Mutatis mutandis

Today I accepted a position as an Instructional Technology Specialist at the University of Mary Washington's Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies. It's almost impossible for me to convey the emotion behind that first sentence, because in many ways this is literally a dream, years in the making, coming true for me. I will join the already incredible staff of DTLT: Jim Groom, Martha Burtis, Andy Rush, and Lisa Ames to continue to push the boundaries of how technology and the open web can change the classroom and higher education and push UMW to new heights. When you follow the trail of how I came across this opportunity the breadcrumbs lead back to ds106 and Twitter. A year ago today I did not know DTLT existed and had never heard of or met the great people that work there. Then ds106 happened. Faculty Academy happened. And now this is happening. It's a testament to the true connections that can and should be made in these digital spaces and how important and treasured they are. Indeed before stepping onto UMW's campus for the first time for an on-site interview and to attend Faculty Academy, there was this sense that I already had this intimate friendship with these people. It wasn't awkward introductions, more like finally meeting a pen pal you've enjoyed camaraderie with for what seems like a long time. It's difficult to describe but it's incredibly important because I think that's the piece a lot of people don't seem to "get" about social networks. Speaking of Faculty Academy, what an amazing moment for me to really see UMW at it's finest and gain a sense of peace and clarity about this decision. The warm and welcoming attitude coming not just from the organizers and staff there, but from every person I met was proof of the excitement this university has for where they have been and where they are going. In addition to finally meeting the DTLT staff face to face, I also got a chance to meet and converse with Steve Greenlaw, Jerry Slezak, Anand Rao, Zach Whalen, Jeff McClurken, the DTLT Student Aides (past and present), Tom Woodward, Patrick Murray-John, and countless countless others it would be impossible to string all the names together here. I'm blown away by the hospitality that was shown to me and couldn't be more excited to be joining many of these fine folks and working alongside them. Leaving Longwood University was not an easy decision. As my alma mater, I've been connected here in Farmville for almost 10 years now as student and then staff. I believe in this school more than ever, but realistically I have to accept that here I would always be a "computer technician" and I have my sights set on greater things. I'm looking forward to advancing mobile devices and applications in higher education. How can we get to a point where instead of asking everyone to put their cell phones away, we're begging them to take them out and learn with them in new and interesting ways? I'm looking forward to conceptualizing what an instructional design graduate program could look like when the traditional ideas of classrooms (both brick and mortar as well as online) are turned on their head. I'm looking forward to the possibilities of developing a framework for open textbook publishing platforms that build on the idea that we as higher education institutions will see greater rewards when we invest in people instead of products. This freedom to explore and work within a community to advance learning in exciting new ways is incredible, and I can't wait to hit the ground running.