Where do I begin?
Hi! I’m Steve.
I’ve worked in higher ed for close to 10 years now, and this is my first leadership(-ish) role. I’ve worked at institutions where online courses were NOT A THING BECAUSE THEY’LL DILUTE THE UNIVERSITY BRAND to places where they started encouraging people to teach online without any guidelines and then parents saw the courses were kind of crap and raged to the admin about what they were paying for little Timmy’s education and maybe you should work on some kind of guidelines for creating and running online courses?
Presently, I’m at an institution in the middle: existing online program, room for improvement, and faculty who are willing to take suggestions.
The neat thing about this gig is that I hear the word yes a lot more than I hear the word no, and it was amazing to note the change in my attitude when I realized this difference. Especially since part of that yes is “you should go talk to people at other institutions, and you should find out what they’re doing, and you should share and bring back things that will help us, and you should work with them when you can and hopefully get our name out there too.”
So I went to OLC Innovate and met some people, which led to me finding out about instructional design Twitter, which led to me making a professional Twitter account, which led to me seeing all kinds of people posting about Pedago.me and DigPINS. Which might have led to me going completely against the online survival skills I’ve honed over the past ~30 years and creating a blog.
With my real name on it.
With no access restrictions.
I’ve been online since the late 1980’s and the days of Usenet, where your identity was your email address and whatever you chose to attach to that tag. Then came website forums, where you picked a handle and posted as that identity. Sometimes you’d include more details about yourself (a/s/l), more likely not. Sometimes you’d carry that handle across similar forums in the community, and you’d get to know other people on those boards. Odds were those connections were online only, unless there was some special event with a meetup like sci-fi or gaming conventions. But odds were the online you was your own little secret when it came to the people you knew and worked with.
Then came LiveJournal, and with it a bit of mixing of in-person and online identities. “Wait, you have an LJ? Me too! I’m <foo>.” The filters and groups made it easy to share most of your life without letting your classmate and occasional drinking buddy know your proclivities for writing Goofus & Gallant slashfic (yes, it’s a thing, no, don’t google it, seriously, no, don’t google it, fine, have it your way, don’t say I didn’t try to warn you).
Then came Friendster, MySpace, Orkut, and a bunch of other sites designed to make it easier for you to connect with ex-roommates, high school acquaintances, and that random person you carpooled with from Chicago to New York that one time after graduation. But in order for these people to find you, you needed to be willing to share your identity.
Then came Facebook. And aaaaaaalllllllll the sharing and oversharing and photos from that party and your friends tagging you in that picture that you didn’t know had been taken and OH GOD WHAT IF MY MOTHER SEES THAT. And the articles about how employers could get a better idea about potential hires by looking them up on Facebook. And employers directly asking applicants for Facebook login information.
And now there’s doxxing here, there, and everywhere, where people make it terribly convenient for all kinds of wankers to make some random stranger’s life hell just for the lulz.
So yeah, I’m coming to this program with a little baggage. But this is going to be good for me, right? Hopefully moreso than the cherry-flavored cod-liver oil my mom fed me on more than one occasion (and no, the cherry flavor didn’t make it better).