Coming out of the Fog: A Year of Writing with AACE Review 

Echoing the words of Angela Brown, a writing compatriot, it is hard to believe I have been writing with AACE Review for a year!

I first learned about the opportunity to write for AACE in January of 2019 through Jon Dron, one of my dissertation committee members. I’d finished my doctorate in summer 2018. When Jon contacted me I was firmly in the dense and disorienting fog that sometimes rolls in, in the wake of a very large project. I was glad to be finished yet unsure about what to do/who I was without it as my north star.

The opportunity to do three things I love: learn about technology/education, write, and connect with the broader community, felt like the ideal way to help transition into post-doctorate life. One year later, I can say definitively, being a writer for AACE has been a 2019 highlights.

What I loved writing

My two favorite articles to write were the interview pieces I did with Dr. Orr and Dr. Duran.

From Dr. Orr’s interview entitled “How Students with Depression Experience Online Learning”, I learned about mental health and online learning. Preparing for and engaging in the conversation changed how I view course design. Now the first question I ask myself when putting together new content is: how can the format itself be more supportive to all learners, especially those struggling with role overload?

 

It is not hyperbole to say that Dr. Duran, in her interview entitled “Silence is Golden?” helped me reconsider everything I thought I knew about silence online! I previously viewed silence as negative and silent learners as inherently “at-risk.” I now see that silence is far more multifaceted than I imagined. While it’s good to check in, I also must trust my learners and give them space for processing without adding excess noise.

What I loved Reading

One of my AACE reading highlights for 2019 was the multi-part series Stefanie Panke did on social media. This year my academic department has been investigating ways to “find students where they are” and engage them on and with social media. This series was a great personal primer for me and my teammates.

Her first post, Why Teach Social Media? is a peek into her syllabus preparation for an upcoming course. In it, she outlines why one should consider investigating social media in an academic context.

Her second post, Social Media and Seamless Learning provides a helpful orientation to the social media phenomenon. It also provides practical examples of how one might begin to use social media to bridge formal/informal learning.

Her third post, Social Media and Fake News, tackles the relevant topic of fake news and includes information about how anyone can fact check and ensure they are not falling prey to fake news.

Her final two posts look at how things can go wrong in social media messaging (and what to do to hopefully minimize things going wrong!)  and how to leverage different social media platforms to manage your social media presence.

Professional Highlights

One of my favorite professional highlights this year was attending eLearn 2019 in New Orleans. It’s my experience that, while the world of educational technology and online learning can be delightful in its worldwide scope, it can also be profoundly isolating on a personal level.

Attending eLearn and then getting to relive it through each of my written reflection pieces (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) was such a beautiful reminder that though we may be alone when we are working, we do not do this work alone. There is a great community always there whether you need some support, some inspiration, or just a safe place to vent.

Moral of the story: make time if you can to show up with an open mind and a friendly smile at a conference in the future. You never know what new adventure and inspiration awaits. As a total bonus (which I learned about while I was at eLearn) if it is an AACE conference, you can also leverage the fantastic library of resources through the AcademicExperts site.

2020 Plans

As I was traveling home from eLearn this year and reflecting on who I’d met, inspiring projects, and (let’s keep it real) how amazing the food is in New Orleans, a question popped into my head. The question was: do you want this experience to be a postcard to place on your bookshelf, or do you want it to be a door, opening up new opportunities? The former implies a static, safe experience—one I can think about and then, most likely, forget as I go about daily life. The latter means something more active and admittedly a little scarier—becoming intentional about pursuing new opportunities, learning some new skills, and bringing my ideas back to the community through sharing openly.

After some internal mental wrestling, I’ve decided to go with the latter. I want to move forward and continue building networks and exploring connections. To that end, I’ve recently submitted (or been part of teams that submitted) a small flurry of abstracts to both education (OTESSA and OER20 and graphic design education conferences (AIGA Design Education, UCDA Design Education Summit, and Design Principles & Practices .

For me, the fog has lifted in many ways this year as I’ve begun to establish my own professional identity through reconnecting me with the broader education community. Though it is anyone’s guess which abstracts might result in acceptances, I am curious and open—excited to see what the new year (and new decade) might hold. And of course, continue to report back and connect and share!

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