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

Negotiating with Multiple Institutions

I want to start by saying that I really dislike the “negotiating part” that comes with the academic job market. But you have to be prepare to do it because as Stephen Aguilar mentionedYou are, in fact, taking important steps to make sure that you are positioned to be successful and also guaranteeing that you will earn a salary that can support you.”

Getting multiple offers is a pretty awesome and humble place to be, but the reality is that it can also be stressful. First, there are not that many resources that will help you if you get multiple offers. Additionally, you are constantly wondering “what is the best decision?” because likely if you made it to the “offer” stage of a job search you are definitely considering the institutions, the programs, and those who would be your colleagues.

My recommendation is to reach out to trusted colleagues who have your best interest in mind. This include colleagues who you feel comfortable talking about the numbers included in the offers and/or who have experience transitioning between institutions.

A few items to keep in mind with the negotiation process with one or multiple institution(s) is to think about what is most important to you. Here are a list of items you want to keep in mind:

  • Salary
  • Tenure
  • Start-up funds
  • Moving expenses
    • Initial trip to find a place to live
    • Moving your belongings
  • Institutional Computer
  • Yearly travel support
  • Graduate research assistant support
  • Teaching load

You may consider putting together a spreadsheet in which you can compare institutions side-by side. Once you get information on these factors. You will be better informed on how the institutions support new faculty. The next step is to consider other factors that are critical to you (and your love ones):

  • Location
  • Cost of Living
  • Schools (for those who have children)
  • Overall quality of life

Something to keep in mind is that there is a search committee waiting to hear your decision, take your time to make the best decision for you but also be respectful of their timeline and the fact that if you do not take their offer they have to go with the next candidate. It is always good to ask the person making you the offer, how much time you have to make a decision.

Start-Up Funds

  • For some institutions your start-up funds will include the cost of graduate research assistants for multiple years and other will negotiate graduate research assistants separately.
  • Start up funds vary widely depending on the institution, even among R1 institutions.
  • For most institutions you will be asked to itemize your start-up funds. However, some will just give you a specific amount of start-up funds and let you decide how to use them.
  • Some will have a specific amount of time for you to use your start-up funds. Others do not have a specific time frame.
  • It is wonderful to get a really good start-up funds but do not forget about your salary. Your salary should be at an amount that puts a smile on your face.

Resources

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, negotiation is not my favorite activity. So in order to learn, engage, and communicate I looked for resources that provided advice for those in the academic job market. These three in particular were very helpful (two were recommended by trusted colleagues):

The On-Campus Interviews

After 9 years, this spring 2022, I had two on-campus interviews. One was a virtual on-campus interview and the other was an in-person on-campus interview. I want to start by saying that both groups of search committee members were amazing. In addition to the on-campus interviews, I also had two additional Zoom interviews (with other universities that did not lead to an on campus interview). Overall, great experiences with all of the search committees.

I am also here to tell you that the on-campus interview (virtual or in-person) are honestly so much work for the search committee members. Perhaps it is because I have served in a few search committees myself that I feel a great deal of empathy for those who were inviting me for interviews. I know it takes a lot of email, coordination of schedules, time, and energy. So huge thanks to everyone that takes the time to participate in a search committees and give your candidates a good experience. I consider myself lucky during this 2021-2022 job search period, I was treated with a great deal of respect.

During the virtual on campus interview, the committee divided the search into two days and that was really nice. It was an afternoon and then the following morning. It was enough time in front the computer to give the best of me, but not too long that I was Zoomed out. It was also nice that break time was incorporated in between meetings.

The on campus interview was with The University of Tennessee Knoxville (where I accepted an offer) and I have to be honest one of the highlights was flying over the Smoky Mountains on my way to Knoxville. The interview was a dinner (the day of arrival) followed by a day of meetings and a research talk. I also decided to stay an additional day to see the different neighbors and learn more about the area. I will share more in a future post about my decision to accept the offer at University of Tennessee Knoxville, but I am just going to say that I am very excited and happy!

Guest what? Even after 9 years I still followed the advice I gave back in 2013: https://enildaromero.com/2013/07/

These are a few snapshots from the UT Knoxville on-campus interview:

The Instructional Design Interview

Last week, in preparation for a class, I reached out to professional instructional designers (ID) via Facebook and asked them to share good instructional design related questions that they had to answer in an interview in the past. The reason for collecting these questions was to engage my graduate students in an mock interview exercise.

Screenshot 2019-02-21 09.25.44

The response from the ID community in Facebook was great. I am still getting notifications of questions that are getting posted. In addition to the questions posted by ID professionals, I also asked the graduate students in both the Intro and Advance IDT Seminar courses to create questions that would be a good fit for an ID-related interview.

Here is the final Google document with all the interview questions, including those: a) crowdsourced from Facebook, b) UT IDT Intro seminar students, and c) UT IDT Advance seminar students: The Instructional Design Interview

If you are interested in becoming part of this ID FB communities, here are the links:

Failure

I really enjoy celebrating accomplishments but I also like normalizing failure. We do not always achieve what we want or it make take several tries before we accomplish a goal. If we are mentally prepared to understand that failure is a possibility, we are more likely to build strength to pick up the pieces and try again. So here are some things that I have failed at in the past, yet they did not stop me from continuing to pursue what I wanted to accomplish in the long run.

When I graduated high school, I decided to study computer systems engineering. That did not go too well! At that time (and still today), I was a social butterfly. College was a great place to hangout with my friends. Becoming an engineer was not really a priority. After the three semesters studying engineering and failing many courses, I decided that it was best to throw in the towel. I took a year off from college level courses to work and save to pay for my education. I eventually when back to college and started with an associates degree in Computer Programming which I completed with honors. I went on to successfully complete an undergraduate, master, and doctoral degree.

Another moment of failure in my life was when I applied to doctoral degrees. You see, I was determined to move back to Canada and in particular to Montreal. I had fallen in love with the educational technology program at Concordia University. After spending 5 full years studying in Emporia (Kansas), I was ready to complete my application, get accepted, and start a new chapter of my life as a doctoral student at Concordia University. That did not happened! I applied to three universities: Concordia University, Boston University, and Old Dominion University. A few days after doing my doctoral interview (a phone interview with all faculty members of the educational technology program), I received a letter from Concordia University letting me know that I was not accepted. I cried so much!

However, I was accepted to Boston University (with a graduate assistantship but no tuition reimbursement) and to Old Dominion University (with a graduate assistantship with full tuition reimbursement). Eventually, I decided to attend Old Dominion University and that let to so many wonderful opportunities that have shaped my personal life and career. I decided that although I was not at my number one choice, I was still going to earn a doctoral degree and make the most out of it!

Of course, there are many instances of failure in every day life: the article that gets rejected, the class activity that does not go as planned, the award that I do not get, etc.

Why am I sharing this? In academic circles, it gets really competitive. Heck, in life people get really competitive. We start looking at what others are doing and assuming that everyone is “doing things,” “going places,” and basically just “living the dream.” But the reality is that we are all working towards our goals and we all have moments of failures. That is just life.

Latest Publication: ” Undisclosed Stories of Instructional Design Female Scholars in Academia”

Our article titled “Undisclosed Stories of Instructional Design Female Scholars in Academia” published in the Women’s Studies International Forum is now available online (co-authors: Tuğçe Aldemir, Jozenia Colorado-Resa, Camille Dickson-Deane, Ginger Watson, and Ayesha Sadaf).

Abstract: In this critical autoethnography, we come together as female instructional design (ID) faculty and graduate students. We use self-reflection to explore, through our writing, the experiences of our lives as female scholars. This includes gender-related challenges, concerns, and experiences that shape our lives as researchers, instructors, and practitioners. The theoretical frameworks that guide this critical autoethnography are radical and intersectional feminism. Radical feminists practice consciousness-raising in which women come together to share their personal experiences with each other. Intersectional feminists acknowledge that the various aspects of humanity, such as class, race, sexual orientation, and gender do not exists separately from each other. Our stories provide a view into the gender inequalities experienced by women, from various cultural backgrounds, ranks, and roles, while maneuvering the socio-cultural norms ingrained in higher education institutions. Our intention is that these stories generate understanding of these issues and inform ways that higher education may be more inclusive and supportive of female academics in the future.

This personalized URL provides 50 days’ free access to the article (until November 17, 2018). You are welcome to read or download. No sign up, registration, or fees are required: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1Xoml-6kqPaWN 

Let’s talk about complicated pregnancies #academicmamas

Had my yearly Pap Smear today and it served as a reminder of post that has been in draft folder for too long [it is also Spring Break so I get to catch up on a few things that I normally tend to put of for later]. Let’s talk about complicated pregnancies.

We often think that pregnancy is this magical time in a women’s life in which they can eat whatever they want, glow, and crochet something for their bundle of joy. Well, at least, that is what I thought pregnancy were until I experienced it.

The reality is that for me pregnancy was the worry of knowing how my baby was developing, heartburn, and sleepless nights. But I was fine with that because “it is all just part of the process.” It was until I was 22 weeks pregnant that things got “complicated.”

During a routine visit to the doctor (the first week of classes of that term) the ultrasound technician noticed that I was experiencing an “incompetent cervix.” Everything went from calm to faces of worry and the doctor rushing into the ultrasound room. I was asked to go the emergency room in the hospital and told that they were extremely worry that I would deliver early.

I was so confused by everything that was happening but without thinking about it, my husband and I drove to the hospital and expressed what the gynecologist had just explained. I was immediately checked into the emergency room at the hospital. The doctor in the emergency room explained what an “incompetent cervix” meant. Basically means that I have a “weak” cervix tissue.” What followed was just a mess:

  1. Taught class for one week that semester [Fall 2015]
  2. Then rushed back to the emergency room (and FMLA for the remainder of the term)
  3. Was told by the doctor to consider having an abortion (early delivery would mean having a baby that would not survive or would have severe brain damage)
  4.  Was told by another doctor to consider having a cerclage procedure done to prologue the pregnancy as long as possible (although he clarified the success rate for a 50/50 chance)
  5. Decided to do the cerclage and wait to see what happened.
  6. Orders of bed rest until delivery date
  7. Three long months of at home bed rest

Why did I continued my complicated pregnancy? Because I honestly could not terminate my pregnancy after watching my healthy baby boy in an ultrasound.

What is was like to do three months of bed rest? For me, it was torture. I honestly channel my energy into doing things that I enjoyed (writing, reading, researching, or anything I could do from bed/couch).

This is is really a summarized version of everything that happened. All the emotions that I experienced during those months, would be really difficult to capture in a post. I was very private about all of this, when it happened, because if things did not work out in a positive way, I did not want to mourn my loss publicly. It would have been too difficult. However, I did have many reach out to me privately and I would share what I was going through (I guess my lack of FB and Twitter post was noticed). I had many friends and family check in with me regularly (almost daily). Thank You. I also a had a dear friend that lives in the area have lunch with weekly through the three months of bed rest (thank you JoAnne Scott).

I am not writing this post because I want a pity party. I am writing and sharing it with you because pregnancies don’t always go as planned, which is even more reason to have have adequate institutional policies for pregnant women and partners. I would have never predicted my health issue (not even in my wildest dreams). Since this happened to me I’ve known at least two other women who had similar experiences, including another faculty member at my institution.

I also want to add that my story had a complicated but happy ending but not all stories end the same way. I want to share with the emotional story written by Ilde Torres Walter in her blog (it is a journey of love): http://www.journeytoliam.com/2017/01/09/hello-world/  [you should make time to read her five blog posts].

Instructional Design Research Women’s Caucus #AECT17

Please consider joining us during this Research and Theory Division panel session at the AECT 2017 International Convention:

Women Caucus
Lead Discussant:
Enilda Romero-Hall
University of Tampa

Discussants:
Zeni Colorado-Reza
Emporia State University

Ginger Watson
University of Virginia

Camille Dickson-Deane
University of Melbourne

Ayesha Sadaf
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Tugce Aldemir
Pennsylvania State University

See you in Jacksonville. Hope you can join us!

Learning from Las Vegas #AECT16 [Recap]

It has been a year of conference planning and work in preparation for #AECT16. I am happy with the outcome of the Research & Theory Division (RTD) division sessions and I am confident on the quality of the presentations. Since I had several president-elect commitments I was not able to attend many of the sessions but I received good feedback from those who attended the sessions. Thanks to all that helped and supported the Research and Theory Division before and during the conference.

The preparations for #AECT17 started already. RTD PD Professional Coordinators are already working on the grant preparation for the Early Career Symposium. Our RTD conference planner & research and theory coordinator had their first Convention Planning Committee meeting. Also, during the RTD membership meeting several topics related to research methodology and theoretical perspectives were mentioned as recommendations for the professional development coordinator-elect to consider. The RTD board, specifically our past president, has already started looking for potential nominees to serve in our division during the 2017-2018 service year. We are also preparing to launch several initiatives that will serve to connect graduate students and faculty members.

On a personal note, I am so grateful to be part of the AECT family and all my other sub-families (ESU IDT, ODU IDT, and UT IDT). I am very grateful that I was able to attend the AECT conference this year (since I was not able to attend #AECT15). I made new connections with first timers or individuals who I’ve never had the opportunity meet in the past. As usual, it was great to see and talk to those who I consider not only colleagues but also my friends. Hope to see everyone next year in Jacksonville!

For quick access to the #AECT16 hashtag tweets click here:

The “Quick Update” Post

I wanted to write a couple of posts about things I experienced this last semester and then life happened! So, I am merging it all into this post. Please forgive the imperfection of my writing. I probably will not take the time edit and re-edit. What you are about to read are the words as they flow from my brain to the keyboard to this blog.

Since I last wrote a blog post (not an announcement but an actual blog post) I became a mom. This time last year, I was in Switzerland in a Faculty Exchange program. It was exactly during the exchange that I discovered that I was expecting a baby. Yes, the pregnancy test results read “Schwanger.”

 

image

Many things have happened in my personal/professional life in the last year (since I found out I was pregnant) and I want to share them in my blog. However, I am still trying to figure out how to best express those experiences and feelings in a blog post (or maybe more than one). I hope to take some time to write about this experiences in the near future.

What I do want to share in this blog post is that I have officially completed my third year in  a tenure track position. At the beginning of the Spring 2016 semester, I submitted all my materials and by mid March had received all the pre-tenure letters. This is a minor milestone but I still consider it a milestone. I guess the questions that I need to answer now is: what is happening past pre-tenure? Well, pretty much just keep on working hard. I have a long term “to-do list” that I have to tackle and of course, the everyday “to-do list.”

The last three years served to connect with really amazing faculty and graduates students with whom I have found common ground (topics of interest) to work on projects. Some of these projects are strictly related to the instructional design practice and others are more multidisciplinary. I am very excited about this projects and some of them will presented in conferences later this years (currently working on getting some manuscripts out for review). Other projects are just starting so more details coming soon.

I also want to quickly mention that I also started professional service with the AERA SIG Design & Technology as a Technology Liaison. I am excited for this opportunity and very much looking forward to working with colleagues in the SIG. This previous sentence reminded me that I wanted to mention how much I enjoyed attending AERA 2016. I did not present a paper but instead had the opportunity to participate in a mentoring program sponsored by the AERA SIG Design & Technology. I met two outstanding graduate students, Amanda and Yi.
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I hope the SIG continues the mentoring program in the future. It was a great opportunity to share my graduates student and faculty journey. Most importantly, it was an opportunity to listen to the concerns of graduate students and, hopefully, provide guidance. I also learned from the graduate students in the process. Both graduate students, Amanda and Yi, shared conferences, resources, and research groups that were completely new to me.

During the conference I also participated as moderator in a panel discussion on the past, present, and future of the design and technology field. The panelist included Elizabeth Boling, Pat Hardre, and George Veletsianos. It was nice to listen to the panelists’ perspective on the current state of the field as well as suggestions for graduate students and faculty doing research on topics related to design and technology. The current Graduate Student Representative of the SIG Design and Technology board, Shonn, live tweeted the panel presentation. If you are interested in reading more about it, you can check out the AERA SIG Design & Technology Twitter stream.

That is all I have for now. Hoping to be post more in the near future. Hopefully, future post will not be as lengthy.