When I started teaching full-time, a colleague said to me, “Teaching is one of the loneliest jobs there is.” I shook my head, thinking he was nuts. Then, over time, I began to understand. As I began to grow and develop as a teacher, I realized that I was very much on my own to figure out my path. Time after time, I would prep for class, close the door, teach, and do it over again with the occasional conference or workshop interspersed along the way.
In 2007, about five years into my full-time teaching experience, I attended a conference workshop led by two K12 teachers. It was a hands-on workshop in which I was shown how to set up my own blog (which was an emerging concept at the time). I started my blog not knowing what I’d do with it, but I was too intrigued about the idea of self-publishing to ignore the opportunity. Initially, I thought a blog would be a neat way to increase communications with my students beyond the boring text announcements Blackboard provided. But after a very short period of time, I found myself writing posts comprised of reflections on my teaching and my students’ learning. I did not think anyone (or many people) were reading and I’m quite sure that was the case. I think that actually made me keep doing it. I felt safe, as if I was hiding in my own little corner. But, over time, I began to receive emails and comments from strangers at conferences who acknowledged they had learned something from my blog. I thought that was a pretty cool feeling. Then, in 2009, I joined Twitter, which further fueled my ability to connect and interact with educators.
A decade later, I am on a new career path with the California Community College system as the Faculty Mentor, Digital Innovation for @ONE (Online Network of Educators) and the Online Education Initiative (OEI). My team’s focus is providing professional development for CCC faculty, staff, and administrators on the effective use of technology in support of student success. That’s no small feat. There are roughly 60,000 faculty in the CCC system (70% of whom are part-time), in addition to another approximately 27,000 staff and more than 2,000 admin. @ONE has done an excellent job of offering high quality online courses and webinars, in addition to an online teaching certification program, which I had a small hand in many years ago. And we are infusing some new and exciting innovations into PD that we can’t wait to share.
This week, the 2017 Inside Higher Ed Faculty Perceptions of Technology Survey was released. One finding showed that 55% of faculty “typically [adopt] new technologies after seeing peers use them effectively.” Luke Dowden eloquently framed this comment by saying, “Change really takes off when faculty talk to each other.” I completely agree. And that is exactly why so many faculty developers regularly hold workshops and why so much money is spent on traveling to conferences. But we need to remember that digital tools enable faculty to spread their ideas to a much wider audience – beyond the edge of their campus, across the state, the nation, and beyond. These are ideas that I began to explore in my role with Teaching & Learning Innovations at CSU Channel Islands and I look forward to developing them further in the future. Campus-based faculty conversations are vital and we need to encourage more of them, but what really interests me is how digital water-cooler moments affect change.
Yesterday, I invited a group of connected educators from the CCC system to join my team and I for a brief presentation about the new @ONE Community endeavors, which will augment the online courses, webinars, and certifications that @ONE has and will continue to offer. I shared a vision for “digital water cooler moments” and then showcased some of the cool ways we are planning to support CCC faculty, staff, and administrators to share their work, their innovations, their problems, and their questions about teaching with technology.
In December, after we launch our new website, I will write in detail about these efforts. For now, if you’d like a preview, feel free to watch the 30-minute recording of my presentation below. Comments are encouraged, especially in the form of Tweets with the hashtag #CCCLearn.