15 Years & Moving On

I haven’t written one of these since I left the IST Solutions Institute to become the director of Education Technology Services back in 2005. I think since I am wrapping up my last day at Penn State after 15 years I thought I should at least reflect on that to a degree and thank the people who have changed my life for the better. I’ve had quite a few jobs here at Penn State over the years, growing from an instructional designer with the World Campus in 1998 to my current role of senior director for Teaching and Learning with Technology. Each stop along the way has been a blessing … not without challenges, but this has been truly a magical experience. Before I head off to Stony Brook University, it might be good to share a couple of thoughts on this whole journey.

We arrived childless in 1998 from Philadelphia after the sale and closure of a small training software company. I came for a job as an ID with the just launched World Campus and Kristin came to do her PhD. We were committed to staying just long enough for her to finish and then we were out of here. Obviously it didn’t go that way and we are thrilled with the time that we have spent here.

After 18 months in the World Campus I needed something different and got a lucky break to join another start up, but this time in higher education, with the launch of the School of Information Sciences and Technology. I spent six years working with amazing people building teams, technologies, processes, and friendships. It was an amazing time in our lives — we had our first child, we were enjoying success professionally, our friends were all around us, and my eyes were being opened to a whole new world of potential with the Internet. I discovered blogging, the social web, and relationships with companies like Apple. We were building and exploring as a team … and learning so much along the way. Then some people left, including my dear friends and colleagues Eric Zeisloft and Keith Bailey … and then my wife, Kristin, decided to leave PSU as well. There was still a killer team, but it left me wanting to explore more.

I again got lucky … as I was ready, the director of Education Technology Services was open and I went after that position. I wanted to really test the things I was successful with at the College level in the context of a central organization. I wanted to see if we could replicate that level of innovation in a central IT services organization. I will be honest, it was a real struggle for me at first — I had to build new relationships and help those around me see that we could transform the University and ourselves. It took time, but the work done at ETS has proven to be some of the best I have ever done. We built an absolutely amazing team … one that I am proud of beyond belief to this day. We went from barely attending national conferences to dominating the agendas. From impacting a few students to supporting thousands. From offering services that were stable to ones that inspired. Truly a great ride.

In 2010 I was asked to step into the senior director role that I currently occupy. That jump was something that challenged me in new ways and pushed me into new leadership territory. At the same time I was asked to be faculty in the Educause learning technologies leadership institute … another thing that pushed me in crazy ways. I amped up my teaching as well, taking the Disruptive Technologies grad class to new places with my friend and colleague, Scott McDonald. I have worked so hard with the people around me to get TLT into great shape and I am so proud of the collective work we’ve done. While my role has changed, I still believe so deeply in education and the power we have in our hands to make positive impacts on our institutions. That is something I will take with me as I head east to Stony Brook University.

It has been an amazing ride and I wouldn’t change much of it. From the time I got here I wanted to be part of the bigger picture — I wanted to build a community of people who were interested in doing great work. I know I have bothered some people along the way, but I’ve come to accept that as the reality we all face when we push. I will never forget my time here and I will lean on all that I have learned the last 15 years. It is an interesting thing feeling so much passion for a place that you aren’t really from, but State College has been so good to us. We’ve been met amazing friends, have had the pleasure of seeing our two children born here and enjoy the surroundings, and we are so blessed to be leaving here with a sense of accomplishment and deep gratitude. I will miss State College, the people who have touched our world, and Penn State for the rest of my life. I depart with nothing but a deep caring for all that is Penn State and what it has given to me. I would need all the space on the Internet to thank everyone who has impacted my life here … suffice to say I have nothing but gratitude for all of you.

WC Instructional Designer –> Manager of Instructional Design and Emerging Technologies –> Director of Education Technology Solutions –> Co-Director of IST Solutions Institute –> Director of IST Solutions Institute –> Director of Education Technology Services –> Senior Director of Teaching and Learning with Technology

Blog Study … Podcasting Some Ideas

Tonight Chris Millet and I sat down to talk about the blogging study he is conducting at the IST Solutions Institute here at Penn State. Chris and I headed down to the basement in our old studio to talk a bit about the study and to share some thoughts with the faculty participating … this is a 50 minute, unedited discussion. We didn’t have notes or any real notion of what we wanted to talk about other than how we’ve used blogs to power our classrooms. There are some interesting things. Enjoy it … the podcast is around 45 MB. Thoughts?

Direct link to the podcast.

Online IST Flashback

I have been spending some time assembling briefing materials for people in my new group. So many of the things we spent years trying to figure out at IST are of real value as the larger University begins to move itself more aggressively into the areas of blended and hybrid learning spaces. As I have been putting stuff together, I’ve been going back through old documents, presentations, and notes so that I can share the things we did successfully in the Solutions Institute with my new team. In doing so I came across a nice white paper my wife and I wrote a few years ago that sort of outlines our approaches … nothing great, but still a nice historical reflection of things done. I just thought I’d share. And BTW, Happy Thanksgiving!

Time to Move On

I’ve been hinting around about this for quite some time now, but today was my last day as Director of the IST Solutions Institute. It has been an amazing place to be the last six years. I was one of the first people in the door for the School of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State back in 1999 … as a matter of fact, October 1st, 1999 was my first day there. The School was a new thing, built from the group up to address the IT worker shortage in the state of PA and beyond. It is a first rate place and one that I leave with nothing but fond feelings for. The people at the School are wonderful, the administration has been very supportive, and the faculty are thought leaders in their respective spaces.

I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when it came to getting on board. My wife, Kristin, had been hired as the School’s first webmaster — as well as an instructional designer to get the first of many courses online, design a problem based learning curricular approach, and more. One of the first things she did was go directly to the dean and say these plans are too big for a single person. She recommended that he bring some people in to spend a day thinking and talking about the goals … I was lucky enough to be one of those people. That day got me so jacked up about the thought of being part of a second startup that I immediately pressed for a chance to be part of it. So, the next day I was back in the dean’s office getting a job offer.

I spent the first years there building the team, tools, and methodologies that would become the staple of the Institute. We still use the original methods and tools to design courses and other learning environments. The Institute has grown in resources and sophistication, but it still has that start up feel. The thing I am most proud of are the people who have come in and out of the doors at SI … these people have given everything to create the most open and engaging workplace I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of. I was talking with Bruce Claflin, CEO of 3Com, once and he said you are lucky if you have the chance to be part of a great team once in your life on a small project … I was lucky enough to create and work with a team like that for six years. Wonderful.

So tomorrow I show up at my new job … Director of Education Technology Services for the whole of the University. It is another one of those amazing opportunities. I am psyched to get the new phase of my life going, but today I am just going to reflect on the last six years and say thank you to everyone who made it the most wonderful time of my life. The time at IST was filled with highs and lows … my daughter was born, I feel like I built a powerful Institute, made the best friends, created outstanding partnerships, and learned so much from so many people. It was a wonderful time and I will miss it. Thank you everyone!

Working on the Course

After a little drama over my classroom was taken care of, I have been spending some time getting my course site setup. I am calling the space, the Blogs@110 … not sure what else to call it. Right now I have a basic shell of stuff put together and all my students have accounts (even if they don’t know it yet). Given the fact class actually starts Tuesday at 6 PM, I need toget the rest hammered out. Yikes. At any rate, the site is up and running, so go take a look … Oh, and let me know what you think.

Blogs@SI … Interesting Events

I just posted over at our pilot Blogs@SI site … the numbers are exploding — for us. Tonight there were over 600 visitors online. That’s up from a high of about 40 the last couple of days. I am really interested in figuring out where people are hearing about the space and how they are getting there. Any comments about that?

Moving Towards Web Standards

I love it when things start working … the senior webmaster in the School of Information Sciences and Technology at PSU (within the Solutions Institute) took the time to post her thoughts related to the topic of web standards at the blogs@si site. Rose lays out some great concepts in her first post at the site and I thought it was well worth the read. Rose is an amazing webmaster and she has been pushing PSU to think about standards for five years or so … that’s well before the buzz (that’s a dumb choice of words) related to accessibility. If you have any interest in the subject, take the time and jump over to her post. By the way, while you’re there, leave a post and let us all know what you think.

Blogging for Marketing Rising

I think we all knew this and really don’t need a post to explain it, but what the hell! We’ve just started blogs@si — for a different reason, but in the end its all about putting the power of publishing in the hands of the community. A while back I was talking to some friends at Apple, actually egging them on to start some sort of coorporate blogging program … didn’t get too far, but they have started doing it for a few things.

This little read popped into my bloglines this morning and thought I’d shre the link … Micro Persuasion: Corporate Blogging Rising … sort of reminds me of hte research proposal we are organizing around community blogging and shared community ownership. See Higher Education isn’t that far behind!