There is a certain genre of blog post that is an apologetic acknowledgement of a lengthy lapse in blogging activity, coupled with a hopeful if perhaps uncertain commitment to “do better” going forward. So here you go … “bless me reader, for I have sinned, it’s been about nine months since my last blog post.”
I’m glad #openlearning18 is up and running and nudging me to write here again, in this place that I started for #openlearning17. And I’m doing so from a new place and position, as Director of Academic Technology and the Digital Liberal Arts Collaborative (DLAC) at Grinnell College, a small liberal arts college about an hour east of Des Moines, Iowa. Last year at this time I was at Austin College as a academic technologist, but the funding for the position came to an end last summer. I started the position at Grinnell on September 11, so these last few months have been occupied with transition and new beginnings. Getting the blog started again is one of those new beginnings that I’m excited about, especially as one of my roles at the college is precisely to encourage students and faculty to start up their own blog engines.
What do I hope to gain from #openlearning18? Are you asking about learning outcomes? (just kidding, Gardner). I hope to continue being part of a growing network of learners interested in promoting digital literacies and open practices in higher ed, so (re)connecting with old colleagues and new is a big part of it for me. Getting that nudge back into blogging is an incentive as well. In fact, I’m doubling up on social accountability here, as I’m writing this post at a Friday afternoon collaborative work session with a group of students here at Grinnell who are part of our Vivero Digital Scholarship Fellows program. We have what amounts to a co-working space every Friday afternoon. I think I’m more committed to getting my post written here than I would be by myself in my office.
I’m also hoping to learn more about this “faculty collaborative” model of faculty development to inform our programs at Grinnell. Now that I’m getting a bit more settled in here, we’re starting to think on a longer-term scale about what we want the digital liberal arts to look like at Grinnell. I think that vision will at a minimum involve three components—a framework for articulating desired student digital competencies and literacies (along the lines of the model developed at Bryn Mawr); the development of a digital portfolio practice and culture; and, supporting both of those, a more robust version of Domain of One’s Own. We currently have a web-hosting arrangement with Reclaim Hosting but, oddly, this is generally available only to faculty and not to students.
What do I hope to contribute to #openlearning18? Well, I hope to be a supportive colleague and friend, a good “node in the network,” and an active participant in the group. Maybe I can add some helpful resources and links to the mix and offer some perspective from where I stand. The great thing about these kind of networked opportunities is that you usually can’t predict in advance what you will learn or contribute. So I’m looking forward to unexpected joys and discoveries!
I have to add that is was really fun to meet (most of) the directors of #openlearning recently as they presented at the Educause Learning Initiative conference in New Orleans. Their session got me all excited again for what #openlearning17 was and what #openlearning18 will be. As Gardner Campbell said there,
"The deliverable for this project was the network itself" #ELI2018
— Mo Pelzel (@MorrisPelzel) January 30, 2018
So in that spirit, I’m glad to once again be a part of this network. Let’s deliver!