Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Reflecting Back on 2016…with love

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It’s the time of year when I start to get my AFR (Annual Faculty Report) ready, realizing as I do that, that it has lots of gaps as to what REALLY matters to me.

(I am skipping over the very personal and political and focusing on the professional).

The writing, the presenting

For example, I would list all my publications, and have an opportunity to comment on my research activities, but I would have no space to comment, probably, on how much hard emotional work went into publishing the two rhizo papers we got published finally this year (after something like 4 rejections). That’s rhizoresillience for you! And I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to mention how some of my non-peer-reviewed work was much more impactful than my peer-reviewed work. Things like all my Prof Hacker pieces, really, or maybe the fact that our ex-university president reads them (she didn’t when she was here) or that some faculty are using my radical ideas from there, ones I am told not to express too strongly at workshops because they’re too crazy. I get to celebrate my blogging gig with DML, I guess, and probably my continued writing for Al Fanar and my first ARABIC ARTICLE that I wrote myself from scratch in Arabic. 

I can mention all my conference presentations, most of which were AWESOME. I can mention the workshop I did at DigPed UMW with Kate and Paul but who would listen if I told them about the beauty of that process of getting to know and love these two amazing people and how we worked together to make this workshop WALK its TALK. That article needs to be written, I tell you.

How can I express the joy of doing the hybridity workshop at OLC innovate w my VC peeps? Actually, too many VC highlights to even COUNT. I should count my blessings there but they’re way too many. Cherry on top is publishing our first peer-reviewed article on Vconnecting at OLJ. It’s bittersweet for me because my first ever peer-reviewed publication was at JALN the precursor to OLJ. And my first publication on MOOCs was at MERLOT’s JOLT, which merged w JALN to form OLJ. A more (very) personal achievement wa getting my own boss as onsite guest on a Vconnecting session from OEB16 and hearing from her how she wants to stay posted of new events and join our (coming soon) mailing list. (it’s ok that she doesn’t realize i was already informing our department of Vconnecting sessions each time. She didn’t realize what it was).

Where do I explain that some of my best writing was a #DoOO blogpost that takes 1 minute to read (took me 1 minute to write) but got over 50 comments and a response from Audrey Watters AND a blog mention? Not to mention that it is a critical post I wrote while simultaneously inviting half the world to a DoOO Slack community!

Would anyone here really understand the work on Self as OER I did with Suzan Koseoglu? I’m so proud of that work.

Can anyone imagine how cool it was to co-present with some of my idols in PERSON? I co-presented with Jim Groom, Bonnie Stewart and Jesse Stommel and it felt like home. Like we were totally on the same wavelength in ways people who have worked with me everyday for YEARS aren’t. I also co-presented virtually with Laura Czerniewicz (another of my role models, whom I am lucky to have met in person). I need to remember to add all my webinar-type sessions and such on my annual review. And the two podcasts with Bonni Stachowiak. Not sure if anyone cares, but I do.

That I wrote an article on digital literacies that isn’t peer-reviewed but continues to be widely shared (remembering I insisted on getting an open access version of it)

More than anything, I actually think my best writing this year was a poem.I’m Not Angry at You, but I don’t think I can say that in my annual review.

I guess I will write about my keynote invitations, even if no one truly understands what the conference OER17 is about. 

At least they have an idea what DigPed is about because another highlight of my year was hosting DigPedCairo and sharing that experience with many of my local and AMICAL colleagues. I can’t really explain that the highlights of that event was the private time I spent with Jesse and later Bonnie. Or introducing them to my daughter at lunch the day before. I also can’t describe the heartache of losing a couple of participants because they couldn’t get a visa to Egypt. Grrr

I had a few rare opportunities to speak in Cairo that I really valued. At the eLearning Africa conference and at the OpenMed event at Cairo University.

I had a few breakthroughs in my teaching that I don’t think I can really report properly in a formal context

  1. Having students come to my office to discuss their projects and brainstorm together is really useful both for process and product. This us probably self-evident to experienced teachers, I actually don’t know why I hadn’t done it before. I also, for some reason, got to have lots of one-on-ones with my students this semester and they were invaluable as I learned how each of them had different struggles and learned to support each student differently through them
  2. I co-created an Escape Game w Nadine and Sherif for the first time, and learned how difficult it is to make it educational and to describe it to anyone 

Some stuff you don’t really get to talk about. Like all the peer reviews I did for Hybrid Ped and elsewhere. Like writing reference letters for people. I get to mention grants I wrote even if I didn’t get them, so that’s cool. I really don’t know if anyone wants to hear about my learning while writing them.

You know what, I am going to find a way to write this into my formal report, somehow. I will find ways to frame it so that someone understands why it matters. So maybe I won’t mention the high five with Jim Groom or what Bonnie said when she hugged me. But pretty much anything else can be mentioned in some way. 

And I am sure that the moment I hit publish I will discover I had forgotten something really big. I know it. But I am gonna hit publish anyway coz my commute is almost over…and who wants to read the show-off post anyway. 

Thank you for 2016. Especially the vconnecting crew, the DigPedLab crew, AMICAL, Prof Hacker, DML, ALT/OER17, (+ more) and my boss and colleagues for giving me space to do crazy things sometimes. And everyone who has written, presented or given me opportunities to have meaningful conversations this year.

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