Pollock House @ UWO on a winter's evening with a slight sunset

Year in review: reflections

Pollock House @ UWO on a winter's evening with a slight sunset

This year was focused on preparing for and helping launch the University Studies Program. For me, this mostly revolved around the ePortfolio side of things – providing training and pedagogic support to the teaching community and recently to students. I’ve talked about this process before and will doubtless write something more substantial up as part of the communal reflection we’ll be doing on the program’s first semester during the coming month.

If I set the details aside and try to take a step back as I reflect on the past year (which inevitably this blurs into reflecting on my ~18months in this job), what has it held? I’ve an annual review coming up and am trying to take the opportunity to reflect on what I’d hoped this job would hold.

  • I’ve been running more training and professional development for the teaching community and others – both directly tied to ePortfolio work and occasionally pieces on social media, digital humanities, and open stuff. This has largely been enjoyable but has also reminded me of how much more I could develop my teaching.
  • I’ve got involved more deeply in the world of ePortfolios has been great and it’s been neat to connect this with other areas of my interests and expertise but there’s still much more to explore and learn. One of my open questions about going forward with ePortfolios is how much can I do without teaching a course. I’m finally having a chance to more concretely develop my own ePortfolio but I can see boundaries to that process. At what point do I reach a limit of my understanding in supporting others through which I can’t pass without using ePortfolios as an instructor? (and do I need to be in a course to do this or can I be creative).
  • I’ve had more interaction with students which has been a shift, sporadic reality check, but also a lot of fun. Both my role in Learning Technologies and much of my previous professional experience is not particularly student-facing so this was less familiar territory (I worked with students for a couple of years pre-Masters but that’s a while ago).
  • Connected to offering support to students I also secured two internal grants to provide ePortfolio lab support to students and for a student developer.  Getting project funding is not a new thing for me but it led to recruiting and managing student workers. Having some employees has been a largely enjoyable change for me. I’m grateful for the chance I’ve had to train and work with some talented students. Looking forward I want to work on ensuring that the students have more to do when the lab’s not busy and figure out how to help my novice developer find their feet some more.
  • I’ve been presenting about the same amount but writing much less. I’m getting better at putting presentations up on slideshare and feel like I’ve picked up the presenting pace a little this year but it’s been more local, I’ve a narrower focus and I’ve not had occasion or time to write much. I’ll not pretend that I like academic writing a lot but I like blogging and consider both academic writing and blogging to be a key part of professional development. Their decline concerns me somewhat.
  • I’ve been able to return to finishing my PGCert in Advanced Academic Studies. I finished the courses but not the coursework while at Strathclyde and hope to get this finished soon.
  • Despite offering some professional development sessions for faculty I’ve been a lot less involved in open stuff this year – this is still a shift I find difficult but is an inevitable and healthy shift to align with the priorities of this post.

Looking forward to this coming year, I’m excited that USP is progressing well. We’ve got opportunities to talk with colleagues and analyze some of the available information from last semester as part of planning the next stages of support. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the program capstone course develops but that’s largely now in the teaching community’s hands.

More generally I’m thinking through fit and direction. My professional experience is more in ‘investigate/ prepare and launch/ synthesize’ than running a steady state program so I’m getting towards newer territory for me. As I work through how the post should evolve as the program matures, I’m trying to be deliberate in planning what the post should be focused on. My understanding is that the intent is for the post to recur so I’ll also have to begin to work through and assess how what the post needs to become fits with what I’m best at and what I hope to work towards.

The time working with a student developer has been an all-to-limited a reminder of skills and knowledge I’m using less even as I’ve been developing in other areas. There’s a balance to be had between developing new and retaining old skills and expertise but there’s also a required intentionality and choice to be explored.

Ice cream tub with spoon on table beside folder and pens

Year in review: scoops

Ice cream tub with spoon on table beside folder and pens

I’ve been using Scoop.it more this year despite it’s concerning lack of export functionality. It’s easy to use, there’s a reasonable size of user community in ed tech to engage with (follow bookmarks from) and the widget works nicely.

As an end of year exercise I had a look through the past twelve months and tried to pick out what I think I’ll want to read again or think about this time next year. There are plenty of mooc and edu is broken posts that I’m not pulling out- there’s enough people talking about MOOCs this year. I’m also not pulling in stuff from my ed tech snippets or ePortfolio topics I want to primarily focus on things that shape how I think about my work.  

Innovation, Education, and Technology

Image credit: Leigh Jay Temple Flickr CC BY NC SA

top hits of most popular posts on the blog

Year in review: some of the numbers

Numbers without a story are always tricky but as a quantitative part of my review of the year here’s a few of the numbers.

Workshops and training

Offered or participated in:

  • 101 items
  • totaling 174 hrs
  • [edit] of this about 13 hours was student-facing in class time (80% of this was in the last weeks of the semester in response to demand)

This included the ePortfolio and assessment series of workshops, One Session Wonders, the interim and pre-semester courses, and the drop-in ePortfolio labs (the latter were frequently unfrequented but were offered and staffed.)


Offered or participated in: 

  • 148
  • totaling 164.5 hrs

(1-1 support [edit: direct student support was 3 instances; most support was for the teaching community], committee and planning meetings)

Conference and events attended

  • 9
  • 144 hours

(et4online, D2L Fusion, D2L Ignite, UW Bothell ePortfolio symposium and 5 University Wisconsin system events)


1562 emails sent .

Blog stats

107 103 132 231 151 50 148 70 42 69 58 46 1,207

Not the busiest of blogs, but I’ve also not been the a particualrly active blogger this year. what’s interesting though is the most popular post (after the home page) :

top hits of most popular posts on the blog

Most popular posts

In this past year, the post on MCQ, reflection, and ePortfolio from 2012 is about 3 times as popular as any other post. It’s also by far the most popular post that people get to through search terms. Of the posts written this year my write up of ePortfolio news and projects from D2L Fusion is the most popular post.

Slideshare stats

I’ve finally got some of my presentations from this year up onto Slideshare – but have also noticed some missing. Time to rectify that. Slideshare seems to offer a fairly steady stream of traffic.

Year in Review: Corridors

Hallway, museum Boijmans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Hallway, museum Boijmans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

As a semi-serious entry in the round up of the year…

I have an office on a corridor between classrooms and the exit; sometimes loud voices waft into my office from this public space that offer, perhaps a less formal and less considered source of feedback. Here are some quotes from this year:

OH: ‘I really didn’t see much about what it means to be human in the play’ [from later comments the play in question was by Shakespeare]

OH: “I didn’t read the syllabus” .. [Reply] “I barely remember to read those things she posts in D2L”

OH “Have you finished the paper?” “I’ve not started, I haven’t even got the book” “What book?” “I don’t know”

OH “so right when you go into D2L, don’t go into any of your classes go to the bottom left hand side – there’s a link to your ePortfolio” [After months of telling people to get to ePortfolio through a course … but having to add a front page link for other purposes – less clicks wins…]

OH “and I can go and write the fricking reflection, F*****g B******t”

OH “and she said 7-10 pages, I’ve nearly got seven so that should be ok”

OH “I don’t have permanent computer so I save things by emailing them to myself. [conversation continues to then discuss problems with versioning and working on wrong versions] … I’m hoping to get everything consolidated onto a flash drive over the break”

They offer a measure of bittersweet perspective and a mild reality check in the midst of the really positive feedback we’ve been getting about the new courses and program.