Archive for February, 2015

postheadericon Email and availability, digital connectedness, private life or constant contact?

As an instructor of record for an undergraduate course, it is required of me to stay in communication with my students outside of class via email, through Scholar, and in my office. At my office, and during office hours, answering students’ questions, providing clarification and assistance to them as needed, is not an issue – I am glad to do it and happy students are involved enough with the material and the course to seek assistance and advice outside the classroom.

With digital technology and the constant connectedness that comes with it, where is the line of availability drawn? In the past, before email, before this constant connectedness, as an instructor, would you have accepted a phone call at your home at midnight from a student that had a question about an assignment due the following morning in class (regardless of whether the information the student sought was right in front of them in either the syllabus or required text materials the student was in possession of)? No. You would not have, and would likely sharply reprimand the student for such behavior. But now, students are no longer limited to face-to-face communication. They can contact you any hour of the day or night, and often expect a swift response.

I tell my students if they contact me outside of business or office hours to not expect a response until the following day, and to only contact me after searching for the answers to their questions in the course’s required readings and asking their fellow classmates, in the case it was something I covered in class. But this is not usually followed, and some of my students are under the impression that as an instructor of record I am on call 24 hours a day to answer their questions – a notion of which I am not a fan.

For those of you with more collegiate teaching experience than I have (a mere semester prior, and this one), how do you handle the constant connectivity? Do you see it as a benefit to the students and a vital or beneficial part of the collegiate education process, or an infringement on your personal privacy? This argument is not limited to the academic world – it is a regularly recurring and growing issue in the professional world – employers assume you are online in some form, or have a smartphone or other digital communication device on or near you at all times, and (speaking from experience) often take advantage of that to push your professional life further and further inside the boundaries of your personal life.

Thoughts?

postheadericon Another mission statement comparison

It seems my previous post, mission statements from nonprofit organizations, was not the proper focus of this assignment. I did not realize/pay attention to the limitation of mission statements to higher education entities. So here I am, making up for it.

I attended multiple colleges and universities during my nontraditional track to “the now,” including Cape Fear Community College, and the University of North Carolina – Wilmington.

Both are North Carolina schools, both located in Wilmington, and degrees from both are hanging on my wall.

Cape Fear’s mission statement:

Cape Fear Community College is an open door, multi-campus, comprehensive community college that strengthens the academic, economic, social and cultural life of the citizens of New Hanover and Pender counties.

As a member of the North Carolina Community College System, Cape Fear Community College fully supports the system mission and fulfills its purposes by:

  • Focusing on vocational, technical, pre-baccalaureate, literacy education, and continuing education programs and services;
  • Recruiting, enrolling, advising and retaining a diverse student body;
  • Recruiting, retaining and developing a highly qualified and diverse faculty and staff who are dedicated to quality education and service to the College and the community;
  • Evaluating existing programs and implementing new curricula and instructional strategies to serve the changing needs of the service area;
  • Providing support services that help students succeed;
  • Enhancing student life through clubs, cultural activities, leadership opportunities, and athletics; and
  • Interacting and cooperating with others to encourage, promote and facilitate economic and community development.

Approved by the CFCC Board of Trustees, March 23, 1995; revised January 18, 1996; revised November 19, 2003; reaffirmed January 26, 2006; reaffirmed September 2010.

 

 

The University of North Carolina Wilmington, the state’s coastal university, is dedicated to learning through the integration of teaching and mentoring with research and service. Our powerful academic experience stimulates creative inquiry, critical thinking, thoughtful expression and responsible citizenship in an array of high-quality programs at the baccalaureate and master’s levels, and in our doctoral programs in marine biology and educational leadership. Substantial research activity, combined with our hallmark teaching excellence and moderate size, advances distinctive student involvement in faculty scholarship. We are committed to diversity and inclusion, affordable access, global perspectives, and enriching the quality of life through scholarly community engagement in such areas as health, education, the economy, the environment, marine and coastal issues, and the arts.

 

Both are focused on the student, and both point out the most prominent academic departments. For UNCW, marine biology and coastal marine research is its bread and butter.

 

Both mention diversity and inclusion, both mention a commitment to excellence and citizenship. Both list a slew of characteristics they claim a commitment to, including community engagement.

Interestingly, the community college mentions its athletics, but the NCAA Division 1 school does not.

In my personal opinion, the UNCW statement, in paragraph form, is more effective, appealing, cohesive.

The bullet points, while easy to read (and maybe that’s the point, they do a lot of literacy work and trade training), looks and feels cheaper. I know this is a brief analysis, but having completed an analysis on nonprofits as well, this is all I’ve got.

postheadericon Mission statement assignment

I do not have an on-tap supply of mission statements handy, so like any good student I plugged “mission statement” into a google search box and picked the top site listed to see what I could find. The first thing to come up was a site offering what it saw as the top 50 nonprofit mission statements: http://topnonprofits.com/examples/nonprofit-mission-statements

The point of a mission statement is to quickly and concisely identify whatever it is you, your group or corporation is all about. The best ones are parsimonious, catchy, marketable, and meaningful. They can be funny, short, plain or filled with industry jargon, inspiring or inflammatory. I picked the top one listed (TED) and one further down the list with a bit more length to it (NPR).

NPR: To work in partnership with member stations to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.

TED: Spreading Ideas.

NPR is a Washington D.C.-based publicly and privately funded media organization. It broadcasts news, talk radio and other types of national and local programming. Its mission statement has two parts, but only really needs one. The first part – To work in partnership with member stations to create a more informed public – is pretty much sufficient. It details what it is, a radio station comprised of local station members which it partners with, and what it hopes to do, inform the public. Inform, not persuade, not invigorate, not detract. Kind of an important distinction. The second part is the industry jargon I mentioned above, the “artistic” part that allows its listeners to feel enlightened, to feel progressive, to feel hip – challenged, invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation.

The second, TED, is an American company with headquarters in several cities, but its main, I believe, is in New York City, and is much shorter – Spreading ideas. Doesn’t say what kind of ideas, doesn’t limit itself to any type of genre or subject matter. The word “ideas” is key here – ideas, not opinions, or facts, or misinformation. “Spreading” implies connection with anyone willing to listen. It’s short, memorable, useful.

They’re both similar in that they focus on information, and sharing that information. One is significantly longer than the other. They’re two very different statements, but convey similar purpose. They are two very different entities – TED likes to be seen as flashy, cutting edge, savvy. Its short mission statement allows it to be used in several different contexts, allowing it several different implications. NPR is stereotyped as being the go-to of stodgy, elderly, who listen to it at home and in the car instead of, say, trendy, “with it” modern music. Its lengthy statement reflects its programming – informative, wordy.

postheadericon Execute orders

I do not like blogs. I do not like reading them, I do not like writing them, I do not like commenting or responding to comments on them. I do not like the word “blog.” That said, welcome to my blog.

I use Facebook, mostly to keep in touch with old friends of which I no longer reside within close proximity. I don’t use it as a platform to type or post every little opinion, daily experience, or lingering thought. I was introduced to MySpace in 2005 for the same reason, but left shortly after (like everyone else, more or less). I do not, nor have I ever, had a Twitter account. I do not have a Pinterest or Instagram account. I just don’t find the minutae of other people’s daily lives, which many feel compelled to regularly post online, interesting, and I don’t believe others will find mine interesting, either. Maybe it’s a generational thing, maybe I’m just late to that party.

Anyway, the point is, this particular assignment will be a challenge for me, mostly since it’s for a course and will be evaluated by a professor or GTA for a grade and I will be censoring myself accordingly. I tend to write intentionally provocative, cynical, incendiary things when left to my own devices, which I will attempt to refrain from doing in this particular forum. So cheers, everybody. Here’s to a solid semester – other than this blog thing I am looking forward to this course and its implications and insights it has the potential to provide for my future.