After 25 years as a secondary school teacher of English and media, I moved to higher education and worked in several roles at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
While at NJIT, I worked first as the Manager of Instructional Technology. Besides working with many professors on courses and programs and moving learning online, there were several projects that focused my attention for long periods of time.
Like many universities, we used and experimented with learning management systems (LMS). NJIT had initiated this in 2000 when I arrived on campus by introducing WebCT for course management. I encouraged the use of open source software during my tenure and we piloted several open source LMS, and I began the transition to using Moodle as our open source learning management system at NJIT in 2005. The university moved all of its courses to Moodle in 2009
In 2006, I started NJIT podcasting and in 2007 we were asked to help launch Apple’s iTunes U. NJIT was one of the first group of 16 universities to be hosted in Apple’s iTunes store and offer free educational podcasts and materials.
I spent a year managing a K-20 collaborative initiative by NJIT to help introduce instructional technologies at Science Park High School, the school for gifted math and science students in Newark, NJ. I was “embedded” in the school and we brought Internet2 to the school, opened their wireless network, and set up a fabrication lab that was a makerspace before anyone used the term.
From 2008 through 2012, I was the Director of the Passaic County Community College’s five-year, $2.5 million grant awarded through the Department of Education’s Title V Program. This grant aimed at increasing achievement and program completion rates of Hispanic and other students by integrating critical thinking and writing skills into the college general education curriculum via the redesign of 30 courses as writing-intensive.
The Writing Initiative at PCCC created courses were supported by an intensive instructional development component that trained faculty in integrating critical thinking, technology and information literacy into writing.
The grant was also used to construct a new Writing Center (opened in January 2009) within the Learning Resource Center where college-level students in the Writing Intensive courses received writing instruction and one-on-one help. With the end of the grant in October 2012, the Writing Center transitioned into being the college-level center for writing in all courses, although it still has a focus on continuing the WI courses started during the grant Initiative.
The program received the 2012 Diana Hacker Award for outstanding program from the National Council of Teachers of English and the Two Year College Association.
After taking a year to help launch NCTE’s national social media strategy, I returned to NJIT as the senior designer for the Online Professional Learning Exchange (OPLE) grant. During 2014-2015, we worked with the NJ Dept. of Education and the New Jersey Principals & Supervisors Association to build online resources for training teachers, principals and supervisors in the state using professional learning communities. We participated in face-to-face professional development events to pilot, review, and refine the online resources, while conducting research into quality improvement and usability.
In 2016, I began working with the Montclair Film Festival. Though the title focuses on the annual New Jersey festival, their mission is to engage, entertain and educate through the power of visual storytelling. That last mission is my newest project. Teaching film and video production classes for young people and helping to build a year-round educational program.
During 2017, I worked on the redesign of General Education courses to use Open Education Resources (OER) at Passaic County Community College as part of the final phase of a Title V grant program. The goal is to provide students with no cost beyond tuition. For example, there are no textbooks to purchase for these course sections. By using Open Textbooks and OER and freely accessible course content, w hope to avoid “curriculum design by textbook” thinking. Faculty are also creating their own open resources and making them available on the OER Commons.