Saturday, November 30, 2013

Video in the Classroom (part 1?)

On Thursday, Nov 28, I attended an event put on by Andy McKiel (@amckiel) and Dean Shareski (@shareski) in Winnipeg. I used the occasion to attend to have a bit of fun and to also visit a few friends and my advisor. I have made much use of video in my previous career as a high school teacher, I co-designed and co-taught a course on video production and was involved in an amazing project that involved all of our grade 12 students in writing, acting, producing and premiering (to the entire community) a movie. This was one among other projects that helped my school earn mention in Maclean's and on the Apple web site. I think I will describe the project in another part to this post sometime. I also have and continue to use video in many forms in my teaching. I believe it to be a powerful medium to tell a story or share learning, addressing many of the senses & our emotions.

Dean and Andy's evening was an enjoyable evening & an interesting, interactive presentation that got the audience involved - not to mention the cool ('er warm) Discovery Ed toque I was given. I had a few reasons to attend - first and foremost was the company of fellow educators. I make a conscious effort to maintain connections with educators involved in public schools (and in ed tech). I don't want to become one of those dreaded teacher educators who is out of touch with schools. The session was also timely in that I only just finished a section of my ICT in Education course about digital storytelling - and using video in particular. It was fun to think about how I might use the videos if I was still teaching high school vs how I would (will) use them in my teaching now. The format of the evening was also an idea I will probably borrow. The videos were presented in pairs representing a theme, such as 'courage'. We then used polleverywhere to vote on which we would be able to use in our classroom. At the end, we picked our top three vids. In between much great discussion was had. One of the top 3 (I think it was number 1 overall) was 'The Time We Have' embedded below.Overall an enjoyable evening. The vids Andy & Dean chose are on this google doc: . On my google site I use to support my courses, I have this page of resources related to video.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Publish ... or Perish ... A Few Reflections on Academia

So, I have been a member of the world of academia for just over 5 years. I am now a tenured Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at BU. I have been thinking about the academic game lately - the publish or perish 'game'. I want to state from the outset that I agree that a big part of the job is scholarly work - including publishing peer reviewed articles. In a few years I hope to apply for promotion to Associate Prof and I know I have to show achievement in 4 areas: academic prep, service, teaching & scholarship. I know service & teaching are not an issue, I hope my Ph.D. will be a done deal by then, and I think I do a fair amount in the scholarship area. I also admit that I have grown to value and enjoy the scholarship part of the job since entering the academy. The 'bee in my bonnet' is the pressure (mounting all the time from colleagues, deans, etc) to publish peer reviewed articles ... in major international journals. I don't really have a problem with that per se, I understand it is part of the job and one way that research & scholarly work is disseminated, I even have a few articles published. I just think that the impression is that we need to publish this way just for the sake of the publication. We put so much focus on publishing ... as if it is the most important task of the university scholar (hmm, still not used to using that, I don't view myself in those terms - maybe that is part of the problem?) My first issue is the nature of most academic journals - behind expensive pay walls. My work is funded by a publicly supported institution, why should anyone wanting access be forced to purchase the article or subscribe to an overpriced journal? There are many open access journals, but again, some require a fee from the author for publication. I think I will try, as much as possible, to submit only to journals that are open access & without fees in the future.

Another problem IMHO, is that it seems that we do not value, very highly, other types of scholarly work. For example, spending time working with teachers and schools for improvement of learning. I am involved with a few such projects, sharing my knowledge and experience. This is valued, but ultimately only if I get a publication out of it - and not just any publication, a peer reviewed international journal - that many people will never have the opportunity to read. I know blogs and other online sharing venues are not valued very highly either. One bonus,  at my institution, I have the ability to try to make the case for other forms of scholarship - for whatever good that will do. Another avenue of sharing academic work are presentations - I have done many, but have come to realize that I should do only a few each year - first they cost a lot of $ and my account for this is not very big, and they take time to prepare - and they count for little in the game. Hmmm, I did not intend for this post to be a rant, but in the end I just question the emphasis on the publishing game - I get the sense (and hopefully I am wrong) that the main point is to get published - not to do work that can help inform yourself and others. Publishing is part of sharing that learning, but just for the sake of a line on a cv? Another part of this game is bringing in grants .. but THAT is another story!