Stony Brook University Libraries’ “Open Access Symposium 2016” Recap

This past Tuesday I spoke at the Open Access Symposium 2016 at Stony Brook University. It was an honor to represent Flocabulary at my alma mater and chat about education technologies.

I participated on a panel, moderated by my wonderful librarian friend Laura Costello (whom I met during her time at Columbia, but is now at Stony Brook), with two brilliant folks in the education space: Brian Sweeting of Columbia University’s Teachers College EdLab (where I have spoken a handful of times over the years), and Claudia McGiveny of Stony Brook University Libraries.

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Creating #InclusiveSpaces in Education

I saw an interesting image on Twitter earlier this week that got me thinking about classroom design, shared by Tom Murray, the Digital Learning Director for the Alliance for Excellent Education:

I was recently exhibiting at FETC, and one glaringly obvious takeaway was that pedagogy and technology are evolving at an exciting pace, and teachers are eager to embrace this progress. Awesome! But how can this same evolution be applied to the physical space where students learn—in the classroom?

As I explored the expo hall, there was no shortage of classroom furniture vendors, but it was hard to discern how many of them could truly impact student learning. After all, changes in classroom design can influence learning and development by 25%.

The way students learn today is vastly different from a mere 10 years ago, let alone 10 decades. Yet classroom design has been stagnating since, well, forever. What gives?

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A Week of Realized Dreams and Heavy Hearts

Three days ago, I visited Diagon Alley at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. I was acting a real fool the whole time, wide-eyed and full of awe at the impressive creation of Ollivander’s, The Leaky Cauldron, Knockturn Alley, and all the other minute details put into this small but extraordinary part of Universal.

Gringotts

Supportive friends while unsuccessfully suppressing my utter glee inside Gringotts.

The first order of business was to go on the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride. The first time around was both thrilling and a bit of sensory overload (in a good way). The second time, I was able to really process what was going on, and realized that, quite literally, my childhood dreams were coming true. It was hard for me to contain my happiness, and my awesome friends were very patient with me.

Anyone who knows me for more than roughly 5 seconds, knows I am a die hard Harry Potter fan. I read my first book in sixth grade and grew up with the characters, waited in line for the midnight premieres of the books and movies (as soon as my mom would let me), stayed up most of the night and hid indoors finishing Deathly Hallows in one day (so as to avoid any spoilers), visited the London studio tour, saw a double feature of the Deathly Hallows films (part 1 at 9 PM, and the premiere of part 2 at midnight), and recently spent an exorbitant amount of money on tickets 18 months down the road to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, 3,000 miles away.

My point in all this is that Harry Potter—and I’m talking about the story as a whole, not just the character—is very much a part of my identity. It is, relatively speaking, a big part of who I am. It has been an ongoing source of happiness, escape, comfort, and fond memories with friends, family, and own imagination for most of my life.

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That Time I Authored an Economics Paper I Never Actually Wrote

I felt like I was in an episode of ReplyAll or Note To Self recently. So much, in fact, I had to tell them about it:

How did this all unfurl? It begins on a cold winter day, many moons weeks ago. ‘Tis a story of technological quirks that serve as a reminder that even the most powerful of technologies make mistakes.

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Serial, Its Hype, and Misconstrued Expectations

About a year ago, I was spending my usual Sunday evening winding down listening to This American Life‘s newest episode. At the end, I heard Ira mention in his speedy, rhythmic, nasaly voice that the following week’s episode would also be the debut of TAL‘s first spin-off podcast. Never would I have thought a podcast would become so popular that it could form its own spin-off. Surely it couldn’t stick?

After listening to the first installment of Serial during the following week’s TAL episode, I was hooked. Soon after I was talking about it with my sister, my podcast bestie. Then, Mama G joined our discussions. I was happy my existing podcast pals at work were into it, too.

A few weeks later, I started to noticed some peculiar happenings.

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On This Day

[blockquote source=”John Romanovich, on his experience as a recovery worker post-9/11″]I think most of us consider ourselves just to be ants crawling around on the pile.[/blockquote]

Today is a difficult day. If you want to remember 9/11, consider remembering it through the people who were brave enough to share their experiences with StoryCorps.

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Community Management Crisis: What Am I, Anyway?

Ever since I got a ~formal title change~ in January, I have struggled explaining to people what it is I do. Most of the time I tell people I work in marketing at an ed tech company. If you work in community, you know it’s not so cut and dry.

I’m fairly positive “community manager” was not a thing when I started my job in 2012. Even now, though it is more defined and there are even conferences and summits for community managers (CMs), I’m still not 100% clear.

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