#SquadGoals - Creating Collaborative Professional Networks That Rock

Concurrent Session 1
MERLOT

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Brief Abstract

No higher ed superhero should have to go it alone in conquering the wicked challenges ahead of them. This roundtable will feature colleagues discussing how their initial meeting at conferences allowed them to organically form a connected cohort, engaging in cross-institutional initiatives and research, as well as non-traditional professional development.

Presenters

It turns out a bunch of nomadic-yet-related experiences and some determination to overcome imposter syndrome and some bourbon with friends make for an interesting life and career path. Ben is the Lead Design Strategist in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University, where he and his team are partnering with local community schools and organizations to reimagine and redesign K12 education. A veteran K12 educator and higher ed instructional designer, Ben is fascinated with what happens when smart and curious people get in a room and work really hard at thinking about and taking the next step toward what could be - and trying to make that happen more.
Angela Gunder serves as Director of Instructional Design and Curriculum Development for the Office of Digital Learning at The University of Arizona. Angela came into instructional design rather circuitously, helming large-scale site designs as webmaster for The City College of New York, the honors college at ASU, and Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA).  Her over fifteen year career as a designer for higher education informs her instructional design practice, where she leverages her expertise in usability, visual communication, programming, and standards-based online learning. Angela holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Fine Art from Fordham University, and a M.Ed. in Education Technology from Arizona State University.  Prior to her position at UA, she was a member of NOVA’s instructional design team, supporting over 23,000 students in 550 unique courses.   Angela is an Associate Editor for the Teacher Education Board of MERLOT, and a Quality Matters certified peer reviewer and online facilitator.  Her research interests include technology for second language acquisition, open educational resources, and emerging technology to promote digital literacy. A voracious culinary nerd, Angela spends her free time composing, cooking and photographing original recipes for her food blog.
Clark Shah-Nelson serves as Assistant Dean of Instructional Design and Technology for the University of Maryland School of Social Work and is a doctoral student in Evidence-Based Management/Business Administration. Clark is an eLearning instructional design development professional with 25 years experience in educational technology innovations: teaching, designing leading award-winning online and distance learning teams for learning management platform implementation, training, end user support, professional development and engagement. He has presented at numerous online learning and ed tech conferences, was co-founder of the Blend-Online Educause constituent group, co-founding master chef of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Technology Test Kitchen, and has recently volunteered as Conference Co-Chair for OLC Innovate and Engagement Co-Chair for OLC Accelerate Clark has authored chapters on synchronous tools for teaching and learning support and co-authored a chapter on professional development installations. As a consultant, Clark has worked on several international projects in the realm of blended and online learning.
Dr. Jessica Knott is the Learning Design Manager for MSU Information Technology and the MSU Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology. She has worked in information technology since 1998, spanning the public and academic sectors. She has been active in collaborating with colleagues nationwide in planning conferences for the Online Learning Consortium, and she is an editor for the Hybrid Pedagogy Journal (http://www.hybridpedagogy.com). She is also on the faculty for the Online Learning Consortium Institute. Find her on Twitter @jlknott.
John Stewart is the Assistant Director of Digital Learning for the OU Center for Teaching Excellence. John is interested in developing learning environments to promote digital literacy and opportunities for undergraduate research. Before joining the center, John lectured on history of science at the University of Oklahoma and Missouri University of Science and Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in the History of Science from the University of Oklahoma.
Jane Moore is the Director of MERLOT Editorial and Professional Development Services. She also serves as Editor for MERLOT's Teacher Education Board. Jane has taught online since 2002, and after 27 years in the elementary classroom and 16 years in higher education full time, has embraced online learning with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Prior to joining the Online Learning Consortium, Dr. Buban was the Assistant Provost for Research & Innovation at Post University. In this role, Buban instituted university-wide initiatives with a forward thinking, student-centered focus. These initiatives included, but were not limited to, the university’s transition to digital course materials, the creation of an online academy for high school students, competency-based learning initiatives, professional developing credentialing, articulation agreements, enrollment management, oversight of all academic publications, as well as a variety of teaching and learning initiatives. Prior to joining Post University, Buban worked in Academic Affairs at SUNY Empire State College. She collaborated on a variety of online learning initiatives including the implementation of ePortfolios, open learning access and opportunities, and prior learning assessment. Dr. Buban continues to study and present on topics surrounding effective technology use for adult learners in online environments. She is a member of the SSEA Communications Committee, an organization for which she was named an Emerging Scholar in 2012. Given the opportunity, Buban continues to teach in the areas of adult and online learning.
Kate Sonka is the Assistant Director of Academic Technology at the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. She is interested in second language acquisition, the role of language in identity development, and the intersection of accessibility and experiential learning. Her instructional experience includes a first-year writing course for non-native English speakers; a study abroad on language acquisition and global English in China; a study away to Los Angeles for students to explore and meet leaders in the film and creative industries; and a study away to Silicon Valley for students to engage and build relationships with tech companies around accessibility. Kate is the Executive Director of Teach Access, has consulted with the U.S. Department of Labor on accessible hiring practices, and is the founder and director of the Accessible Learning Conference at Michigan State University.
Tanya Joosten, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist, the Director of Digital Learning Research and Development, and co-PI and co-Director of the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is nationally recognized in her work in blended and online learning as an Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Fellow and works to guide strategic digital learning efforts on campus, across the UW System, and nationally as an advisor to the Provost, a member of the University of Wisconsin System Learning Technology Executive Council, and a member of several national boards and committees. Currently, Dr. Joosten leads a national research initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Education working to provide access to research models and methods, facilitating innovate processes of data collection, and encouraging the replication of research across institutions through the DETA Research Toolkit to identify key instructional and institutional factors that influence student success with particular attention to underrepresented students. Dr. Joosten has a background in the social sciences hailing from the field of communication. Her notable keynotes include eLearning Asia, ITC eLearning Conference, and SACS COC President’s event, and her ideas have been highlighted on plenary panels at the UW-Madison Annual Distance Teaching and Learning conference and the OLC International Conference for Online Learning. You can find her ideas and work cited in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Forbes, U.S. News World and Report, and more. Recent interviews with Dr. Joosten are available on ResearchInAction and TOPcast available on iTunes. Her book on social media is available from Wiley Publishing, she has authored numerous articles, chapters, and encyclopedia entries on human and social interactions and digital learning, and she often writes invited blog posts and magazine articles for organizations, such as EDUCAUSE, WCET, Inside Higher Ed, and Pearson. Dr. Joosten previously worked as the Director of the Learning Technology Center leading faculty development and engagement initiatives, pedagogical and technological innovation projects, core learning technology oversight, and blended and online program development.

Extended Abstract

Batman had the Justice League.  Iron Man had the Avengers.  No superhero should have to go it alone in conquering the wicked challenges ahead of them, and online educators are no exception.  We work in a time and space where online learning professionals are asked to do more with less, and meet the needs of growing populations of learners with disparate goals.  How can individual practitioners, researchers and administrators connect with "partners in crime" who can help to chip away at the issues and challenges that can only be solved with cross-institutional and cross-discipline collaborations?

In this high-energy, engaging discussion, a group of colleagues will share how their initial meeting at the Online Learning Consortium’s conferences allowed them to organically form a connected cohort, engaging  in non-traditional professional development opportunities such as creating initiatives spanning across multiple institutions, co-authoring publications and blogs, recording podcasts, and holding open social media gatherings. This session is geared towards any individuals (faculty, designers, administrators, researchers, exhibitors) seeking ways to better collaborate with peers at other organizations as a means of working harder, better, faster, stronger.

This career forum roundtable will open a discussion on the following topics:

  • What are the benefits and considerations of creating a group of educators to partner with on mutually-beneficial initiatives or projects?

  • What methods and approaches can professionals in our field take part in as a means of establishing and growing a meaningful professional network?

  • What are some examples of instances where connecting to a group of colleagues opened doors to new opportunities?

  • As institutions and departments remain siloed and closed, what groups of stakeholders are needed to support collaborative innovations across departments, institutions and systems?

Ultimately, the session will highlight the benefits that these collaborative professional networks have afforded them, and closes with approaches for establishing one's own network of education superheroes.  This informal, collegial roundtable will serve as both an engaging conversation on how professional development and mentorship continues to evolve, particularly in a time where academic budgets are lean and educators are called to make miracles from limited resources both quickly and effectively.  Participants will leave with actionable approaches for creating their own connected network of scholarship, and a call to build a circle of colleagues who will further support and mentor each other within the structure and format that best supports their professional and academic goals.