Associate Chair, Poland (again), and Speaking Engagements

For me, summer is usually a time of relaxed contemplation and completion of all those things that I just wasn’t able to get to during the hectic fall and spring semesters. Not so this year. It’s been a whirlwind of activity, excitement, and downright exhaustion since classes ended in May.

The following are my excuses for the lackluster contributions to this blog in the past month or so 🙂

In May, I submitted 5 chapters for my upcoming book to Pearson for review. The title of the book is still percolating in my brain, but the focus is on K-12 online teaching strategies with a short introduction to the landscape of K-12 online education. My deadline for final submission is in August… so with any luck, I’ll have a published book by next year.

In May, I accepted a new position as Associate Chair while our current AC is on sabbatical. This alone has been enough to keep my fingers flying furiously over the keyboard as I answer questions, schedule classes and hire adjuncts along with various other distractions. I’m definitely learning more about the administrative side of university life than I ever thought possible.

Nicolaus Copernicus University
Nicolaus Copernicus University

I was invited to speak as part of an international contingent at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland in June where I continue to nurture a budding relationship that I hope will result in a mutually beneficial partnership down the road. Since I was headed over there anyway, I decided to spend some extra time exploring both Poland and Germany by train. Although the preparations for the trip consumed more time than I had, it was well worth it in the end. I’ll never understand the complete disinterest in an efficient rail system (or lack thereof) in the U.S.

Finally, I graciously accepted two speaking invitations – one as keynote for the IDLA summer conference and the other to present the latest trends in K-12 online to the Idaho Charter School Network, including my work in the development of the now approved Idaho K-12 Online Teaching Standards. My presentations as well as the standards can be found on slideshare at: http://www.slideshare.net/krice100

Despite all of this activity, or perhaps because of it, I find that I am beginning to develop a very clear sense of purpose in my teaching and in my message. Good teaching is good teaching, regardless of the medium used to deliver instruction. However, we are beginning to realize that teaching online may be the catalyst that propels us to a new level of teaching excellence. First, it forces us to consider the needs of the learner as an individual – not as one of many that must meet a certain standard or objective in a specified period of time. Second, it forces us to think about and prepare our instruction in ways we have never encountered in the face-to-face classroom. Learner autonomy, community building, active participation, engagement, and authenticism all become critically important in online environments. Third, because it allows flexibility in how and when learning occurs, the boundaries and barriers of traditional educational systems seem meaningless. Grade levels, seat time, ticking clocks, bus schedules, lunch periods, fire drills, detention rooms – all of those artificial distractions and structures that we associate with school, really have no relevance in learning. So the focus can be on LEARNING (and the learner). And yes, technology is the medium, but it is the method that matters most. Technology affords us the opportunity to implement methods that challenge, connect, design, remix, reflect, review, evaluate and allow all learners to be successful learning in ways that work for them – which is our ultimate goal in education, isn’t it?

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