The #3Wedu Podcast No.7: Job Start Up in Higher Ed

This Wednesday, July 13, 6 PM ET we’ll bring up issues around getting started and establishing yourself in a new position in Higher ed. In previous podcasts we’ve discussed issues women face as they move through their career such as the double bind; importance of supporting one another, mentoring, the value of care work and organizational barriers. This month we thought we would take a step back and look at the issues women face when exploring and starting a new position. What are the things you should do just before and after you start a new job?

We’ll dig deeper into the topic of salary negotiations, discussing topics such as the long term financial impact your starting salary has and how to assess the whole package (i.e. value of benefits). The following article recently came through on the ITWOMEN EDUCAUSE LISTSERV suggesting it would be good information to share with women beginning their careers: To Seem Confident Women Have to be Seen as Warm. Their research study showed that the more competent a male engineer is the more confident they seem resulting in greater influence, regardless if they are seen as warm or not. For women to have influence they must also be seen as warm. The study suggests that women must therefore go out of their way to be seen as warm in order to be successful. What do you think? Is the answer for women to go out of their way to be seen as warm or to affect other change? Join us tonight and share your thoughts.

Wondering how best to spend your money and time on professional development in your new position? We’ll share our experiences in a range of professional development programs and leadership training. The conversation will center around the value of not just the training, but networking and how to assess what training aligns best with your goals. We were thrilled to have as our special guest Mary Niemiec

 

Around Education in 80 days

 

I was recently reading a story about a little girl who goes blind and it made me wonder how the journey from seeing to blindness is similar to a student or faculty journey from a face to face classroom to completely online. She talks about how drawers are never where they should be and a glass of water is always too near or too far. What is blindness? “Where there should be a wall her hands find nothing. Where there should be nothing a table leg gouges her shin” p. 27 .She goes through months of bruises and despair, but what keeps her going? The patience and support of her father. Instead of doing everything for her he creates the opportunities for her to figure things out. Her father is a locksmith who works in a museum. Every morning he quizzes her on types of keys. Her hands gather, probe and test. He has her guess how many pages in a book by the length of her fingernail. One day he says “take us home” and her response is “I can’t possibly do that” p.36. His response is, “I won’t let anything happen to you…you know where you are”. Time after time she fails and each time her father tells her you can do this until eventually she does. Isn’t that what it means to truly learning something?

In what ways can we, as faculty developers/educators, provide that patience and support and help learners get over the hurdle of, “I can’t possibly do that”?

What Does it Mean to be Human in the Digital Age?

Over the last two weeks I’ve facilitated three design thinking workshops around “what does it mean to be human in the digital age? (I would like to thank Kristen Eshleman for her time, guidance and expertise on this topic and the design thinking process). In each case the group seemed somewhat apprehensive. What is this design thinking anyway? What could we possibly learn from a question like that?

The question of “what does it mean to be human” is not a new question. A very natural part of being human is wanting to fit in, have relationships and feel connected. We try to make sense of our role within the social hierarchy, understand stereotypes and for some struggle to have our voice heard. To be human means to struggle with inequality, have a never ending desire to love and be loved, and to be recognized and valued for who we are.

PBS posed the question and collected stories back in 2010. In 2010 what were the questions posed? Concerns about texting and driving and spying on your children’s social media (sound familiar?). Read the stories here http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/participate/ . More recently Yann Arthus-Bertrand created a movie called HUMAN based on the stories of 2,000 people across 60 countries. His goal was to understand “What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery? “

The workshops I led were one hour “crash course” sessions so we moved through each stage at a rapid pace.I spent a short amount of time going over what the Design Thinking process is, instead placing most of my emphasis on the importance of listening to the story and gaining empathy.  Empathy is “…not just sympathy for someone else’s circumstances, but the deep intuition for what it feels like to live their lives”. What is the person feeling? What scares them? Frustrates them? Brings them joy? I advised people to ask “why?” a lot and think of it as a conversation. The energy in the room once people got talking was amazing. They were deeply engaged in the conversation and truly interested in the other person’s story. Yet, there were still questions and reservations as participants asked, “I don’t understand the purpose of this.” “We’re having a great conversation but what am I really learning?” Be patient, you’ll see, is all I said. When we got to the POV (point of view) step it all started to come together for people. They began to “break down their findings” and “unpack the juicy parts” of the story. What does this person need? What surprised you? What are your hunches? Crayons and pencils filled sticky notes as people made meaning of what they heard, thought about what it feels like to live this person’s life and created radical prototypes.

During the entire hour the room was filled with positive energy and you could feel how excited people were to have been given “permission” to break “the rules”. That is, space, place and time to ideate in a world with no budgets, no policies, no limitations and most importantly the lack of the word no. The majority of these people were in the technical field and problem solvers. It was initially hard to get them to shift their mindset from problem solver to explorer.  By the end of the hour they were amazed at how much they not only learned about the person next to them, but how quickly they could gain empathy and develop prototypes (four in four minutes!). In listening to their partner’s story they had gotten to know this person in a way they would not have otherwise.

It turns out what it means to be human in the digital age is, in many ways, no different than what it means to be human in any age. People value meaningful relationships, feeling connected to other people, and having opportunities to learn and share from others. What do people need?

A way to sort through all the information and find what is most important to them in an efficient and easy way (some great prototypes were developed as solutions to this).

To feel safe when sharing their opinions and ideas.

What surprised people?

That the world of social media closely replicates the face to face world:

“There are cliques online, it is just like being in high school”

The fear in having what you say be out there forever:

“How can I be sure that what I say won’t offend anyone or come out the wrong way, there are no do overs.”

How can we make the idea of design thinking a part of our daily life? Taking the time to have a conversation, truly listening to another person’s story and gaining a deeper understanding of who they are and what they value, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and sharing our story, and feeling we have a safe space to to plant our ideas, fertilize them and watch them grow.

What impact might a day of empathy have where you work? If school leaders or professors at your university walked alongside a student for the day or those in support staff positions walked alongside those who we support?

How might we reimagine a digital age where to be human means to strive to eliminate inequality; value care work, and be vulnerable without fear?

Mothers (and Fathers), and Daughters

During #dLRN15 mothers, fathers and daughters was a theme for me-although my amazing daughters were not with me. Catherine Cronin, Kate Bowles,  Bonnie Stewart & Dave Cormier, Whitney Kilgore (brought her daughter virtually via Facetime) and Andy Saltarelli all gave their daughters an amazing gift by bringing them to the conference. These daughters were surrounded by role models, and had experiences that I expect will change the narrative of their lives. In my previous job my youngest daughter Rosie traveled to Panama with me five times before she left elementary school. While there she attended college classes taught by the other faculty and (mine were too “boring”) participated in class discussions and activities with the students. Each of the students in my classes, and the faculty with whom I taught, became a part of my daughter’s story-they shaped her narrative.To this day, things she learned in those classes have had a lasting impact on the woman she has become. My older daughter Anjelica traveled with me to Panama as well. Her experiences there witnessing the extreme gap between wealth and poverty had a lasting impact on her story. She is currently a Biomedical engineering major hoping to someday bring medical care to developing countries.

Throughout their childhood, girls develop beliefs about their abilities,  what it takes to complete particular tasks, and what the possible “outcomes” for them are. Their perceptions of what they can achieve are significantly impacted by social interactions with peers and adults. It is through these interactions girls learn about gender roles, stereo-types, and what others expect of them. As girls grow up it is these vicarious experiences  that influence the choices they make and ultimately the story they tell.

Privilege has given our daughters opportunities many don’t have. From the time before our daughters are born we begin to shape the narrative of our daughter’s lives. What happens to those girls who don’t have mothers and fathers to provide them with the role models, experiences and words of encouragement needed to build their efficacy and shape their goals and dreams? How can the digitization of education provide access to role models and experiences for girls across the globe and socio-economic levels? What can we do to change the ending of the story?

Today I am presenting at an AAUW conference on engaging girls in STEM. This presentation will build on one Whitney and I did at #OLC15 with a goal of gaining a better understanding of how we can use digital content such as MOOCs to create on ramps for girls into STEM.

#OLC15, Design Thinking and STEM Professional Development

At #et4online Whitney Kilgore and I connected with a common interest in MOOCs and engaging women in STEM. This led to Google Docs, every other Saturday morning Hangouts, and eventually a Human Centered Design Thinking (HCDT) MOOC. We began our journey thinking we knew what the problem was.  Lots of people were creating STEM MOOCs with the idea of engaging girls in STEM. We wanted to go one step beyond and create a MOOC that would enable girls to make connections with women in the field and gain an understanding of all the opportunities a STEM degree can provide. We wanted to develop a learning community that would live beyond the MOOC.  Through conversations with others this idea grew into a need for k-12 professional development that aligns with NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) and a specific focus on CS (computer science) and engineering. In realizing that a high percentage of MOOC enrollees are teachers we thought, why not design a MOOC specifically for teachers. Again, we thought we knew what the problem was.  As we began to speak with teachers and people doing research in this area we quickly realized we were designing a solution for the wrong problem. We didn’t really understand our users. How do they experience professional development? What are the barriers and challenges they face? How do we gain an understanding of what teachers want, need and desire? What is their story?

Our work in the HCDT MOOC helped us find our way to answering these questions. We recruited a few other participants on our team and began digging in. We brought this work to #OLC15 and a group of 16 eager participants. We arrived with interview questions we developed in the MOOC and our “speed design thinking” templates. Little time was spent with us talking and power points. This was about facilitating a discussion and gaining a deeper understanding of what the problem is and ideating possible solutions. It was about gaining empathy and hearing their story. There were deep discussions, sticky notes and in the end exchanging of business cards and plans to bring this back to their offices, classrooms and universities.

How many times have we heard a teacher say, “professional development is a waste of our time”, “they don’t really understand what we need or the problems we are facing”. We would like to do more than just hear what you are saying, we would like to listen to your story and think thoughtfully and intentionally about a solution.

Over the last 6 months we’ve taken apart and deconstructed our understanding as we had known it to build a new understanding together. We are still in the “understanding” phase.

What is your:

Professional development story?

Teaching story?

How might we create professional development that is replicable and scalable around helping girls develop a STEM identity?

Making Sense of #dLRN15

What is dLRN15 anyway? What is the goal of this conference? These were questions posed throughout our two days at Stanford. For me it is not an easy question to answer or one that can be answered in a single sentence.

vconnecting

To me dLRN15 was:

Engagement, vulnerability, a safe space, cool kids at the table, identity, how do we get to do the things we really care about, since when is it radical to have boundaries on our time, adjuncts, systemic change, credit hour, different lenses, caring, compassion, empathy, collaboration, humanity, solutions, problems, equity, access, parity, diversity in ed-tech, diversity in the room, how do we define diversity anyway? Hash tags, virtual connecting, faculty development, needs of elite institution, non-traditional, and community college students, and how do we make sense of it all. For me this wasn’t a conference, it was an experience. One shared with those on the ground at Standford and those attending virtually via @vconnecting.

The two things needed to have an experience are: interaction and continuity (Dewey 1938). Based upon this definition I would say the attendees of dLRN15 had an experience. The safe space Kristen Eshleman George Siemens, Matt Croslin, Bonnie Stewart, Dave Cormier and J.T. Dellinger gave us enabled us to question our assumptions, see the world from a different or unknown viewpoint, disagree with one another, be surprised and see that what we thought the problem was might not be the problem at all. I frequently attend conferences where the presenter is “talking at” me about the importance of active learning. This conference practiced what it preached. The presenter wasn’t “the smartest person in the room”, rather, as a whole, we were all the smartest person in the room. Inclusivity was a theme of the conference and something echoed by attendees. There was no feeling of a “cool kids table”. Everyone felt welcome, a part of the discussion and that their voice mattered.

As I listened to the final wrap up, I sat back in my chair trying to make sense of all the emotions I felt, in awe of the capacity and willingness of the people in the room to be vulnerable, to demonstrate compassion and empathy, and their shear resolve to make sense of the changing higher education landscape and ensure all voices are heard. I was, and will continue to be, deeply moved by it.

To invoke change requires a safe space to think, intentionality, pose inquiring questions, share and reflect with others from across a wide range of viewpoints and demographics, experiment, be snarky, thoughtfully disagree, have what we thought we knew torn apart, and resolve to find our Northstar. For me this is all contained in a single phrase – #dLRN15.

Questions we are left to ponder are:

  • How can we create a space for a culture of reflective, engaged teaching and learning?
  • How might we develop personalized learning processes that move beyond content?
  • How might we build a community development process that distributes course creation and centralizes data & research?
  • How can we stop speaking for students and give them a voice?

As part of the sense making process of #dLRN15 conference we are collecting the stories from participants and non-participants. Are you wondering about the following?

What are the most pressing uncertainties, and the most promising applications of digital networks for learning and the academy?

How do we begin to make sense of this change in such a way that we can act in it?

Share your story and let your voice be heard http://us.sensemaker-suite.com/Collector/collector.gsp?projectID=DLRN2015&language=en#Collector

Heading to #OLC15 and #Dlrn15

I was reflecting back on the anticipation I felt as I headed to #ET4online. Relationships were developed before the conference via Twitter, Google Hangouts and Google Docs as we planned a panel from across the country and across the globe. The conference itself had deep conversations, crayons, and a vulnerability you don’t often see at a conference. Today as I head to #OLC15 and #Dlrn15 the bar is high and I am confident it will be met. Already I’ve had some incredible, deep conversations with #Dlrn15 attendees in Slack. We are building relationships and gaining empathy for one another in a way that you don’t often see face to face at a conference, let alone via social media. Slack was a new tool for me, and like many I joked, “should I post this in Slack, Twitter or Yammer”? “How does this thing work anyway?” Initially it was unclear what it’s purpose was or why we were using it for the conference. It quickly became clear and soon I became a Slackaddict. I’m not yet sure if it is the tool, the people, or the content. I imagine it is a “perfect storm”. It’s made me think of how we teach our courses and the discussions we have about community, engagement and interaction. The discussion in Slack is engaging because it is meaningful to us and we are driving the content. While there is a general topic, there is no specific discussion question or learning objectives that constrict our journey. We’ve been given a space to explore something where there is no known answer. The answer can’t be found in the back of a text book or in a Google. search The tools we have are our current knowledge, our experiences, and a safe space to share, reflect, build and rebuild our knowledge together. Isn’t that the learning experience we want for our students?