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    A blog about education, higher ed, teaching, and trying to re-imagine how we provide education.


Reflections From a New Faculty Developer

On finding your community, expanding your network.

June 25, 2015

Last week, I was in Asheville for the Institute for New Faculty Developers, which is put on by POD. These are my “people” now, this is my community, at least professionally. Some were already a part of my larger community, those who mentored me and helped me get into this profession to begin with. Others connected with me over this past year, through this blog, through Twitter, and the community, for me, slowly grew.

I still, though, sometimes feel like an outsider.

As I was preparing to write this, fellow INFD participant Alyson Indrunas wrote her own reflection, which is pretty much exactly what I wanted to say. Many times during the week, too, I felt like what I wanted to do, to accomplish, was too new to be named, lingering in a place of not-yetness. But at the same time, meeting Alyson and connecting with her, I think, made each of us feel less alone within the larger group and community, giving each other language to start to try and describe and articulate, with confidence, what it is we want to accomplish.

At least, she gave voice and language to what I wanted to say. Hopefully I can return the favor, if not now then someday.

There are things that I always do, that I can do, that I bring to this community. I tweet, and I collect tweets, and I think about networks. The first talk on the first day stated that we are, as faculty developers, in the Age of the Network (great PDF of a presentation from earlier this year on what faculty development looks like today and moving forward). But my networks often look very different than the networks they are talking about.

So what does the POD (twitter) network look like, from the perspective of the INFD?

Here is a link to the raw Twitter-data, and a link to the interactive visual picture above. As you can see, there is a tight circle of people tweeting and interacting, a lot of people tweeting (or rather RT’ing) once. As a percentage of people at the institute, the 17-20 tweeters represent about 15-20% of the 110 (approximate) participants. Most of the people in this image however, were NOT at the INFD. So, what does this tell us about our reach and our wider network possibilities?

These are the questions I want to get into, that I want to explore as a faculty developer. We know networks matter for getting faculty to change their behavior (see here and here for examples). How can we help faculty grow those networks? How can we as faculty developers grow our own networks to be able to continue to grow and continue to be as effective as possible?

With that in mind, my colleague, Maha Bali, and I are going to be starting a #facdevchat on twitter in the fall. The idea comes from both of our experiences on Twitter and as faculty developers, and it accompanies our piece on critical faculty development that hit just after I came home from INFD.

Echoing Alyson again:

Basically, I jumped right into the deep end of the pool, and I’ve been treading water barely staying afloat ever since. Whether you see me that way or not, that’s how the last few years have felt. It doesn’t have to be this way for newbies. It doesn’t have to be this hard. There are people, very cool people, all over this country and around the world who can support each other. I just didn’t know it. It just took me time to find them.

Here are the questions I’m grappling with lately: How do we connect people involved in teaching and learning? Why did it take me so long to find them? Why do so many people feel like they work isolation? How can I help end this feeling for people? Can Ed-Tech folks help Faculty Developer folks connect? Aren’t we one and the same?

This is why we want to broaden the conversation. These are my people. We need to find them in all the places and spaces they may be. 


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