Journal ~ September

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When I finally found the Pepperdine program after over a year of looking at programs, this ARP was one of the attractions that appealed to me. This and the idea that I was personally going to change.

I started this program because I knew instinctively that I was shooting in the dark. I don't want to shoot from the hip, just trying approaches, playing with lives and money from ignorance. I want to know a better approach. I want to know what is going on out there in this field and make choices and create options from an informed and trained approach.

So, even before I got to VirtCamp I began thinking about what I wanted to do. I have done training classes for over 20 years and have seen over and over the ineffective nature of too many of those hours spent sincerely trying to meet needs. Whether training teachers or staff, too often the classes never translated into action in daily lives. And I was not fundamentally changing the learner - something that was crucial to effective use of these new tools.

One more critical piece in this project: the IT partnership and questions. The disconnect that seems to exist between typical IT and academic approaches to training puts these two groups at odds on some topics on occasion. My boss represents the typical concerns.

  • Why can't they learn the tool and figure out how to use it?
  • Why do they need to have the nurturing? That doesn't happen in business...
  • How can we afford to train people one at a time?
  • Why don't we know what tools work?

Then a number of events came together that focused my thinking.

  1. First, an inconsequential conference comment: CONFERENCE EUPHORIA. It was used to describe the how we leave a conference all enthused about any number of opportunites we have seen...and then do nothing with them. It struck me that this is exactly what happens to most classes.
  2. I started a student/faculty mentoring program. A very small version of the Wake Forest STARS program, I paired one student with one faculty member for a year. The student scanned over 1,000 slides, created PPT presentations, taught the faculty member how to use PPT (was in his class the first quarter), and then how to fix and create his own presentations. The year totally transformed his teaching and his approach to technology. It reminded me of an experience I had 15 years earlier with at staff member, Mary Talcott.
  3. I began working with another faculty member last spring to eliminate his copying hundreds of 5-15 years articles old for his classes. He did not know how to use the web or what resources were available. This one is in process, but he has already made changes - including disregarding his beloved syllabus on occasion. We are moving him from using the web for resources, to using a web page we create as a tool, to creating his own web environment in Blackboard.
  4. I shared some of my ideas with Mercedes at that first night at dinner at VirtCamp. She was very encouraging...
  5. Edutopia and PBL really struck home with me and the idea of HOOK came into clearer focus for me.
the idea

I want my ARP to have real meaning for me and not just be an exercise to complete grad school. I want to effect a real change in how Principia approaches faculty training and development. I feel I have an advantage in that I have years of experience in this area. I have a supportive environment. I have a tech-rich environment with good ongoing funding and a united collegial support structure for fostering tech growth. I have some seniority, respect, and autonomy that give me a freedom to launch and move ideas and programs forward. A small pond has advantages.

I feel that Edutopia and PBL put terms and structure to ideas that I have been rolling around in my head. I have been dabbling on the fringes. So after several attempts at drafts of what I wanted to attempt, I think I am closer to a workable solution to how I can approach this issue.

On the cost effectiveness: I think I can show that training several people one-on-one for a year is more cost effective that training that several people for several years in a group. I want to show how the former approach fundamentally changes the learner and doesn't just put a patch on the surface.