Saturday, January 31, 2009

Connections outside of our field

I've long been an advocate of reaching outside our own little world to 1) make connections and 2) see how many of those connections become friends. In my never ending quest for learning and, more recently, learning about learning, I am reading a book recommended to me by someone who 1) became a connection in my primary field (the criminal justice discipline) and 2) has since become a colleague and friend.

The book is entitled "Toward Improving PhD Programs." I must say that I avoided reading for some time as I have an all-consuming nature (at least that's what I call the obsessive character trait that causes me to read a book to its conclusion, especially one on a topic I am interested in).

Of interest to me was the passage (p. 124) that says:

. . . graduate students usually associate only with those who are working in their field . . . it would be very beneficial if they could be brought into contact with graduate students who are working in totally different subjects.

What do you think?

Hollis, E. V. (1945). Toward improving Ph.D. programs. Washington, D. C.: American Council on Education.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I apologize

Though I have not been duly elected to represent my colleagues, I am gutsy enough to say that anyone in higher education who teaches how they were required to learn should apologize to their students for perpetuating the lie that the lecture alone is how we as adults learn best.

Jason Alba asked "us" to "make it interesting and not do a book report of what I had to read for homework" . . . bring some career management stuff into the discussion . . . Don’t just talk about it - but LIVE IT.

You want interesting -- demand it! Drop the classes that aren't and change schools if there are too many of them (and take your friends). Career management? Not my job. What I will do is provide examples of what can be done with this degree and introduce you to some of the people (face-to-face and virtually) who are working in the field -- now. I also bring in (and connect you with) people that are much better at helping you plan out your career development, and I will (if you will give me opportunities) write you a killer letter of recommendation to help you get into 1) an internship and 2) a job. Some of us do live it, BTW.

I agree with Gerald Graff that "our experience of teaching in hermetically sealed classrooms makes us — to coin a word — “courseocentric.” Courseocentrism — like its ethno-, ego-, and Euro- counterparts — is a kind of tunnel vision in which our little part of the world becomes the whole."

Naomi Rockler-Gladen noted that not all professors and departments are laid back enough (?) to use Facebook and Myspace. I realize that there are some professors who would not be caught dead having a conversation with their students (not to be confused with the Socratic method of pedagogy).

I strongly encourage them to find another job . . .

My all time favorite summary is actually a recent commercial . . .

. . . which the New York Times also liked (and to answer the question posed by the article - yes, Virginia, Online Universities do have Virtual Cheerleaders - I am one of them).

So here's what you want (and honestly, need) to know:

  • Tell me what I can expect when I get out of school.
- you can't handle the truth . . . but I will tell you what not to expect. Don't expect companies and organizations to trip over each other while beating a path to your door like it's the NFL draft.
  • Tell me what the value of an internship is and strongly encourage me to get a real internship.
- Internships are not valuable - they are imperative. Unless you have experience in the field you want to work in after college and have all the contacts you need - find an internship! The ones I look for should actually charge -- not pay.
  • Tell me what you love about your career, and what your friends in the industry do, how they got there, etc.
- In order to get this, you have to come to class. If you haven't sensed the passion I have for my current (education) and former (policing) career, you haven't yet found the classroom (nor have you connected with me on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, etc.). My friends are part of the learning environment -- if you have been to class or connected to me, you can hear from (and talk one-on-one with) them.
  • Bring professionals into class so they can share their stories with us. Bring recent grads in so they can tell us what it’s really like.
- See above.
  • Teach us what networking is, how to network, and why and when we should network.
- I promise! The best way to learn is by experience. In a recent publication, I observed
By capitalizing on the use of social networks while students attend college, faculty and other school leaders can not only strengthen the learning foundation for students, but can also maintain contact with students as they go out into the community following graduation. College administrators can strategically use social networks to stay in contact with graduates in hopes of garnering a loyal cadre of alumni.

For students, taking part in social networks while in college offers benefits for the future. Networking can be a means of establishing connections within the community they will enter upon graduation. As alumni, they can show loyalty to their alma mater by offering employment to future graduates, support o athletic organizations, and financial contribution.
"The Emergence of The Relationship Economy" by Scott Allen, Jay T. Deragon, Margaret G. Orem and Carter F. Smith
  • Teach us about personal branding, what it is and why we need it.
- Also in "The Emergence," Jay Deragon noted:
Our brand is largely influenced by what and how we communicate, to whom we are connected to as well as where our presence is throughout the worldwide Web.

  • Any chance you can bring the career services folks into the picture? It seems like there is a brick wall between you and career services… I don’t care why, but I would like to know if there is value in the career services offices.
- There's no brick wall. In fact, I try to be the bridge! We are connected on Facebook and LinkedIn, and I bring them to class every chance I can. Make sure you are 1) there, and 2) pay attention.

If this rather lengthy response wasn't enough to prevent insomnia, I addressed a bit of this in a presentation a couple of years ago -- the link to the slideshow is here, and the video here.

When In Rome
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: adult learning)

There's another slide you might want to see about how we as adults learn best . . .
How Do Adults Learn
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: adult learning)

What do you think?