Category: Portfolio

kristen eshleman

Exploring Meaningful Measures of Accountability

This first appeared on the Educause Transforming Higher Education blog, co-written with my friend and Davidson colleague, Shireen Campbell.

Assessing the quality of and accounting for the value of a college degree are hot topics in US higher education policy. Both the introduction of the EQUIP program and the recent proposed rule for federal loan forgiveness demonstrate that the government wants more assurance from higher education that we are doing what we say we are doing.
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Reflections on Indie Ed-Tech

I’m an unapologetic fan of professional gatherings.

I like them less for the formal presentations than I do for the informal conversations that follow. Case in point: it was one of those conversations at the dLRN conference in October that led to last weekend’s Indie Ed-Tech Data Jam at Davidson College. You can read more about that in Adam Croom’s first reflection on a weekend that turned out to be one of the most intense, rewarding, and promising gatherings I’ve been part of in a long time.
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#dLRN15: Why Should You Trust Us?

Well, that’s a wrap.

The first (and hopefully not last) dLRN conference is officially in the books. The reflections are rolling in on Twitter and blogs, and they are largely positive from the participant perspective. That makes me happy and perhaps a bit relieved. But as a co-organizer, I am conflicted when I think about what might have been.

As a community, we share a social justice vision of higher ed. I am concerned about the future of higher education and believe research can be a lever for positive change. I have high hopes for dLRN generally. But by the middle of day one, we weren’t talking deeply about research. We were expressing opinions and bonding around serious concerns that are worthy of attention, like the problem of casual labor, or the needs of non-traditional students, or the lack of learning science behind edtech. We weren’t building toward solutions.

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Making Space for the Important

I’ve been a director of academic technology at Davidson College for 10 years now. Like many of my colleagues, I’m also a practitioner.  It has always been my position that maintaining some level of practice is a good idea in this field. Understanding when technology is simply a tool in support of the method and when that tool begins to shape the method is an important distinction. Shifts in edtech can be small until they’re seismic.

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Reflections from SXSWEdu

This year was my second visit to SXSWEdu. As much as I love Austin, I am not sure I want to return. The event should be a great opportunity for higher education and Silicon Valley to come together and design interesting partnerships from opposing world views about the role of education. With the exception of one unofficial gathering, the conversations I saw unfortunately never quite got there. The gathering that did was the brainchild of Dale Stephens (UnCollege) and Allison Dulin Salisbury (Davidson College), appropriately titled:

UnCollege + College = ?

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Bringing Students Into Our Liminal Space

My Twitter tagline reads: “lover of liminal spaces”. I can claim that as part of my anthropology background, but it’s as much a reflection of my professional life as it is my intellectual interests. Academic technologists have existed in liminal spaces from the beginning. We’re not purely IT, or library, or Center for Teaching and Learning. We move between these spaces in a constant state of formative transition. Liminal spaces by definition reveal intersections and foster knowledge acquisition through collaboration, but in our case, that collaboration is typically limited to instructional support.

Education is more than instruction, however. It is a two-way street. Ultimately, learning happens because students want to learn. Dave Cormier sums up this sentiment nicely in his post on the first principle of learning:

“All kinds of pedagogy happens after this… but it doesn’t happen until this happens.”

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