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 Writing Initiative that Passaic County Community College’s launched through a five-year, $2.5 million grant awarded by 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.
From 2012 through 2014, I worked for the National Council of Teachers of English to create a social media strategy for their organization, which has a large number of and local affiliates. This included creating multiple social media accounts in networks, setting up posting calendars, creating content and monitoring NCTE’s broad presence online. Perhaps most importantly, we needed to create policies for social media use and responses to crises.
In those two years, we used Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, held national Tweetchats, did video presentations, covered the many conferences and conventions that come from the groups, recruited social media ambassadors from the membership, created an NCTE blog and newsletters for some affiliate groups, and began the process of a website redesign.
The NCTE social media strategy project ended for me with my own recommendation that the role fulfilled virtually by myself, another virtual part-time staffer along with some hours each week by full-time NCTE staffers who had other responsibilities, should be done by a full-time social media manager based at NCTE’s national headquarters in Illinois.
After NCTE, I returned to NJIT as the senior designer for the Online Professional Learning Exchange (OPLE) one-year 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 transitioning into “unretirement” and started volunteer work with Montclair Film. Initially working on their annual film festival, the organization and my own participation has grown to include expanded activities including film and video production classes for young people and adults. Along with a 65-seat theater and educational area in a newly renovated building, they are now a year-round 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, OER resources and freely accessible course content, we designed to avoid “curriculum design by textbook” thinking. Faculty also created their own open resources and made them available on the OER Commons. More than 30 faculty were able to develop more than 40 distinct OER courses – and the project continues beyond my participation. View a 2018 presentation on this project
Starting in August 2018, I will spend the next year as a Virtual Instructional Designer for the County College of Morris (NJ) to help build the online courses that will launch their Virtual College in Fall 2019.
Though the college has offered online courses for many years, they are now moving to offer certificates and full degrees online to the county and beyond.
Working collaboratively with faculty, we will design courses that adhere to the Federal Regulation definition, be ADA and Section 508 accessible, and meet Quality Matters standards. The college is following the principles of Universal Design of Learning (UDL).