After nearly two years of secondment, my time as a Program Manager at eCampusOntario is coming to an end. On July 2 I return to Fleming College as a Learning Technology Specialist.
Here is a rundown of experiences that I’m thankful to have gained, while in this position. I’ll keep it brief.
I got the chance to visit/connect with quite a few post-secondary institutions all over Ontario and beyond. And in doing so, one of the things I got to see were the many different takes on the “Teaching & Learning Centre”. They were always a little different, in name and in function. Custom made for their own institutions. Some of them were brimming with joy and excitement at the prospects of enabling learning experiences at and beyond their institutions. Those ones were obviously my favorites. Who made them that way? The people working in them and with them, of course.
I presented a lot. Made lots of slide decks. Both virtual and in person talks, inside and outside of Ontario. They were for conferences, Open Education Days, Teaching & Learning Days and so on. What I enjoyed most about these opportunities was the chance to bring ideas for supporting good learning experiences and spaces from one place to another. Or, more importantly, from one person to another. In each talk, if one person grabbed on to a new idea and even just kind of started floating towards it, that is a success to me.
I spent most of the two years working in our laundry room. But I could pack up and move everything to a new place at a moment’s notice. All I need for my mobile office fits in a backpack: laptop, mouse, phone, headset, good mic, second screen (USB plug in), power cable, USB splitter-a-ma-bob thing. Oh and I need Zoom, Zencaster, Slack, Twitter, Google Drive, coffee. The flexibility is very liberating and helped me realize that one can work very closely indeed with anyone, anywhere.
Oh and by being able to work mostly from home I could be there to drop off my kids at school almost everyday, right from day one of kindergarten for two of them. Our third was born during my time at eCampus, too. The privilege of being close by during her first year has been ridiculously delightful (and her comedic timing is coming along great because she started screeching like a banshee with a paper cut as I was writing that.) Hattie has already attended a conference, visited eCampus HQ, and co-hosted my podcast a couple times.
I started the Gettin’ Air podcast, which focuses on Open Pedagogy, while on secondment and I’m taking it with me. Podcasting is the best. You should do one, too. Every episode is a chance for me to get to know someone a lot more deeply than I already do and to share the fabulous work that they are doing as widely as possible. I’ve done 70+ episodes. That’s 70 people I know more about. 70 people I have experience working with. 70 more allies. Have a look at that list of guests. Holy crap, so many absolute heroes are working in Open Education. It’s ridiculous. I want to keep podcasting forever.
I don’t intend to crunch numbers here to show how much Ontario Extend has spread throughout Ontario while I’ve been around or anything. I’d just like to say that the Empowered Educator framework (by Simon Bates) that David Porter recognized as the thing to build our professional learning program around has afforded just a boat load of opportunities to connect with educators across Ontario and has sparked such excitement for sharing our teaching and learning sagas with each other. I can’t imagine a better outcome than leaving people a little more open to sharing and helping each other. Teaching higher ed does not have to be a lonely pursuit. Extend is something you can easily sink your teeth in to and there is more than enough to it to never gut full. I like to think of Extend as more of a professional learning lifestyle than a professional learning experience. One of my favorite Extend experiences was virtually presenting with Alan Levine to St. Lawrence College’s Learning Connections Conference. The conference was in Kingston, Alan was in Saskatchewan, and I was in DisneyWorld of all places lol. I did not anticipate that experience coming! Here are the slides if you’d like to see them.
There were four of us “PMers” (program managers) on contract/secondment to eCampusOntario together. I’ve written about how much I loved working with those other Slackers before. (I’m releasing this post today, with a week left to go at eCampus, because to day is the day that headquarters is throwing a farewell party for Peg and me). I so enjoyed the experience of working in the same digital hallway with them that I want to get a group tattoo with them. I’m thinking each of us chooses a Golden Girl which best represents ourselves. I call dibs on Rose.
And umm I got to work with Cogdog a bunch! ‘Nuff said. When you get to not only connect with one of your heroes, but also work with regularly and call them a friend. That’s some awesome 💩 right there. That emoji was just for you, Alan. I know you love them.
And to the rest of you lovely souls at eCampus HQ, you just keep doing what you’re doing, will ya?
These projects (The Open Faculty/Learner Patchbooks) started before I came to eCampusOntario, but I was thankfully allowed to keep them going during my time there. I think I felt at one time that these projects had an expiry date, had a time to shine and then maybe fade away. Now I think they are free to live on as long as possible. Like the podcast, I want to keep collecting these stories forever. What’s the rush? I’ll keep collecting the stories of how we go about our teaching and learning whenever they are ready to be shared. My final visit to a college as a PM at eCampus for the Georgian College #EdTechDays even lead to a fantastic new piece for the Open Learner Patchbook by Elaine Greenwood.
As I head back to Fleming College, I am curious and excited to see how I can use the experience that I gained back at my home institution. I also look forward to seeing eCampusOntario continue to bring openness and smart, critical thinking about technology in education to the masses of Ontario post-secondary educators and learners and beyond.
p.s. The featured image had this caption “two whales rushing into the water” which I think is hilarious because 1) those are no whales as far as my prairie-raised mind can see and 2) They are rushing INTO the water? like were they on the beach playing volleyball for a while? Hitting the snack bar? A six word caption that raises so many questions.