A sabbatical during COVID-19

Where do I start?

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.

 

#UTampa Honors Program Symposia [Presentation]

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting to the UT Honors Programs students and faculty as well other UTampa colleagues and staff members. I presented on the topic: “Use of Social Media by Graduate Students and Programs.” This is a research area that I am currently exploring and I was able to share some preliminary results. Click on the image below to access the link to the complete Prezi presentation:

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Photo Credit: Gul Sahin

Sneak Preview: #AECT16 Research & Theory Division Highlights

Yesterday, I purchased my plane ticket to Las Vegas (to attend the AECT 2016 International Convention later this year).  This reminded me that I wanted to share a sneak preview of the AECT Research & Theory Division (RTD) sessions. As you know (if you read my blog posts regularly), I have the pleasure of serving as the AECT RTD Convention Planner as well as the Featured Research (FR) Sessions planner. The peer review process for all the sessions was earlier this year (it was not an easy process). The AECT RTD had a large number of good submissions and, at the same time, it had a limited number of allotted presentation hours (plus we had very rigorous reviewers). Now that the review process is completed and all accepted authors have been notified, all planners put together division highlights for the conference printed program. Below are the sneak preview or “highlights” for the AECT RTD and Featured Research Sessions. The full AECT16 schedule will be available in a few months.

Featured Research Sessionshttps://cloudup.com/cZomjap6oqL

Research and Theory Highlightshttps://cloudup.com/cs6T_t6JAID

For more info about the conference, visit the AECT 2016 website: http://www.aect.org/events/convhotel/

 

 

Academic Momma Traveling with an Infant

Recently travelled abroad for a professional development seminar and took my 6-month old with me. The trip was overseas (Miami to Spain with a layover in Lisbon on the way there and back. The layover on the way back involved an overnight stay in Lisbon). I want to share some advice and things to consider when engaging in this type of travel adventures. I know there are many academic mommas that have to travel to conference and other engagements. Hope these bits of information and advice help make your travel journey a bit less stressful. One more thing, this advice relates to all mommas traveling with an infant (academic or not).

  • Call the airline in advance. Let them know you are traveling with an infant. They can arrange a decent seat for you and your child, perhaps with close access to a bathroom (in case you need to change your child). I called the airline three weeks in advance my travel dates and they arranged to seat us in the first row of economy class. We were fairly close to the bathroom with the changing table and had a bit of extra room in front of us because we were in the first row. Also, the airline that we used (TPA Portugal) provided us with a small, detachable bassinet so that baby could sleep in it during the flight.
  • Let the hotel know that you are traveling with a baby. If you let them know in advance, they can arrange to give you a quiet room or put a crib in your room. Most hotels will do this for free. I have not come across a hotel that charges for a crib.
  • Make sure you carry enough diapers and wipes with you in your diaper bag. I did not see any stores selling diapers in the airport. I initially thought I had packed enough diapers for the entire trip and was in a bit of panic mode when I realized I could run out of diapers.
  • When you are in the airport, check for queue lines that are assigned for parents with children. In particular for security, passport control, or other lines. It will save you time and energy. I did not see queue lines for “parents with children” in the U.S. airport (Miami) but I did see and used them in Europe (Spain and Portugal).
  • Strongly recommend traveling with another adult to help you with the process. This person can be your spouse, parents, or a friend. It is doable for you to travel on your own with your infant but it will be a bit stressful. Having someone else to share the responsibility will ease the stress of dealing with paperwork, timelines, luggage, changing diapers, feeding, and everything else that comes with traveling with an infant.
  • Do not leave packing until the last minute. If you can find someone to watch baby while you pack, it will be very helpful. I recommend making a list of the things you must take with you (clothes, toys, food) and the things that you could buy at your destination.
  • Take time to think about traveling with your baby and proceed as desired. For some reason other people will feel the need to tell you their opinion on whether you should or should not travel with your infant. The reality is that you know yourself and your infant better than anyone else. If you feel that you and your infant are ready, do it.
  • Make sure you have a pacifier or bottle with food ready during the changes in altitude. During a flight, give you infant the pacifier or bottle as the plane takes off or lands to avoid pain in his/her ears:  http://www.entnet.org/content/ears-and-altitude

So far, this is the initial list I have. I know I will remember other suggestions and advice in the future. I will just update this post as I remember them.

Photos of #CIEEIFDS Seville

Here are the images I was able to capture during the IFDS in Seville last week. I figured it was best to post this sooner rather than later because I wanted to acknowledge the amazing people that we (the seminar attendees) worked with during our time in Seville. Thank you to Oscar Ceballos, Carlos Pineda, Miguel Romero, Antonio Perez, Carlos Sanches, Ruben Diaz and Emilio Gonzales Ferrin. I would also like to thank the six ladies with whom I shared and collaborated with during the seminar: Collete, Rebecca, Nancy, Kaitlin, Ellen, and Rylan. Learned so much from you ladies!

#CIEEIFDS COMM Summer 2016 Radio Show #Sevilla #Spain

Ruben Diaz

Hopefully you have read my previous posts and understand the context of this post. Just in case: I am doing an international professional development seminar in Seville in which I am learning and practicing communication strategies (and using digital media). One of the assignments in the seminar was to record sounds of the city during our stay in Seville. We finally used those sounds today during the production and recording of a radio podcast. It was a two hour preparation time of scripting and sound editing before recording our radio show. I am really impress with the final product!

I have to upload more sounds that I captured this week (they are now updated). I have many more, including interviews and more street sounds. However, I want to share our radio podcast. Big thank you to Radiopolis for letting us use their space to work on the project and their recording studio.

Here is our story, narrative, experience:

IFDS Communication Strategies in Context Summer 2016 Radio Show

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Greetings from Seville! #CIEEIFDS @CIEESeville

Thrilled to be in Seville, Spain for another CIEE International Faculty Professional Development Seminar. Thankful for the CIEE Alumni Scholarship which helped sponsor my participation in this seminar. The title of the seminar is “Communication Strategies in Context: Culture Learning and Community Engagement through Digital Tools.” I hope to provide regular updates throughout the week related to the seminar.

Homework:

Also, as part of the seminar I have a bit of homework and will be sharing (or at least try) to share it every day. The homework consist of audio recordings of sounds, conversations, audio reflections, interviews, and other audio recorded during the next few days in Seville. Each audio recording should be no more than two minutes long.

Now it is bed time. Buenas noches!

Museo del Baile Flamenco (Sevilla, España)

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.”

 

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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.

Faculty Exchange to @PHLuzern (Switzerland): Overview

Grüezi Mitenand!

In May 2015, I participated in a faculty exchange program at PH Luzern in Lucerne, Switzerland. I was very excited to participate in this exchange because it involved giving a series of guest lectures, a workshop, and several meetings with administrators, faculty, and students. The faculty exchange was initially setup by the Dean of the College of Social Science, Mathematics and Education in an effort to increase the international perspectives and awareness of the faculty at UTampa as well as collaboration between the two institutions. After getting permission from the Dean and setting up the initial contact with the International Office at PH Luzern, I was put in contact with one of the professors in the Informatics Department (Hanspeter). The result of several months of email was a two week program.

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Traveling to Lucerne was nice adventure that included flying into Zurich and then taking a one hour train ride from Zurich airport to Lucerne. At the train station, I was greeted by Hanspeter and we walked to a nice restaurant by the river were I met several colleagues that I had already met via email. It was nice to finally see them in person. This lunch was immediately follow with a meeting with Prof. Dr. Michael Zutavern (Vice Rector of PH Lucern) and Brigitte Kursteiner (Head of International Relations). During the meeting I was given an overview of PH Luzern including the different programs that are offered, the student body and the Swiss higher education system. I also had the opportunity to talk about The University of Tampa, the Education Department programs, and specifically, talk about the ID&T program.

The days after my arrival in Lucern included:

– Guest lectures to the graduates students in which we discussed the use of use and implementation of instructional simulations and educational games. During the guest lectures the students also shared their projects related to Robotics in the K-12 classroom.


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– A brown bag lecture to faculty in which I share my current multi & interdisciplinary research efforts and collaborations. It was fantastic to share some of my initial findings and the significance of my research with others. It serve as a way to get feedback and, in some cases, it served to think about potential future collaborations.

– A visit to a middle school with a 1-to-1 tablet program in which students are taught about media literacy. It was nice to learn about the collaborations of the school with universities in the U.S. and to learn about the implementation of the tablet program for specific parts of the curriculum. Spending the day in the middle school also gave me plenty of time to talk to the teachers and to discuss the challenges and benefits of the implementation of the tablet program.

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–  Several meetings with administrators and other faculty members. I met with the EduWeb team which basically serves as the instructional design and educational technology support for the faculty and staff at PH Luzern. I also met with the head of research and development at PH Luzern (Werner Wicki). We discussed some of the research projects that faculty members have published and some upcoming projects for the future. During my meeting with Dr. Wicki we also discussed our own research interests and topics.

– Cultural activities such as Ascension Day traditions and celebrations, hiking the Titlis and Burgenstock, the Swiss Museum of Transport, the Rosengart Museum, cruising Lake Lucerne, and exploring the beautiful city of Lucerne.

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I want to thank my colleagues at PH Luzern for their warm welcome and hospitality during my visit in May. It was great to learn about the higher education studies in Switzerland and to learn about the programs offered at PH Luzern. Also, thank you for giving me an opportunity to share some of my research efforts and my knowledge with the faculty and students.

I truly enjoyed the experience! It was more than a professional exchange, it was also a cultural experience. I was able to learn about your holidays, geography, food, and the people of Lucerne (and surrounding areas). Again, thank you all for taking the time to meet with me. I look forward to our planned future collaborations (coming soon)!