A New Chapter

Well, now that all of my students have been told, it is time to announce it to the world. This Friday, September 19th, will be my last day as an Academic Advisor at the Georgia College Center for Student Success. I’ve spent the last week and a half madly fitting in as many advising appointments as possible.

The following Monday, I begin my new journey as the Training Specialist with the Georgia College Department of Human Resources. In this job, I will be conducting needs assessments and implement training and development programs for the university, manage initiative implementation, develop training manuals and course materials, and assist with New Employee Orientation.

My time with CSS has been life changing. My fellow advisors have become my family, both figuratively and literally. Leeann and I both started on the same day, shared an office, and had our friendship grow to the level where our coworkers referred to us as siblings.

Other friendships developed as well. After our move to Lanier Hall, I joined the “BA Corner”  with Rebecca Miles and Chris Lamphere. Eventually, Chris retired, and Nadirah Mayweather filled his slot.

Beyond that, I met my wife through the job. Nikki had been with the department for five weeks when I joined (she had previously been an advisor housed in the Department of Psychological Science for two years). We met that exciting day in August when I first walked into The Bone House. It took a while, but eventually a friendship, then relationship blossomed.

Beyond my colleagues, it has been a true honor to work with some of the students that have come across my path. Watching them learn, grow, and mature has been an immensely rewarding experience.

Likewise, I am grateful for my own growth and learning experiences over the last three years. The mentors I have had in the department have taught me valuable life lessons and experience. They were standing next to me and behind me on the rough days, and celebrating with me on the good.

Monday starts a new chapter in my life. But I will never forget the events of the chapter that is now drawing to a close. And for those events, lessons, and memories, I will always be grateful.

Living in the Cloud

Today’s computing trend is one of being in the “cloud.” This server based computing is extremely convenient and productive. But, a lot of people still do not understand it. Volumes have been written about how useful it is, especially for academics (and I will link some of those posts later), but today, I want to talk about how I use it. 

Read moreLiving in the Cloud

Faculty Focus Report on Social Media

Faculty Focus has released a report on Social Media Usage Trends among Higher Education Faculty [pdf]. To me at least, the results are not at all surprising. Social networking sites (the focus of the survey was FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter) are more popular than ever and continue to grow rapidly.

When the children of this technologically advanced generation enter the classroom, they expect to find many of the same elements as they use in their everyday lives. Can this technology be leveraged for use by the Academy? I assert that it can.
My first conference paper (which I’m not linking… I wrote it as an undergrad and it is quite obvious) discussed this issue. How can faculty utilize these “Pedagogical Portals” in a way which students will accept and yet still preserves the decorum and professionalism of the classroom? With the rise of electronic note-taking systems, where do the instructors draw the line at allowing technology to be utilized in the classroom? The first statistic which surprised me was while nearly 83% of instructors allowed laptops in the classroom, only 52% allowed smartphones (no mention was made of tablets, such as iPads). A 31-point difference in device which can cause the same distractions as well as be used for the same legitimate educational purposes.

Social media is not foreign to academics. Nearly half (44.6%) of survey respondents replied that they use Facebook daily. Only 14.6%stated that they never used the service. Now, I’m not going to walk through every single response (there’s a reason I posted the link…) but I did want to mention some of the quotes.

One of my favorites is “Facebook is a backyard barbecue, Twitter is a cocktail hour, and LinkedIn is a business luncheon” (p. 9). That is the best comparison of the three sites I have seen. But still, the detractors remain. One respondent stated that using social networking is a “Bunch of nonsense. Just use the telephone and e-mail is enough to communicate when not in class” (p. 19). While I admit it is a bit annoying to realize a student is bombarding you with messages – no matter the forum – at one in the morning, the educational paradigm has shifted.  An individual exists and interacts in cyberspace nearly as much as they do in the physical realm.

Students come to campus. They live on campus. But they also exist in the land of technology. Study groups no longer have to be in the same room. In fact, they rarely are. I have both given and received tutoring over Skype, GTalk, AIM, and Facebook Chat. If you look at the acknowledgements in my thesis, one of them is to a friend who kept me company via instant messaging during many mutual late-night writing marathons.

To me the answer is clear. Faculty need to be involved in social networking. But there must also boundaries. The answer is not to run from the issue – say, by banning laptops or smart phones from the classroom –but to engage in the novel ideal of EDUCATING our students. We must explain to them what is appropriate and what is not. We must have clear expectations of appropriate behavior with technology. But, we should not, we cannot, fear the technology.

I had planned on discussing how I make use of social network and technology. But, given the length of this post already, I believe that is a topic for another day. Be looking for that post soon.

My new job

Well, it is the start of a new academic term and a new professional journey in my life. This blog started out as a hobby, and it was a really ironic choice of topics. Over the past few weeks, I have accepted employment, started a job, and began the process of slowly settling into a new environment.

What does that have to do with this project, you may ask? Well… Every great once in a while, there is an opportunity to merge your interest and hobbies AND get paid to do it. That is exactly what happened with this job. When I sat down after graduation and made my skills list, there were three jobs which really jumped out at me in higher education: Instructor of Political Science, Institutional Research Analyst, and Academic Advisor.

I applied for some jobs in each category. I am now pleased to say I am an Academic Advisor for the Center for Student Success of Georgia College in Milledgeville. In other words, I’m now working for my alma mater doing what I had been doing for my friends anyway. To top everything off, I also get to work with the freshmen students in political science, criminal justice, and sociology and teach a few seminar courses. It is an almost perfect mesh.
So, if you happen to be at Georgia College, come by and visit me in The Bone House. I’ve put my school webpage in the links list. It also has all my new contact information. Once I get settled in, you will be able to expect quite a few more posts, not only in the area of political science and public administration, but also in the field of student success.