It’s that time of year again, the time of year that I have been lucky enough to enjoy in a very particular way for the past 3 years. I like Spring for a number of reasons, but these last few years I’ve been so pleased (and lucky) to be able to combine this season with chances to travel, to talk to people, to learn new things, and to think about new projects. And also, have fun. Because otherwise I’m not entirely sure what the point is. Especially now that the world is on fire.
At this point in the year I’ve usually already been traveling, but I’ve been at home in Charlotte from January through now (with a hiatus in February to help my parents move), and have been getting to do productive work on how our attempts to remove barriers for students who are also parents (in the form of our Family Friendly Room) have been going, and what the implications are for future work we might do. That (just completed!) internal report is going to form the core of a book chapter, so I’m glad I’ll get to share that with a wider audience than just my library.
I’ve also run some exploratory focus groups asking students to talk about places where they like to be on campus (versus places they *have* to be), and beginning to gather information about what goes into feelings of “belonging” for students. I get to draw on the photo diary evidence we’ve been collecting since 2011 for context, as students have always taken pictures of favorite places, places where they feel lost, and now we are going to get to do a deeper dive into what makes something a favorite, and what are the things that contribute to being “lost.” I don’t know what the results of our belonging project are going to look like, or just how far we’re going to take it, but I want to point out that Krista Harper has been working on similar issues with her team of student researchers at UMass Amherst and I hope at some point to connect our results with hers.
This Spring, so, has already been different, but there are things about it that will also be the same. In things different: the first place I get to go is Canada! This month I have the great pleasure of being invited by my colleagues Margy McMillan and Leeanne Morrow to run workshops in Calgary, for teams at Mt Royal, and at the University of Calgary. I’ve never been to that part of Canada, and while it will be a short trip, I am going to make the most of my time there. And possibly also shop for some shoes. Boots? Possibly boots.
In May, I get to be on the team delivering the latest iteration of the Jisc Digital Leaders Course, and I get to go back to Manchester. I’ll be working for the first time running a workshop with Zoe Gardiner, and get to work again with Lawrie Phipps, James Clay, and Chris Thomson, and I expect to be exhilarated and exhausted at the end of it all. Before that, I will be experimenting again with a FutureHappens Hack in London, this one on social media, and a part of the schemes of Peter Bryant and Dave White (which I do not entirely understand, but am happy to be along for the ride, and for the beers and gin we will drink afterwards. And possibly beforehand).
In June, I get to be a part of the team hosting the third UXLibs, and I get to hang out with (among others) the marvelous Meredith Evans in Glasgow (I miss getting to do so in Charlotte). I HAVE NEVER YET BEEN TO SCOTLAND Y’ALL and I am going to dash over to have a gander at Edinburgh and will also wish I had more time to drive around (or, more likely, be driven around) and see All The Things because I’ve heard the Scottish landscapes are like Irish ones on steroids and I wanna see that. No matter how much it rains.
And also in June, I’ve been invited by David Webster to participate in University of Gloucestershire’s Festival of Learning. I’m talking a lot about teaching and learning this Spring, and happy to be able to draw on the work I’ve been doing with our Center for Teaching and Learning at UNC Charlotte, and our active learning initiatives on campus.
And then I will need to go back home, and apply for the visas I and my family need for us to spend the 2017-18 academic year in Kingston, UK. I am excited and worried about all that we don’t know and can’t control, but am truly hoping this year will give all of us space to find new possibilities.
As I have gotten to each Spring, since 2014. Thank you for the invitations. I will see some of you very soon.