Saturday, November 15, 2014

Started Something New: A Memoir

This summer I started an eight day backpacking trip in the Enchanted Valley with one of my best friends, Tami Garrard. She grew up on the peninsula, and she routinely leads the way on amazing hikes. Some of the most inspiring, jaw dropping sights I have ever seen have been by her side. I've also experienced some of the worst weather in an emergency shelter with her, and my memories are all filled with laughter and the scent of wet down. One of the reasons we work so well as hiking partners is that we both divide the labor to survive in the outdoors, and we always get along. She also laughs at my annoying habit to turn poignant statements into memoir titles. 

Recently I've met new people and have exposed this habit beyond my inner circle of close friends. Creating memoir titles is actually very therapeutic. For instance, let's say you did not get a job that you really, really, really wanted. Maybe you received one of the most encouraging rejection letters you've ever read, but you're still kind of blue and it's too cold to ride your bike. Try writing a memoir title. 

Somebody Else Got The Job of My Dreams: A Memoir. 

See, that hypothetical person already feels better, I'm sure. 

The title of this blog signifies the official end to this wonderful blog experiment. I've been inspired by WA's SBCTC FLC grant and we are working on a blog to expose our learning process. So far it feels like a digital record of one of my best failures. 

If you have stumbled upon this blog, please check out Aligning The CC Stars.

I'm also going to give Mike Caulfield's federated wiki a try. He was our keynote speaker at NW eLearn, and his talk helped me figure out what I've been frustrated by with instructional design and the state of OL education. I'm curious to learn more about how he describes the potential of a federated wiki. It blends together something I think is really cool and extremely practical. He writes that the "idea is not to kill StreamMode, but to redirect it, when appropriate, to more recursive and expository tools." I haven't had time to wrap my brain around this yet, but I will.  

Just like those builders of the Enchanted Valley Chalet, I had no idea that my interests--like the river--would shift and change course. It's time to take my ideas someplace else, and let's face it, 2015 is rushing closer everyday. It's time.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

ETMOOC Helped Me Get a Great Job! Really.

My decision to go back to graduate school to pursue an M.Ed was really kind of an experiment. I never got into PhD programs as an English major (a total blessing in hindsight), so I kept researching and thinking about the Education degree that I thought I was going to pursue as an undergraduate. As the job market became more dismal in English, I decided to take advantage of the WA state employee tuition waiver. I just reread my application statement of intent; I can read between the lines and see that I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Half way through the degree, I thought about walking away. It was too hard to teach full-time and be a part-time graduate student. Thanks to kind words of encouragement from family and friends, I graduated last December. 

I’ve been saying for years that I want to teach teachers. The real question became: How can I teach teachers when a lot of the education programs focus on K-12?  I love working with high school teachers, but I wouldn’t have any credibility with them because my experience is in higher education. I also knew I don’t want to be a high school administrator.  

As I reflect on the last year, every bump and turn in the path of my career lead up to my new job as Director of eLearning and I’m still over the moon that this is my life. I feel so lucky, but then again, I’ve worked really hard.  

So how did ETMOOC help me get a job? Well, when I started to research Instructional Designer positions, I needed a portfolio. I had zero results for digital citizenry aside from bike race results and a certain website for rating your professor. All of my OL work lived inside of an LMS; my work as a teacher left me little time to connect. Teaching four to six composition courses a quarter leaves little time for anything in life. 

Without my ETMOOC experience, I would have been scrambling to substantiate my research interests. Albeit I learned a lot in my graduate program, but many of my assignments were theoretical.  My course in educational technology helped me discover ETMOOC, and the mix of an amazing F2F class with a MOOC blew up my world. I wasn’t anywhere near one of ETMOOC’s most active participants, but I learned a lot. I started this blog, for instance! What a huge step for me both—personally and professionally—so when it came time to put together a portfolio, I actually had one.  

One of my interview questions had to do with my perspective about MOOCs. I almost leapt out of my chair with ideas—all based on my ETMOOC experience. MOOCs are a model for life-long learning and building skills that must live on. I've read a lot about MOOCs being fads and failures, but I’m living proof that this model of learning can work for professional development.

So more than one year later, I can attest that a MOOC helped me get my dream job that, I hope, will be a catalyst for future opportunities.

I see MOOC learning similar to a bike share program (only it's free). You take one bike, ride it to another neighborhood, and leave it for another person. The infrastructure (the bike or the MOOC) supports the creativity (the learning or the riding) and it's communal.  It's up to you to unlock the potential and pedal to new learning.

I'm working on this metaphor, but that's what ETMOOC taught me to do; share your learning. Oh the cheesy places I can go with this idea! Bad ideas are like dropping your chain. Learning is like buying a bike: invest in a good frame and upgrade the parts later. Learning from other people is like riding in pack. Being an innovative teacher is like digging into your suitcase of courage. See? I can go on and on with this one.

I’m getting ready to begin another blog, but I have to conclude this one with a sincere thank you to the organizers of ETMOOC. You helped me a great job. Really. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Yes, it's 2014 and I need to blog.

Are you there free-time? It's me, Alyson.

I'll figure out what's next, dear readers, I promise.

So many new and exciting things have happened since I've blogged last. It's all happened so quickly I haven't had time to process it. I'm living in the moment of pure luck, hard work, and being in the right place at the right time. That being said, I have no time to blog much less process this sweet little life. There are bits and pieces scattered here and there if you are really interested. If you really want to know, it's not hard to find me.

For now, this blog will occupy space in the dust-bin of the Internet.