One of the most satisfying things about working at Kalamazoo College is that I really have been warmly welcomed into the rich learning community here. As Educational Technology Specialist, I could perform my job in isolation as a technology administrator on the outside looking in on the activities of teaching and learning at K, but I wouldn’t be nearly as effective. Throughout the year, I’ve had more and more opportunities to join workshops, brown bag discussions, and talk one-on-one with faculty and staff about our educational mission. This has culminated at the end of my first year in being offered the opportunity to teach a First-Year Seminar of my own next fall. How cool, yes? Having been out of the physical classroom for a few years, this is an immensely exciting opportunity, so exciting that it’s difficult to organize all my thoughts.
There is the responsibility of technology. Colleagues have already teased me that, as the day-to-day collaborator/support for faculty using Moodle, I need to have the greatest Moodle course page Kalamazoo College has even seen. I don’t know about that; we have some very talented users who have been using Moodle longer than I. There is no doubt, though, that teaching with Moodle at K will give me a new insight into both what is possible and beneficial in using the LMS and what faculty frustrations lie out there that I might not easily spot in my role as an administrator. I will come out of the experience with a full course page where I can point and say, “Well, here is how I do it…”
The course will also let me pilot some techniques and resources that I hope to share with our faculty. Hypothes.is is definitely one. I love the idea of having a digital flow of dialogue outside of class time to comment and communicate with one another. There are so many options to do this – Twitter, Moodle forums, Slack, Classroom Salon – but I feel like Hypothes.is might be exactly what I’m looking for. I’m excited to ground our discussions to a close reading of the text itself with students asking questions and making comments at specific points in the writing. It’s taken a bit of troubleshooting to make Hypothes.is’ software talk to Moodle, but with the help of my indispensable Computer Support Specialist friend Martin Nolan (not pictured, because he hates having his picture taken), I believe it will work for fall.
As part of my role as a First-Year Seminar instructor, I will also be given a number of freshmen to serve as their advisor. Again, the amount of trust that important people at Kalamazoo College have given me already is something I am deeply grateful for. Teaching, advising, and participating in professional development are things I hoped to engage in one day after I arrived at K, but people have decided that I can contribute to the college in this manner already and I couldn’t be happier.
It’s going to be a busy fall and I’m looking forward to talking about my plans in the meantime. To keep things rolling, I’ll discuss my course description soon on the blog soon.