I'm going to keep the EdTech2013 title because this is the year that I stumbled upon a new research love. Like all great loves in life, it entered my life when I wasn't even looking for it. All along, everything I've been doing has come together. I put off a course in my grad program until the very end, and I had the worst attitude going into the first night of class. Reviewing my notes for the first assignment yesterday filled me with a deep shame. Here's what I wrote:
"The 'new culture of learning' honestly wears me out. Not only am I supposed to be a master of content, I need to innovate constantly and be an IT specialist. I have to become a seer of the future, a cheerleader for student creativity, a personal counselor, and a graphic designer by never leaving my electronic devices. And I have to do all of this with the knowledge that I am a part-time, contingent worker with no future of full-time employment."
Whoa. And I was in good mood when I wrote that! One of my colleagues responded on the discussion board that she thought "it doesn't have to be that complicated." She reminded me that we can take one thing at a time and as long as the students know we are trying, they will try too. When I read that, I really wanted to delete my post. What I decided to do instead was suspend judgment about the class. I spent hours checking out of the readings, links, and the "Big Questions" that the teacher created. I could sense that she really loved what she was teaching, and although her background is in K-12, she teaches college students.
After week two of her course, I was hooked. I haven't had this type of realization about my learning since I was undergrad. I saw educational technology as a way to bring together my work as an English teacher, adult educator, and instructional designer. The research about curriculum instruction and assessment has even made me love statistics (honest). All of my work, both on campus and in freelance can be contextualized and analyzed by the great umbrella field of Ed Tech. Where have you been these last ten years?
Truth be told: I get really bored with scholarship surrounding the teaching of writing. I read it because I like to stay current, but I've never found a research question that can sustain me into the creation of an article for publishing. I'd rather write about my experiences with trail crew or hiking. I've been able to create a few conference presentations, but the Comp. Rhetoric articles have never come. Believe me, I've tried. I might still try.
So, turn the record over, and let's listen to something new.
On May 2, I am presenting at the Assessment, Teaching, and Learning Conference, and I'm going to use this blog to draft my 90 minute presentation (yikes, that's a long time). I've got most of my research on paper, and I'm changing some ideas since I wrote the proposal. I've got amazing colleagues going to this conference, and I'm going to see a beloved friend who lives in Idaho. I might even do a mountain bike race that weekend. It's the best of all possible worlds coming together in Spokane, WA! Who knew?
The Personal Learning Network Plan is to use the next thirty days to create what I'm presenting. My inspiration for this type of transparency is Stephanie Delaney's Stephanie Plans a Class blog.
I'll post my title and abstract in the next day or two, but for now, just know that my intended audience is teachers who are interested, yet intimidated by, all of the technological choices for teaching. I hope to reach people who mentor others or who are interested in learning about Ed Tech, but never have the time to brush up on their skills.
My first question, for my readers (if you exist) is to solicit definitions of your Personal Learning Network (PLN). I'm interested in learning from people who are relatively new to creating a PLN. I'd prefer layperson language, and not URLs for definitions. If you rock my world, I'll cite your work and provide a link to your blog or website.
How do you describe/define a PLN to people who have never heard the acronym?