Grazing - a personal blog from Steve Ehrmann

Steve Ehrmann is an author, speaker, and consultant.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What should I do next?

I've finished my full-time work at Drexel and have shifted to adjunct status (teaching grad courses online).   My most recent article, "Taking the Long View: Ten Recommendations about Time, Money, Technology, and Learning," is getting a lot of attention; it was published in the September 2010 issue of Change Magazine and has already been reprinted in the January 2011 issue of Planning in Higher Education.  Here's a link to the penultimate draft of the Change version.

Now I'm taking a breath (no financial pressure to get right back to full-time work) and considering three main options for what I might do next:

  1. Return to being a program officer, something I did pretty well for almost 20 years with FIPSE and with Annenberg/CPB.  I like spotting great ideas, and nurturing them. You can advance lots more good ideas and people as a program officer than if you're doing just your own projects. I'm especially interested in strategies for major increases in the use of proven educational practices and innovations.  Gladwell's The Tipping Point is analogous to the kind of research-based approach to dissemination and adaptation that I'd like to seek out and support.
  2. Do just my own projects: research on dissemination and adaptation of academic innovations, building perhaps on my recent research on how faculty adopted open source software from iCampus; evaluation of grant-funded projects; evaluation consulting and training; continuing to teach perhaps one course at a time, online.  Continue to write about patterns that I see in innovations and problems across institutions.  Work with an association? Prof. at an institution?
  3. Get a position in a teaching center or faculty support unit on a campus. I'd like to help engage much larger numbers of faculty and promote incremental, continual improvements in teaching.   For example, I'm working on a set of ideas for teaching diverse classes in ways made possible, or made easier, with technology.  As my recent article describes, I'd also like to help focus institutional support for those degree programs that are unusually motivated to make well-documented, influential improvements in their learning outcomes. 
A fourth idea is also bubbling: developing an online certificate program for the academic professionals who work with faculty on the improvement of teaching (e.g., in IT, distance ed, libraries, and teaching centers). I've got a lot of ideas about what such a program might look like, but I'd to be part of a small team to develop it, and find the right kind of institutional or association sponsor the program.

Obviously, I can't do all these things. There are two other things I know that should help me figure things out:

  1. I want to be part of a team, and the character, wisdom, and good humor of those people matter to me more than almost anything else.
  2. I don't intend to move from Silver Spring, MD, but I like travel and am willing to spend lots of time on the road, either visiting places or, if my institution or association is distant from DC, staying in that city several nights a week.
So my friends, and friends of my friends, any pointers?

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