End-of-the-semester wrap-up!

I blog… well, infrequently is putting it mildly. I’m busy, and I realize that’s not an excuse, but it’s true. I’ve barely had time to sleep the last month or so!

So here’s a little bit of wrap-up on what I did this semester:

  • Completed, successfully, courses in Organizational Informatics, Human-Computer Interaction, and Computer-Mediated Communication. I’ve got grades back for two, but while I haven’t received the third I am absolutely beyond a doubt confident that I did just as well in it as I did in the other two.
  • Accepted a new position as a web developer for the office of UITS Research Technologies and ended two and a half years at the UITS Support Center. Not only am I doing something I love, but I have an amazing group of co-workers. That change of position made a huge impact on my quality of life this semester. Not only am I learning new things again (as I hadn’t been at the Support Center for over a year), but I’m in a position that I have great faith could one day turn into a full-time position. And honestly? I think I’d be perfectly happy to spend the next 40 years of my life working for this department, even if such a thing IS unusual in the IT field.
  • In Human-Computer Interaction, I learned a lot about usability testing. For one project, we prototyped a pair of really neat clocks for geeks and people who hit the snooze button too many times. For the final project, we “designed” and tested a mobile application that takes a location-aware social networking approach to Personal Health Record management. I plan on blogging about both of these over the break.
  • In Computer-Mediated Communication, I learned a lot about the world I spend much of my time on (namely, the Internet). I also identified a topic I wanted to know more about, online safe spaces, and then discovered that there was almost nothing written on the topic. Even for offline applications, I found a grand total of ONE paper that actually defined what a safe space was. This is something I have a great deal of personal interest in and I think it might be fruitful and important enough to consider as an eventual dissertation topic.
  • Organizational Informatics was without a doubt the most frustrating class I have taken as a graduate student, and it’s one of my top three most frustrating post-secondary classes (actually, it’s probably top three of ALL TIME). That said, I learned a lot, and I grew a lot, and I can’t say that I considered the class to be a negative experience. I definitely improved more as a writer than I have in years and years.
  • I went to Canada. It was cold, but Toronto was amazing to experience. I should post some of those pictures, too, now that I think of it.
  • I participated in an online gift exchange with over 17,000 other users! The Reddit community never ceases to amaze me.
  • I have learned and continue to learn at least one new thing every day at my new position. I simply cannot rant and rave enough about how much I love my working environment right now. Did I mention they gave me my own cubicle? This is the first time I’ve ever had a space that was mine, rather than shared, at any job I’ve ever worked.
  • I attended an Indie Game Developer night at SproutBox, a really cool local company with an innovative approach to venture capital, and I attended regrettably few Geek Dinners
  • I made great strides toward completing my work as a Master’s student and transitioning to a PhD program. I discussed it with my advisor, Howard Rosenbaum, and he gave me a great deal of insight. As a result, during the upcoming semester I will not only be completing my core coursework next semester, but taking a pair of education classes – one with Noriko Hara in SLIS and another with Joshua Danish in Learning Sciences. I plan on taking a class in an upcoming semester with someone in the Instructional Systems Technology department; once I’ve achieved that and the Learning Sciences class, I will re-examine my plans for a PhD and begin looking at programs.
    1. That’s most of the big stuff. I’m sure there’s more, but I’m a tad burned out at the moment and also excited because I have, for the first time in about a month, discretionary time this evening! I will be attending a benefit for the Progressive Librarians Guild at the Bluebird nightclub here in Bloomington, where the Bloomington Burlesque Brigade will be performing.

      My life is amazing!

All kinds of stuff going on this summer!

As we hit mid-summer, I’m excited to announce a couple of new professional developments.

One, I’m getting my start in educational technology. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to work with Sarah Robbins, also known as Intellagirl, on a really neat project that I think is going to be an incredible learning opportunity for me. I only wish I could talk about it – I sat through training basically completely riveted by how interesting the subject matter was! I’ve never been excited about a job the way I’m excited about this.

What does that mean for my position at UITS? Simply put, I’ll be scaling back my hours and switching to a more documentation-based focus. Instead of taking phone calls, e-mails, and support chats, I’ll be working with supervisory staff and on occasion the Knowledge Management team to update and create documentation for the IU Knowledge Base, which is an incredible resource if you have technical questions.

Additionally, on deck for this summer, I have a few websites I’ll be working on. One of them will be a professional development style site, portfolio, and CV for my good friend Jeana Jorgensen (she’s a PhD student in Folklore at IU, and she’s one of the smartest people I know). Once that’s all put together to a point where Jeana can manage it herself (I’m all about implementing technology that empowers the user regardless of tech skills!) I’m going to be working with my former teacher Troy Brownfield to bring back his site, Shotgun Reviews.

Once all of that is completed, it will be time to update my own web site again. With all these exciting projects, I’m thinking more and more that I ought to have a portfolio available online to showcase the types of projects I’m working on as I am able to do so.

And finally, at the end of the summer, I’ll be starting classes again. My fall schedule is full – thankfully my work schedule is looking like it’s actually going to allow me to do classes full time again – and I’ll be taking classes focused on organizational informatics, human-computer interaction, and computer-mediated communication (that’s nine credits, for those of you counting).

It’s awesome being a geek!