Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 56 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Scholarly Sweet Spots…or not?


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 56 seconds

Scholarly sweet spots. Nice alliteration, yeah? I have been thinking I found a couple of scholarly sweet spots lately…

Identity sweetspot
For example… I have been struggling with my role as faculty developer as I evolved as a teacher and researcher, so when I found myself increasingly liking Lee Skallerup Bessette’s work, I asked her to co-author a column with me where we out our views together… We called it Towards a Critical Approach to Faculty Development. In the process of writing that column we realized we would not have enough space to say all that needed to be said, and that there should be other voices in the convo, so we started a series on Keep Learning (here is my first post for that) – and it seems when both of these came out y/day they resonated with many people, judging by the Twitter reactions! Awesome. We hit a nerve or a sweet spot or something 🙂

The thing is, it might not be a sweet spot after all because i hesitated to share with article with my colleagues at work… They may find them on Twitter or on this blog, but it’s not the same as me sharing it to our mailing list. Still pondering why this is…

The other “or not” came with our decision to publish both the same day and cross-link… I felt i overwhelmed my own self with myself!

Collaborative Autoethnography sweetspot
The second sweet spot, is really a bittersweet spot 😉 which was the publication of this collaborative authoethnography article with several friends: What Makes a cMOOC Community Endure? Multiple Participant Perspectives from Diverse MOOCs. The bittersweet is that I had been working with much more passion with #rhizo14 on that collaborative autoethnography, and we submitted a paper to the same journal special issue; the rhizo14 did not get accepted, the one above was accepted with revisions. The very bittersweet is that when our rhizo paper didn’t get accepted we sought feedback from Jeffrey Keefer and it was his feedback on the rhizo paper that helped me revise the other paper that did eventually get published.

The other sweet spot of this is that I have a very strong stance to publishing open access. For the most part, I publish in open access venues, and serve on editorial boards of open journals and mostly review articles in open access journals. EMI, where this was published, is not open access. However, Taylor and Francis have what I consider a fair policy. I can post the author manuscript on my personal website – so I put it on my dropbox (but for some reason not everyone could access it). I am working on creating a new link but need to get some time on my PC to upload it in other places and make it openly available. In 18 months I can put a copy on an institutional repository and – not bad at all, really. It means people who know me can access it pretty fast, and people who don’t may take some time to be able to find it… But it’s not completely inaccessible, so I am ok with it.

The not-so-sweet is the realization that word limits make it difficult to show a full story still, so critiques of cMOOCs don’t show well in this paper as we cut lots of it and focused on our own experiences rather than how it might have been for others.

Supersweet Scholarship
Now the supersweet spot 🙂 was the Writing the Unreadable Untext – which we published recently on Hybrid Pedagogy… It was a beautiful negotiation of keeping the artifact of he untext intact, and writing something semi-legible around it, and putting them together so readers could imagine what rhizo14 was like and what collaborating together was like… It is probably what I am most proud of in all of the scholarship I have ever done, especially in how we both stuck to our guns and negotiated at the same time, creating a space for a dissenting scholarship that I think can sort of… Look other scholarship in the eye and challenge it without antagonism.

And more sweet spots…
Also, have you heard? seems to have hit a sweet spot… We suddenly have an influx of articles… Maybe people’s time has freed up over summer or something, but we’re getting a lot of articles and publishing as fast as we can edit them.

And one more sweet spot, the et4buddy/virtually connecting concept seems to be gaining traction. Check out some republished blogposts on our website. Almost every week now, someone offers to be onsite buddy for a conference. It does not always work out, but we definitely have some plans for August and bigger plans for October. I have another sweet spot in September which I will announce soon ( more alliteration, eh September Sweet Spot)

Final sweet spot… I have been invited to curate for July, that’s 4 hangouts on topics relating to leading in a connected world. I’ll announce details soon, but we’re collaborating with Edcontexts (Shyam is co-facilitating with me) and also with folks from #clmooc – Anna Smith and Joe Dillon. Watch out for some awesome stuff with awesome people … I won’t be able to join all the hangouts coz of Ramadan and family stuff… But hopefully the last two.

And yet there is this…

All of this coolness? It’s not helping solve Egypt’s educational problems. It’s satisfying me personally, giving me voice in the world beyond where I am… But it’s not enough. I need to see how my on-the-ground work can have more impact. I’m lucky I had a few chances last semester to present and meet with people outside my campus and hopefully start something… And hopefully next semester my course on educational game design will have more impact as my students work with a real community to create something for them…


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