I Guess I Should Write That Book…Thriving with Technology Part 1…

It’s the first day after the 30-day blogging challenge I just finished with my friends, and what am I doing? I’m blogging. I guess 30-day habits die hard.

I mentioned in one of my blog posts that I’m working on a book on more sustainable educational technology practices for teachers and academics.  My friend, Anna, asked if I meant environmental sustainability or life sustainability.  The simple answer is the latter rather than the former. But more than just sustaining our lives, I hope to approach my use of technology as a way for teachers and academics to thrive.

So, if I’m going to write this book, let me share some thoughts on how technology has helped me to thrive as an academic since it will help me to also further organize and sort through my thoughts as I’m presenting them to you.  Today, I’ll start with these 3 tips to thriving with technology use as an academic:

  1. My LMS is my best friend

A learning management system (LMS) is a standard 1-stop platform in academic settings.  All LMS platforms have their advantages and disadvantages including the one my university currently uses.  But, I have made it my mission to make my LMS my best friend.  This has been wonderful.  In doing so, I’ve been able to reach out to the company that designed our LMS, and get information on how to embed my Twitter feed; I never have to recreate my course from scratch, and can import files I need from other courses in seconds (such a huge timesaver) to adapt or update; my students get access to all the information they need in a timely manner; and everything is in one place.  In the semesters when I’m really on top of it, I can set up my flipped modules to release automatically so that I’m not trying to remember to do it at a specific time each week.

2. My social media game is strong and specific

I use Twitter for my professional network.  I have a Facebook, LinkedIn & Instagram account, and have used several of those social media platforms in the past to connect to my professional work, but I focus my professional interactions on Twitter.  I participate in specific Twitter chats that have helped me build up a professional network. I keep in contact with former students; tweet resources for educators and teacher educators; I live tweet from conferences. I also let my students know that Twitter is one of the fastest ways to reach me and integrate opportunities to Tweet and establish networks in class. But, I’m also not on Twitter all the time when I’m on breaks from school.  I am intentional with my Twitter use and it’s helped me to connect with amazing educators (K-12 & higher ed) that keep me motivated and focused professionally.

3. I am learning to set boundaries on my tech use

This is a hard tip for me because this one does not come naturally.  But, if you want to thrive, you can’t be available 24/7.  I’ve begun engaging in more mindful technology practices like those named by David Levy in his book Mindful Tech.  Levy’s exercises have helped me to become more focused on my use of e-mail and reign in my tendency to multi-task.  I am trying to communicate these boundaries with students and give myself more time to respond, even if my natural tendency is to see a notification and take care of it before it even gets on my to-do list.  It’s a slow process, but, I remind myself that, moving from an “as immediate as possible” response rate to a 24-hour response rate isn’t slacking. Instead, it’s building in greater personal sustainability and setting a foundation to use tech as a tool to support my goals rather than being enslaved to those red notification numbers.

This is a starting post, for this book that I’m working on writing.  Would love your feedback, thoughts, tips and tricks (or questions) about how technology helps you to thrive in your work and life (or how you wish it would but it doesn’t)! Comment below if you have thoughts…


Blogging on a Mobile Device

This morning, after a long drive up I-5, through the afternoon and evening, I am blogging, on a mobile device from a hotel room in the Bay Area, a few hours away from my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah and a long reverse trip home.

This trip is a bit of a breakthrough for me, as I left my laptop at home for the 30 hours or so that  we’ll be away. I thought about this blog post and figured that I would either do it at home (after a Bar Mitzvah and a 7-hour drive) or do it on my phone, which is what I’m actually doing.

I am impressed with my friends, Wes and Darlene, who have done previous blogs on mobile devices. I find it odd to type with my thumbs. I find it interesting to navigate through a slightly different lay out. I find it challenging to adjust to the small differences in settings (physical, mobile, internet) that require me to think faster before I need to move something that’s in someone’s way (in a closer, new shared space), before my screen puts itself to sleep or before I lose in-room connectivity.

Ah, for the breaks in routine that throw us off. Travel blogging on a mobile device; last minute Target runs for the gift, card and dress socks you meant to bring; forgetting a pencil in the car when you need to do Chinese homework; needing a portable charger for car entertainment. They are a part of the journey, actual and metaphorical. They are a part of this crazy life.

A Life in Overdrive

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

It’s Sunday afternoon.

I’m home, with my family.

My children are playing on their electronic devices. My husband is nap watching the little one on the couch while the big one occasionally calls out, “Huh?!” when he thinks someone is talking to him.  I am watching the little one too, and blogging, and sending e-mails, and drafting welcome messages to my students. Today, I’ve already run 3 miles, gone to 3 grocery stores, fixed lunch, had a tea party and gone to the playground with my toddler, helped my pre-teen with a book repurposing project, and set up several meetings for this coming week. Yesterday, I spent the morning at my local Women’s March with my little girl, had 2 hours at home, then went to choir practice and church, came home, helped a former student with homework virtually, and tucked in both kids before crashing at 9pm of exhaustion.

This is my life at the beginning of every semester, and pretty much throughout the entire semester. It is a life of overdrive.

But, this blog post is an act of rebellion.  It is a moment among many moments where I am not going full force forward or zoning out (to avoid going full force).  It is a moment of reflection, a moment to breathe, a decision that I will not be completely overrun by all there is to do so that I cannot be present to what’s so.

It’s been a busy day. But this is a quiet moment.  And in that, there can be a smile and a silent celebration.

Consistency in the Journey: A 52-week Blog Resolution

It’s a new year and time to make “resolutions” that will help us prosper and work towards important goals.

So, why not a self-initiated blogging challenge?

I really enjoyed my time writing for the 30-day blogging challenge earlier this year and I realized that this will be an important year for me to chronicle, from the final decision on my retention, to my Spring semester preparing for a new baby (who, if on time, will arrive JUST after the end of the term in May) while teaching a full load and working on papers and presentations, to the transition to being an academic with a 9-year old, a new baby in the house (not to mention a husband and dog and two adult daughters who live in another part of the state) and expectations to continue on a solid research, teaching and service trajectory.

2015 is going to be quite a year.

Cloud cuckoo plank with a stack of mess behind it.  This is where I may end up at some point on this 52-week journey.

Cloud cuckoo plank with a stack of mess behind it. This is where I may end up at some point on this 52-week journey.

So, I’ve resolved to document this journey with a blog a week (although these blogs will likely be divided between my food blog (which I haven’t updated since September because of pregnancy taste buds which I worry will color my reviews) and this one.  Hopefully, this will help me to keep honest and consistent in the journey and will contribute to my community, both those who know me personally, and those who want to know more about my transition back to infant motherhood while navigating assistant professorship.  I’ve put “schedule blogging” (and self-care time, which is my other resolution) into my google calendar with reminders and those of you who know and see me regularly can feel free to keep me accountable too.  No progress without accountability.

I hope you’ll come along on the journey with me.  See you along the way!