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:

I attended my first in-person conference: #NSEE 2021

This past week I attended my first in person conference since February 2020. It was the Annual Conference of the National Society for Experiential Education. Back in early Summer, when I received the email from the Center for Teaching and Learning about attending the conference I felt good with attending the conference. Florida at that time was doing better with the number of COVID-19 cases but that quickly changed and I was starting to become hesitant about attending the conference. Thankfully the numbers are starting to decline after a massive spike due to the Delta variant. Another encouraging aspect was that the conference had a mask mandate for all attendees. It was sent out via email several times prior to the conference. It was also nice that the conference was in Orlando so if I didn’t feel comfortable with the COVID-19 measures, I could drive home in 45 minutes. Thankfully after I walked into the keynote session I immediately noticed that everyone was wearing their masks and wearing them properly. The conference did include a lunch but I didn’t attend because I didn’t feel comfortable attending this event so I just ordered some UBER eats.

The conference this year had an overall theme focused on social justice in experiential education. My first session was the keynote by Dr. Raja Gopal Bhattar (they/them/theirs) on Tuesday morning. As stated in the website of the conference: “Dr. Bhattar is a nationally recognized higher education leader, advocate, consultant and author. Raja will address how effective experiential learning requires intentionality and clear understanding of outcomes for our communities. Through storytelling and reflections, this keynote will offer insights and strategies on how experiential education leaders can incorporate equity, inclusion and belonging in all aspects of our work.” I loved the keynote speaker! I like it when keynote speakers make me reflect and this was a perfect example of this. Some of the questions I had to think about white listening to keynote speaker:

  • How do we show up?
  • Identity versus perception?
  • What is our role in upholding/disruptive inequitable systems?
  • How our students receive us?
  • Whose perspective is not on the table?
  • How do societal systems enhance or inhibit student success on campus?

We also had to do an identity grid that helps us reflect on “how often do we think about who we are beyond our titles? ”

Identity grid.
Identity Grid at NSEE 2021

Other sessions that I really enjoyed were:

  • Social Justice and Antiracism in Career Education and Experiential Education: Session discussed a process for creating a Call to Action with accountability measures, equity-oriented course syllabi, and a 5-step model to consider in your own work. This is a wonderful resources shared during the session: https://tinyurl.com/4j2tmxaw. This resources were used to create the Social Justice and Career Education infographic. Please see image below.
  • Providing career readiness support to female students in male dominant industries: This was a nice round table session focused on different kind of events that staff and faculty can use to create opportunities for networking, grow , and support for female students and those who identify as woman.
  • Using immersive virtual reality in higher education to facilitate authentic learning experiences: This was a very introductory session into VR and how a university had employed VR experiences into the curriculum to provide learning experiences related to manufacturing at the start of the pandemic in lieu of in person field trips. We got an opportunity to brainstorm ideas for our own curriculum.
  • Learner-centric virtual exchanges: No travel, no problem: This session related to a virtual global challenge that an institution took at the beginning of the pandemic in lieu of study abroad programs. As soon someone who has coordinated a study abroad program in the past and who is considering one next Spring I want to think of alternatives in case the pandemic requires me to make a change in plans. This session helped me think about different approaches that I can take virtually.
  • Influencers abroad: Enhancing cross-cultural awareness through social media activities: This session explored leveraging strategically designed social media learning activities to enhance cross-cultural awareness. I thought it was a creative to consider alternative assignments during study abroad experiences. Some of this assignments included: Vlogs, Instagram stories (academic versus personal accounts) every day, Instagram food related posts, and end of a program presentation/reflection.
Social justice and career education infographic

The hashtag #BlackInTheIvory

A few weeks ago, I checked my Twitter stream and found the hashtag #BlackInTheIvory trending. If you have not read the tweets shared by Black academics using #BlackInTheIvory, I strongly recommend that you take the time to read them. The tweets shared were raw, vulnerable, and the reality for many Black academics. Several tweets were a call to action to white colleagues and administrators to consider racial injustices and inequalities that are perpetuated in academic culture.

 

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.

 

Webinar Recording:Universities in the Age of #COVID-19

This morning I participated in a webinar organized by the Società Italiana di Ricerca sull’Educazione Mediale dedicated to: how universities in different countries are coping with higher education in the age of COVID-19 and the future directions (immediate future and long-term suggestions). Special thanks to my colleagues in Italy for the invitation to serve as a panelist in the webinar and for the diversity of the speakers from Spain, China, Lebanon, New Zealand, and Brazil [Here is a link to the recording]

I would also like to share a few of the resources that were shared during the webinar by myself and other colleagues:

UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education: Handbook on Facilitating Flexible Learning During Educational Disruption

The International Council for Open and Distance Education: Tips for Distance and Online Teaching #LearningTogether

UNESCO: National learning platforms and tools

DQ Institute: Digital Institute, Culture, and Innovation

European Commission Education and Training: Coronavirus: online learning resources

The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT)’s Response to the COVID-19 Virus: https://www.aect.org/aects_response_to_the_covid-1.php

 

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Podcast Episode (@VisionOfEd): #SocialMedia in #HigherEducation

This past week, I was invited as a guest speaker in the Visions of Education podcast series. I am sharing it here for anyone who is in the education field and wants to subscribe to the podcast. Also, I want to share the link to the podcast episode. I discussed SocialMedia in HigherEducation:

You can click on this link to access a full list of resources (articles, books, and videos) mentioned in podcast episode: https://visionsofed.com/2019/03/10/episode-108-social-media-in-higher-education-with-enilda-romero-hall/

This is a one of five podcast episodes that focus on #SocialMediaEd discussions leading up to the SITE conference next week in Las Vegas, NV.

In honor of International Women’s Day: “Undisclosed stories of instructional design female scholars in academia”

It is International Women’s Day and I would like to re-share a journal article that I co-authored with other Instructional Design Female Scholars: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277539518302231

In addition to sharing a link to the article, I am also sharing a short excerpt from the discussion section of the manuscript (which complies with the copyrights set by the publisher). If you would like to get a copy of the full article, I will gladly share it via email.

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Significance of this Research

Why are these issues that we present through our stories of significance to the ID field? Because we teach, practice, and research this field. We aim to present our field as a process-based, relational, inclusive, equitable, and transformative community.  Yet, instructional design practices, research, and teaching are heavily influenced by the male dominance that permeates higher education institutions. We attempt with this paper to raise awareness, seek understanding, and open the doors for discussion of women’s issues in higher education and the instructional design field.  In the past, “feminist approaches to design have problematized a range of taken-for-granted assumptions (Campbell, 2014, pg. 233).” These assumptions continue to marginalize and oppress through our practice. It is a trickle down effect: if some voices being part of the IDT community are ignored, oppressed, and marginalized , how can we expect the outcome of our design, research and teaching experiences to be inclusive, equitable, and transformative? In the global economy, we talk about reaching out to diverse groups of learners. If those diverse groups can be represented in the decision making mechanisms, then, it might be easier to develop empathic relationship with the diversity, we strive to address.

As an attempt to challenge the hegemony of patriarchy in academia, this paper explores gender-related challenges and issues female scholars experience in their lives. The male dominance in academia and socio-cultural roles assigned to females create conflicting roles. As female academics are assigned with a range of social, cultural, and professional responsibilities in a male-dominant context, it is essential that they are provided with support (Misra, Crist, & Burant, 2003). Changing this mental frame is not easy since it is legitimized and encouraged by power dynamics. As a socially-accepted and culturally-valued role, females are supposed to take care of domestic responsibilities first. The role of parenthood and marriage once combined with the gendered and biased institutionalized norms conflicts with the role of a scholar (Acker, 1992). As a potential strategy to solve this problem, it is essential to recognize gender as a social construct that is shaped by the patriarchy to designate social and cultural roles to women as a tool for suppression and marginalization (Acker, 1992); thereby, allowing us to perpetuate these inequalities that we have been trying to overcome (Valian, 1998).

To make matter worse, the lack of collaboration among the female academics aggravates the practical impacts of these anomalies. Women’s issues are an important part of the female academic identities that are embodied and situated in a social and cultural discourse dictated by the dominant socio-political forces through the gender, power, and context sensitive knowledge creation process (Nightingale, 2003). It is vital for female academics to have an open forum in which they can share their experiences and insights on women’s issues, and triangulate the silences and incompatibilities across the settings. It is important to raise skepticism concerning the neutrality of the knowledge creation through the practice of normal science, and uncover the silenced and empowered voices by the hegemonic forces situated in a social context (Vaivio & Sirén, 2010).

 

The EduTech research group at #FURC2019 (@UTinquiry)

This past weekend The University of North Florida hosted the Florida Undergraduate Research Conference (FURC). Many undergraduate students from The University of Tampa presented topics in which they engage on research. One of these students was Renata Sindicic, who has been working with me and collaborating in research since last August 2018. I feel extremely proud of Renata, #FURC2019 was her very first time presenting in a conference! She worked hard on the design of the poster and practice her presentation prior to the event. I am thankful to have her as part of the research team!

Renata presented preliminary results of our research related to the use of social media by undergraduate students.

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Renata_Sindicic

TPS? Tenure, Promotion, and Sabbatical

So, I think by now everybody and their grandma knows that I have earned tenure and promotion to Associate Professor at the University of Tampa. Just in case you missed my Facebook and Twitter post, the Dean’s newsletter, and the global email send to all members of the UT community, here is photographic evidence of the good news!

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Tenure and Promotion Letter

All joking aside, I feel proud of this accomplishment. I am immigrant afro-latinx women who started this journey with very little financial support or knowledge about the education system in North America.

Have you ever seen the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”? One of my favorite parts is when the father of bride is sitting in the kitchen table with his daughter and they are discussing who is invited to the wedding. The father feels such pride that his daughter is getting married and he wants to invite every single one of his friends. The daughter wants to keep it intimate and then the father says: “I came to this country with 8 dollars in my pocket!” and then he goes to tell her how hard he worked and the pride feels on everything they have accomplished as a family.

I sometimes feels that as my son gets older, I will say something similar to him: “Diego, your grandparents and I came to North America with one suitcase each and very little money.” This is very true! When I was 19 years old, my parents and I left our home country (Panama) to settle as an immigrant family in Canada. It was not easy. We did not know the culture, we struggled with the language, the cost of living was high, and we knew no-one. It is a really long story with sad memories, struggles, moments of triumphs, and joy. It all let eventually to settling into our new country of residence.

I wrote before about taking a year off from school to work and save money for my education. This happened immediately after I moved to Canada. I worked many jobs, including: the maintenance person (cleaning offices in the Sears headquarter building in downtown Toronto), as a front desk person in several hotels downtown Toronto, and even did a short-term gig as an admin assistant for an administrator in the Toronto School District Board. I feel a little like that Drake song “Started from the bottom”:

“Started from the bottom, now we’re here
Started from the bottom, now my whole team fuc*** here” 

Sorry when you have affiliations to Toronto, you start quoting Drake! lol

It is true, we started from the bottom now we, as a family, are here. I made two phone calls as soon as I found about T&P. I called my mom in Toronto and I called my dad who is currently Panama. The joy in their voice was everything I needed to hear in that moment. Of course, I celebrated with my husband and son. They have all been part of this journey with me <smiles>.

Something else that I have not mentioned to many, just recently shared in a Twitter post, is that last fall in addition to my tenure & promotion (T&P) dossier, I also submitted an application for sabbatical. At my institution we are allowed to applied for sabbatical the same year you apply for T&P. The sabbatical application was approved both by the sabbatical committee and the Provost. I am very excited for the sabbatical and the projects that I will work on during that time. More on that later this year.

Happy Friday!

 

The Book [Work In Progress]: Research Methods in Learning Design & Technology

I am currently on the early stages of a book project. The title of this edited volume is “Research Methods in Learning Design and Technology.” The book is anticipated to be released in 2020. Currently, there are 11 confirmed book chapters. I am now in the process of seeking authors for a few additional chapters that will complete the line up for the book (link to the full Call For Proposals). 

Introduction: This edited volume serves to combine knowledge related to research methodologies in the instructional design and technology (IDT) field. It will address questions such as: How has our research methodologies evolve? What are the methodologies that can be used to investigate traditional and new research environments? How can we apply innovative research methodologies to address questions related to learning, design, and technology? This edited volume will provide IDT scholars with a solid foundation of the different methods that can be taken to investigate a research problem. This knowledge aids researchers in the understanding of the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information applied to understand a research question.

Objectives of this Book:

  • Present a historical overview of how different methodologies have adapted to the new and changing learning environments
  • Illustrate how different methodologies can be used to investigate topics related to IDT
  • Explore benefits and drawbacks to different types of research methodologies in research related to the IDT research
  • Discuss the future of research methodologies in the IDT field


Target Audience: 
There is a wide range of individuals that can serve as the audience for this book. Any individual (research faculty, teaching faculty, and graduate students) interested in research in instructional design, educational technology, instructional technology, and learning sciences would serve as an audience for this book. This book would also be appealing to instructional design practitioners who conduct research within their workplace. The chapters in this book will also be of benefit to educational researchers, in general, who at some point within their careers would like to focus on research related to instructional design, educational technology, instructional technology, and learning sciences.

Again, if this project is of interest to you and you feel that you would like to learn more about the call for proposal please: click here

Important Dates
Proposal Submission Deadline:
March 1, 2019
Full Chapters Due: August 30, 2019