I’m working on making some changes to how I share information online, and one of those changes is to move away from this blog platform. The ultimate trigger for the change is the way WordPress now prices its plans, and me not wanting to return to ads involving canker sores or belly fat appearing at the bottom of my blog posts. But I’ve been thinking about this for a while.
Petragogy will move to a Pressbooks platform, for which I am very happy to pay a reasonable one-time fee to support the great work that Pressbooks does. What this means in practical terms is that I will be turning some sets of blog posts into book chapters.
This will be a reflective exercise as I make a broader life-change into a role that does not involve teaching, but there are some things I’ve learned along the way that might come in handy for others who find themselves trying to deal with the same challenges. And if there’s any way to have a decade spent teaching in the current academic job market still feel like it had meaning as a professional activity, then it’s sharing things learned.
Some of those lessons are related to the hows and whys of teaching in general, and some are the result of being in the twilight zone that is attempting to teach with full-timer quality and autonomy while being trapped on the hamster wheel that is precarious part-time contracts.
My petragogy book might behave in bloggish ways for a while as it grows and changes, and I will build in ways to make it navigable while it is less than bookish (blookish? boggish?). Anyway, here’s to freed hamsters.
What’s a Twitter?
This post is my first assignment for the Introduction to Learning Technologies course offered by the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Saskatchewan. My job for this post is to talk about who I am and why I’m taking the course. I’ve covered the “who” part on my About page so here I’ll stick to the “why.” It’s pretty simple, really- I know there are a lot of creative and effective ways to apply technology to teaching… but exactly what they are and how to use them is a little beyond me. Sure, I can PowerPoint with the best of ’em, but when it comes to twittering (tweeting?) in class, or using blogs, or creating my own multimedia teaching tools, I suffer from an uncharacteristic lack of imagination.
Thus far we’ve looked at a number of applications in class, and I have a better appreciation for the breadth of tech options out there. The thing that has made the biggest impression on me, however, is the whole idea of having an e-presence online. As a non-facebooking non-twitterer (tweeter?) I had hoped to keep my digital presence and the inherent dangers and annoyances to a minimum. Our instructor changed my perspective a bit when she pointed out that not creating your own digital presence means that someone else can do it for you. She recommended googling our names to see what was already out there about us. Wow. What a disconcerting experience. I scrolled through six Google pages before finding an entry that didn’t apply to me… I learned that someone keeps track of the “genealogy” of my PhD, that somewhere someone rated my goodness as a human being, and that my PhD thesis was available for sale in paperback. (No, I don’t get any money for that.) Of course, at the top of the list was a certain website (to remain unnamed) where disgruntled students go to vent their frustrations about their instructors. Why are the gruntled ones so much less likely to comment in places like that?
My conclusion is that the things I do actively to define my digital presence are more likely to have a benign effect on said presence than not, and that it is better to have some influence than none at all. I’m going to miss my anonymity, however illusory, but there are benefits to being part of this brave new world: I can open Twitter accounts for my dogs!