Early during the fall semester I became interested in joining a writing retreat to make progress towards some of the writing goals that I had for 2023. I have a few big projects that require time to outline, analyze the data, organize the ideas that I want to share, and just get the ball rolling. Having interrupted time is extremely beneficial for any writing project. However. having long chunks of uninterrupted time are tremendously valuable.
I started searching the Internet for writing retreats for academics. I do not know if I was just not very good at searching for this type of activity but most results were either very far into the future or focused on creative writing. I did not see myself as an academic engaged in creative writing so I figured I would not fit into those spaces. As any good blogger, I started reading blogs of others who had been in a writing retreat and what I notice was that some writer discussed the good, the bad, and the ugly of writing retreats. I also noticed one academic blogger mentioned how he first started by creating a solo writing retreat. The idea of a solo writing retreat attracted me. I have travelled solo in the past and enjoyed the experience. I figured this would be somewhat similar with a little caveat, I would be bringing my co-author Missy (dog) with me. So after figuring out a good week for me to take a leave of absence from home, I settled on specific dates to travel to a small cabin with my co-author.
When the time came to start the writing retreat, I packed food and comfy clothes. After settling into our cabin, the outlining, organizing, and writing tasks started to happen. The scenery in the location of the cabin was lovely. We even got snow. It was magical. But even more magical was that I was getting the work done. I was not expecting to have a completed product by the end of my writing retreat, but I was hoping to make serious progress. I can honestly say that I was able to do just that. Now, I am working on the remaining of one those projects on a regular basis and hopefully on track to reach the final outcome.
I think the one aspect about my writing retreat that I will change for next time is the length of time. For this first writing retreat I planned for 7 days. To be honest, at 5 days I was really missing mi familia. So, in retrospective the next writing retreat will be 5 instead of 7 days.
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.
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 Communication. https://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.
This is a collaboration with Weiwei Ji (Instructional Designer at Arkansas Tech University) and Pauline Salim Muljana (Doctoral Candidate at Old Dominion University). It is a design framework supported by research-based evidence and influenced by the instructional design practice of WeiWei (Will) and his experience as an instructional designer. Of course, it is also supported by the knowledge, skills, and experience of Pauline and myself. As we state in the abstract: “We propose a set of guidelines called the Three-Tier Design Process (TTDP), providing a pathway for faculty and other higher-education professionals who intend to design and develop a course in a Learning Management System and to promote learner-centered experiences. This paper includes detailed discussion about each tier of the TTDP, its subcomponents, and an example of its application. The TTDP borrows from existing theories, models, and literature in the instructional design field that focuses on key aspects that help create positive learning experiences. Tier 1 focuses on course design and serves as a foundation for the next two tiers; Tier 2 emphasizes course development; and Tier 3 concentrates on the user-experience considerations. Examples from a real course are additionally provided.” We were invited to write a blog post about the journal article for the Online Learning Research Center. Here is a link to the blog post: https://www.olrc.us/blog/designing-and-developing-courses-in-learning-management-systems-how-do-we-enhance-learners-experiences
I was excited to see this journal article finally published. This journal article is the result of a collaboration with University of Tampa undergraduate elementary education major, Caldeira Ripine. It is a research project supported by the Undergraduate Research and Inquiry Grant from the University of Tampa. The data was collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic during Fall 2019. As the pandemic started and plans for continuity of instruction were shared by higher education institutions, I knew that the data Caldeira and I had collected needed to get publish as soon as possible. But, due to a number of factors (including lack of childcare) it took a while a to get this out into the review pipeline and of course, then it had to go through the peer review process. In any case, as stated in the abstract: “The aim of this investigation was to survey faculty members on their perceived level of preparedness to design and implement hybrid flexible (HyFlex) instruction. Participants included 121 full- and part-time faculty. Using an electronic survey, faculty members: a) rated their preparedness to engage on different HyFlex instruction competencies, b) shared which pedagogical strategies they felt prepared to use in this instructional modality, and c) listed the resources and support that they felt were needed to successfully implement their course.” The journal article is open access, you are welcome to download, read, and share.
How much fun was it to write manuscripts during “Stay at Home” orders without childcare? Well if you have not experience this during the last year and half of the COVID-19 pandemic then consider yourself lucky! It is not fun at all. I wrote the following in a reflection I was putting together on what April 2020 was like:
“Upon our return to the U.S. we were faced with the news that, due to the pandemic, our childcare center had closed indefinitely. My partner and I had to adjust to working from home while providing childcare for our 4-year-old son. I had to quickly realize that some of the projects that I was hoping to start before the end of my sabbatical were going to be delayed or canceled. The projects that I was planning to complete were going to require a massive amount of focus and dedication. In order to accomplish all our work requirements, my partner and I had to divide our days into three “shifts.” The morning shift (8 am to 1 pm) in which I worked and he would care for our son. The afternoon shift (1 pm – 6 pm) in which my partner worked and I would provide care for our son. The evening shift (6 pm until midnight) in which were are exhausted but aimed to spend time together as a family.”
In April 2020 during a three week period during my “morning shift” I wrote a manuscript for a special issue that was published in the Educational Technology Research and Development (ETR&D) journal. The realization that I was going to have less than the estimated amount of time to write this paper stressed me so much. But I had to channel that stress into getting the work done. During the process of writing the proposal I had gathered and read most of the literature and had put together an outline. Having this things done was a lifesaver! During the three weeks of writing I had to buckle down and eloquently put the literature and my ideas into a document.
I should give a little bit of context: I initially thought I was going to have a month of full-time work hours during a term in which I was on sabbatical. But because of the lack of childcare (due to COVID-19) I actually had three weeks with 4-hours per day (during week days) to write the paper. I do not know how fast others are at writing papers but gosh I am such a tortoise. To make it more interesting, this was a solo-authored publication.
Kind of funny, I can write without problem in a busy cafe with all sorts of background noise. I pretty much wrote all of my dissertation in a Panera a few blocks from my apartment when I lived in Norfolk, VA. But it was so hard to write this paper from home while having my family members’ voices in the background. I remember putting on my headphones and close the door and still every now and then I would still hear their voices and conversations in the background.
I think that been really passionate about the topic I was writing about made a huge difference on how I approached this writing project, despite the hardship endured in the process. I am grateful for Reviewer # 1 and the editors of the special issue for such wonderful and detailed feedback. I truly helped me improve the paper during the R&R submit process. The manuscript was published “online first” this January 2021 and is titled: Current initiatives, barriers, and opportunities for networked learning in Latin America .
This was the first of many experiences like this. Our son stayed home for 6 months while we worked from home without childcare. And, even after he went back to the childcare center, there were other instances in which he has stayed home and we had to maneuver the same dynamics of still completing our work. Having the deadline of special issue submission did add more pressure in this specific instance (shared in this post)! It made it hard for me commit to any special issue submissions for almost a year (hence why I missed out on so many opportunities to submit for COVID-19 related special issues in 2020, sadly)!
I really have not felt inspired to write in my blog. Since my last post on June 8th, I was busy teaching my summer course (which ended at end of June) and June was also an intense month with writing projects. It seems like everything was due in June.
Then I decided that July would be a month of recovery. Recovery meant spending as much time as possible outdoors. Working from home means I sometimes neglect to spend time outside during the work week. By July, I really needed to make time for the great outdoors, getting vitamin D, and fresh air. I needed it both physically and mentally.
August was a month of change. So much change. I really need to dedicate an entire blog post to describe it all. So, let’s put a pin on it for now.
So in order to hold myself accountable, I am going to write that over the next few months I will share more on my blog about some of the hobbies in the great outdoors that I have enjoyed lately, some of the changes in my life (and the life of those around me), and updates on some projects.
This post sounds so vague but it gives my some direction to make an effort to reconnect with my blog.
One of the few relaxing things that I did manage to do in June was to spend a weekend alone while my partner and son went camping. It had been 16 months since I had been apart from them overnight and felt super weird. I did used some of that weekend to do some writing (which I hardly ever do on the weekends) but more importantly I made sure to spend plenty of time relaxing. One of the relaxing experience that I had that weekend was pottery painting. It was seriously so calming, relaxing, and such fun experience. I spend nearly 4 hours painting. I should do it more often. Use the slider below to see some before and after pictures of my “work of art”. I am not Picasso but I think did pretty good!
The curators of the Feminist Pedagogy for Teaching Online guide (Jacquelyne Thoni Howard, Clare Daniel, Niya Bond, Liv Newman, and myself) are putting together a new edited collection on this topic. A list of potential topics is included in the call.
Please consider submitting a book chapter proposal by July 2nd, 2021. The book will be proposed to the Distance Education series at Athabasca University Press for publication in an open-access format.
I was recently invited to write a post for the newly established AECT Interactions digital publication. I welcomed the opportunity to write about a topic of my choice and was honored to be amongst those invited (which included colleagues who I deeply admired and whose work I value). Since I am starting to explore and write about feminist theories in various ways in my work, I decided that I wanted to write a short practical piece about feminist pedagogy. The lead of this new AECT initiative, Dr. Michael Grant, encourages us to write pieces that serve as a reflection of our own teaching experience and/or research outcomes. It seemed natural to me to write about my own experience embracing feminist pedagogies in my teaching. You can read my published post in AECT Interactions here: How to Embrace Feminist Pedagogies in your Courses
I shared the post widely online in different social media outlets and received fairly positive feedback on the topic and content covered. One of my favorite comments was shared in a Facebook group. It put a smile on my face. Below is a screenshot of the comment.
I do a short writing assignment every semester in my “Intro Seminar to Instructional Design and Technology course.” The main purpose of the assignment is to expose students to diverse topics in the instructional design field, to share an open access book with them (so that they can have as a future reference), and to assess their writing abilities (in order to provide support or share resources when needed).
I was supposed to write about this weeks ago, but it did not happened. However, here I am to blog about the book “Research Methods in Learning Design and Technology.” First, I want to say thanks to all the book chapter authors. The work that these authors have put into their chapters is admirable.
What has happened since I last blogged about the book? Well, I shared that I had written the “acknowledgement” and was getting ready to submit materials to the publisher. That is exactly what occurred, I submitted all materials in mid-April. It was a huge sense of relief to have all the work completed and submitted, while dealing with all the stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This week, I have spend the majority of the week reviewing queries in all of the chapters and the front matter of the book. This has given me an opportunity to read again all the book chapters. One of the hightlights was having a running head titled: “Futurama.” That really made me smile. By the way, I had to send a few “IMPORTANT: Chapter Information” emails to book chapter authors. Huge thanks for the prompt response of my colleagues, who I know have so much going on right now.
I guess I can start by writing that a few months into my sabbatical the world turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, I was able to use my time to complete the tasks that I had outlined for my sabbatical period. April and May did require a significant adjustment since we had to manuoiver a new work schedule without child care. Maneuvering this new schedule required being realistic about what I could accomplish and saying “no” to some invitations for new collaborations.
The first two months of my sabbatical were as planned. I worked on writing two chapters for the book “Research Methods in Learning Design and Technology.” Book chapter authors submitted their completed and revised book chapters to me by the end of January and I worked on doing final reviews of each book chapter. I initially had planned to submit the book to the publisher by mid-March, but I switched the format of the last chapter, and this required giving extra time to my co-authors to complete their writing. This meant that I had to delay the submission of the book documents to the publisher until mid-April. Thankfully, by the time the world turned upside down in mid-March, all my co-authors and book chapter authors had turned in all required documents to me.
One of the elements of my sabbatical that was partially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was work-related travel. I was scheduled to attend the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Convention in San Francisco in mid-April and the conference was canceled. I am glad it was canceled, I am also glad it was not held virtually. April was a month of re-adjustement, tension, and stress for many. I was also scheduled to travel to Florence, Italy to present at the DEPIT Annual Meeting at the University of Florence. This event was re-scheduled for an online format.
I had some personal travel plans changed because of travel restrictions. I was scheduled to spend all of March and a portion of April in Panama City, Panama, where I was going to work while spending time close to my family. So, I traveled to Panama at the end of February and was monitoring all the news related to COVID-19. Due to the way the virus was spreading, my family and I decided it was best for us to travel back to the United States, so we changed our flights to travel back on March 22 (which is the day Panama was scheduled to close their international airport). On the evening of March 20, I received an email from COPA airlines letting me know that our flights had been cancelled. I was shocked and extremely disappointed. However, we all stayed calm and determined that we would just ride the storm in Panama. That same evening, as a last attempt, we figured we would see if there were any flights on March 21 to Tampa with a different airline. Thankfully, we did manage to fly back to Tampa on March 21. My dad was in Panama with me and we were also able to find a flight for him to fly back to Toronto (within one hour difference of our flight), which gave peace of mind. I would not have left Panama without my dad.
The weeks after returning from Panama, were weeks of adjustments as mentioned at the beginning of this post. In addition to all the tasks for the book, I was also scheduled to write a manuscript (with a deadline) that I had not even started. It took discipline to stay focus. I admit that there were many emotions related to what was happening in the world with the pandemic, leaving Panama, and experiencing the “new normal.” I felt like I had to work hard on my “emotional intelligence” to get the paper written and deliver all the book materials to the publisher.
I am thankful for the sabbatical term. In addition to the tasks mentioned in this post, I also used the time to work in revisions to several manuscripts and continue mentoring my undergraduate student (we presented at a conference in February and are currently working on a few writing tasks). Of course, I spend time with my family (even more than planned due to the lack of childcare).
Since my sabbatical ended, I am back to serving as the Graduate Coordinator of the Instructional Design and Technology program and I taught a six-week summer intensive course on Learner Motivation in June. I definitely missed my students and the joy of our convos.