I am a millennial (born between 1978 and 1995) and I have functioned as a faculty member/student affairs practitioner for over 10 years. This blog AND my current research (communication) focuses on: social media in higher education, work-life balance of millennials, and mobile technologies. My administrative research focuses on student success, academic advising, diversity, international students/study abroad, and disability education.
Today is the first day of "Reflection Week" at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX (my alma mater). After reading the campus newspaper, The Pine Log, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to highlight Reflection Week on my blog.
Here is the overview:
This merger between student affairs and academic affairs at Stephen F. Austin State University is an ingenious effort to reach students from both sides of the spectrum. This week enables students to reflect on concepts they learned this year and how these concepts helped them become better individuals.
Monday, April 26th - WELLNESS: Students have an opportunity to win various prizes by responding with correct answers to wellness questions. This day will also feature an all-day open house in the recreation center. Tuesday, April 27th - LEADERSHIP: There will be a make-your-own "Wax Axe" table, a journaling wall, video blogging opportunities and prizes.
In the evening, Jack Sacco, author of "Where the Birds Never Sing," will speak about his father's experiences from boot camp to the invasion of Normandy and liberation of a Nazi concentration camp in World War II.
Wednesday, April 28th - SERVICE: A photo wall will be set up in the Spirit Lounge for students to reflect on the impact of their community service over the last year. There will also be video blogging and prizes.
Thursday, April 28th - DIVERSITY: Students can find out how their culture influences the way they see the world with an interactive exercise. The event is sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Student Life, NAACP at SFA, Lumberjack Cultural Association, and the Organization of Latin Americans. Video blogging and prizes will be available Thursday as well.
At 7:30 p.m., The College of Liberal Arts and the Archie McDonald Speaker Series will host "An Evening with George Foreman" in the Grand Ballroom.
Friday, April 29th - SCHOLARSHIP AND GRATITUDE: A Reflection Lunch, free to students, is "the highlight of the week," according to Dr. Adam Peck, dean of student affairs. It will take place from noon to 1 p.m. on the patio of the BPSC. Students and Dr. Michael Tkacik, director of the School of Honors, will speak on the subject of scholarship.
I think this is a GREAT week-long program that will really make a differences in the lives of students, faculty, and staff at SFASU. Go Jacks! I hope the coordinator of the program uploads the videos on youtube!
Our students work hard on their class assignments and most of the time, these assignments are diverted to File 13 (the trash or a forgotten folder) after the class ends. However, in the higher education environment, we are encouraging students to present or publish their undergraduate research. This provides students and faculty to showcase concepts learned in the classroom and how the student(s) was/were able to gain new knowledge within a semester's time frame.
In addition, to the higher education environment, some high school teachers encourage their students to create and maintain wikis. These wikis enable high school students to have a record of their educational development. As a result of their students' efforts, faculty and K-12 educators might want to encourage their students to copyright their materials through the website Creative Commons.
As most of my readers know, I LOVE twitter! I love integrating the website in my classroom, communicating with former students/colleagues, and gaining new information and I interact with faculty/staff from other universities. However, I always look for new and innovative ways to increase student engagement through this particular communication media.
I admit, the life of a millennial professor never ends. On Sunday, I arrived back from the Southern States Communication Conference (held in Memphis, TN) at 10:00 a.m. The night before leaving Memphis, I typed and submitted minutes from a conference committee and then I created a sample template for the call for proposals (2011) for a committee and I sent this document via e-mail to the appropriate people.
So, this leads me to Sunday - which I spent taking allergy meds for eight hours and then I spent four hours grading speech outlines via blackboard for a COMS 101 course.
Sunday was finished and Monday morning arrives. Now, take into account - I took so much allergy medicine on Sunday that I was VERY tired and groggy on Monday morning. So, I drove 45 minutes to the university and had a cup to tea to dilute the meds. Thank goodness for tea and the 9 am class because both of these provided a GREAT start to a very long day! After spending the night grading speech outlines I noticed the need for students to find additional research for their topic. This additional research is best accomplished in a computer lab, which is conducive for college student research synergy! It is AMAZING what happens when you place 25+ students in a computer lab (all working on the library's databases). I was able to reserve the library for Monday morning (thank God) and the students were able to obtain their research.
The upper level class is working on their scholarly research papers (that will be submitted for publication) and this class met in the computer lab as well. They are using GOOGLE DOCUMENTS to write their papers and to analyze their data. This has been a great process, but I will write about this in ANOTHER blog entry (and a scholarly paper).
So, after my 1pm class and three cups of coffee AND tea, I was exhausted. When I arrived home around 5pm, I had a bite to eat and took a quick nap. The husband arrived home and I had this GREAT idea to mow the front and back lawn AND to put our raised bed kits together. So, we accomplished all of this, and here is the result....
The MERLOT ELIXR is a digital case study repository for the education environment. One of the digital case studies in this repository is focused on "Teaching Strategies for Engaging Learners". This case study (by San Francisco State University) focuses on the following topics:
engage students in abstract concepts
engage students with simulation
engage students through play
engage students through assignments
engage students through productions
I examined most of the content in this case study and it is VERY RICH (and it includes videos)! The content is very applicable for the higher education faculty (and some K-12 educators). I wonder how many people access this content and how it impacted their interaction with students in the classroom.
My experience as faculty has been a very rewarding, yet stressful experience. As a student affairs practitioner, we are encouraged to care for each and every student we communicate with on a daily basis. This is an easy process, because we usually communicated with a few select students on a daily basis.
However, as faculty we communicate with many students three times or more per week. We become an integrated part of each students' daily lives, we learn about their celebrations, their heartaches, and we observe their learning experiences.
As faculty, I try to learn each of my students' names, their hometowns, at least five facts about their lives, and their future career plans. This week, I encountered a student that I taught a few years ago at an campus international festival. I addressed her by name and we had a great conversation. I could tell that she was very surprised that I remembered her names and facts about her current life and future career.
As my career progresses, I hope to continue this strong level of interpersonal connectivity between faculty and students. This is a stressful process, but I hope that my students will remember my in-class and out-of-class efforts long after they graduate.
This is my experience as faculty, however some faculty give up on their students. Here is an article titled, "Do Faculty Give Up on Students?" and it focuses on how faculty can make a positive OR negative impact on their students. This impact seems to be directly influenced by a level of care that is exhibited by the faculty member.
The New Media Consortium (NMC), an international non-profit organization focused on the exploration and use of new media and technologies in learning-focused organizations recently held the NMC Symposium on New Media and Learning.
Nine of the session presenters uploaded their materials and resources on the NMC website. Here are a list of the categories that at least one of the nine topics address:
augmented reality in the classroom environment
educational gaming in higher education
digital storytelling (current and future)
multi-player online games and learning
twhistory - tweeting history in the classroom environment