Refresh

This is a place holder as well as an announcement of an exciting new direction for this blog.

Too long I have been hampered by trying to have all my writing in a glitzy, polished, “best practice” format before I post it to my blog. This has led to a number of great ideas being left to gather dust and too many draft posts never seeing the light of day.

In addition, again according to “best practice”, I intentionally kept the focus of this blog narrow, centered around my main professional and personal interests. While I believe future content will still be connected to those topics, I expect to branch out into other areas of interest and inquiry. More personal storytelling may appear. Life questions may be pondered, unresolved,  left for comment.

Finally, I plan to do some co-author blogging, though it is likely that will be hosted on another blog that I can link to and discuss further here as desired.

No promises on delivery time for these changes, but a refresh and reformatting is on the way!

Reasons Why I Tweet at a Conference (Inspired by Kent Brooks’ “10 Reasons to Tweet at a Conference”)

AACC 94th Annual Conference in Washington, DC

AACC 94th Annual Conference in Washington, DC

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is about the descend on Washington, DC, this weekend! This annual conference is where the leaders, movers, shakers and do-ers who work at or affiliated with community colleges assemble. With the theme of the 94th conference being “Great Expectations: Implementing a 21st Century Student Success Agenda“, you can imagine that the conversation will be forward-thinking and inspiring.

The University of the District of Columbia Community College (UDC-CC) is sending nearly twenty representatives to the conference, taking advantage of the location being our back yard. The divisions of Academic Affairs, Student Achievement and Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning all have poster sessions and various representatives attending. (Keep an eye out for us; we’ll be the ones with the UDC-CC lanyards!)

With a mission that is focused on student success, UDC-CC has made an effort in recent years to send staff whenever possible to this conference in order to connect with like-minded professionals who are working toward similar goals. Every time we have attended we have taken a great deal away from the conference.

Now, most of my colleagues are still not inspired by the world of Twitter. In a previous post, I noted 7 Reasons Why You Should Be on Twitter. That was two years ago, and while I have not won all my colleagues over (*wink wink nudge nudge UDC-CC folks*) I feel it is once again time to take up the call, this time in relation to tweeting at conferences.

Anyone who has seen me at conferences, whether NACUBO or HACU or EDUCAUSE, will know that I’m the one typing away furiously on my iPad, flipping between notes on my Notability app to Twitter where I’m also taking notes and sharing quotes. Tweeting during a conference is one of the best ways I have found for keeping track of all the information I am taking in and for seeing what is happening in other sessions.

Kent Brooks wrote a blog on “10 Reasons to Tweet at a Conference” (which you should read). I love this list, because it quickly points to all the reasons I find Twitter use appealing during conferences.

  • I, too, type faster than I write, so typing my notes is a great way to store them.
  • I like sharing “take-aways” from the various speeches and sessions I attend.
  • I find other individuals who are tweeting their thoughts about the session (or other sessions) and can compare that to my own experience, which helps broaden my perspective.This is also helpful if I missed an exact quote – a fellow tweeter may have caught it, tweeted it, and then I can copy it into my own notes.
  • I meet people! “Hey, aren’t you the one who was posting all those tweets? Those were great!” (I have even been asked to take on a more official tweeting capacity while in attendance)
  • I gain resources, both human and other. A simple example of other types of resources gained is a great picture from somebody sitting closer to the front of the room of a prominent speaker. (At AACC, we’ll have several well-knowns, including Colin Powell and Joe Biden).

If you haven’t tried tweeting at a conference, I really encourage you to do so. I can elevate your experience and broaden your appreciation for the conference you are attending.

And if you make new friends in the process, all the better!

See you all at AACC!

Hashtags of Note:

  • #AACCAnnual (main conference hashtag)
  • #UDCCC (check out what my team is up to!)
  • #comm_college
  • #AACC
  • #DC

Updates

Goodness, been too long!

There has been a lot happening, but I’ll focus on personal updates in this entry. (Side Note: You would not believe all the posts that I started and then never cleaned up enough to publish since the last entry!) There is lots of good news to share, but three very important things will take precedence in this post.

 

1. I Got Published

In April 2013, my article entitled Re-Thinking The Future Of Learning – The Possibilities And Limitations Of Technology In Education In The 21st Century (http://bit.ly/1rTXU2u) was published. This was my first peer-reviewed article on a topic that I’m very interested in (and hope to explore more in the future).

2. I Completed my MBA! 

In December 2013, I finished my Masters of Business Administration (with a 4.0 GPA, no less). Working on my MBA was the main reason I stopped writing in this blog as much. That isn’t to say that I didn’t have a number of ideas for blog posts based on all the interested material we were studying, but when you have to read hundreds of pages a week and write many papers, there isn’t much time for “fun” writing in a blog. And certainly no time for stopping to make posts “pretty”. But the MBA is done!

3. I Got Published Again!

My second article is now out in the International Journal of Organizational Innovation, titled Applied Organizational Study Of Free Jobs Training Program In Washington, DC: Research Case On Structuring Of Workforce Development In The Capital Of The United States, which is really just a long a fancy way of talking about structuring a workforce development program in Washington, DC. (http://bit.ly/1dHtnBg)

 

So clearly things have been busy, but with the MBA behind me it is now time to see where the next phase of life takes me! Onwards and upwards!

 

And I’ll say this (and hopefully not jinx myself): more posts to follow! :)

Personal Discovery: Reading Across Various Media

I just had a moment of self-discovery.

For the longest time, I was a firm believer that I was (rather) incapable of reading articles and essays on my computer (or on any larger screen). I had a lot of personal theories for that, many that were probably baseless (“oh, the screen light bothers my eyes”, blah blah blah). But I knew that argument didn’t hold much water because I could read articles on my iPhone without much complaint and certain websites (such as the NYTimes) were easy reads.

I knew part of the issue was having large chunks of text spread across the screen, especially in a smaller font size. I had tried increasing the font size, but still found reading online to be painful whether it was on websites or PDFs (MS Word documents, apparently, didn’t bother me).

It wasn’t until this afternoon that I realized that it is the horizontal length of the line that is the real issue. This is fascinating to me; I had never made that connection before. I was reading a textbook last week, and the thought occurred to me (in passing), “Wow, this is really easy to read. I guess it’s because they broke each page up into two columns”. But I realize that really is it! If I take a website, increase the font size but also manipulate the window so that the length of a line of text is no more than 7-10 words of reasonable length, I can read through the document much faster.

I seriously had no idea.

Now, I want to know, am I the only one like this? Is this a new phenomenon? After all, reading a standard-sized book is no hardship. Textbooks, however, have always been a struggle for me (and I knew it had to be something beyond the snooze-worthy content). Was it really just a formatting issue? Also, is my brain now trained for shorter line-length because of the amount of reading I do on my iPhone (where short line-lengths are necessitated by the smaller screen size)? But wouldn’t the reading a “book of standard size [in standard-font size] is no hardship” concept negate that? I don’t know! I’m still in the “this is a fascinating thing I’ve just discovered about myself”-stage of all this.

*Runs off to test the theory across other forms of technology and software* %_%

Image Credit: adamr, freedigitalphotos.net

The Transfer and Transformation of Information

Another month rolls by and I open my mailbox to find the latest issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. This was a couple of days ago, mind you, but I carried it with me on the way to work today knowing I’d have time on my metro ride home to read it.

How devastated was I to flip to “From the Editor”‘ page only to find a note from the Editor in Chief talking about how SmartMoney is ceasing print publication and Kiplinger’s is struggling with the same issue! When the editor in chief writes an entire letter about his concern for the future of print publishing and soliciting ideas from readers about sustainable models Kiplinger’s can use to save the print version of its magazine, it’s time to be concerned!

This got me thinking, as the last few days have, about how people get information. In higher education, we struggled with this issue all the time. How do we get students to learn? How do we get them to retain? How do we give them information that will stick with them beyond the length of a class period or an academic semester?

This is a larger issue in our society today. How do we get relevant, valuable information out to the masses in a world where most folks are content to passively absorb whatever is coming at them? How do we break into those relaxed moments with vital info we’re just dying to share with them? (Teachers, feel free to say “Word!” … or “That’s what I’m talking about!” or “Truth!” or whatever else relieves your feelings on how you’ve been struggling with this problem for ages).

I’m passionate about a number of things, personal finance being one of them. I hate to think that the print version of personal finance magazines will soon be a thing of the past. (Kiplinger’s noted that as recently as back in the 1990s, “when magazine revenues were buoyed by a surging stock market and an insatiable public appetite for financial advice”, there used to be over a half-dozen personal finance magazines. Now there are only two, and Kiplinger’s is one of them.

Yes, it might just be a case of time moving on and new technology taking over old media forms. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned for enjoying picking up a newly printed book, newspaper or magazine, but I do find reading across paper pages feels different, feels more solid, feels more comfortable than reading across a lit up screen. Others would not agree, and I’m not knocking tablet or smartphone technology. I want an iPad specifically to read magazines like Kiplinger’s so that I can share my favorite articles across my various social media platforms in a few taps! But I also like reading off of paper. I feel I take it in better that way. Even in my classes, I find I retain information from textbooks and printouts better than any article I read off the screen. (This is interesting, because it doesn’t work the same for everything I read online. Articles in the NYTimes are actually easier for me to read online than in its printed form, and I retain more of the information reading the online version, too.)

Different people gather (and retain) information in different ways. What concerns me about a complete shift to the digital is that folks who actually retain material presented to them in print better will no longer have that option. I’m all for saving a tree, but I think its important to consider the various learning styles that exist among people. Yet, the end-goal for many of these organizations isn’t (just) education. It’s about making a profit. And selling print magazines hurts the bottom line when subscription revenues plummet.

So what to do? How to get information out in a way all types can consume?

It’s a dilemma. It’s also concerning because not everyone in this country is plugged in to the digital world. Let’s be clear: there are huge swaths of this country that are digital dead zones. There is no fiber optic cable reaching them, no cell phone towers, no cell signal, nothing. So if print media goes, what’s left? Television? Well, that’s one option but what if they don’t get cable? And even if they do, you all watch TV…you know how little decent television is out there. Even cable news networks are more like reality TV shows than programs with objective journalism. And yes, there are personal finance shows on TV but they always seem like they go to great lengths to keep it from being “just about the numbers”. Lots of lights and noises and graphics to break up the dull dialogue. Plus, I have yet to see a personal finance show that plays like a Kiplinger’s article reads.

So what’s to be done? How do we get information – all types of information – out there? And even when we get it out there, how do we get people to CARE about it? Some of this information is really important for them to know! I’m not just talking personal finance. I’m talking the latest information in science, medicine, engineering, the social sciences, international relations and more! How do we get people interested in learning more? Learning what’s new? What will help them in their personal lives?

This problem seems to be complex across all generations, but it will be particularly interesting to see how young people respond to this question. Will our generation passively accept the death of print publishing? Will we be the pioneers that push digital to new groups? Will we be responsible with our consumption so as to ensure educational material is venerated right along with fluff/feel-good/just-to-relax media? Here Comes Honey Boo Boo got higher ratings than the Republican National Convention two nights ago. Is that the end of the world? No. Does it raise a troubling point about what people are paying attention to, though? Yes. And does the flow of information directly impact these sorts of situations? Absolutely.

Image Credit: nuttakit, Freedigitalphotos.net

Back in the Swing of Things

Taking a break from blogging and intense social media interaction proved to be a good thing. It all started just before the Olympics, when spare time in the evening that had been devoted to scrolling through my Twitter Newsfeed and Lists, finding interesting things to blog about, was interrupted by the impending Games. I, like many others, become a bit of a fanatic around the Olympics. You can ask me why all you want, I’m really not sure what it is. I could give you a lot of cliche answers about how I love watching the human spirit overcome obstacles, how I enjoy watching nations come together for peaceful competition, how I enjoy watching athletes from the United States rack up gold medals and stand at or near the top of the medal count every night. Yes, I could give you inspirational reasons and self-satisfying reasons. But it really just all boils down to the fact that I love watching the Olympics. Period.

Of course, all that time spent watching diving, swimming, gymnastics (Go Gabby!), and track and field means a lot less time spent on finding meaningful personal branding, personal finance, HR management issues to blog about.

But the summer is pretty much over, and it’s time to continue filling this blog. MBA classes have started, so I’m sure I’ll have a great deal of fodder for blog posts coming out of those class discussions. At the same time, I plan to expand this blog to include the occasional post about personal interests (if I feel I have something worth saying on a topic).

Also, I haven’t commented that much on higher education in here (which was always the plan, since I work in that industry) but it has not been forgotten. Personal branding issues took over my interests in the early part of the summer, but we’ll be exploring the other major topic areas of this blog soon enough.

In the meantime, let’s hear it for a new academic year, for Labor Day (a holiday that snuck up on me) and for the soon-to-be start of one of my favorite seasons: Autumn!

PS. Hope you all had an amazing summer!