In the beginning there was grad school. That ended in 2010. Now what do I blog about?


December 30, 2010

UMassMed to Brown

A few photos from my last visit to UMassMed and lots of photos from my first walk around Brown. The different between the two campuses is striking. There was some construction going on at Brown, however it was maintenance on hundreds year old buildings.

December 27, 2010

Collaborative blogging during a winter storm using Posterous

Sunday & Monday December 26-27, 2010

The National Weather Service predicted 12-22 inches of snow in our area beginning Sunday afternoon. By Sunday evening the amount was cut to 8-14 (which is roughly what we did accumulate by Monday afternoon). The wind was gusting, bringing down tree limbs and whistling through the siding on the house, creating huge snow drifts outside the windows. I spent my afternoon and evening launching a Posterous blog for local bloggers to track the storm in and around Worcester.

I had been hoping for a chance to try out Posterous with a small collaborative blogging project. This storm and my free time was a perfect fit. As soon as the idea struck, I set up an account and created the site. I scanned my Google Reader for local bloggers and found a few with public email addresses. I added them to the site as contributors hoping they'd take the bait. ((NOTE: Posterous does not give site admins a means to customize an invitation to potential subscribers/contributors.)) Then I linked my first post to Facebook where I knew some key people would see it and share it with their Friends. I quickly threw together a simple How to Contribute page for the site.

About an hour later I had my first collaborator, followed quickly by a second and third, then more. People began posting photos of their homes, streets and neighborhoods. Then people began posting info from the city and the Dept of Public Works regarding traffic, plowing and cancellations, including an important trash pick-up cancellation. A water main break was reported in a neighboring town. A power outage was reported in a large neighborhood. Soon, local Twitterers began linking to the site in their tweets and page views quickly accumulated like the snow outside. I added a @Twitter page listing local Twitterers.

I stayed up until midnight tweaking the template, which required my learning their CSS formats and diving into the Posterous Developers Knowledgebase. I spent some time troubleshooting user accounts with someone who somehow ended up with 3 profiles. We also worked on issues using the iPhone Posterous app. Another user had issues with the Android app, but I was unable to help him because I had no Droid to test.

When I woke up in the morning, I logged in and found a few user complaints in my email - people who I had added as Contributors in the beginning. They said they were buried in emails and wanted out. ((NOTE: Posterous does not allow Subscribers/Collaborators without Posterous accounts to unsubscribe or manage frequency of emails. This is a major #fail.)) I did my best to diplomatically handle these issues and created a Help (FAQ) page. I also added Google Analytics to track site visits, page views and browsers.

Plowing and shoveling wasn't bad. I grabbed a short video of my hub plowing the driveway and a photo of the stairs after I shoveled and posted them. Likewise, other bloggers shared pics of their sidewalks, driveways and stairs. Posterous is so easy to use to share images and conducive to collaborative blogging by people with mobile devices. Very cool for this type of project.

It stopped snowing around 2pm on Monday afternoon. People got on with their lives. Pictures and posts kept trickling in and the site continued to record visits and views. I'll be curious to see if this project has any legs beyond this storm. We'll see if local bloggers keep using it and maybe we'll discuss it at a future #worcbloggers gathering.

December 20, 2010

New Twitter name options

I'm one of those people who never thinks of the right thing to say when I need to say it. The best comment, one liner, zinger or conclusion seems to hit me after the fact. This makes choosing a new Twitter name difficult.

So far, this is all I have come up with:
  • @justcarriejo: carriejo is my nickname; but someone already has it in Tw, hence the 'just'
  • @IDCarrie: because my field is instructional technology/instructional design; and my new title is instructional designer
  • @clsaarinen: my first and middle initial and last name; same as my Linkedin account
  • @carrie_at_brown: OK, the cat is out of the bag; I am going to work at Brown University in Providence Rhode Island
You can vote in the poll or add other suggestions in the comments or tweet me. Your ideas are welcome!

I know there is a perfect name but I probably won't think of it until after I have updated everything, or even worse, it will strike me a month from now. I predict a #facepalm.

December 17, 2010

What happens when you change your Twitter name?

The transition to a new job continues
  • I have handed off tasks at work.
  • I have had farewell parties and luncheons.
  • I have cleaned out my filing cabinets, removed wall postings and given away plants.
  • What's left to do is tidy up online connections (web links on department sites that drop email in my inbox) and update my profiles with a temp email until I get settled at my new edu.

My Twitter name is @carrie_at_umass. I need to change it! (Read: /2010/12/new-job-means-new-twitter-name.html) What's going to happen when I do? If you have changed your Twitter name, please let me know what happened, if anything, and what you learned. If there is something I need to do to prep my followers I'd like to get it done.

Leave your words of wisdom in the comments. Thanks!

December 06, 2010

I ♥ highered

#lovehighered meme started by @MalloryWood Dec 6, 2010
@carrie_at_umass: I #lovehighered. Youthful, creative culture. Challenging, engaging discussions anytime, anywhere. Always learning. Always changing.
Worcester is home to ten colleges. (Or is it 11 now with the Mass College of Pharmacy? ) I have my fair share to pick from. And New England is super-U central anyway, with several big name schools within a 75 minute commute of where I live. I could not be luckier.

I had little exposure to college while growing up. Neither parent went to college. My older sisters and my brother didn't go to college so I never experienced the family excitement and drama associated with SAT test scores, applying to colleges, acceptance letters, packing and moving and coming home for Christmas. I never spent time on college campuses, aside from attending a few films and concerts at Clark University while I was in high school. I did spend the night in a friend's dorm room at MassArt once after seeing the Ramones play in Boston, but that was pretty much it.

After high school I was living in a mid-western college town with a vibrant music and art scene. I enjoyed all the benefits of the college town without the college debt. It wasn't until my mid-20's and moved back to Massachusetts that I decided to get a degree; it was when my brother needed a degree for a promotion and he bet me I couldn't beat his GPA (I did). I liked college so I started working in higher ed immediately after, then went on to get my master's. Grad school was an amazing experience; I loved it all (which is why I blogged about it with this blog for 2 years!). Now I'm gearing up for a career transition and the only place I've considered is higher ed. I can't imagine working in any other environment.

What I like is the easy, casual vibe of the college campus. I like the youthfulness of the general population - the 18 year olds for sure, as well as the gray haired profs in their Chuck Taylors. I like the cultural diversity. I like the cyclical change in campus atmosphere running concurrently with the seasonal calendar. I like that everyone is on a self-centered track, working to better themselves - I find it inspiring. I like the libraries. I like the lectures and seminars and campus orgs. I like that it is cool to sit under a tree and read a book (and be photographed for the school website). I like that it is cool to stay up late reading. I like the innovation and discovery. I like the ingenuity and freedom for creative interpretation. I like the community.

And I love that the higher ed community extends beyond any singular campus. I have met hundreds of people in higher ed over the last five years and had amazing conversations with them. I value my higher ed relationships - the people are interested in what I do, are supportive and fun. Likewise, they are doing interesting work, share what they know, and inspire me to try new things. Most of these folks I have met face to face only one or a few times. Some of them I have only met online. For some reason, these relationships have sticking power. Part of it may be the openness and collegial quality that makes higher ed so special.

My next blog post will discuss my pending career transition. Stay tuned!

A new job means a new Twitter name

My Twitter name will have to change (carrie_at_umass) because I am leaving UMass this month and will be starting at another university in January. I have never experienced such a long and intensive career transition as this one. Never have I had two outstanding offers from two respected institutions resulting in a very difficult decision to be made.

I learned a great deal about the art of negotiation. It was an exercise in decorum, diplomacy and organizational politics. It was an entirely new experience, which left me with the conclusion that I really really REALLY need a mentor who understands my field and my interests and can help me navigate my chosen career path. (If you wish to apply to be my mentor, please let me know!)

The hardest part was deciding if I wanted to leave the niche field of academic medicine to work in the general higher ed circuit. In medical eduction I am special because there are few instructional technology professionals. I have 5+ years experience considering theories of teaching and learning as applied to the unique practices of medical school. In general higher ed, there are many people who do what I do which makes me less special. It was a tough decision to leave my unique, special and familiar pond for a big, crowded unknown pond.

I admit I have fears. Most of it is social anxiety - will they like me, will I fit in, will I like them? A lot of it is wondering about my personal comfort - new work environment, shared office space again after 1.5 years of private space and new work equipment (I will miss my elevated desk and dual monitors!).

For the most part, I am excited. I am still somewhat awestruck that I got the job offer at this major university, but it is beginning to sink in that I will be a part of it. I loved the look on my 93 year old grandfather's face when I told him about the offer; he was very impressed, and proud of me. I am looking forward to my first day, my first week, orientation, a campus tour, settling in at my new desk, listening in on co-workers conversations, getting to know my way around. (They have 3 libraries!)

I'll have a new Twitter name in January 2011. Until then, if you are wondering where I am going, we can play 20 Questions in the comments here or via Twitter or email.