Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Over the break...

"Over the break..." what famous last words for a faculty member. No matter how realistic I think I am, I seem to fall into the trap of thinking that I will accomplish massive amounts of previously unconquerable work during a break -- no matter how short that break is.

With a dual appointment, it is even more challenging to consider what I can or cannot accomplish in the breaks (few and far between in a 12-month appointment). For some reason, I think I will re-design an entire course or review multiple texts and prep for new courses. Or, the biggest break from reality, write an entire grant.

I often start back bemoaning my far-reaching goals and wondering "what was I thinking?" when looking at that massive to-do list.

We truly do need actual non-working down time. It is challenging to get that mental release when we feel behind at work and then like quasi-failures during vacations from work when we don't accomplish everything we've promised ourselves we would.

It is almost a set-up-to-fail cycle and I hear many of my colleagues doing the same thing, semester after semester, break after break.

Will this be the time I break through this cycle?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Call for papers: International Society for Educational Biography 2014

Explore this conference! Great for first-time presenters, those in education or related fields examining qualitative research, narratives pedagogy, phenomenology, ethnography, auto-ethnography, and other related concepts. In April 2014, this conference will be held in beautiful Toronto!

Learn more:

See the call here:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Faculty life and "hidden" work

Forbes just released this article about "hidden work" within our faculty life -- a familiar concept as this blog has often shared the hours of at-home work, the lost pockets of time in meetings, and the often unseen elements of this career. Thank you, Forbes! This career can be one where those hidden work hours become stifling and our stress levels can really spike just when someone outside academia mentions how our schedules "must be nice" - it seems to happen most often in summer or on a "break" from teaching.

Is it just me, or do we often find ourselves working into the wee hours sneaking time to grade around other, non-work events, logging into the email to answer students questions when we sit in meetings. How often do we find that the work we have to accomplish is done on a laptop as we try not to fall asleep in bed? Surely, I am not the only faculty member attempting to milk more out of our 24 hours each day than is humanly possible.

Explore the Forbes article and consider your hidden work...and any strategies you have implemented to protect the way the work creeps into our lives.

Consider also:
Professional Development - On A Budget!, Summer 2012
Tenure, Retention, Binders, and Budgets - Oh My!, Summer 2011
Make the Most of Your Summer, Summer 2013
The Stages of Spring Break, April 2011
Service: Who Participates?, March 2010

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Conference for research on social media (Call)

The Texas Social Media Research Institute is accepting papers, panels, and training session/workshop ideas for its 3rd Annual Social Media Conference on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013.  Deadline for proposals is June 30.

NEW CONFERENCE LOCATION - Join us at the Tarleton SW Metroplex campus in Fort Worth this year. We expect about 250 attendees.

To discover more information about the 2013 Social Media Conference, please visit

This conference consists of a few tracks: a SOCIAL MEDIA RESEARCH, SMALL BUSINESS, NON-PROFIT, K-12, HIGHER EDUCATION, and TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT tracks. The conference planning committee is actively seeking papers, panels, and training workshops focused on, but not limited to the following topics:

- Mobile applications, interactions and technologies
- Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest, Instagram (How to Use the Technologies)
- Social Media in Business (Ideas for Entrepreneurs and Large Organizations)
- Social Media in Education
- Social Media in the Non-Profit Sector
- Social Media in Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication
- Practical Solutions for Social Media Problems
- Benefits and Disadvantages of Social Media in K-12 and Higher Education
- Social Media and Generational Communication
- Social Media and Information Sciences/Library Sciences
- Social Media and Mobile Applications and Devices

Additional Information
Possible forms of submission include: panels (including roundtables and discussions), papers/abstracts, and training workshops. Complete the conference submission form ( AND e-mail papers/panels to TSMRI ( no later than JUNE 30TH.

Participants will have an opportunity to publish their papers in the conference proceedings book, which will be published on the Texas Social Media Research Institute's website. The top paper will be considered for publication in TSMRI's peer-reviewed publication, The Journal of Social Media in Society.

If you have any questions, please contact the Texas Social Media Research Institute via e-mail ( or telephone (254-307-8211).

Feel free to forward to your colleagues and graduate students.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Free webinar! Student Success and digital changes on campus.

Communication on our campuses has changed a lot over the past decade--the Chronicle of Higher Education shared this opportunity to explore what the University of Oklahoma is doing to boost digital tools to foster student success. 


FREE webinar on Thursday, June 27 at 11 a.m. Pacific (2 p.m. EST) to explore the ways the University of Oklahoma implements "24/7 business automation tools to deliver superior student services faster and cheaper-and the totally unexpected quality of education delivery and morale benefits they experienced as a result."

This webinar is not hosted by the tech folks on campus, but by an educator and an administrator. 

To register, click here!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Make the most of your summer

Summer has me focusing on productivity. How can I get through the task lists that build up during traditional semesters? How can I find the energy for summer classes and new fall preps?

Whether you have a nine-month appointment without summer classes, enjoy a nine-month appointment with summer classes, or have a 12-month appointment with administrative duties, you can maximize your summer efforts. Here are a few tips that work for me.

  • Change your work space. Spend a few hours a week at a coffee shop, library area, home office, or empty conference room. A change in the walls (or fresh air) around you can stimulate your mind and rejuvenate you after a long semester. Or, simply close your door--a small, seemingly simple feat that took me a long time to accept, as you can read in "Closing the door--Prioritizing Research" post from last summer. 
  • Compile your notes. You've probably got scattered sticky notes, e-mails to yourself, half accomplished task lists, and various research ideas thrown around your work areas. Take a morning (or evening) to compile all of those amazing ideas and start to make a plan of attack to accomplish them. Do this regularly to stay on top of the ideas that can easily get "lost" in the chasms of our tumultuous semesters. 
  • Consider using a "power hour" method to tackle tasks that are looming large and that you might be dragging your feet over. Yes, professors can procrastinate, too. Try this technique to help conquer the biggies and move through tough projects. Read more about "power hours" in a post from a few years ago, "Research Power Hours."
  • Don't shudder, but one great technique is to put your phone away. I turn my phone on silent and shove it in my drawer for the first few hours of some high-output days. I have also heard of others using plug-ins and apps to block Internet access during productivity/writing times. I haven't gone to that degree, but if you are interested, LeechBlock for Firefox is one option.  
  • Watch out for "Mock Productivity" -- the time eaters that steal away any chance you have at tackling your to-do lists. 
  • Don't create such a massive task list that you dread facing it each time. Chunk items into projects, split up your tasks, and set realistic goals to avoid burnout or frustration. 
I also set a "summer goal" for my professional life. What item is my top priority, which is second, which is third? Those are the go-to areas for my time and, when August rolls back around, I can mark of the major areas and feel a sense of accomplishment. 

Share your tried-and-true practices to make the most of your summer.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Appreciating our educators: Save on Adobe.

From flyers to t-shirt logos, our office uses Adobe products to make our name stand out. Students can get really creative with Adobe options.

Check out this deal for educators and students.

Happy creating!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Android App: Any.Do

As regular readers know, I very much love to explore the latest, greatest productivity tools. This may simply be a way to organize research projects into a spreadsheet format or it might be a nice app. I've explored many, from Astrid to Toodledo. I really like the options that these task tools use to help us increase our productivity.

I've just started working with Any.DO. This is a neat little app from This is a free app available on many operating systems. I use Android and find it works beautifully. Once you've installed the app, you can sign in with Facebook or your Google account. You can import your Astrid tasks, or start fresh with Any.Do. Like Astrid and Toodledo, you can add a social component with your tasks. This can increase your motivation to complete an item and can allow others to collaborate with you. The easy way to move tasks and modify them (you can drag a task from today to tomorrow) is very user-friendly. I especially like drawing a line through a task or speaking my task directly into the app.

Check out this video overview:

If you like productivity apps like I do, consider reading other posts here on Communication and Higher Education, including:

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Student leadership

It is wonderful to see just how much our students can do! I was especially impressed the past few weeks as we have taken students to undergraduate leadership conferences. Students presented and did a GREAT job. Additionally, they learned about being responsible conference attendees and active participants.

First, we took students to the Southwester Black Student Leadership Conference. There, they learned about becoming more marketable, embracing leadership opportunities, and formed networks with students from many universities.

Following that trip, we took another group of students to the Diversity Leadership Conference at Sam Houston State University. The students submitted panels and were accepted as speakers. They learned a lot about facilitating discussion, leading a panel, and working with fellow presenters.

How can you engage your undergraduate students to embrace new leadership opportunities? It does not have to happen at far-off campuses. Work to get them involved, listen to their ideas, empower them to act, and see what they can deliver. It is key to offer specific and focused guidance throughout the process and have both pre- and post- trip meetings to help students prepare and process their journeys.

Consider which conferences or opportunities you could offer your students and then watch as they surpass your expectations!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Teaching, research, and administration: Multiple roles in higher education

You're deep into the edits for your latest research project. One that has sat for too long waiting on you. Finally, you are finding time to focus on it when your phone rings or your inbox dings or your administrative assistant comes in to remind you that a new meeting was unexpectedly set up for you today. There's that pull -- the tug of the faculty duties against the responsibilities of the administrative life.

So you've got more than one role? Welcome to higher education. We're measured on multiple areas of performance and juggling them can, sometimes, lead to stress.

How do you cope? 
Endless spreadsheets mapping your time? 
Multiple calendars? 
Protected times on those calendars for different tasks (until those above you control or modify that time)? 
16-hour working weekends
The death of your social life? 

While these are all likely options you have experienced in one form or another, consider how well they work for you.

The Chronicle of Higher Education noted last fall that today's faculty are stressed and feeling the impact of multiple roles as budgets shrink in their departments and their time. This stress can be increased when exploring the dreaded "split appointment" role that has many wondering about time management and where to place their efforts when facing tasks lists that never end.

Think about evaluations. How do you evaluate the faculty/administrator appointment? Check your specific institution's handbook and know the expectations of those around and above you. This can help you prioritize your work efforts. If research is now a lesser part of your expectations, then balance your time accordingly.

Consider your split. If you are 50% administrator and 50% faculty member, consider how your hours work during the week. Review the past month. If you are in meetings for your administrative role for 12 hours a week and only have 8 hours left to actually DO the work for the administration role, you might want to explore the split with your superiors and colleagues. What expectations do they have? Talk with your fellow faculty members and department chair. Try to negotiate limited new course preps in the first year of the new appointment.

Reflect. Explore your calendar, output, energy level, and the expectations of those around you regularly in your first year on the split appointment. This will help you understand where your time and energy should go and help you communicate your expectations to others. This also creates a nice circle of communication where you can get feedback about the goals of those in both your faculty and administrator role.

Work smarter, not harder. Link your publications and research to your duties as an administrator. This way, your research informs your daily practice.

Different types of faculty/administrator positions exist and they are often called different terms ("shared/split/joint/dual appointments"). The shared duties exist for extension agents, coaches, clinical roles, department chairs, and directors, for example. Here are a few readings to explore if you are considering (or currently navigating) the split appointment:

In the end, realize the multiple roles we have as faculty can often start to feel overwhelming. This is true whether those multiple roles are truly a "split" appointment or just the typical trio of research/teaching/service expectations we face. 

What strategies work for you? 

Consider also, exploring the earlier entry: Transition to the split appointment, September 2012

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