With the beginning of the fall semester came an increase in my workload and in the general activity of CAT. That's a good thing, but it's time again to post my bi-weekly blog and I hadn't really thought out in advance what I wanted to say.
Rather than procrastinate, I decided to just look around me for sources of inspiration. I have two new books I've begun to read for our Faculty Book Club and for discussing with the incoming Freshmen. Outside my window, they are putting the finishing touches on the new Costco. My digital photo frame is a slideshow of the summer fun my four-year old nephew had before beginning pre-K 4 at a new school. My office is decorated with trinkets and postcards that my international students have given to me over the years. My inbox has RSS feeds and newsletters from several services to which I subscribe.
Yes, from all of these sources I glean inspiration, positive energy and pleasant memories throughout the day. The photo of my two grey cats actually gave me an idea for a discussion board topic for my online elementary French course! At this moment, I am struck by an article from the blog "Technology for Academics" by our CAT Director's friend and colleague, Dr. Sue Frantz. This particular posting discusses how the end of a book written by a surgeon for new doctors, is extremely applicable to higher education. Here's the first part. I'll let you read her elaborations since she's wonderfully succinct.
“'So find something new to try, something to change. Count how often you succeed and how often you fail. Write about it. Ask people what they think. See if you can keep the conversation going.' This is the final paragraph in Atul Gawande’s 2007 book, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance. While his advice is directed at newly-minted physicians, it’s more broadly applicable. In our case, let’s talk higher education." http://suefrantz.com/2013/09/03/better/
So, not only is Dr. Gawande's advice applicable to higher education in general, but the suggestions can be used to help us in distance education as well. As we move forward with Xavier's online initiatives we are definitely trying something new in our university's history. Keeping accurate data will allow us to continually improve the online courses for the students. I'll have more and better topics to write about for the blog and I definitely hope to keep the conversation going by asking you for your thoughts and suggestions.