A Day in the Life of a SAPTTI

I haven’t written much about my new job as Special Assistant to the Provost for Teaching, Technology, and Innovation (SAPTTI), in part because it has kept me quite busy, especially since it is “only” a half-time position (meaning I’m still teaching two courses each semester).  But today I had a day that involved many of the aspects of this new position that I deeply enjoy, and I wanted to share them, both for my own sake, and for others to get a sense of what a position like this one entails.

At various points today, I was involved in the following activities (in no particular order, since many of them overlapped):

  • Collaboratively planning a new First-Year Seminar–“Beyond the Selfie: Exploring Digital Identities”–with an amazing team of faculty and staff from multiple disciplines to be taught in the Fall of 2015.
  • Sitting a shift at the Convergence Center Information Desk where I saw over a hundred students, faculty, and alums (it’s Homecoming Weekend) walk in to go to class, to hang out in the chairs, to study (on a Friday!) in the collaboration spaces, to meet with people from the Help Desk, Writing Center, Speaking Center, Center for Teaching Excellence & Innovation, and just to check out the building.
  • Reviewing with the ITCC building contractor and UMW’s project inspector the myriad of small things that continue to be revised in any new building.
  • Collaboratively hacking out a grant proposal with several of people I work with in UMW’s stellar Teaching and Learning Technologies unit (DTLT).  It has the potential to be an amazing partnership involving faculty, students, and some terrific people outside UMW as well. [And yes, I’m going to leave it that vague for now.  Hopefully we’ll be able to brag about it later.]
  • Finishing up one of the last duties of my life as department chair, a duty that reinforced for me how great the faculty are in my home Department of History and American Studies; they are a gifted group of scholar-teachers.
  • Swapping strategies on framing a proposal a number of people from various departments have been working on for a new major in Communication and Digital Studies.
  • Discussing evolving student projects from my classes on US History and Film and History of the Information Age, reminding me how creative and impressive our students are capable of being.  [More about these as they get further along….]
  • Writing up an email to UMW students about the resources currently available in the Convergence Center, the new ones coming on line (including our Multimedia Editing Lab) and the features still to come, like our Digital Auditorium and Production Studio.
  • Working to finish up the process of adding an important final piece to the people who make the ITCC go, a part-time Building and Digital Auditorium Manager.
  • Reviewing questions for a survey of students to assess their interest in digitally enabled learning of all forms, their digital fluency, and their experiences using technology in learning.  [A survey built and to be run, in part, by UMW students.]  This survey results will be a key set of data as I work with others on a digital learning strategy for UMW this year.

Finally, toward the end of the day, I walked by the brand new Digital Knowledge Center where I saw students working one-on-one with other students to learn how to use digital tools in their classes.  This idea, first proposed by a number of us in 2011, has finally happened. [And founding Director Martha Burtis has a wonderful description of that new academic resource that you should read.]

At so many points today I was surrounded by smart, thoughtful, creative, gifted people, all teachers and learners (despite their titles of student, faculty, staff, administrator, director, or whatever).  Laughter abounded, ideas blossomed, learning happened.

What is the day in the life of a Special Assistant?  Well, this one was pretty good, but frankly, on the whole, most of them are.

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