And just like that, it's fall! (or Autumn, same deal)
It's hard to believe, but the summer is in the rearview mirror. Next week the fall semester begins and as I look back over the summer I see some things I learned (or observed) in these coronatimes:
The FoMo is still strong!
I thought I had beaten back FoMo (fear of missing out) but I guess not :-). This summer many conferences made the switch to online this summer due to the ongoing pandemic and their registration was free. This made them accessible both in terms of place (online) and cost (free) for me. So I registered. I might have registered for far too many because there weren't enough hours to participate synchronously and attend everything I wanted to. Luckily most sessions were recorded, so I was able to go back and review recordings of things I missed. Between the Connected Learning Conference, IABL Conference, OLC Ideate, Bb World, HR.com's conference (and a few more that I can't remember at the moment), I got more Professional Development done this summer than any other summer. By the end of this week, I'll also have caught up with all recordings. The "AHA!!!" moment for me was this: About 10-12 years ago when I was first starting out (as a starry-eyed designer) all this stuff would have been mindblowing. I think online conferences for me are more about filling holes and making me think differently rather than building new knowledge in mind. And that's OK. I discovered a lot of resources that I forwarded to friends and colleagues who would find them more useful than I did because they are at a different phase in their PD. Just like a garage sale (maybe a bad analogy) can yield nothing at all, it can yield a treasure you never thought existed, or it can yield something for your friends and colleagues. You never know what you will find until you start looking.
Quick startups are possible (darn it!)
This summer I was invited by a friend to co-facilitate a couple of weeks of a bootcamp course for teaching online (Virtual Learning Pedagogy). The learner demographic are educators in Nigeria (the course might have been open to other countries as well). The course was offered through Coderina. I think from the time we were all invited to the first week of the course we only had 2 weeks. Last week was the last week of the course. I am not sure how much John slept these 6 weeks, but I think that the course was a success. We talk about agile instructional design in our courses, and I think this was a good example of different teams working on different weeks, checking in with one another, and putting together a course while the course is being taught. Could it be done better? Yes, everything can improve, but I am proud to have been part of such an agile multinational collaboration. I also got to meet a lot of new colleagues that I didn't know before. I think this was a good case study for agile ID. I can't wait to see what the next iteration of the course will look like :-)
Back into 601!
This summer I taught Intro to Instructional Design and Learning Technologies (it's got another title formally, but that's basically it). I had taken several semesters off from teaching in order to focus on my dissertation proposal (which needed a major rewrite - perhaps more on that after I graduate), and I've been looking forward to getting back into teaching. This summer I used the version of the course that Rebecca designed and uses, opting to not use what I had created a few summers back. Part of the reason for using her course was that she had baked into the course consideration for synchronous sessions. I tend to be more asynchronous in my designs (so that people can have flexibility), but I wanted to be experimental this summer with sync-sessions. Another reason I wanted to use someone else's design is to extend my thinking and collaborate with others. I've got my own version of what an intro course can look like, but looking at another designer's design can add to your own toolkit and thinking, Additionally, if there is one version of the course that many people contribute to the design of, I think differing student cohorts benefit both from the stability of the curriculum and from the process of collaborative design in the course. This way if cohort A takes the course taught by professor A, they won't get radically different core content than Cohort B taking the course with professor B. Your learning experience may differ, but core knowledge required down the road by other courses should be more or less similar. I really enjoyed teaching this summer. My students were awesome, and we had good exchanges both via synchronous and asynchronous means. I also loved that I was able to invite friends and colleagues who work in ID to have some candid chats with our learning community. I think this was much more effective than reading articles about what an ID does. If I could hop into a DeLorean and go back to June: This summer I only had 6 students. Such a small number of students can make for a nice seminar-style course, but the course was designed with a class size of 10-15. The dynamics are definitely different with such a smaller cohort. I think that if I could go back in time I'd give students an option: We could have asynchronous forums each week for discussing ideas and topics of the course, or we could forego (most of) the forums and meet synchronously each to accomplish similar means. I think a smaller number of students makes the forum feel a little like an empty playground. It's got a lot of potential but it's only actualized when many kids go play.
Finally, a little bit about this doctoral journey thing. In May I successfully defended my proposal (yay) which allowed me to apply for IRB/REB clearance (yay!). At the end of June, I got that clearance (yay!) so I could start reaching out to study participants. It's hard to believe that a (somewhat) random MOOC I signed up for while waiting to hear back about my application to the EdD program ended up becoming my dissertation topic. I may have bitten off more than I can chew in terms of story (data) collection but Narrative Inquiry is all about the story through someone's position in that metaphorical parade. The parade keeps on moving, and so do participants in it, so I am OK with presenting a sliver of that experience (knowing that it's a sliver of it). It's not possible (for a dissertation anyway) to be a completionist when exploring an experience (which I guess pushes back on my FoMo mentioned above). Hopefully I'll have a good draft of this thing by the end of the semester in December.
So...what was your summer like?
Image credit: "Zen stones" by rikpiks is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/