Reflections on the Academic Year

Over the past year, my role in the Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge (LINK) Research Lab has continued to evolve. I have made sure to listen and learn as much as possible as I have continued to shape my place in educational technology. My time spent as an instructional designer has served me well, as has my time working in the Department of History. Both afforded me many opportunities to grow and experience new things, and develop my skills working in online environments. My K-12 background helped lay the foundation for my time in higher ed and working at a technology magnet heavily influenced my practice. All of these past experiences have culminated in my current position.

The LINK Lab sits at the edge of education and technology. Under the tutelage of George Siemens and Laurel Mayo, the lab has made global connections in places like Australia, China, and the UK, and will continue to expand these connections through researched-focused networks such as dLRN. These networks will help provide solutions to broad problems by closing the gap between research and practice through collaborative efforts. By partnering tier-one researchers with state systems, high-impact solutions can take place and continue to strengthen over time as networks grow. This is an important and relevant process, given funding limitations and the stress on cross-disciplinary partnerships, by maximizing impact and inclusion (i.e. bang for the buck).

The 2015 dLRN Conference #dlrn15 will be a great starting place to create broader networks. It will take place at Stanford University October 16-17, 2015. As one of the conference organizers, I highly recommend the event to anyone who wants to be part of the larger conversation on the uncertainties and applications of digital networks for learning, and it will have five themes: ethics of collaboration, individualized learning, systemic impacts, innovation and work, and sociocultural implications. The Call for Proposals ends on June 1st, 11:59pm PT. Even if you do not present, we invite you to take part in the conversation!

Another encouraging part of my year in the LINK Lab was assisting with our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). We had four PLCs that each had a different topic: building online community, open educational resources, tech tools for teaching and learning, and retooling the core. These groups consisted of faculty, staff, and librarians, and met throughout the year, including attending a major conference together. It became quite evident how exposure impacted their practice. At the end of the year, each participant presented their work at a mini-conference and to the Provost. Collaboration with peers boosted confidence in their use of technology, pushing their comfort levels of teaching practice, and sharing with their colleagues university-wide through published teaching tips. It was encouraging to see the faculty develop throughout the year and I would recommend it to any faculty to consider applying for next year!

Over the year, I have also begun to develop my research focus. I will stir the proverbial pot through this blog, with focus on synchronous learning, microlearning, MOOCs, online/instructional design, and faculty development. Oh, and I will write about history on my other site if you are interested (and who wouldn’t be!) If you would be interested in collaborating, I would love to hear from you.

Justin T. Dellinger

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