Friday, December 18, 2009

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation (Pre-Christmas Vacation Post)

Late last night, I searched through various tweets on my twitter feed and I discovered that the blog was selected as one of the "Top 16 Professor Blogs" by Academe Here's the link -

This is quite exciting, because I needed an extra "pick me up"! The past few days, I have spent my time searching for grants and fellowships to help others and to add to my tenure packet. I found a couple of grants for which I am very excited about, but the budget planning and research process for each grant is very time consuming. On Wednesday, I had a very productive meeting with two people who seem to be very interested in the grant.

I hope it pays off in the long run! I plan to have a grant for each year of the tenure process (7 years) AND to help the surrounding community! :) Wish me luck!

Millennial Professor

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Our College Graduates and Student Loans

This semester is finally winding down. THANK GOODNESS! Yesterday, I wrote an article for the college newsletter that focuses on the "After the Degree, Now What?" conference. This was a very interesting way to reflect on last month's successful event. However, today I received a message on my RSS feed titled, "College Graduates Struggle to Repay Loans".

Many college students do not focus on their student loans until their last month of school. This is when students are required by the federal government to participate in online exit counseling. At this time in most students' lives (including my own), they are not focused on ANYTHING but their final exams and the graduation ceremony.

I think more students should know about the pros and cons of consolidating their student loans. In addition, it seems that many students do not know that they have the option to defer student loans if they choose to go back to school. Last, but certainly not least, if students experience a financial hardship or unemployment, they should know about the option to ask their loan company for a deferment.

My goal is to pay off my student loans in the next four years (before I go up for tenure). My family uses coupons, but I will definitely have to find more ways to save money repay our student loans!

Have a great day!

J. Edwards (Millennial Professor)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Seven Suggestions for Online Professors Who Would Like to Improve Their Online Courses

I plan to modify my entire online speech course during the Winter holidays! Unfortunately, it seems that students enrolled in online courses are more likely to drop out of their course than students taking face-to-face courses (Marry, 2009). During the next few years, I would like to discover what keeps the students enrolled in online courses and what causes them to drop out.

Recently, I discovered an article by Bob Kelly (of Faculty Focus) titled "Seven Ways to Personalize Your Online Course". As the title indicates, the article offers other professors some interesting ways to personalize their courses, which may have an impact on student learning.

The author exerpts information gathered from Jane Dwyer's (a senior lecturer at Rivier College) article titled "Tips From The Pros - 7 Things to Personalize Your Online Course".

Here are the tips:
  • Sending the students an introductory letter.
  • Welcome the students to the course with a video clip.
  • Ask the students some "introductory questions" in discussion boards.
  • Create and sustain a "pet gallery", in which students can submit pictures of their pets instead of themselves.
  • Create a "bully session" which enables students to contribute likes and improvement suggestions about the course.
  • Create an environment of shared leadership, in which students will create and facilitate their own discussion questions.
  • Respond to student questions by creating and sustaining a "question forum". This enables all students to see the professor's answers to one student's question.
I am very interested to see if these techniques have an impact on student learning AND if other professors utilize the same pedagogical techniques in their online courses.

Have a great week!

J. Edwards (Millennial Professor)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Technology in the Classroom: Video Clips and Their Potential Impact on Student Thinking

This is a great example of professors using technology in their classrooms. Dr. Michael Mackert, Assistant Professor in the Department of Advertising at The University of Texas at Austin, required his students to submit video links pertaining to health. He made the assignment very broad because he wanted to gauge the students' interpretation of "health on TV".

One of the students submitted the following video which is based on one person's negative experience with a flu shot.

But wait! She IS getting better! One of the professor's teaching assistants found an update video. Here's the interesting aspect, she stated that people have actually hacked into some of her social networking accounts. This prompted her to use another website to post updates on her illness.

The interesting aspect of this classroom assignment is that the students were able to see the "before" and the "current status" of the woman in the two clips. However, if the students were not exposed to the second video, many of them would make an assumption that the woman is not making any progress. Not only do we have to encourage students to dig deeper with news articles, but we need to encourage them to search for updates regarding youtube videos and other new media.

It would be INTERESTING to see if students would be less likely to obtain a get a flu shot after viewing the first video and then seeing if their thoughts change after seeing the second video. However, the changes of IRB board approval would be highly unlikely (at almost any institution). :)

What do you think?

J. Edwards (Millennial Professor)

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Social Networking Could Help Community College Students"

My colleague Lora and I are VERY interested in the impact of Twitter and social networking websites on the learning process. As a result, we are collecting ANY article pertaining to the subject. BTW - We have a practitioner-based article (regarding Twitter) that will be published very soon.

USA Today published an article titled, "Social Networking Could Help Community College Students", which focuses on the extended classroom. I wonder what impact will social networking websites have on the university and high school environments?

If you have any scholarly article suggestions pertaining to social networking websites and their impact on student learning, PLEASE let me (us) know!

Have a great day!

J. Edwards (Millennial Professor)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Award/Grant Opportunity: "Second Annual McGraw-Hill and Magna Publications Award for Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning"

Hello Readers!

If you are as excited about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) as I am, please submit one or more of your articles for the "Second Annual McGraw-Hill and Magna Publications Award for Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning".

Here is some more information:

"[The Teaching Professor website is] pleased to announce the Second Annual McGraw-Hill and Magna Publications Award for Scholarly Work on Teaching and Learning. You’ll find all the details on The Teaching Professor website (, including how to submit pieces (your work and that of others), the selection criteria, and the review process. In case you’ve forgotten, a $1,000 award goes to the author or is shared by authors of the winning article, which will be announced at the 2010 Teaching Professor Conference.

Good luck!

J. Edwards (Millennial Professor)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Technology in Action" - Tweeting During a Conference Session

Today, I discovered that "technology was in action" at the National Communication Association Conference in Chicago, IL. There is a VIDEO, an ARTICLE, and a picture from our session on data gathering using new technologies.

Here's our interview after the session:

Here's our Twit Pic during the session:
Here is the article from the session - "How to Collect Data in the 21st Century?"

Quite interesting! People were sending tweets during a conference session and other people came to the session because of the tweets they received! 

J. Edwards (Millennial Professor)

Monday, November 16, 2009

National Communication Association Annual Convention - Nov. 11th - 15th (My Sessions)

I am EXHAUSTED! I attended the National Communication Association Annual Convention in Chicago, IL and presented FOUR sessions! Here are the titles of my presentations:

Service Learning Discussion Circles Turns 10: Celebrate Service-Learning in Communication
Building: Hilton Chicago, Room: International Ballroom North
*Selected Person: Jennifer Edwards
Presenter on Individual Submission: Peer-to-Peer Mentoring in an Interpersonal Communication Classroom

G.I.F.T.S. Session I (Great Ideas for Teaching Speech)
Building: Hilton Chicago, Room: International Ballroom North
*Selected Person: Jennifer Edwards
Presenter on Individual Submission: Does YOUR Group Have the Most Persuasive Business Plan?

The Pros and Cons of Using New Media in Communication Research
Building: Hilton Chicago, Room: Continental Ballroom A
*Selected Person: Jennifer Edwards
Presenter in session submission: The Pros and Cons of Using New Media in Communication Research

The Role of Training and Development in Improving Organizational Stability while Nurturing Change
Building: Palmer House Hilton, Room: Salon 10
*Selected Person: Jennifer Edwards
Presenter on Individual Submission: The Effectiveness of a Digital Dirt Training Workshop on Millennial Individuals.

Yes, it was a LONG, yet fulfilling conference! PLUS - I had a GREAT hotel room. Complete with a television in the bathroom mirror (take a look at the pictures below)! However, I got a GREAT deal for the hotel and it was within walking distance of the conference hotel.

Lora, one of my colleagues from Southern University New Orleans, accompanied me to the dinner at Merlot on Maple (a really nice Italian restaurant). I LOVED the appetizer, main course, AND dessert! We had a GREAT conversation with a larger group of wonderful communication scholars and we gained some interesting insight into the world of publishing. We discovered that we DO NOT want to write a textbook. It seems that it is very time consuming AND does not count as much as journal articles (in the eyes of academic departments). Therefore, we are going to focus on journal articles and book chapters.

I am glad that NCA is finally over because I finally have a chance to focus on grading and research. Tomorrow (after offering informal critiques to my students), I will search for CFPs focused on my research interests. I need to find a business communication journal for the millennial digital dirt article.
Back to the real world. I have lots of great research that I would like to explore, but tonight I am going to pay some bills and catch up on housework. Wish me luck!

J. Edwards (Millennial Professor)

Monday, November 9, 2009

"10 Ways Colleges Can Work With Their Communities"

Today, I finally had a chance to sort through my pile of articles from Chronicle of Higher Education. One article I saved is titled, "10 Ways Colleges Can Work With Their Communities" (Sarkisian & Taylor, 2009, p. A28). This article focuses on how higher education institutions can build a relationship with their surrounding communities through service learning initiatives. Here is the list from the article:
  1. Form partnerships with local non-profit organizations that share its institutional mission and vision.
  2. Offer campus spaces for community use.
  3. Adopt a public-school district.
  4. Adopt a local nonprofit or citizen-action organization.
  5. Offer scholarships to local students.
  6. Establish a faculty-speakers bureau.
  7. Encourage professors to make mutual beneficial service-learning assignments.
  8. Work with local officials to create a "Day of Service".
  9. Become a certifying organization for the President's Volunteer Service Award.
  10. Document community-service activities conducted by members of your campus community.
Every faculty and staff member should consider adopting these relationship-building initiatives with their surrounding communities. EVERYONE can do something! Form a partnership with a colleague or start something on your own, but MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

J. Edwards (Millennial Professor)


Sarkisian, G. V. & Taylor, S. (2009, September 11). 10 ways colleges can work with their communities. The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. A28.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The After the Degree, Now What?" Conference - Our Fall 2009 Service-Learning Event

I am so proud of my students! Recently, my wonderful students sponsored a service learning event titled, The "After the Degree, Now What?" Conference. The idea for this conference was conceived last summer when I read a wealth of articles pertaining to the amount of Texans with four-year degrees that were facing layoffs. In addition, since I teach undergraduate students, I was very concerned with our students gaining employment (that they are passionate about) after graduating from our university in next few months. Then, I contacted another professor in the Communication Department and the Career Services Department and the idea became an actual event. 

We wanted our COMS 101 students to present the sessions, because the students would provide a service for the community and learn more about public speaking at the same time. My Interpersonal Communication class and her Small Group Communication class planned the ENTIRE CONFERENCE!

These wonderful students developed the title, added items to the backwards plan, and worked the entire conference. In addition, our beginning public speaking class (COMS 101) presented most of the sessions. The only session that they did not present was the "Panel Discussion of Professionals", which featured panelists from the graduate school, career services department, small business development center, financial management division, and the Texas Workforce Commission.

Here is a list of our sessions -

We used Google Docs to collaborate amongst ourselves and this proved to be a wonderful resource! As a result of our hard work, over 90 students attended the sessions and over 95 students presented the sessions. These students represented each of the five colleges on campus and over 20 different majors.

This was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I had the pleasure of working with the students who I teach in class every week. The students had the chance to know me outside of the classroom and I had the chance to see their true personalities. The students took ownership over the conference and made it their own. More importantly, I am very excited to offer a class project that will help the students develop their resume with service learning and job-related experiences.

I cannot wait until next year!

Dr. J. Edwards

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Welcome Back! Millennial Professor is Back for the FA 09 Semester!

Hello Everyone!

I admit, I have been hiding under a rock for the past couple of months. This past spring, I received a faculty research grant that funded my research during the Summer II semester. Thankfully, I was VERY productive this summer. Not only did I gather research from African American college students, but I also co-authored two publications with a colleague at Southern University at New Orleans. I hope and pray that our publications will be chosen for publication in the next few months.

Aside from publishing, we had some wonderful travel plans this summer. During our adventures, I sent tweets from my twitter account. Twitter has been a wonderful application for my classroom and personal/professional life. Every tweet that I send is automatically published on facebook. Therefore, I don't have to post two posts related to what I am doing at a particular moment. I am THANKFUL for twitter!

Have a wonderful week! I am back from a small summer hiatus. Look forward to some more meaningful posts! Also, find me on twitter - drjtedwards!


Millennial Professor

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

PowerPoint + Classroom = Student Boredom?

This morning, a colleague sent me an article titled, "When Computers Leave the Classroom, So Does Boredom". This article made me think about my own approach to teaching the content to students in the classroom. I use PowerPoint, but I also make the lecture interactive by using the following:

a. Discussion Prompts on the PowerPoint
b. Interactive Surveys (students select an answer by raising their hands)
c. Using Youtube videos

I am married to a high school teacher and we commonly have discussions about students' learning styles (kinestic, auditory, visual, reading/writing). The article listed above begs me to question, "What happens when most of the students in the classroom do not have an auditory learning style (which the article primarily advocates)?"

What do you think?

Millennial Professor

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Economy and Our Undergraduate Students

As an undergraduate, my sorority sisters and I spent most of our meager salaries on restaurant meals, shopping, road trips, movies, and weekend "entertainment". I know that this is the budget for most active undergraduates. However, I know that current undergraduates might not be able to live such a "lavish, fun-filled" lifestyle in this economy.

Some of the undergraduates in my classes went on road trips to South Padre Island for Spring Break. However, most of the undergraduates went to their hometown to make money at their old part-time jobs. When I was in college, it was an anomaly to hear that one of our classmates went home during spring break to work.

In addition to working during spring break, my undergraduates' persuasive speech topics have changed as well. I give them a choice of the following topics: (a) to persuade my audience to perform an act of service, (b) to persuade my audience to purchase a particular product, (c) to persuade my audience to adopt a money saving strategy. Consistently, the undergraduates usually choose option "a" or "c". Through topic "c", they advocate using coupons, living off campus, cooking meals at home, etc.

This frugal lifestyle for undergraduates also expands to include new graduates. An article in USA Today, "Recession generation? Young adults brace for simpler lifestyle" focuses on how recent graduates are coping with the new economy.

What are your opinions of our newly frugal undergraduates?
Chat Y! messenger: drjtedwards Skype: drjtedwards
Contact Me LinkedinTwitter

Monday, July 6, 2009

Academic Travel on a Frugal Budget: Know Your Surroundings BEFORE You Leave Home!

Last December, I discovered that Google Maps provided EVERYONE on the internet with a picture of my house (thank God the leaves were raked)! This was something that I had to adjust to, but I see Google Maps as a definite blessing now. For instance, if I have an upcoming conference, I log on to Google Maps to see the area outside of the hotels and the adjacent eating establishments.

This helps me create a travel budget and to make a list of potential locations I would like to visit on my trip. When I visited Norfolk, VA for the Southern States Communication Conference, I discovered that there was a Schlotzsky's restaurant across the street. This restaurant provided me with a very cost effective option for lunch and dinner.

In addition to the street view feature of Google Maps, this website is also adding a college campus "sidewalk view" feature. This is exciting for my husband and I, because we visit the college campus library of each city we visit in Texas and Louisiana. Google gathers this "sidewalk view" information from cameras on bicycles powered by Google representatives.

Has Google visited the sidewalks of your campus?

Chat Y! messenger: drjtedwards Skype: drjtedwards
Contact Me LinkedinTwitter

Friday, July 3, 2009

Academic Travel on a Frugal Budget: Finding the Cheapest Airline Ticket

Searching for the cheapest airline ticket for academic conferences can be a daunting task sometimes, but I strive to pay the least amount for my air travel. Here is a personal guide that I follow when purchasing an airline ticket.

a) Find the HUB - Try to find the hub for the major airlines in your area. For example, when I lived in the Houston area, I flew Continental Airlines. Houston International Airport is one of the many hubs for Continental Airlines. Therefore, their airline tickets will usually be less expensive than other airlines that fly from that hub. Since I live in the DFW area, the Southwest Airlines and American Airlines tickets are usually cheaper than the tickets from other airlines. However, this has not been the case for the past few months.

b) Arrive or Depart on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday - Usually, these days are the cheapest arrival or departure dates for airline tickets.

c) Make Monday - Wednesday Your Purchase Dates - It seems the airline rates tend to increase after Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I will usually check a particular route that I am interested in after I receive the weekly special from Continental Airlines and American Airlines on Monday afternoons. Monday is usually their "reset" date for airfares.

d) Compare Your Rates With Other Airlines - I will usually submit my route to (formerly This website compares the rates from This website will usually tell you the rates from AirTran, American Airlines, etc. For example, I used this website to search for a fare from DFW to IAH (Thu, Jul 23 - Thu, Jul 30|1 adult) and here are the results:

AirTran - $547

American - $118
Continental - $116

Delta - $547

Frontier - $487
US Airways - $497
United - $497

In addition, this website enables you to see if the rates are projected to increase or decrease in the future. However, I used this feature last summer to find the cheapest rates to San Diego and the website told me the rates were projected to decrease. The rates were already inexpensive ($250 or less), but I wondered if the rate would decrease. The next day, the rate increased to $325. Since that point, I decided to use the website for comparison purposes only.

e) Continue to Monitor the Airfare Rates - Most websites suggest that people purchase their airline tickets around 90 days before the travel date. However, continue to monitor the websites for sharp decreases before the 90 day period. For example, I purchased a ticket for the National Communication Association Conference in Chicago, IL for slightly less than $200.00 (I monitored this rate since April 2009).

I hope to offer more tips as I purchase additional tickets for the fall/spring semester. If you have any additional tips, please let me know! Contribute a comment!

Chat Y! messenger: drjtedwards Skype: drjtedwards
Contact Me LinkedinTwitter

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Academic Travel on a Frugal Budget: Finding the Cheapest Airline Ticket

Academic Travel on a Budget... (Post One of Many)

Before I consider attending a conference, I will usually ask myself the following questions:

a) Is this conference important to my academic career (i.e. - Is this conference a communication, higher education, or service learning conference)?

b) Will I be able to present a paper, presentation, or interactive session at the conference? This is important for my career, because I improve my CV everytime I present a paper at an academic conference.

c) Where is the conference located? If the conference is in Texas AND is at least five hours away, I will usually send a proposal submission. If the conference requires airline travel, I will check the rates on my preferred airline (Continental Airlines). Then, I compare other airlines' rates with the Continental Airlines rate. Usually, the Continental rate will be cheaper than American Airlines and Southwest. (*However, American Airlines was cheaper for my November conference.)

d) How much is the hotel rate? This is VERY important for me, because I will usually work on several papers in my hotel room and I need some peace and quiet (not a roommate).

What do YOU usually ask yourself when considering an academic conference?

Next post...Finding the Cheapest Airline Ticket

Millennial Professor

Monday, June 29, 2009

Academic Travel on a Budget - Post 1/5


I usually travel to at least three academic conferences per year and the inpending state of this year's economy has pushed me to be very frugal when traveling. During the next few posts, I will provide you with tips on traveling frugally. The topic will range from booking the flight to hotel dining. Please check back every few days for a new tip.
Chat Y! messenger: drjtedwards Skype: drjtedwards
Contact Me LinkedinTwitter

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Adopt THIS Technology: The Perils of Twitter (An Opinion)

I love twitter as much as the next professor. However, I am quite skeptical about providing specific real time updates for my readers. I caution my students and friends against posting tweets like, "Going to Mom's this Weekend" and "Going to Spring Break in South Padre".

Two weeks ago, I read an article in the Houston Chronicle (from an undisclosed location by the Houston area :) ) titled, "Do 'I'm on Vacation' Posts Pose Security Concerns?". I was alarmed by the fact that someone's house was bulgarized because of the real time tweets that someone posted from their vacation spot in Kansas City. Here is a small exert from the article:

Like a lot of people who use social media, Isreal Hyman and his wife, Noell, shared real-time details of a recent trip on Twitter. Their posts said they were "preparing to head out of town," that they had "another 10 hours of driving ahead," and that they "made it to Kansas City." While they were on the road, their home in Mesa, Ariz., was burgularized.

Hyman had over 2,000 followers on twitter and "he thinks his updates tipped the burglars off" (Allen, 2009, G9). As a result, I am quite skeptical of posting any twitter updates (tweets) pertaining to my current location. In addition, any tweets that I post to twitter automatically go to my facebook account as updates for my 450+ friends on that website. I have met about 90% of my friends on facebook in person, but not on twitter.

The day before this article was published, I decided to protect my twitter updates and my "follow list". As a result, I have to give permission to my students to have them follow my twitter updates and they have to give me permission to follow their updates.

I continue to use the twitter assignment that I posted last month and it seems that more students are interested in this new type of social media. I cannot wait to see what the next new social media application will be in 2010. To maintain a strong awareness of social media, I follow Jane Hart from The Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies (C4LPT) on twitter and I read her daily RSS feed -Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day.
In addition, I add her website suggestions to my account -

If YOU have any technology suggestions, PLEASE let me know. I love technology and I try to remain at the forefront of social media adoption.

Have a great weekend!
Chat Y! messenger: drjtedwards Skype: drjtedwards
Contact Me LinkedinTwitter

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Teaching Online: Pros and Cons (Chronicle of Higher Education)

As many of you know, I teach "COMS 101 - Fundamentals of Speech Communication" in an online format. There are many pros and cons of teaching a college course in an online format. Recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education published two articles in their commentary section titled "Teaching Online: 2 Perspectives".

The first article, "A Reaffirmation of Why I Became an Educator", focused on the benefits of teaching online and the second article, "I'll Never Do It Again", focused on the negative aspects of teaching online. These articles can be accessed by clicking the links above.

What do YOU think about teaching a college course online?


Chat Y! messenger: drjtedwards Skype: drjtedwards
Contact Me LinkedinTwitter

Friday, June 19, 2009

Are For-Profit Institutions Better for Our Students?

A colleague sent this article to me via e-mail yesterday - "Who Graduates At-Risk Students".
My Opinion - The fact that for-profit career colleges have more college graduates than public/private community colleges and universities makes sense. Many for-profit career colleges focus on the technical skills of their students (i.e. - welding, graphic design, etc.) for one to two years. Other colleges require the students to complete core requirements and advanced requirements for their degrees. In addition, public/private community colleges and universities require their students to attend school for a longer amount of time than their for-profit counterparts.
Also, the for-profit institutions provide courses that fit the students' busy schedules. For example, one for-profit institution offers courses from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. These institutions also use unconventional advertising methods (i.e. - commercials during soap operas and late night television, sponsoring a radio spot, etc.).
What do you think?
Chat Y! messenger: drjtedwards Skype: drjtedwards
Contact Me LinkedinTwitter

Monday, June 8, 2009

Adopt THIS Technology: The Narrated Syllabus

Last night, I had an epiphany...I should create a narrated syllabus on Slide Share. I heard about Slide Share a few years ago, but a presenter from the last Southern States Communication Conference spoke about the Slide Cast function on Slide Share. I thought that this feature would be incredible, because my institution would not allow me to download Adobe Captivate on my laptop (which is my main computer).

I love the Slide Cast feature! I hope that the students like the feature too! This morning, I embedded the slide cast in a blackboard e-mail for the students.

Please let me know what you think! Ask me any questions!

Chat Y! messenger: drjtedwards Skype: drjtedwards
Contact Me LinkedinTwitter