach to networking has been heavily impacted by becoming a parent 20 months ago (in my case, a mother). I envy those who did not experience crippling postpartum depression, and I would not wish it (or depression, anxiety, etc.) on anyone. For a long time, I didn’t realize that I lost in the forest, repeatedly attempting and failing to claw my way out. I was “fortunate” (not the best word choice) that this dark time centered on myself versus my daughter and husband. This period meant that I did/do not have a lot of energy to converse/network with strangers. I still struggle, but it’s getting better. I wish I knew then what I know now.

teddy-kelley-70636-unsplash.jpg

DigPINS: Identity

How did I decide to enroll in DigPINS?

My colleague Lainie is a facilitator for Pedagome’s DigPINS. Listening to her describe the project was my initial motivator to sign up and I knew that immersing myself into the experience would be my best starting point. It’s also a great opportunity to see how DigPINS could work for our faculty here at CU Denver. I have some internal conflicts with my use of social media and want more exposure to the many ways it can be leveraged positively.

Identity

This week we were prompted to create a Visitor and Resident map. Without further ado, here is mine:

LyneeVandRMap

Of course, now that I’ve drawn out this map, I realize things are missing (helloooooo Netflix/Hulu/Work Blog). That’s the beauty of identity though, it’s always shifting and evolving, so it’s okay to miss things. One interesting exploration in my personal life is that I am currently trying to distance myself from being active on Facebook. This stems largely from feeling drained by the content posted there (I find a lot of it trivial) and the new Stanford study, The Welfare Effects of Social Media.

Some questions that I aim to explore:

  • How to I curate a professional digital identity that represents me accurately AND protects my mental health?

  • What are the best options that work for me to keep a consistent digital presence?