2018 Sabbatical

Sabbatical: Fall 2018

Overview

I was granted a one-term sabbatical for Fall 2018. Sabbatical did not work out as I had expected–largely due to my own decisions about professional service on campus–for several reasons.

  1. I knew that I would be serving my first term during my first years as Director of the Program for Undergraduate Research Experiences (PURE). I did not anticipate that this would create undo stress; PURE work did not create stress at all–rather, the joy from working on AES worked to balance the stress emerging from #2.
  2. I was elected to Faculty Senate President for 2018-19. I accepted the nomination, and eventually the position, even though I knew I had sabbatical. Serving took priority over sabbatical. The work was more taxing and required far more emotional labor than I anticipated. Given #3, I resigned in December 2018.
  3. My partner’s health changed, and I was spending significantly more time supporting him than I had previously.

In spite of these challenges, I have able to accomplish a significant amount of scholarship and testing related to my field and profession of Educational Technology.

Original plan: Digitize Oregon science fiction fanzines from the 1930s-1950s

My original sabbatical plan was to help digitize a collection of rare science fiction fanzines from the 1930s to 1950s. A local book dealer has a significant collection of several hundred pieces; most of the pieces are from Oregon, and others are from the Pacific Northwest. With his permission, I was going to digitally archive and publish this collection online–most likely at WOU’s Digital Commons. This, however, did not work out. In short, the process of digitizing the documents would have required four to five times the amount of time necessary given the fragile condition of the documents. Additionally, full digitizing would have required unbinding, taking out staples, and other forms of modifying the documents. While these processes can help preserve the documents intellectual and historical value, they risk permanently destroying the documents and/or reducing the substantive value the documents have for the owner and other collectors.

Recognizing that I could not move forward without potentially damaging or destroying another professional’s collection, I ended this project.

Revised Plan: Improve professional visual literacy and develop #EdTech book manuscript

  1. I have always focused on alphabetic text, language, and writing in my work. This has left me with a significant weakness: visual communication, composition, and literacy. Technology, especially mobile technology, has enabled innumerable tools for visual creation: static, moving, videos, GIFs, and so much more. So my first goal was to invest time in becoming literate and familiar with several visual composition and video tools for both my phone and tablet. This would strengthen not just my own abilities, but would enable me to more directly relate and support my students’ work–and their students’ work–with visual and composition tools.
  2. Over the past two to three years, I have been assembling a variety of fragments and shorter pieces that connect with educational technology and a number of my other interests: art, science fiction, prison abolition, radical and revolutionary politics, critical theory, accessibility, and usability. These have remained as orts–orphans digitally scattered. Fortunately, a synthesis of several methods and philsophies emerged with which to incorporate, organize, and connect these diverse ideas. My second revised sabbatical goal was to employ this framework to synthesize, develop, and extend a working, structured outline for this material. Goal: at least a complete rough draft, but hopefully movements into a second draft.

Results

  1. I have started three visual series: book covers for books that I have read or imaginary books; portraits of people at WOU; self-portraits. These images are located on this website. To create these, I have used multiple apps on my iPhone and iPad. Additionally, I have used multiple diverse programs on my Mac. One major benefit is that I have learned a great deal about the challenges and benefits of networked devices, intricacies of how an app version of a program differs radically from the Mac version of the program, and some of the affordances and challenges to working across multiple devices. I have accomplished the following: improving my capacity to effectively use negative space, using colors in a balanced and controlled way, integrating text in a meaningful manner, and compensating for my color-blindness when designing for non-colorblind people
  2. I currently have a working rough draft for my book, Lines of Flight: Engaging #EdTech’s Attentional Gravity, and outline in process. My keynote at the Oregon Technology in Education Network conference on March 2, 2019, was based on this work. Given my book reviewing history, reading patterns, and scholarship, I am drafting a book proposal for several different presses.