“In this heady age of rapid technological change, we all struggle to maintain our bearings. The developments that unfold each day in communications and computing can be thrilling and disorienting. One understandable reaction is to wonder: Are these changes good or bad? Should we welcome or fear them? The answer is both.”
The text above is the introduction to the “technorealism” movement of the late 1990s. I signed the list of principles in 1997, and for the next 10 years or so introduced students to the concepts. Someone needs to launch a new version of technorealism for the 2010s, which would include tools to help us evaluate the use of Big Data for employment decisions.
A couple of days before Thanksgiving last week a faculty member asked me to provide some information for a grant application that is due at the end of December. I told him that I would get to it after Thanksgiving. The next day he sent another request about getting an answer to him immediately. If the info was something he needed before doing anything else I would have made time, but the requested data is essentially “I support this project because of A, B, and C” that can be inserted the day before the deadline. I sent the faculty member a polite note to remind him that I had a number of tasks due before Thanksgiving and I would provide the information the next week, as promised. Yesterday one of the directors of a university program told me about a favorite saying: “Your urgency is not my emergency.” I may have to start using that!
$760 has been contributed online to the Social Sciences Kaleidoscope, and we received a $200 check. So we are just $240 away from our $1200 goal! Students are submitting their proposals this week. Please help us reach the goal of providing three students with $400 each. For more information and/or to make an investment go to http://www.gofundme.com/UWP-SSK. Thank you!
The Social Sciences Kaleidoscope will be a web portal for social media channels students will use to engage external audiences about what they are learning & researching in the social sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. A call is out for students to participate in the spring 2014 semester. A committee will select three projects, and each student will receive $400 (to match what they get in the university’s Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program [URAP]). Students will use Vine, YouTube, podcasts, tumblr, digital stories, etc. to document learning and engage peers and members of larger communities. For more information, see our fundraising page. Please also consider making a donation; any amount helps!
In a November 12 post I outlined a plan to create a career readiness plan for my college. The plan could include granting internship credit for jobs students already have as a compliment to the traditional internship model of sending students out to new assignments. Does anyone know of any examples I should investigate? Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
Last week I attended the 2013 annual meeting of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS). It was great to meet up with old friends, meet new people, and generate new possibilities to try back in our home institutions. Two panels in particular gave me hand cramps from writing a long list of ideas:
“Advancing the Career Opportunities of Liberal Arts Graduates: Best practices and strategies for working with multiple constituents to articulate liberal arts skills set and value.” This session will foreground the exigency of and outline possible methods of establishing partnerships with multiple constituents in order to enhance student, faculty, administrative, and community understanding of the skill sets acquired in liberal arts degrees, as well as methods by which liberal arts graduates can showcase those skills and their particular talents. The ultimate goal is to engage participants in a discussion of the exigency and possible methods to enable placement of liberal arts graduates into non-profit and for-profit corporations at better rates and with more ease.
“Career Preparedness and the Liberal Arts: On-campus partnerships and initiatives.“ Significant pressures have been placed on institutions to demonstrate that their students can compete successfully for jobs upon graduation. Liberal arts colleges are especially prone to negative assessments of their students’ career prospects. This panel focuses on ways that deans can work with their faculty, staff, and other campus stakeholders to develop institutional support and structure to promote career preparedness. The panel will address successful partnership strategies with various campus units to improve the role of professional advising; develop a college-wide career curriculum; collaborate with offices of career services; and incorporate internship, coaching, and shadowing programs.
I outlined a plan to enable students to better understand career pathways while building strong social scientific and liberal arts skills through high impact learning practices in curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular activities. Today I asked my department chairs to discuss the draft, and we will further develop it in collaboration with an external advisory board of community leaders as well as with other units in the university. Possible practices to include: a mentoring program where recent alumni connect with students in person and online, and an internship program built around students’ existing jobs. I’m looking forward to the discussions!
As I write I am supposed to be on a plane to Jacksonville, FL for the CCAS Annual Conference. The first leg was delayed several times due to problems with the inbound plane, and when it finally got in the air it had to turn around due to additional problems (!). At that point a colleague and I had to re-book our flights since we would miss our connection in Atlanta. The colleague — a fellow dean in the U of Wisconsin system — called the UW system travel agent while I used the Delta iPhone app to rebook. I was done in 5 minutes, while the colleague was on the phone for awhile, and then had to stand in line to confirm the seat the agent arranged. I was also able to pick a later flight after seeing that the next flight included a long layover in The ATL; I decided to make the 30-minute drive back to my apartment to catch up on work, and also to use my desktop computer to walk through steps with an online Delta agent to fix a problem with my TSA Pre-Check, which did not work on my first visit. (Agents at the gate and at ticketing told me that they could not fix the problem.) One drawback in leaving the airport: I lost a rock star parking space right next to the door to the terminal. Oh well, it’s a small price to pay for not having to sit around in airports for several additional hours….
A big component of faculty life for many professors is attending academic conferences. I rarely attended them, as I focused on writing academic articles directly instead of creating conference presentations that would later lead to articles. As a dean, however, it seems that I will be attending quite a few leadership conferences. Last week I was in La Crosse, WI for a meeting of arts and liberal studies deans in the University of Wisconsin system, tomorrow I’m off to Jacksonville, FL for the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences annual meeting, and in two weeks I’ll fly to San Francisco for the Learning Resources Network (LERN) annual conference. Whew!
Today marks the end of an era: it’s the last day that iGoogle pages will be available. iGoogle is a personalized home page for web browsers, and I’ve used it ever since it was launched in 2008. I glance at it several times a day, to keep track of news, tweets, and Remember the Milk tasks. Tomorrow I’ll have to find a new source for keeping all of these items on one page. Two of the leading replacement contenders are Protopage and Netvibes, but I don’t love either option. Anyone have other suggestions?
Over the weekend I had my first experience with Airbnb, an “online service that provides a platform for individuals referred to as ‘hosts,’ generally private parties, to rent unoccupied living space and other short-term lodging to guests” [wikipedia]. My mother-in-law wanted to rent a house in Philadelphia for seven people to share while in town for a wedding, and she asked her daughter (my wife) to make the arrangements. On the positive side, Valerie reported that it was very easy to search for housing and to make a reservation, and my mother-in-law had no trouble getting the keys and gaining entry at the start of the reservation. The house was clean when she arrived, and the owner left documentation about operating essentials (such as the Wi-Fi password!). On the negative side, it felt very weird to be in a stranger’s house for a couple of days, and I slept horribly each night. Of course, in many cultures it is perfectly normal to spend time in a stranger’s house — and it is also an everyday occasion to take in strangers — but I have to say that I prefer to stay in hotels or with friends. I’m glad that I tried the concept, but I don’t think it’s for me.