You’re doing what?


Same “room,” different “tank”

My life has been quite a journey over the past few years.  Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: from June 2006 to October of 2013, I worked as a staff member in the Division of Student Affairs at CSU Channel Islands overseeing a variety of programs, but most recently, the student leadership program… all while teaching classes online, blended, and face-to-face formats.  After my daughter, Jojo, was born in January 2013, I made the decision that I needed a job that afforded me the ability to work a flexible schedule; it just didn’t make sense to me to have a child and then only see her for two hours in the evening before bed after a long day of work.  In August 2013, I took a risk and resigned from my role in the student leadership program and backed away from an upward career trajectory in Student Affairs to work as a lecturer and part-time in Student Affairs assisting with assessment, research, and training.  I chartered this journey to gain more time with my daughter.  This change was successful in a few ways: I built up to a full teaching load of five classes to pay the bills (something I was most worried about when resigning from my job), I had a flexible schedule, I built up my research agenda and got a few publications, and I fully committed myself to integrating technology into my teaching.

Some days seemed like this… not most. But it’s funny.

Unfortunately while the role of a “part-time” lecturer had many benefits, it also came with some challenges. Among the challenges were the fact that income was not stable because it was unclear how many classes I would be offered from one semester to the next.  The fundamental challenge associated with teaching 5 classes per semester and maintaining a part-time job in student affairs was the workload:  between prepping for classes, grading, office hours, returning student emails, teaching classes, logging hours for the part-time job and returning more emails – I worked an average of 55 hours a week.  In fact, I had so much work to do that I often felt that I should be working even if I was not working.  I won’t complain about the salary I earned as a lecturer, but the reality is that I had to do all of this work just to break close to even with what I made in my full time job. While the goal I had of physically spending more time with my daughter was achieved, it was a shallow success since I was almost always mentally absent, consumed with work.  I loved what I did, but it was like a good Las Vegas buffet… I just got too full.  After three semesters of maintaining this sort of schedule, I began to worry that Jojo would be making memories of her mum holding a laptop while she watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (I am embarrassed to admit this) and hardly ever experienced times when her parents were together while parenting (if Dustin was home, he had to take over so I could do more work).


I may have a little party on my own when I figure out something cool with technology.

Meanwhile during the middle of this craziness, being innovative became a secret goal of mine and working with technology in teaching took center stage.  In fact, over the last year, I’ve co-authored a book chapter, completed one study, and started two other studies — all of which involve investigating the use of technology for learning.  I even created an implemented an online module connecting my students with my friend’s students at a university in Japan.  So- when one day, at the end of the Fall 2014 semester, I got a call from a colleague who suggested I apply for the Instructional Technologist position with Academic Technology Services at CI….it made sense to apply.  I can’t say this was part of any career path I had for myself, but then again, I can’t say I have ever been someone who has felt comfortable without a path.  I started thinking… maybe I should just follow where my passion is and not a prescribed path.

As the quote below says, when change happens, you can build walls or windmills…

Camping (1)

I decided to build a windmill and go where the wind has been taking me.

group feedback

Innovating together

On Saturday, December 20, I officially accepted a new job as an Instructional Technologist.  If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what that even means.  (Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I had to look it up to make sure I knew what I as applying for before submitting my application.)  Through this new role, I will be able to help faculty leverage technology to enhance student learning and engagement.  I also plan to use my experience across the university, including student affairs, to help colleagues consider how they can use technology to better meet student needs and engage students in co-curricular learning.  IMHO, the student affairs profession has done well with investigating the impact of social media on students but I think there is room to grow when it comes to integrating technology into the co-curricular lives of students… especially those who take classes full or partly online.

I love that my job will be to help others provide a deeper learning experience for students and that5P0A2299 this will rely heavily upon innovation; I have always tried to be innovative in my job, you know… someone who researches best and current practices… but that was something in addition to my role.  Being innovative is a job expectation now — love it!  On top of all of this, and incredibly important for my work/life balance – I am fortunate that my new Division and supervisor allows for telecommuting one day a week and a flexible schedule; faculty, after all, are not on campus between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., so a varied schedule might actually better meet their5P0A2288 needs. They get it! Plus, I will be a better employee because my employer is clearly committed to me.  Who would have thought that a field (technology) that is dominated by men would be leading the way with this stuff?

People who know me know that my doctoral degree is in educational leadership (GO BRUINS) and I have a particular passion for leadership and teaching 5P0A2313students.  When I applied to this job, I had to think about what this would mean for this passion- and I came to the conclusion that I believe technology is the future (not to replace education or educators, but to deepen the learning experience)- so I figured what better way to prepare for the future than to teach and support faculty and higher education leaders in the area of technology.  I still love teaching and will maintain teaching a blended class each semester that will afford me the ability to live within the latest technologies while connecting with students in meaningful ways.  I am excited to forge forward in this new role of a woman in the technology field and look forward to finding unique ways to inspire young girls to do the same (I am even envisioning a passion project with girls in P-12).

researchThe funny thing is, I’m not sure that the title, Instructional Technologist, really reflects what I’ll be doing, but I can’t really think of anything better right now anyway.  And, since this move was never part of my “path”, I really have no clue where it will lead.  Maybe I will continue building my list of publications and keep applying for tenure track positions or maybe I will return to student affairs. Maybe I will stay in the same job for a very long time. I am just not sure… somehow I think I could be preparing myself for a job that does not even exist yet.  That’s kind of cool!

I am thankful for this opportunity and those individuals who helped me figure this out and I am really excited to be joining the team in ATS/Teaching and Learning Innovations at CI!  More to come. 🙂

A theme that makes sense for class blogging! I’m more excited than I should be about this.


It’s only taken me most of the semester to figure this out but I’ve finally found a theme that I think is perfect for class blogging.

To provide some context – at the beginning of this semester I had managed to figure out how to syndicate all of my student blogs, how to use categories and aggregate the blogs to a specific page on my class website… Kind of like this…   This looks nifty and I feel cool saying “I aggregate my student blogs onto my class website” but the concern I had/have was that the unorganized, sort of stream of consciousness look, really does not make participation easy for students.  What I mean is that without an easy way to access peers’ blogs, students often default to looking at the last blog posted since that is how they show up in the aggregated blog roll.  I don’t want students to blog for the sake of blogging; I want blogs to serve as an opportunity for collaboration and discussion beyond the walls of the classroom (both for my FTF and OL classes).  The aesthetics of how the blogs appear need to facilitate this interaction as opposed to serve as a barrier… the way I see it is that if it’s difficult to participate using blogs, I may as well use a discussion board.  Along with everyone else, I often get excited about digital tools but I always want to stay grounded in making sure that the use of these tools make sense to achieve the outcomes of the class, assignment, module, etc.

Having said that… I love the idea of requiring students to create a digital identity and enjoy (though sometimes it hurts) helping them build their digital literacy (more about my thoughts on that is here).

I’m excited to share that I found the SOLUTION for making blog posts organized in such a manner that I believe makes the process of student participation easier.  At the beginning of this semester, I located a plugin called Class Blogging that looked JUST like what I wanted but I couldn’t (and didn’t have the time) to figure out how to use it.  Well… today I figured it out and while I have some things I’d like to see updated about the theme that I’m sure some techie person at CI can help me with..hint hint.. (like a dynamic navigation menu or at least sub-items on the menu), I’m SOOO impressed with the Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 2.42.38 PMfunctionality that it provides… check out the list here.  THANK YOU OBERLIN COLLEGE! The plugin comes with additionally functionality I did not know I wanted (like an admin page that calculates word count!).   I’ve enabled this theme and plugin to one of my course websites to share with you.  If anyone knows how to update themes and is willing to work with me, I would love to get help on tweaking this theme a little.

As a side note, I use FeedWordPress to aggregate my student blogs which automatically pushes all of my students to “contributors” to my blog.  This means I can edit their info, including their avatar, in the users section of WP.  I **WISH** I would have been clearer about what I want my students to note as their “display name as” name when they created their blogs because that would have saved me a lot of time editing their names (and figuring out who they are since some got a bit creative with their names). I also realize that if I did not want my students to create their own blog, I could add them as contributors to my blog… yeah… it MIGHT have taken me all semester to figure that out but… the light bulb finally went off.

Now that I feel good about the visual representation of blogs on my course sites, I think I might consider adding another layer of participation to some of my modules by assigning students (or groups) to the role of moderating the week’s blogs.  Oh and… tags… I need to explore those since the Class Blogging theme provides the option to aggregate tags into a word cloud for the class which could not only be cool but could provide a great source of class discussion and could possibly be used for formative assessment.

Diversity in Groups: A Connected Learning Experience


Tue, Nov 18, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM PST
Hangouts On Air – Broadcast for free

What happens when university students in California are connected with university students in Japan to teach each other about diversity in groups? Join us to for this Hangout on Air to find out! This is a question that Jaimie Hoffman and Mario Perez recently explored. The two professors took a non-traditional approach to college teaching by designing an environment that empowered students in the U.S. and Japan to learn from each other about how topics like stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination and Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are experienced by individuals in other countries. The students were brought together through VoiceThread conversations, which enabled discussion using asynchronous voice commenting.

Jaime Hoffman
Group Communication
CSU Channel Islands
Camarillo, CA, USA

Mario Perez
Upper Intermediate English A
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
Beppu City, Oita, Japan

<a href=”″>How to View this Hangout on Air This Hangout on Air will stream live on this Google Event page a</a>nd may also be viewed live on YouTube at: <a href=””>Diversity in Groups: A Connected Learning Experience </a>

To be able to participate in the live Q&A, please view the Hangout on Air on Google+.

Get HIP at NASPA Western Regional Conference!


Does this look familiar to you?  Unfortunately the “lecture” is still common place in many classrooms.  Yet….

Lectures are great for getting students to repeat information but they are one of the worst teaching strategies for promoting in-depth understanding….It would be difficult to find a model worse than the one used for teaching in most institutions. (Halpern & Hakel, 2003).

Student affairs folks are often trained on learning styles and theory yet when it comes to facilitating staff training, many of us retreat to “the lecture.”  We need to get HIP with our training!

Join me at the NASPA Western Regional conference where I will review what high impact practices are, why they are important, provide strategies for making training active and for using technology for active learning.

Tuesday, November 11 – Concurrent Session II – Location Platinum 3

Is connected about “plugging in”? What does it mean to you?


I’ve been struggling for some time now (well, since the summer anyway) to make sense of what being “connected” really means when it comes to educators and courses.  I’ve seen a few general ideas of what connected means to others and I’ve seen some of it in action through my participation in connected courses and observations of others’ courses.

plugged in alone

It seems like sometimes being connected sometimes looks like this…

I’m new at this game, so please, correct me if I’m wrong (and I may be oversimplifying things) but being connected seems to mostly mean being “plugged in.”  On the individual level, this seems to mean that you’re digitally “plugged in” to various social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn).  It’s a sort of individual thing… how well are you digitally connected?  Do you blog, tweet, or post?  Is your profile updated on LinkedIn?  Do you connect with digitally with other educators, media sources, or resources? I’m probably missing something, but you get the idea.


I think this is what connected SHOULD look like.

Then there is idea of connecting courses or groups together in some way – either an entire course or even just one module; where students across campuses, countries and even across the educational pipeline can engage in a learning experience together.  This is what drew me to the idea of getting “connected.”  When I learned about the idea of connected courses over the summer, I saw connecting my students together with those enrolled in other courses as an opportunity to engage them in experiential learning while they broaden their international perspectives.  I moved ahead with creating two connected modules for my courses; one with my friend Mario who teaches English in Japan and another with an educator in a high school.  I realize now that I made some assumptions about about what a connected experience would look like: it would be planned and intentional where both/all instructors would discuss the desired outcomes for the experience, it would be crafted in such a way to facilitate active learning, instructor feedback/support would be carefully woven in, and would use the optimal digital tools to humanize the learning experience.  I’m excited to report that one of my modules is underway (the one with the students in Japan) and it appears to be going well, based on student participation counts but MORE SO based on student’s demonstration of the learning outcomes and feedback on the reflection.  Both my colleague and I have invested a significant amount of time planning and creating the module, guiding students through the experience and we will assess the experience upon completion.

I have seen other connected courses and I feel like my definition of “connected” is different.   Sometimes it appears that students are just “plugging in” a blog to an aggregator for syndication, reading content, watching videos and commenting on others’ blogs.  But, what is not clear to me are the elements of engagement, active learning, instructor feedback, and well….a humanized experience, all of which I believe are vital to the success of an online learning experience. So, I am still left wondering how do we really define “connected” when we say “connected course?”  I think I’ve found my own definition through my experience (described above), but I’m curious to ask you…. what does being “connected” look like to your students’ learning experience?

Sorry for any typos… sometimes you just have to move from draft to publish and let it go…

How to Develop Campus Community through Social Media


Lots of great ideas!

Josie Ahlquist

For higher education professionals, many decisions are grounded in building a strong campus community.  How best to offer student services, programming calendars, leadership opportunities, dining hall hours, and the list goes on.  Each segment of campus life leading students to be more integrated and engaged into the campus community.

Because of emerging technologies and innovative methods of communication, the ways in which we build community with each other are changing.  Could it be possible that students can feel a sense of community through online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram?  In this post I use published research to convey the argument that yes it can, but with only the right strategy for each unique campus.  College campuses have an opportunity to foster a virtual community, one that emulates the traits of the in real life (IRL) experience.

Building a virtual campus community is part of a comprehensive model…

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Social Media: the Key to Online Student Services


Stuff too big for Twitter....

vygotskyA few weeks ago Josie Ahlquist wrote a great post on developing campus community through social media. Before you read this, go read that post (it is good). She used published research (thank you!) to make a great argument that the strategic implementation of social networking sites (SNS’s) can indeed lead to a greater sense of community amongst students on campus. For me, though, her post (and the research she references in the post) points to an even bigger idea: That social media is THE key to the successful implementation of student services for online learners.

Let’s start with facts. Technology has permeated nearly every aspect of modern life. Presently, the landscape of higher education may be among those realms changing most rapidly. Increasing financial pressures, easily accessible new forums for content delivery, and more robust infrastructures have all contributed to the ongoing evolution of this environment. The most…

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