Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Working on the road

I am fortunate to attend the International Society for Educational Biography conference again this year. It is held in San Antonio and I just flew in this morning to realize some of the benefits of academic work that I harp on, but that are worth mentioning again. The fact that I can do my job from just about anywhere has become a true facet of the work that I absolutely enjoy. At this moment, I am sitting on the balcony of my shared room and looking out over the pool while enjoying the clear blue sky and mid-80s weather. I am barefoot and have on an old ratty Purdue University t-shirt from my undergraduate days, but I am working. I have already viewed student speeches and posted grades. I've tweeted with the students on their final reflections for the course (a mini-assignment), and I've had two conferences with IM on my virtual office hours that have addressed concerns of students. I am now posting grades from the papers I brought with me. I feel content knowing that the walls of academia are incredibly flexible these days. My students are connected, I'm doing my work, and I am able to build my Vita and explore GREAT topics at this conference.

I don't always appreciate working during travel as it can feel like a juggler with too many balls in the air sometimes. But I do LOVE to work on airplanes. It is easy to zone out of the environment and knock out a lot of grading in a relatively short time. I was on the plane and found myself next to Mr. Chatty. You know him, he's that passenger who is boisterous and talkative and wants to know all about your life. He arrives with no book, no mp3, he's ready for a whole flight of conversation. Of course he's also determined. Polite, murmured replies are like green lights encouraging him for more conversation. He began with, "is that an iComputer pad thing?" as he referenced my nook. Politely I responded it was an e-reader. "How many books does it hold? Don't you get tired of the screen? What's wrong with books anyways?" I noticed the person on the other side of Mr. Chatty slam on his earphones and close his eyes...leaving me alone to handle Mr. Chatty. I had my earbuds poised, but he kept on talking.

I gave up. I knew that Mr. Chatty would continue even if I avoided eye contact and hunched over my fold out tray to grade. Why not avoid working on the flight? Rather intrigued, I decided to turn the conversation toward Mr. Chatty. Most of the Mr. Chatty passengers I have experienced are endlessly inquisitive but rarely provide information about themselves (Communication geeks can't help but examine this type of stuff). So I thought he might limit the interrogation if I turned everything back to him. It was very entertaining (okay it was downright FUN to think of artful ways to reply and turn around and question him) and though he was incredibly evasive, I found that Mr. Chatty wasn't just a loud passenger infringing on my work time while flying. He, and perhaps all of the other Mr. Chatty passengers I have crossed in the past, was a nice guy who was just more social than most of the other passengers. In the end, Mr. Chatty -- who was commenting on barbecue responding to my statement,  "No I don't have any experience grilling ribs" with shock in his voice noting "A vegetarian is in Texas...what will you eat? Why are you a vegetarian? Don't you even eat chicken? How long have you been a vegetarian...", was actually a pleasant escape from the file folder of work.
Perhaps I'm on the way to becoming that (often dreaded) person sitting beside you that doesn't seem to hear as you sigh as she produces endless chit-chat seemingly designed so you cannot accomplish your endless amounts of work....and then again, probably not. I'm an mp3, tray down, work from takeoff to landing kind of gal.

Mr. Chatterbox image is from the series of "Mr. Men" books by Roger Hargreaves that many of us read when we were young. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Service, stress, and pre-tenure paranoia

Okay, so this might be melodramatic, but is our service work a black hole? If I remember my sixth grade science class correctly, a black hole is a place where no light can escape-where nothing escapes. It simply eats up everything around it...Perhaps I should back up:

Some days our service contributions enrich our work environment, strengthen our connections to the institution or to the organization, and reinforce our vision. During these days service elements of faculty life demonstrate the holistic efforts of the various components of higher education and detail a symbiotic relationship. These days it is easy to sit at the table, share ideas, and work collaboratively. I love these days!

Other days it feels as if our service work is part of the black hole enigma. Endless hours--GONE! Frenzied efforts--DISAPPEARED! Where is the reward? Does any of it matter? On these days, it might seem like there is no reward for our service efforts...

This happens to be one of THOSE days. You know the kind of day: you're sure everyone is out to get you and they are doing this by overworking you. Or you are absolutely certain that you are being put on committees simply to distract you from proposing that new class or from doing your research. Of course, this is a part of the completely-ridiculous-but-none-the-less-present-in-the-back-of-our-minds: pre-tenure paranoia, but I would like to explore the ridiculous feelings just the same.

On "those" days...I wonder if my placement on the MANY committees is done with a malicious intent so that others avoid the meetings and rather thankless work--or worse to keep me exhausted and compliant. I wonder if I can ever get my grading done when I'm part of several organizational leadership structures (brought on by my need for tenure points and avid interest in the organizations). I wonder if I'll have to swap office hours since another meeting was again called for a time I'm usually with students. On "those" days, I get another calendar request in my in-box or the blinking red light on my phone appears to wink with the evil knowledge that more of my time will soon disappear. My calendar groans as another supposedly urgent service-related deadline squeezes out other items. 

I contemplate the cycle of service work--doesn't it seem like once you're on one committee then suddenly you are requested to work on others? Why is that? Are people throwing your name out so they don't have to do the work? Or is it a goodwill attempt to help you bank points for the retention/tenure review process by well-wishers? Or are you continually needed as a singular representative of your discipline/culture/background? Are there others in your area who appear to somehow never get "stuck" on committees? Do you feel as if you cannot decline ... or worse you've tried to decline and were unsuccessful? What is it about all of this committee work? 

While a graduate student, I read an article by Park (1996) and it has stuck in the back of my mind throughout my pre-tenure years as a faculty member. Park examined the institutionalized view of work and gender roles which emerged in higher education--as well as the resulting impact on the value of work completed. Park described service  in higher education, and though dated, it still addresses many relevant questions. It also remains stuck in my mind whenever I look around at (I can attest at least anecdotally) her findings were remarkably true--making service work and the impact for women or minorities at tenure-time something to consider. Here's an excerpt: 

Park noted (53-54), "Like teaching activities, service activities differ along gender lines. In addition to spending more time advising students, female faculty members engage in significantly more, and different types of, service activities than their male counterparts [3]. In 1988 the U.S. Department of Education found that female faculty, across all types of institutions, devoted a greater percentage of their time to institutional service activities than did male faculty [83, p. 153]. In 1990 the Carnegie Foundation concurred that female faculty were the most active participants in the daily campus governance process, "even though they devoted more time to the teaching function than did men, they were significantly more active in the work of the faculty senate, administrative advisory committees, and other campus-wide bodies" [19, p. 42]. Faculty women are also more likely than men to volunteer time and expertise to extra-institutional projects [83, p. 151]. There are several reasons for these differences. First, female and minority faculty members and especially minority female faculty may have more "opportunities" for serving student groups and community organizations, as well as individual students, because they are sought out by other women or minority members as positive role models or because of their areas of research interest [60, 71]. Second, faculty women (unlike men of color) are more likely to be approached by students with personal, as well as academic, concerns on the expectation that women will be more caring and sensitive than men [75]. Third, women, as well as men of color, are given more "opportunities" for university service than white men. For example, they may be asked to serve on various committees in order to guarantee representation of their group or simply to symbolize their institution's commitment to affirmative action and diversity goals [35, 43, 60, 63, 71]. Finally, women (unlike men of color) are thought "to enjoy and to excel in the 'pattern maintenance' chores that governance involves" [60, p. 131, see also 75, 82]. Yet, neither this belief nor tokenism extend to the more prestigious, more powerful, and better paying administrative positions...Men, as a group, devote a higher portion of their time to research activities, whereas women, as a group, devote a much higher percentage of their time to teaching and service activities than do men. The result is that men publish more extensively than do women."

So if you're having one of "THOSE" days consider what is valued at your institution and who is placing you on committees. Examine if it is well-wishers building your vita, someone trying to sandbag your work with additional committee loads, or if it is simple trust in your ability to get the job done. Look at your power (or lack thereof) to decline or negotiate placement on service committees. And don't forget to put the pre-tenure paranoia in check (we've all got it at some point).

As you walk into your next meeting, draft others to work alongside you in committees, or open that email requiring your presence on yet another committee, consider who else is at the institutional and organizational service table with you.

Park, S. M. (1996). Research, teaching and service. Why shouldn't women's work count. The Journal of Higher Education, 67(1), 46-84.

Mobile devices, e-learning and higher education

As I prepare for another conference, I am again considering how beneficial the e-learning environment truly is. I can update my courses, interact with my students (both synchronously and asynchronously), and still conduct class despite travel time. My path as an instructor is much more effective because of the learning management system (LMS) and the opportunity to use my Blackberry Apps (like Skype, Yahoo IM, Twitter, and Blackboard mobile) to continue my connection with students. As I reminded students about the upcoming travel, I encouraged them to tweet, IM, email and connect with any questions they had on assignments. It was reassuring to know that I wouldn't be reliant upon an internet connection at a random hotel (or the fees some charge) and that my trusty mobile device can do it all. 

E-learning is making my job easier. It is opening access to my students in new ways. It is becoming a common part of the instructor-student connection. 

Check out this video examining mobile devices and teaching and learning;

Though we are increasingly using mobile devices in higher education, we want to do so with intent and by examining their impact and effect on the faculty-student communication relationship and on the learning environment overall. There is a history of research on faculty-student communication outside of the classroom and that research is now including computer-mediated communication between faculty-students. Since many of my students already use Twitter and Instant Messenger -- and since most don't have a home computer (they use their smart phones) but rely upon the university computer services, any way I can become more mobile in my communication is a positive for my students.

Want to explore this further? Suggested reading:

DeBard, R., & Guidera, S. (2000). Adapting asynchronous communication to meet the seven principles of effective teaching. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 28(3), 219-230.

Edwards, J. T. (2009). Undergraduate students' perceptions and preferences of computer-mediated communication with faculty. American Communication Journal, 11(1).

Hickerson, C.A. & Giglio, M. (2009). Instant messaging between students and faculty: A tool for increasing student-faculty interaction. International Journal on E-Learning, 8(1), 71-88.

Waycott, J., Bennett, S., Kennedy, G., Dalgarno, B., & Gray, K. (2010). Digital divides? Student and staff perceptions of information and communication technologies. Computers & Education, 54(4), 1202-1211.

Woods, R. H. (2002). How much communication is enough in online courses? Exploring the relationship between frequency of instructor-initiated personal email and learners' perceptions of and participation in online learning. International Journal of Instructional Media, 29, 377-394.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The stages of spring break

Age 7: Spring break meant one thing--a week at home. I was at home a lot due to severe asthma and allergies and I felt angry that I had to take a break from school, a place I loved.  I planned my days around doing as much homework as possible and working ahead in my math workbook. That way, if I got sick again I wouldn't fall behind.

Age 10: Spring break stretched ahead glowing with opportunities. Would I build a fort in the woods first? Or finish the last of my new puzzles? Would I work through the latest BabySitters Club book? It seemed like ANY choice ahead of me hummed with the promise of fun. No way would I waste a minute of my week!

Age 14: Spring break loomed before me with every second scheduled. If I planned carefully, I could make enough money to get me closer to the big goals (car, college). I babysat for one family who worked opposite shifts and, therefore, stayed nearly around the clock so the parents could sleep. I scheduled in a few extra jobs with a family on the weekend. I worked 46 hours that week and felt so proud of myself when I deposited my hard-earned money.

Age 19: Scrubbing dishes. As an undergraduate at Purdue I had hoped to have some time during spring break to head home and visit the family but who could turn down the extra shifts at the dining hall? As a student worker, I had to take advantage of the scheduling and maximize my place with the managers. If I worked hard, I might earn enough for books next semester.

Age 23 The master's projects will get done before I finish planning our wedding. What kind of an idiot schedules a wedding right after finishing a year of graduate work AND after accepting a summer research gig (transcribing hours and hours) and a few adjunct classes...there's simply not enough time to do all of this!

Age 27: Spring break? What spring break? I'm teaching and researching here. I don't have time to worry about this. Go away. I'm analyzing data. GO AWAY. I don't have time for this. Graduation is looming. Dissertation is screaming. I need every second to keep my head above water.

Present day: SPRING BREAK! A week where I can work in blue jeans and old concert t-shirts with my hair in pigtails and my feet snuggled in slippers. A week where I can finally "catch up" on all of my work.

Oh the magic of spring break: whether as a kid or as a seasoned faculty member, it seems I have always planned my spring breaks as extra time for activities or for work. The idea of "catching up" on all of my work during spring break has been with me since early March. "Catch up"...

...yeah, right. As faculty we plan our "breaks" around more work -- a trend I've been following since an early age. I always have incredibly lofty goals, too. "Finish article and submit," "grade xyz," "reorganize tenure files," "prepare annual report," "clean out closet," "volunteer," and "analyze 3 boxes worth of data" for example (items on my list this year).

Sometimes I wish  my more realistic mental faculties would recognize the need to also get away from the computer, the files, the constant nagging feeling of the tenure clock (as much as possible) and focus on a few strategies to actually get SOME kind of "break." My strategy for this, heavily encouraged by a really TOUGH semester (and a husband who remarked he would like to throw my blackberry out the window...I think he was joking...) is to:
A). Read some ridiculously frivolous novels on my nook (I selected two: first, Water for Elephants which is entertaining and completely without academic merit. Second, Tina Fey's BossyPants which simply looks fun).
B). Garden. I started seeds a few weeks ago and several things needed planting. I am a country kid at heart and now spend every morning of my break tending, planting, tilling, and sweating in the Louisiana heat to foster growth in my little plants. 
C). Meaningless time. To feel like I'm on break, each morning the husband and I have coffee together at Cafe DuMonde, PJs, or Starbucks. Nothing fancy--just an hour or so of completely unscheduled, non-work time. This has meant the most to me this week. It is mentally calming.
D). Prioritize. I can't do everything on my "catch up" list, so I'll focus on what must get done. I won't over exert. I'll take breaks and enjoy time away from the computer.

After two and a half days of Spring Break, I can claim that my strategies have made this a MUCH more relaxing break...and a surprisingly productive one, too. I worked on a research project this morning, drafted a treasurer's report for an organization, and now, I'm off to finish Water for Elephants and break away from the computer for a few hours.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Faculty and funding at the teaching institution

Grant writing. We are hearing more and more about grant writing and the need for faculty to write, seek, and ultimately acquire funds for their institutions. It is especially important as we move through today's (increasingly depressing and nearly overwhelming) higher education fiscal cuts. But is finding funding at a teaching institution really possible? Grant writing and teaching can seem like competing goals for our time.

That balance issue creeps in teaching institutions we are often teaching more classes than our research institution counterparts. Our full load is a 4/4 load with a general expectation that we may need you to pick up an overload (a 5th course) if enrollment demands it. Now we are compensated for that overload, but often times we end up with heavy teaching loads and, for many like myself, a full load (3) in every summer. Nearly every year, I have a 5/4/3 or a 5/5/3 teaching load.

This isn't a complaint. I chose a teaching institution very purposefully. I am an educator. I want to be in the class and I want that to be my primary purpose at my institution. But...uh oh!...Can you hear that?...

tick tock...Tick Tock... TiCk ToCk...TICK TOCK... TENURE CLOCK!

As I submit my retention packet each year, I feel the need to fill each category as much as possible and grant writing is one of those categories. The best of the best seek funding AND manage teaching. It isn't an easy balance at a teaching institution as grant writing takes TIME. I know many of us are teaching full or overly full loads on a constant basis and struggle to find time to write for funding. Here are a few things that I have uncovered to help me continually seek new funding opportunities:
  1. Join listservs for your professional organizations. Check out their "emerging scholars" or "new/junior faculty" areas for funding specific to your first several years in academia. These are great places to start grant writing.
  2. Set up "search alerts" for funding postings. For example, Google offers a great option to set up alerts that come to your in-box whenever key words are found together.
  3. Visit regularly. As a true nerd, I try to check it out every couple of weeks and, of course, have it in my calendar.
  4. Know your field. As a scholar outside of the sciences I find myself easily frustrated at the constant emails for science-based funding. Log on to the National Endowment for the Humanities web site and cruise around their posts.
  5. Check your state's funding! This is a great way to tie in some local/regional projects with the research you are doing. Your Board of Regents can also provide a great path to funding opportunities.
  6. Cross your campus: Check out the opportunities in other disciplines and make friends with the science and math folks (if you're in the non-science fields). Our science and math faculty are very good at reaching out and offering opportunities for collaboration. 
  7. Seek mentor opportunities with those on campus who have received funding. A junior faculty member at our institution walked up to a senior faculty member who has received a LOT of funding and said, "I want to do that, too" (more or less) and they are now working closely together on several projects. It might be intimidating, but the rewards can be very worth the few moments of discomfort you may feel for putting yourself out there.
  8. Be hungry? I was recently, to my amusement, described as a "hardworking, hungry junior faculty member" and that description did not offend me. In fact, I asked the speaker to identify others on campus who fit that same description and then contacted some of those folks to partner up and collaborate.
  9. Remember, many institutions have a grants office that puts on FREE training seminars and who wants you to get funded. Seek them out, become friends early in your career. You will NEED good working relationships with that office.
  10. Put your money where your mouth is. If you make promises and state you are going to do something with anyone on campus, then be sure you've planned and prioritized that endeavor. The people at your institution can be your best bet for not only an enjoyable ride through the tenure track (side note: can we apply the word "enjoyable" to the tenure track?!), but a productive ride, too!
Hopefully these little tips are useful and the next issue you have is finding space for your grant-funded equipment in your tiny office or analyzing all of the data in your funded research project. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Twitter and student reflection

Over the past several years, I have incorporated Twitter into my class as a non-required opportunity to examine communication. My students, like so many of our students today, often have access to smart phones and opportunities to communicate in the social networks from the palm of their hands. For this reason, I've tried to teach and model responsible online communicative patterns. It is sometimes difficult to share with students the lasting impact of online information. Though I primarily teach public speaking, the TwitterSphere is easily integrated into class content, as a means of contact, and -- this semester -- as a tool for reflection.

We can study the micro-blogging limit of 140 characters which forces students to plan, edit, and adapt their initial message. We can examine groups, inter-cultural communication, and organizational communication. We can explore marketing, media outreach, news coverage, and reporting. Understanding sender-message-receiver can be done by exploring the student's favorite athlete's Tweets. Truly, Twitter is an amazingly versatile for the communication classroom. We've had several successful Twitter assignment options this semester, including a live Tweet stream during the State Of The Union Address where all of the students shared a common hash-tag (such as #comm210) and could review others' comments WHILE reflecting on the President's speech. We had so many thoughts going and were surprised to see other non-students jumping in to the conversation. It went REALLY well!

So what's changed this semester? I elected to try a more reflective Twitter assignment the week after midterms where all the students could reflect on their growth as speakers after the first half of the semester. The assignment read:

Using, write (at least) ONE tweet a day from tomorrow (March 18) to Wednesday March 23 using the marker, #comm210, in the tweet. Your tweets should explore what you've learned in the past 9 weeks, how you've changed as a speaker, and/or your thoughts on public speaking content. You should end with at least six tweets with #comm210. 
*Notes: go to for more information on "tweets" and for directions on setting up an account. Of course, feel free to contact Dr. Lora for more information.
I will add that *most* students were already quite familiar with Twitter as we had discussed it in class and many already used Twitter. The students seemed to really enjoy themselves through reflecting in this optional assignment. What I didn't expect was how much the students SHARED in their reflections. Students from different classes re-tweeted and commented to one another. They also noted some common steps in their speaking journeys. I was also rather impressed that many mentioned their "favorite" or "most useful" information from the class without any more detailed prompts than the tiny assignment overview provided to them above. They raised these new ideas in class and encouraged their peers to try the assignment. This showed me that we can incorporate new ways to explore course concepts and to think about collaborative learning. We can also take advantage of the students' nearly constant use of smart phones and social networking to explore class concepts through a new lens. I began thinking about this interactive reflection process when the students in one class today asked "Doc, could do that Tweeting thing again" after the course ends.

Perhaps my next Tweet, aptly under 140 characters, should read, "Excited to see #comm210 students learning and growing by applying course content to every day events!"

Would you like more information on Twitter and using Twitter in your class? Check out these resources (note the shameless self-promotion in the first reference):

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Campus wide speaking competition--try it at your university!

This past week marked the end of a semester-long endeavor: the FIRST campus-wide speaking competition! I had the idea as part of our Advanced Public Speaking course: speak out on a non-profit, raise money, and involve an audience outside of class. We did a mini-version of this idea in the class and I thought about the impact we could have if we did it for the entire campus. So, this semester I tried it out. Being the only faculty member in my discipline at my university makes larger, long-term projects more difficult--but somehow it worked out.

For me, this was a true blending of communication and higher education--watching the students' voices and efforts as learning took place beyond the classroom, beyond the university, and for purposeful, positive change in our city.

Here's an overview of the competition.

"Voices for change": SUNO's first campus-wide speaking competition. This competition was born from the desire to hear our students creating positive change int he community through the use of their voices. It provides a way for us to help others and to engage with local non-profit organizations. I partnered with our Communication Club (which I advise) and we began raising money for the event. Participants had to sign up, determine a local non-profit to advocate for (and confirm non-profit status), conduct research, prepare materials, and organize a persuasive speech urging the audience to support their organization. We continued to raise money. I served as a speaking coach to all competitors throughout the semester. The students then had to speak to a panel of four judges and the audience (which was a great turnout!). The audience, as a whole, had a vote for the most persuasive speaker. Each judge had a vote (judges were faculty members with writing and speaking experience). All students earned certificates and valuable experience. The top two students won MP3 players and the MOST persuasive speaker won the competition and his/her non-profit won all of the funds we raised since February.

What did I learn? This competition was a great way to:
1) get students eager to do research,
2) guide students in organizing and planning a formal presentation,
3) encourage students to use their voices for positive change in our community,
4) develop university-community partnerships, and
5) get faculty members involved on campus.

What would I do differently?
Ask for MORE help promoting and reaching out on campus AND get a bigger room reserved for the event!

Am I doing it again? ABSOLUTELY. I hope it becomes an annual campus activity. I have received requests from several other campus organizations to partner up and that sounds WONDERFUL!

We had a larger turnout than I anticipated AND had several representatives from the organizations show up after the competitors had contacted the organizations for information/research. Those organizations asked to continually work with the Communication Club and "SUNO's amazingly dedicated students and faculty" in future projects!

Consider what you might be able to do with a little time and effort--and what impact that might have on our students. This project showed me how much our students are willing to do to help others and how far our reach can be as educators.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

So you want to learn Prezi!?

The emails have been rolling in asking for more information and training on Prezi. My in-box is so full it could burp with all of your requests for more! I can agree with this enthusiasm--Prezi is a unique way to spice up a presentation.

To answer the most popular question in my email in-box this week: I am not currently offering any webinars on Prezi though I do continue to offer in-person training in a variety of topics and encourage email communication from anyone interested (

To answer the second most popular question in my email in-box this week: "Where can we get more information?" I appreciate everyone asking for training and education about Prezi as my students have had the same reaction. To respond to these inquiries, I am providing this follow-up post with information to encourage everyone to find *FREE* resources through

And the third most popular question in my email in-box this week: "Do you have a sample?" Sure! Here's one I put together for a talk about changing the public speaking course into a "fully online" course. The great thing with Prezi is that you can export your prezi using a link, so just click HERE to see it! Or you can embed it:

Where should you start? Start with Prezi. They are doing a great job reaching out to educate those of us from the PowerPoint world on the use of Prezi. Prezi offers a great self-guided training video and a resource page.

There are also video tutorials offered online by Prezi.

Four that can be especially helpful for those just beginning in Prezi are found here: (video above)

Additionally, they have more resources at and you can "follow" Prezi on Twitter @Prezi and their support folks have great tips on Twitter @PreziSupport.

I have had a lot of emails and interest in the Prezi blog post from last week and found that the online, free resources work fairly well for most institutions who are facing shrinking budgets for faculty training. So, click, create, and zoom your way to an engaging presentation and don't forget to update and share your stories of success, tips, or advice for others who are equally excited about Prezi.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tech envy or tech'd out? 24-hour professor!

Green, emerald, chartreuse, jade, moss, olive...No matter how you say it, I am absolutely green with envy over the technology that was used at a recent conference. I can't stop thinking, wistfully, that I could do so much with the little netbooks or iPads that so many of our presenters had! Many used them to take notes in sessions, to use as speaking notes, or to accomplish work in between panel presentations. My 8.5 pound, older, university-issued laptop simply could not compete with the shiny, slim products. My laptop, though trusty, is also clunky, slow, heavy, and had me feeling an unpleasant Kermit-the-Frog shade by the end of the conference. It seems EVERYONE had a new tech gadget that facilitated their work. But as Kermit says so keenly, "It's not easy being green" and I tried to squash the feelings of frustration.

Fast forward two weeks.

I find myself watching the iPad 2 video promotion, comparing netbooks online, and wondering at my fixation. Really, my laptop is fine. It does the work. I don't *need* anything else.

But, as I take my laptop to meetings to take notes I hear a small, mental sigh over the functionality of the new, smaller, seemingly-more-efficient, technological tools that slide easily into a shoulder bag. Are these latest products really going to enhance my work? Will they facilitate the completion of my daily to-do lists? Would it help me reach my students? Will I improve my educational impact? Will it save me time?

Or is it simply another gadget that will soon be replaced by yet another "new thing" that will find me yet another shade of green? Should we be using a screen and laptop in front of us as we speak (even if it does house our speaking notes)? Should we rely on our digital products so heavily that we must have them small and lightweight to carry them with us at all times? Should we try to distance ourselves from the latest tech toys? Are we tech'd out in academia?

Just because we have the technology doesn't always mean that it simplifies our life or makes us better educators. I am on the fence when it comes to the next gadget. I *really* want it for work. I do a lot of work through digital media and research instructional communication. It makes sense for my digital responsiveness to students. But the biggest phenomenon that I see as a hindrance to educator's flocking to the latest technology happens outside the actual technology. It is the "24-hour professor syndrome."

This is a real issue for our educators today--one many of us don't even see until it absorbs us completely (Picture me waving my hand at the screen and mouthing, "I'm guilty" at this point). We are now answering emails on our smart phones before the work day begins (guilty), we are offering virtual office hours (guilty), we are responding through social media channels (guilty), we are always "on" for our students (guilty). As it is, I'm responding to an IM from a student while trying to eat lunch. This is common for most of us now that our technology can allow us to stay linked to our work every where we go. This is great for students and accessibility. That is why many of us do it--to help the students. However, some professors are noting a near-constant stream of work. As Reeves (2003) noted this can lead to the professor always connected, always available, and increasingly exhausted. As Young (2002) asked, "Is technology turning college teaching into a 24-hour job?"

So, while I sit with slightly less emerald, but none-the-less still green eyes longing for more technological connectedness and opportunities, I also reflect and wonder if the transition to a new technological product will facilitate the increasingly blurry lines between "work" time and "non-work" time.

As I weigh my options and face my tech envy, I want to consider all sides of a new technological purchase. Until then, I'll answer my instant messages while I finish the last of my salad and try to grab my blackberry as the tiny "ding" lets me know that there's more work to do...

Reeves, T. C. (2003). Storm clouds on the digital education horizon. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 15(1), 3-26.
Young, J. R. (2002). The 24-hour professor.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 48(38), A31-A33.