Rooted and grounded in love

I don’t know if most people that know me professionally know this, but I am the daughter of divorced parents. My parents divorced in my adulthood. I was actually just starting my doctoral program when they got divorce. To make things even more interesting, my parents live in different countries. It makes the logistics of “going to visit family” challenging. It also means that I may not see both my mom and dad in the same family trip.

But my divorce parents are really not like many others. Although they are divorce my parents: travel together, sometimes spend Christmas and New Years celebrations together, talk on the phone daily (sometimes multiple times a day), have visited me together, and are very comfortable been in each other’s presence (sometimes it is even hard to tell they are actually divorce). They have taught me so much about true love and care for another person regardless of relationship status. Of course, just like any relationship they also argue and sometimes need their own space.

Recently, I got to spend time with both of them. It was the first time in a long time that I spend time with my mom and the first time in a long time that we were all together. It meant the world to me. Both my mom and dad live in places with fairly strict COVID travel restrictions and thankfully now some of those restrictions have been lifted. Hopefully it stays that away and that way I will have more opportunities to visit them.

Backcountry Camping

Recently, I went backcountry camping, which it is not to be confused with car camping (I just learned how there are two different names lol and now I guess I get to educate others). Camping culture is not something I grew up with at all. When I lived in Panama, people didn’t just go into the woods or the rainforest for no reason. However, now people in Panama are more into connecting with the tropical rainforest for weekend adventures such as hiking and camping. Personally, hiking and camping were experiences that I started to enjoy when I lived in Virginia. Some of my favorite hikes in Virginia were McAfees Knob, The Priest, and The Dragon’s Tooth trails. I also enjoyed camping and hiking at Crabtree Falls.

To be honest, the experience of backcountry camping is not something that I would attempt to do on my own. I like that I was going with mi familia because my partner has experience and knowledge on what is needed for the experience. He had also camped at this specific location a few weeks before friends. I definitely want do it again but there are a few things that I want to consider next time like bringing the camping hammock or being more creative with my food choices. I enjoyed been surrounded by nature and listening to water sounds. While I was out in the woods, I was thinking what it would be cool to see a bear but also it would be scary to see a bear. I was constantly trying to think of all safety procedures (how to scare a bear: yell like hell and act crazy — I can do that lol).

Here are a few photos from the backcountry camping outing, for some reason I was really into mushroom photography lol

Conversatorio del Cafe Virtual de Learn for Improvement

Me dio mucho gusto participar en el conversatorio con las organizadores del Cafe Virtual de Learn for Improvement que ocurrió ayer. El Learn for Improvement es un grupo de diseñadores instruccionales a nivel corporativo en Latino America. Estos fueron alguno de los temas de los que hablamos durante el conversatorio:

¿Qué especializaciones de postgrado has seguido? ¿Cómo han contribuido en tu desarrollo profesional?

  • Master en Diseño Instruccional de la Universidad Estatal de Emporia (Emporia State University). Como a contribuido a mi desarrollo profesional:
    • Técnicas de Diseño Instruccional (modelos y teorías)
    • Conocimiento de teorías del aprendizaje y motivación
    • Emphasis en el desarrollo de capacitaciones para adultos
    • El uso de programas que se usan para el desarrollo de capacitaciones en línea y programas educativos en general
  • Doctorado en Educación con énfasis en Diseño Instruccional y concentración en Simulaciones para Capacitación y Aprendizaje de Old Dominion University. Como a contribuido a mi desarrollo profesional:
    • El enfoque fue más en mi crecimiento como investigadora. 
    • ¿Cómo se formula un proyecto de investigación?
      • Proponer el proyecto
      • Recolectar la data
      • Escribir el reporte o la publicación
      • Presentación del proyecto
    • Aprender a colaborar con colegas en otras áreas de estudios en proyectos que necesita la perspectiva de un diseñador instruccional
    • Leer para entender cómo los proyectos de investigación se pueden usar en la práctica

En tu experiencia, ¿qué ventajas te brinda contar con un postgrado especializado en aprendizaje para construir una carrera internacional en L&D?

  • Conocimiento de la teoría que es muy importantes (diseño instruccional, psicologia, comunicacion, etc.)
  • Aprender a conectar los resultados de las investigaciones con la práctica (que funciona? Que no funciona? Y porque?)
  • Distinguir entre el uso de “programas” y importante conocimientos de pedagogía (para adultos o sistemas digitales)
  • Estar más al tanto de las últimas tendencias en diseño instruccional y tecnología y sus aplicaciones en diferentes niveles.
  • La realidad es que muchas posiciones requieren un postgrado

¿Qué alternativas de especialización-postgrado  a  nivel internacional recomiendan  para los  que trabajamos en L&D?

¿Qué recomendaciones deberíamos tener presente antes de elegir un postgrado?

  • Fijense en la página de Internet del programa
    • ¿Quiénes son los profesores y cuales son sus áreas de interés?
    • ¿Qué cursos se ofrecen? ¿Te interesan a ti estos cursos?
    • El program esta enfocado en preparar profesionales para el área que te interesa: educación secundario, área corporativa, universidades o instituciones del gobierno
    • Si el programa es en línea o presencial
  • Qué apoyo brinda al estudiante para hacer la transición a la fuerza de trabajo
    • Portfolio
    • Prácticas y pasantías

Upcoming Free and Open Speaking Engagements

September

This event is for Spanish speakers, who more than likely live in Latin America but anyone is welcome. If you are interested in an instructional design program or a program focused on learning and development for a corporate environment, join us! We will be talking about this topic on September 28! The organizers of this event are the Learning for Improvement group the is organized by instructional designers in Peru. I am thankful that I was invited to be part of this Cafe Virtual. Here is the link to register for the event: https://forms.gle/5sexFAfqaBM6J6jE7

Flyer for the “Cafe Virtual” organized by the Learn for Improvement group

October

On October 19, I will be doing a presentation for my alma mater, the Graduate Student Organization of the Instructional Design and Technology program at Old Dominion University. More details coming soon.


November

On Nov. 3, I will be presenting as part of the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK) Theory and Practice in Teacher Preparation (TPTE) STEM seminar and discussing “inclusive and equitable learning design practices”

On Nov. 17, I will presenting for the members of the Hampton Roads International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) Chapter. Topic: “Social, Learner Centered, Culturally-Relevant Digital Workforce Development.” You are welcome to register for this virtual event. It is a free and open event: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/social-learner-centered-culturally-relevant-digital-workforce-development-tickets-415319711437

For my Spanish speaking connections! On Wednesday, November 23 I am honored to be joining an amazing group of speakers as part of the Semana de la Innovación (Innovation Week) of the Centro de Innovación y Excelencia Docente de la Universidad Autónoma de Chile. Tema: “Inclusión e igualdad en la enseñanza en línea”. Mas detalles pronto.


December

Last but not least, for the European crowd, the ProDiGI project at the Technische Universität Braunschweig @tuBraunschweig is hosting a free & open conference in early December. I’ll be sharing more details about my presentation later on. But, in case you want to learn more about the conference or would like to join the conference here is the link: https://bit.ly/3BKcHIs

Grateful for the opportunity to participate in this events in an online format. Also, grateful that colleagues thought about me and asked me to join them in these events.

Podcasts for Learning Designers

Huge thanks to all my colleagues who shared their favorite learning/instructional design podcasts as well as other podcasts that related to education or education research. If you see this blog post and have a podcast recommedation(s) that is currently not included in this list, please post it in the comments. I will update the blog post as needed.

Here are links to other podcast list for learning/instructional design professionals:

Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

Curly Hair Talk

I know I should be working on those IRB modules but, can I pause for a minute and talk about curly hair?

It was my freshman year in high school when I started straightening my hair regularly. Panamanian societal standards had taught me that straight hair was better than curly hair (in a country in which the majority of the population has curly hair). That sounds crazy right? I can go on with a list of other features of my body and face that I was told were not adequate, but I will spare you the horror! Loving me just as I am took a lot of reflection, self-discovery, and just a huge “fuck you” to societal standards.

Back to this curly hair convo! Fast forward to July of 2020, the pandemic is ragging and we are in “stay at home” orders in Florida. I had stopped straightening my hair, I was barely just trying to survive. Taking a shower, honestly, felt like like going to luxury spa appointment. I remember having a crazy curly hair day and I was complaining out loud about this “major issue” in my life. Then all of a sudden my then 4 year old comes to me and says “I love my crazy curly hair.” He has beautiful curly hair! I don’t know why but his words encouraged me to fully embrace my curly hair. So in that moment I decided, enough is enough, I am going to do this. I didn’t want to indirectly pass on the ridiciulos societal standards that I had experienced to him. I wanted him to continue loving his curly hair.

The transition to curly hair after so many years using a straightening iron was not easy. My curls had loss their shape and it was a hot mess. I have gone through so many hair products, curly hair treatments, different kinds of shampoos, and YouTube videos teaching me different techniques to protect my curly hair (Yay, informal learning!). But throughout all of these trial and errors I learned that companies creating hair products do really take into consideration the needs of people with curly hair and that made me happy. I have also started cutting my own hair. I felt nervous at first but now I am not afraid at all.

Last year I had a photo session because I wanted to start using my curly hair in professional headshots instead of the previous headshots with straighten hair. It was liberating and I love how the photos turned. I also did some casual photos just cus!

Recent Research on Online Social Communities

Earlier this year, I made a radical decision to cut off all social media from my life. I am grateful for the detox. I eventually returned to Twitter and LinkedIn, quietly, over the summer but now I am bit more active (let’s see how long that last). But I am not going to lie, one of the most difficult parts of that decision was leaving the groups and social communities to which I belonged that kept me informed or in which I could ask questions. These groups and social communities have also served as inspiration for my research on networked learning and informal learning in online social communities. So having said all of that, I want to share some of my most recent publications on online social communities in this post.

Publications

Romero-Hall, E.J. (2022). Supporting Instructional Design Graduate Education through Networked Learning and Institutional Social Media. In Stefaniak, J. & Reese, R. (Eds.), The Instructional Designer’s Training Guide: Authentic Practices and Considerations for Mentoring ID and Ed Tech Professionals. Routledge.

This chapter is really a self reflection on the work that independent study students, interns, and I did while working at The University of Tampa connecting the current students, alumni, and public to IDT program using institutional social media accounts. But in all honestly, those practices were highly influences by the practices of other IDT programs who run their own institutional social media and research on networked learning. Here is a short blurb from the abstract: “In this paper, it is argued that social media represents a convivial technology in which individuals are engaging in networked learning. A review of the literature yielded examples of how institutional social media is been used in teaching and learning specifically in instructional design and technology programs. Insights from a case study about an instructional design and technology program that has been actively using different institutional social media to enhance the networked learning experience of the graduate students (and other stakeholders) in the program is shared as a way to connect research with practice.”


Gomez-Vasquez, L., Romero-Hall, E., Jaramillo Cherrez, N., Ghani, S., Rodriguez, A. & Ripine, C. (2022). Keeping Citizens Informed and Engaged During the COVID-19 Pandemic Using #YoMeInformoPMA: A Case from Latin America. Health Communicationhttps://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2022.2035509

This paper is dedicated to my motherland, Panama! When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, I was on sabbatical in Panama. The days after a pandemic was declared were crazy. I have written a bit about it in this blog post. To keep myself informed of what was happening in Panama in response to the pandemic the Panamanian Health Ministry recommended that everyone use the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA (which literally translated to: “I stay informed Panama”) in social media. As a researcher, it immediately triggered my desire to know: “What are people learning, discussing, and sharing using this hashtag?”. So I quickly emailed my collaborator Dr. Lina Gomez-Vasquez so that we could start tracking tweets with this hashtag. Huge thanks to Lina for leading the write up of this paper and co-authors for assisting with the analysis. Here is a short blurb from our abstract: “Using quantitative content, social network, and thematic analysis, this study examined 2,500 tweets from April to August 2020 that included the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA. Panama’s Public Health Ministry created the #YoMeInformoPMA hashtag to keep citizens informed and engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research on social media use and implementation in Latin America during the COVID-19 pandemic, to inform and engage the public, is limited. Therefore, the aim of this investigation was to analyze strategies, themes, multimedia formats, key actors, and overall communications patterns of a Latin American health community hashtag. Our results determined that actors using the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA mainly used an interactive strategy, a message that aims to promote casual conversations, advice, and problem-solving.


Romero-Hall, E.J. (2021). Undergraduate students in online social communities: An exploratory investigation of deliberate informal learning practices. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 10(3). https://dx.doi.org/10.51869/103/erh

We often do not realize that there are many instances of informal learning practices: implicit learning, reactive learning, and deliberate learning. In this paper, I focus on “deliberate learning refers to informal learning that occurs when an individual takes time to think about how and where to gather information.” This paper further analyses data that was collected as part of an internal grant sponsored by the University of Tampa on the use and participation of undergraduate students in social media (with a specific focus on teaching and learning). Here is a blurb from the abstract: “A total of 573 undergraduate students consented to participate in this investigation about deliberate informal learning practices using social media. Data analysis consisted of parametric and non-parametric statistical procedures. An analysis of the rankings provided by undergraduate students for the different deliberate informal learning activities performed in their most used social media (MUSM) showed that listening to podcasts related to their area of study, following/connecting with professional organizations, and connecting with leaders in their field of study were ranked higher than the other activities. The results also showed evidence of statistically significant differences in the ranking provided to the informal learning activities performed by undergraduate students in their least used social media (LUSM). Listening to podcasts related to their area of study, viewing videos that can assist with coursework, and following/connecting with professional organizations were ranked higher than the other deliberate informal learning activities.” This journal article is open access.


Guest Edited Special Issue

Romero-Hall, E.J. (2021). Informal Learning in Online Social Communities. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 10(3), https://edtechbooks.org/jaid_10_3

First, huge thanks to all the amazing authors who submitted their work to this special issue and worked with me to make this a reality. Second, you should take the time to read these journal articles because each of them will enhance your teaching or advance your know of the learning design field. Last, this special issue includes an award winning article (AECT Culture, Learning, and Technology Division, McJulien Scholar Best Paper Award) published by Spencer P. Greenhalgh, Daniel G. Krutka, & Shannon M. Oltmann titled “Gab, Parler, and (Mis)educational Technologies: Reconsidering Informal Learning on Social Media Platforms“.

Spider web
A spider web

The Relocation Summer

I wrote my last post back in May after participating in OTESSA conference: The #OTESSA22 Recap and Resources and honestly I had no idea the craziness of a summer that I had ahead of me! It has been 1.5 months since we moved to Knoxville. The boxes are unpacked and we have settled. I think that has been the number one questioned I have received for the last month from friends and colleagues.

There is so much that has happened this summer, I really do not know if I can sum it up into a blog post but here are the highlights:

  • I completely deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts. Initially those were going to be temporary deactivations but every time I thought about reactivating my account, I hated the fact that I was going to fall into old habits or deal with the social media non-sense (one day I will write about this term “social media non-sense”). It has been challenging at times because there are connections that I really miss and some that I honestly cannot connect in any other ways (i.e., friends who live abroad). But, I am still undecided on whether I will rejoin again.
  • We no longer live in our Seminole Heights bungalow in Tampa. I can’t believe we sold our first house. The process of selling was difficult in so many ways. It was exhausting mentally. It took over our lives. I will miss our neighborhood. Seminole Heights will always have a special place in my heart (i.e., it is the house were I saw my son take his first steps and the neighborhood he learn to ride his bike) but I am happy that the house sold allowing us to move and fully focus on our new chapter in Knoxville.
  • I became a U.S. citizen. I remember arriving in the United States January 2004 and landing in Kansas City to attend school at Emporia State University. That was an absolutely crazy adventure. I took the Greyhound bus from KC to Emporia (a two hour ride) and when we arrived in Emporia I was dropped off at a gas station. I was like “What the hell? Where is the bus terminal?” I asked the gas station employee to please call a cab for me and he was like “Well there is only one cab in town so know that it will be a while” (Yes, this was life pre-UBER, imagine that!). I really should write more about my adventures as an international student. Anyways, glad I completed all the requirements and applied for citizenship. The best part is that I get to vote!
  • I did the bare minimum in terms of scholarship. Instead I focused on the relocation process and I am so happy I didn’t kill myself trying to do a million things. Early in May I was contacted about a project that “must be written over the summer because the institution was going to pay us $$ over the summer to write the paper”. My response was: “Well the institution can keep their $$ because I am not about to comprise my sanity over a paper I can write in the Fall”. Best decision ever!
  • I did teach a two-week course on “culturally competent design for online learning” as part of a grant funded project “Online Ready” by colleague Dr. Lucy Green and colleagues. It was so much fun designing the course and launching it. It was an online asynchronous course for K-12 school librarians. This was the first iteration of the course now we get to address the feedback and launch it again next year with a different cohort.
  • There was minimum travel this summer but in the road trip to Knoxville we did get to explore two other major Tennessee cities: Chattanooga and Nashville. Definitely visiting again!
Chattanooga

The #OTESSA22 Recap and Resources

One of my favorite things to do after a good conference is to collect the resources acquired in a blog and re-share it with others. It is also a great way for me to tag a resources to a specific event (in my blog) in case I want to go back to it in the future. Don’t ask me why, my brain just works that way. Any who, last week I attended OTESSA 2022 which was her virtually and is organized by the Open/Technology in Education, Society, and Scholarship Association (OTESSA).

Here are a few thoughts on the conference:

  • Really enjoyed the conference sessions, social events, and the schedule.
  • I was also really appreciative of the active efforts to promote all sessions via social media, at times it served as a reminder to a session I wanted to attend.
  • I was not sure how the sessions were going to relate to theme of the conference “Critical Change” but at least based on the sessions that I was able to attend, there were several critical conversations happening about “what is next” and “how we do it in a meaningful, critical way”.
  • Going back to the schedule, it was a bit more challenging to catch the evening talks but glad I can catch the recording until the beginning of June.
  • The conference organizers did a phenomenal effort running is smoothly (i.e., sharing updates daily, the pre-conference info to check login information, and just attending sessions to make sure everything was going as planned).

At the beginning of the week I made a post on Twitter stating that I would be sharing resources during the week but honestly it was too much for me to tweet out every day. Trying to attend sessions, tweet giving proper credit (important to me), and trying to keep up with what is going at home was too much. So, instead I bookmarked and hope to proper share in this blog post. I will include the session the resource was mentioned or shared.

Metaphors of Ed Tech, Martin Weller

Surveillance in the System: Data as Critical Change in Higher Education (Research-Oriented), Bonnie Stewart (University of Windsor), Samatha Szcyrek (University of Windsor)

  • @bonstewart and @samanthaszc discussed findings on research related Surveillance in the System: Data as Critical Change in Higher Education. What do you know about datafication in your institution?

Online or Remote Learning and Mental Health (Research-Oriented), Stephanie Moore (University of New Mexico), Michael Barbour (Touro University California), George Veletsianos (Royal Roads University)

Hide and Seek: On Kids, Power, and Resistance in Education, Sherri Spelic, American International School Vienna

Outside-In: Openness as Subversion, Maha Bali, American University in Cairo

Embracing Feminist Pedagogies in Learning Design, Enilda Romero-Hall, The University of Tennessee Knoxville

Taking Experiential Learning Online During COVID-19 (Research-Oriented), Theodora Kapoyannis, Astrid Kendrick, Patricia Danyluk (University of Calgary)

Exploring university teaching during a pandemic to derive recommendations for post-pandemic times (Research-Oriented), Joerdis Weilandt, Sandra Dixon, Richelle Marynowski, Lorraine Beaudin, Rumi Graham, Stavroula Malla, Angeliki Pantazi (University of Lethbridge)

Multi-Section Open Course Design: Design and Implications for Faculty, Sessional Instructors, and Learners (Practice-Oriented), Valerie Irvine, Michael Paskevicius, Colin MadlandRich McCueVerena Roberts (University of Victoria)

The social events were lots of fun! The Bhangra dance with @GurdeepPandher was a great workout and I definitely need more of it my life. I was a bit uncoordinated at first and too shy to turn my camera on but I finally got it and still too shy to turn my camera on. The DJ session so much fun too! I didn’t participate in the trivia challenge but I enjoyed all the beats. Thank you again to all involve with planning and organizing the conference (Valerie, Aras, and Terry!) .

Everyone needs a “thank you card wall“

This week has been a week of cleaning. How do we possible accumulate so much crap?

Today I cleared my office at The University of Tampa. The pile of crap that I had in my office is so irresponsible. The funny part is that now I pretty much do all of my work using only digital files and a MacBook Air. Why on earth did I have all of that stuff? I don’t know.

Let’s talk about the phone. I never learned my office phone number and I would lie if I tell you I know how to check my voicemail. If you left me a voicemail here what I have to say to you: why?

Probably the best part of clearing my office was my “thank you card wall.” That wall and the messages I received at some moment helped me get through a difficult moment. So thank you to everyone that at some moment in the last few year has giving me a thank you card because hey you probably made a deeper impact in my life in another way.

Thank You Cards