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October 21, 2011
One of the things I like most about math and teaching math is that there are often several different ways to get to an answer. For example, if one wanted to differentiate the square of a binomial function, one could multiply (FOIL) it out and then take the derivative, or one could use the product rule or even the chain rule. I often show students how the same answer can be arrived at in multiple ways, filling the board with several different calculations that miraculously all give the same value in the end. It is then that I am tempted to write the letters “Q.E.D.” on the board, which, as we used to joke in graduate school, is Latin for “ta da!”  
October 20, 2011
EDUCAUSE manages to cram in many different meeting experiences during a single conference. We go to EDUCAUSE to learn best practices from our peers, get inspired by thought leaders, discuss the latest trends in technology and learning - and oh yes - absorb the new products and roadmaps of our existing and potential ed tech vendor partners.
October 20, 2011
A new correspondent writes: I'm a new hire in my second year at a large community college in the Mid-Atlantic region. During my first year I largely kept my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut as I adjusted to a new workplace with its own culture, policies, and personnel. Tenure reviews from my committee and student evaluations were glowing, and overall, everyone seems pretty glad they hired me. During that first year and more recently I've seen a few things going on that I don't agree with or have strong opinions about. Some are issues at the district level, some at the college level, and some are within my own division. This year I've started speaking up in division meetings and in conferences, trying to offer solutions and different points of view rather than point fingers. The feedback from fellow faculty has been positive - they like that I'm speaking up, even if they don't necessarily agree with me all the time. Various members of the administration, however, have taken notice as well and the feedback from them hasn't been as positive. I suspect they prefer the 'company guy' they saw in my first year rather than this new guy with his opinions (which on occasion are diametrically opposed to those of administration). Do you have any tips on how to navigate tenure while still maintaining my self respect? I can't abide muzzling myself for another two years, but I don't want to get pegged as a troublesome faculty member by administration and risk not getting tenure either.
October 20, 2011
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to be part of a panel on “performing motherhood” with other mama PhDs at the OCSLG Conference at Loyola University Chicago.  Elizabeth Coffman and I discussed our writing for this blog, while Shannon LC Cate and CL Cole discussed Shannon’s writing about their family in her own blog and at BlogHer.com and Babble.com. Although all four of us are mothers with doctorates, these twin threads of our identities as mothers, writers, and academics pull at us in different ways.
October 20, 2011
A returning correspondent writes: I teach history in the major university in my area. Every year I get 3-4 emails from high school students who want help with their papers. They often describe their topic with a phrase that sounds suspiciously like a high school essay question. High school instructors seem to feel that students are showing "initiative" by asking somebody else to do their work for them. With time, my initial sense of outrage over the laziness of students has given way to resignation.
October 20, 2011
Looking forward to hearing your take-aways and observations from EDUCAUSE. A few un-filtered reactions from day 1: Godin's Keynote: I'm of two minds on Seth Godin's keynote, "Invisible or Remarkable?"  The keynote was hugely enjoyable. 
October 19, 2011
I recently participated in an event on Greenback's campus where food was served to students. Food wasn't the main focus of the event, but "if you feed them, they will come," as most of us on campus learned a long time ago. The refreshments were products of industrial agriculture, and the event was supposed to be sustainability-themed, so I placed some info near the food table relating to the inherent unsustainability (calories in far greater than useful calories out) of our national food system.
October 19, 2011
I had a chance to participate in a recent meeting of the Association of Research Libraries, the famous ARL.
October 19, 2011
A regular reader writes:I teach at an open admission, 4 year college. Unlike community colleges, we actually pull our students from [several states].I was having a conversation with another faculty member about our students, many of whom aren't particularly interested or engaged in school. She suggested that we should try to improve our student base, and that we could do that while keeping our open admission policy.

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