Tag Archive for 9x9x25

The 9x9x25 Challenge is Complete

Well, we did it!

Congratulations to the faculty (and the lone dean) who participated in the Challenge! Great work! You will always be able to see the posts completed for the Challenge in the 9x9x25 Archives in the right side of the site navigation.

This week we have our lunch with the president and we get to discover some ways to improve the challenge for next year.

In the near future we will be turning the Webletter back into the usual post or two a week and we hope we will continue to get some faculty to share ideas here throughout the year. There seems to be interest from some of the 9x9x25 authors to do just that. Remember, if you attend a conference and have some good information to share, please let us know and we will add it here as a post. And for any and all faculty, we would love to have you share what you do that works, what doesn’t, and why with our college community.

Till next year’s challenge, the team at TeLS will work hard to relay relevant and useful information to you a couple of times a week.

We made a printed copy of the 9x9x25 posts and it is 348 pages. Wow.

Below are all the posts in order as a PDF.


Reflections of 9x9x25 Challenge

I enjoyed it!  I have been thinking and talking about some of the issues for a while now and this challenge gave me the opportunity to actually put those thoughts down on paper (virtually).  So here is how I would summarize my experience.

  1. The time frame was a challenge for me, perhaps every other week would have been better.  However, I don’t know because each week is busy.  It just required me to carve out some time and get it submitted.
  2. I liked the opportunity to think, consider, and evaluate some of my own assumptions and observations.
  3. It led to some great discussions both with in my division and with others outside of the division.
  4. I would like to see this expanded to others, perhaps those of the GIFT center can start a similar project where this is ongoing.
  5. The little prizes, while simple, kept me motivated some weeks.
  6. I think we should have a review of the posts, were there common themes or subjects that were frequently brought up by the bloggers, if so, why?
  7. Is there any actionable results from this.  While its nice to theorize, promote, and describe our respective experiences, THEN WHAT?

Thanks goes to Todd and the others at TeLs to keep us on track and for coming up with this challenge.



So What?: Reflections on 2025 (That’s 9x9x25)

Thanks to Todd Conaway and the TELS folks for challenging us to reflect and write about our experiences and thoughts on what we do day after day (often not taking the time to really appreciate the great enterprise in which we are involved).

One of the questions I encourage my students to ask is, "So what?"  If they are studying something, and they can't come up with a satisfactory answer to that short query, then either they need to rethink their actions and attitudes, or consider not doing it.  So, I'd like, in retrospect, to ask the "So what?" question of this journey in electronic journalism we've undertaken.

Let me preface this by saying that, IMHO (how's that for being hip!), it was an extremely worthwhile venture, for me personally and for our institution.  Here are some of my reasons.

1.  It created lots of hallway conversations about important issues.  Grading, online teaching, active learning spaces, and many more topics were "surfaced" and became part of our public discussion.  I learned much from reading and listening to my colleagues.

2.  There was a considerable amount of interest in each others writings, and a great deal of affirmation extended to each another.  People would stick their heads into another professor's office, exclaiming, "Hey, I just read your blog.  Good stuff!" That feels good. I need that.  WE need that.

3.  At least two significant "official" conversations have begun as a result what has been shared in these blogs.  Ideas were fueled and momentum was built.  Positive changes on how we deliver our "product" to our students have resulted from our writing.  That is a good thing.

4.  Perhaps the most positive benefit is that I have once again become more reflective about the process of teaching and higher education.  I know we all reflect, but the discipline and regularity of writing, reflecting and reading others' reflections has definitely benefited my students as I focus and become more intentional about the way I do things in and out of the classroom.

THE FUTURE:  I would like to see us continue to have weekly blogs.  I would suggest that we put everyone's name that would like to participate "in a hat," and create a schedule where each week during the academic year two persons would write on the 9x9x25 site. (Keep the name--it's familiar and kinda cool. :).  If the 16 people who are writing now would volunteer, that means each of us would only have a column to prepare twice a semester.   If we weren't writing that week, we could commit to reading and commenting on the blogs that appear each week. Also, the fewer number of entries would encourage a broader readership (less time commitment each week).

I have very much enjoyed the creativity and passion the participants have displayed over the past nine weeks--on top of all their other commitments!  Let's ride the wave!!

Reflections on the Challenge

I am amazed that I succeeded in writing nine posts. There were times when I thought I wasn't going to be able to provide a quality post with the time constraints in the middle of the semester. I will confess it was worth the frustration to put my thoughts on the ether. And, boy, was I embarrassed by the typos--most produced in the rush of the moment, others from simple carelessness!

Time was indeed the crucial issue. At first, the topics came easily with each new issue that arose in my classes or in my teaching. By the end, I was mentally scrounging to think of something to reflect upon. Then when I found a topic, I had to consider potential links, photos, cartoons, etc. Thus, each post needed to be invented by the Thursday before and often took at least four edits.

The Myth of Prioritizing: It Doesn't Make Us Happy, It Helps Us Get ThroughI liked the challenge, but nine weeks in the middle of the semester was difficult. Because I am a "Golden Retriever" personality, once I got started there was no way I was going to quit, even if it meant a late night or pushing aside some other responsibility. Ask my husband...or my dogs! Seriously, how important can laundry be when weighed in the balance against insights and creativity? Of course, there are some responsibilities for which I am always finding excuses to delay.

Actually, this exercise reminded me of an earlier time when I used to write my reflections at the end of each semester. In these reflections, I would analyze what worked, what didn't, and what needed to be changed. Often I would include ideas for the next semester. Unfortunately, I had given up on this practice about three years ago because life kept getting in the way. It seemed that when each semester ended, I was already rushing into the next phase in life, whether that be the holidays or family demands during the summer. I was especially surprised and chagrined this semester when I tackled my "to do" filing about two weeks ago. At the bottom of the stack were items from last spring. Yes, indeed, six months later I was finally getting my filing done. This example, and the dust upon my desk and shelves, reflects how I have difficulty choosing the most important over the most immediate.

Like my students, I often need a deadline to ensure things get done in a timely manner. Thus, I appreciated the challenge of the imposed deadlines, but I recommend that the challenge be shorter than nine weeks. We have come to that time in the semester when students are stressed by the looming end of term with its major projects and finals. This is when I know I need to be as patient as possible to provide a sense of level-headed sanity in the midst of their chaos, but if I am as stressed as they, patience is in short supply.

I want to thank Todd for setting up the challenge, and for all of the awesome goodies along the way. I hope more instructors will get involve next time because I really appreciated the opportunity to read about what others were thinking and experiencing in their teaching. Thanks to you all who participated! I learned a lot from your musings, and I was challenged to examine and rethink what I have been doing in the classroom.

In Praise of The Instigator

Because Todd and I have already discussed next year’s 9x9x25 Challenge at length, I plan to use this space to accomplish a pair of long-percolating goals.  First, I shall curb my natural propensity for verbosity (staring now) and make this post exactly twenty-five sentences.  No, really, this makes three.  Drat; I had best get creative and conservative fast.  My second goal is to thank Todd for providing us with the carrot, the stick, and, yes, sometimes the whip, that is this project.  When he approached me with the idea over the summer I was flush with post-grading euphoria and a sudden surplus of free time.  It sounded like a great idea, in an abstract sort of way, and I readily agreed to participate.  The check didn’t come due until October, and by then (like most of you), I was staring at a full schedule and piles of work high enough to have their own ski lift.  Motivation was low.

Fortunately, my office is four doors down from The Instigator.  For those of you not lucky enough to exist in close proximity to Todd, it’s a bit like sharing a workspace with a cheerleader, an inventor, an optimist, a friendly IT guy, a happily misplaced John Muir, and The Cat in the Hat.  If this sounds like some sort of manic Hell, I cannot assure you it’s not.  Rather, Todd wanders the corridor of M building, poking his shaggy head in offices, dispensing each personality in just the right proportion.  Of course, the formula might not always feel right at the moment.   

When I’m three hours into grading essays, with another three soul-sucking hours to go, I’m not interested in hearing about Blackboard’s newest doodad, nor what cool things my apparently essay-less colleague has cooked up and put forth on the web for her ever-so-lucky students.  However, like some tech-savvy Johnny Appleseed, Todd knows that not every seed sown will bear fruit.  Instead, he relies on casual tenacity and repetition.  On Tuesday I am frightfully busy, but when he knocks on Thursday (and Todd is never afraid to knock), I’m sipping coffee and tossing around ideas for a new class.  When The Instigator walks in at that moment, he’s just what I need; in fact, he’s just what every good teacher needs. 

Though the life of an educator is rewarding, it can sometimes grow repetitious.  Each semester we teach students roughly the same material, using roughly the same techniques, in roughly the same spaces, and with roughly the same goal.  In this way we can fall into the role of an assembly worker at a large production plant, each day inserting part X into part Y2.  This is not our fault, nor necessarily a bad thing; we each delve deeply into our disciplines, and, over a few years, find effective methods of achieving our goals –after all, if it’s not broke, why fix it?  Nevertheless, we occasionally need someone to get us off our well-worn seats and make us tour the factory, to show us what happens at station X, to examine the finished product, to share what’s going on at the Dearborn plant.  This is what Todd does, and this is what 9x9x25 has achieved.  Perhaps that is why I’ve not felt some momentous change by participating in this project –with The Instigator around, I get to engage in it all the time.