Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Making as a Means of Processing and Reflecting

...or, my return to working with yarn in the name of research.

This week, I needed to knit something. It didn't matter what it was, though with a toddler I knew it needed to be easy and interruptible. I decided on a chunky scarf in garter stitch, using mondo needles so it would be fast, productive work. I was feeling productive -- feeling as though I simply had to make something with my hands. So I started this project.

I am also immersed in reading for a research project I am working on about the field of library and information science (LIS), and more specifically, the positioning of information literacy within it. This research will hopefully turn into a journal article soon after the new year.

On my second day of working on the scarf, it occurred to me that it might be very productive to alternate reading sections of challenging LIS theoretical scholarly literature, with knitting several rows of my scarf. The goal would be to use the knitting time to process and reflect upon the reading I just did, and then return to the reading refreshed and ready to tackle the next set of ideas.

And so, I tried it... and my goodness, talk about the perfect marriage of two activities. I don't want to say too much about it yet -- I'm not yet in a position to try to figure out why doing these two things together is so successful for me. I need to do it more. And so, I shall.

"LIS, Method, and Postmodern Science" by Ron Day in Journal of Education and
Information Science Education
37.4 (1996): 317-324, and a chunky garter stitched scarf. 
I plan to link up with Yarn Along at Small Things for as long as I am using knitting as a means of processing and reflecting upon the reading I am doing for my research.

So, this week's knitting project: the beginnings of a chunky garter stitched scarf.

And this week's reading: an article titled "LIS, Method, and Postmodern Science" by Ron Day. To give a taste of the brain-twisting challenge this article and others like it pose in terms of reading, processing, and understanding, here's a representative snippet:
As a form of knowledge, LIS too must reflectively examine its own historical construction and its methodological procedures in terms of the information flows around and through it. But since information is both the object of study in LIS and is central to the process of postmodern science, the questioning of method in LIS is not simply a reflective gesture within the profession, but is centrally important for postmodern science as a whole. The relation of LIS to postmodern science is like a Möbius strip: the problem of the object involves the problem of the method. For the postmodern science of information studies, "information" constitutes both its "inside" and its "outside." (p. 321)
I just love this stuff. And knitting makes me love it even more.

Friday, December 6, 2013

AcWriMo 2013 Recap

November ended almost a week ago, and along with it my first AcWriMo experience. At the very beginning of the month, there was this:

But once I got the hang of navigating the accountability spreadsheet to record my progress, I got nervous about user error resulting in parts of my log being deleted. So, I decided to archive my log here as well, for my own future reference and analysis (#metaliteracy much?). So, here below is my running log of AcWriMo 2013, as well as a declaration of my AcWriMo achievements, and finally a brief reflection on how I thought it went.
GOALS: 1 application for promotion completed and submitted; 1 journal article drafted; 1 article query sent; 1 co-authored book chapter drafted; 1 IRB application revised; 2 metaliteracy blog posts published; 1 masters thesis blog post published; 2 peer evals written and submitted

PLAN: work uninterrupted on at least one goal per work day for 1-2 hours


1-Nov: wrote for 5 hours; application for promotion completed and submitted

2-Nov: signed up for AcWriMo and declared goals (including retrospective one from yesterday)

3-Nov: blogged my AcWriMo goals

4-Nov: live tweeted an event related to my research for the journal article; 1 metaliteracy blog post published

5-Nov: no progress on goals -- time overrun with meetings, ref desk, and IL appointments

6-Nov: no progress on goals -- time overrun with IL classroom session and IL one-on-one appointments 

7-Nov: 1 masters thesis blog post published; only worked toward goals for 30 minutes today

8-Nov: spent 1 hr 15 mins doing refresher CITI training course -- counting time twds my IRB app revision goal; spent 15 mins drafting AcWriMo recap blog post to archive progress on goals; spent 5 minutes responding to a metaliteracy-related blog comment; read preface to "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" for journal article; printed 7 articles to be used in journal article

9-Nov: read 6 chapters of "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" with highlights and notes for journal article

10-Nov: read 3 chapters of "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" with highlights and notes for journal article

11-Nov: performed lit review of articles re: paradigm shift in libraries for journal article, placed ILL requests and downloaded every article found, both re: paradigm shift in libraries and from BI to IL

12-Nov: no progress toward goals, except downloading articles received via ILL for lit review of journal article -- broke my toe yesterday evening!

13-Nov: spent 30 minutes reading an article for lit review of journal article

14-Nov: no progress on goals -- overrun with IL appointments

15-Nov: no progress on goals -- overrun with IL appointments; did share link to full-text of Master's thesis with Library department colleagues and parish choir director

16-Nov: no progress on goals -- weekend and travel prep (plus recovering from broken toe and cold)

17-Nov: no progress on goals -- weekend and travel prep (plus recovering from broken toe and cold)

18-Nov: began writing one peer evaluation

19-Nov: finished writing and submitted peer evaluation started yesterday

20-Nov: AJCU VR Annual Meeting -- business travel

21-Nov: AJCU VR Annual Meeting -- business travel

22-Nov: AJCU VR Annual Meeting -- business travel

23-Nov: no progress on goals -- weekend

24-Nov: no progress on goals -- weekend

25-Nov: wrote and submitted one peer evaluation

26-Nov: no progress on goals -- early snow closure so I did not go into office

27-Nov: no progress on goals -- took [planned] vacation day for holiday

28-Nov: no progress on goals -- Thanksgiving

29-Nov: no progress on goals -- out of town visiting family

30-Nov: no progress on goals -- out of town visiting family

ACHIEVEMENT: 1 application for promotion completed and submitted; 1 metaliteracy blog post published; 1 masters thesis blog post published; 2 peer evals written and submitted

PROGRESS MADE ON: 1 journal article drafted; 1 article query sent

STILL TO DO: 1 co-authored book chapter drafted; 1 IRB application revised; 1 metaliteracy blog post published  
Upon reflection, I can see where I went "wrong" with conceiving of what goals I may actually be able to achieve during this particular month. Two weeks of the month were cut short -- one for business travel, and one for the Thanksgiving holiday plus a snow closure. I knew from the get go I would not be working toward goals (much) on the weekends, or on days I did not go into the office, what with Bookie and my husband being my top priorities while at home. This meant that there were only so many days during the month I'd be attempting my 1-2 hours of uninterrupted work toward my goals. I also broke my toe in the second week of the month!

In addition, I had a campus service commitment I made a while back, which required a lot of time this month reviewing and scoring grant applications. Finally, I did not anticipate the number of one-on-one information literacy (IL) appointments -- both planned and impromptu -- that would occur in the early weeks of the month. They wound up taking up my one block of 1-2 hours I have each work day to "myself" to do, well, academic writing.

All of that being said, I'm proud of what I did accomplish. I did a lot of footwork on the journal article, even if I didn't send the article query to the journal yet. But I also discovered a different journal that may be a better fit for the piece, so now I may query it in two places -- something I didn't anticipate a month ago, but a welcome development. I also plan to dive back into work on the article within the next week, with plans to prioritize the completion of a full draft in January.

The co-authored book chapter draft originally had a deadline of December 1st, but my research partner Teresa became sick late in the month (#frownie) and negotiated a two-week extension with the editors. She is leading on that project, but even with the extension, this item will be off the list by mid-December.

The IRB application revision fell to the wayside, and may not get prioritized until January. With everything on my plate, that particular data collection project may need to take a back seat for now, and I'm okay with that. I did update my CITI training though, so that's something.

This post will technically be the second metaliteracy blog post listed under "still to do", though I do need to write a proper post containing my final thoughts on the MOOC itself, even though I basically bowed out of it halfway through the semester. I hope to do this before the Christmas holiday.

While I don't have the brain right now to declare formal AcWri goals for December, I did submit a conference proposal yesterday (with Teresa) which I'm super excited about, and now this post is added to my AcWri record for the month, so all in all, I'm feeling good about my first AcWriMo experience and my resulting motivation to remain productive. So, cheers!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Master's Thesis: Link to Full Text

Screen grab of the record for my thesis in the Masters Theses Collection at my library (click to embiggen)
Not long after I successfully defended my Master's thesis, I submitted both the print and electronic versions to my library's digital services department to be added to our Masters Theses Collection. In the spirit of open access, I decided to grant the library permission to make my thesis viewable electronically to the public, worldwide. Once my thesis was live in the collection, my thesis advisor noted: "From defense to global accessibility in 6 days...that's remarkable. And accessed it should be." (Very kind of him.) I agree that it's exciting to think that my thesis is now available for scholars to read, but I'm even more excited that this enables me to share my work with those in my life who are interested in reading it: family, friends, and church folk.

So, without further ado, here is the link to my thesis. If you do decide to click over and skim or read part or all of it, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback, no matter what the context is in which you are reading it (i.e., fellow Orthodox Christian, fellow theology scholar, fellow librarian interested in things-scholarly, or close friend or family member -- or any other group I may be missing!).

Monday, November 4, 2013

Open Forum on Revised ACRL Info Lit Standards

This afternoon the ACRL, the governing body of my discipline here in America, hosted the third of three open forums about the revision process of the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. I decided to live tweet the event (#ACRLILRevisions), and the conversation happening among academic librarians across the country was good and useful. After the event, I remarked to my research partna', Teresa--who both attended the online forum with me and my fellow librarians in my department, and, with whom I've been saying for three years now that the ACRL Standards need to be revised--I remarked to her that I observed in my library colleagues participating on Twitter a polarization in the profession over this revision: Folks are either invogorated by the proposed changes, including the move from "standards" to "framework" and all that it implies (I fall into this camp); or, they are approaching the revision with a critical eye toward making sure it is "evidence-based" beyond a study or two and not inherently contradictory. Neither pole is wrong, which is why I view this as a productive polarization, if the IL Revision Task Force leans into the tension between the two perspectives, engages with both, and addresses the articulated concerns.

To this end, I decided to create another blog post containing highlights from the live tweeting of the event, with some commentary from me. These are mostly tweets from me, since the last time I experimented with grabbing a series of live tweets for a blog post it helped me process the information and my learning of it; it also serves as a record of my thought process for future reference. But some of these come from other folks as well, because there were a lot really good concerns raised, and I don't want these to be lost.

I knew this, about the role of #metaliteracy in this revision, from my work on my article with Teresa, "Teaching metaliteracy: a new paradigm in action." It was still exciting to see the Task Force articulate it today.

That's Teresa tweeting here -- we're already doing this kind of collaboration, but through this revised document, others are more likely to see the connections between LIS and rhet/comp and act on them.

So the above two tweets are actually two sides of a coin that was discussed in great detail in the Twitter conversation -- how can we say we're moving away from library jargon, only to ground the new document in two very jargon-y theoretical lenses? Observe, the problem stated, and my current take on it (in 140 characters or less per tweet, oy!):

A good way to conceive of threshold concepts, a theory which is relatively new to me, but which makes sense, and is another example of just putting a name to something that already exists (like metaliteracy):

(Love me some paradigm shifting...)

Now, on to the all important question of assessment:

And Teresa noted as well that the move toward a framework as opposed to a linear set of standards is a lot like what's happening in her own field:

I got the sense during the conversation that some participants were getting nervous at how seemingly opaque the conceptual framework(s), which this new information literacy document will be grounded in, seemed, as they were presented in the (inevitably) top-down setting of a webinar. Here was my response to this observation:

You can see where I land on the "standards" versus "framework" question, a question of form and structure which Teresa and I hashed out over two years ago in our paper we presented at ACRL 2011:

But then another two participants made a very good point we need to consider:

I then made the following observation, which I believe wholeheartedly to be true of practitioners in our field, myself included, which became a conversation with @edrabinski:

...which was an idea I got from this participant:

And now, on to some stand-alone tweets that I can 100% cosign and get behind:


Yes, and they are long overdue. Which is not to say I want to see them rushed to adoption without being put through the critical wringer, so to speak. But we definitely need a revised understanding to work from soon.

This was a good point that I hope was not lost.

My partna' again; this "hunt and peck" mentality toward research is so prevalent at the reference desk, it drives me nuts.

One participant was tweeting out hysterical but pointed tweets of substance. Here he comments on the fact that not all participants were being won over on the revision direction through this webinar format:

(I LOL'd.)

And finally, because how can I process and analyze this kind of public, decentralized conversation via Twitter without noting the obvious application of metaliteracy:

Which means, I really should tag this so it feeds over to the Metaliteracy MOOC, since the #ACRLILRevisions stream is such a good example of metaliteracy in action.

A quick note on my MOOC participation of late (or lack thereof): I'm several MOOC talks behind, though I hope to catch up over the next two weeks. Looking forward to diving back into the conversation with my fellow MOOC participants as well.

Gah, so many conversations/streams/feeds, so little time! #metaliteracyprobs

UPDATE: Kate Ganski, Visiting Program Officer for the ACRL's IL revisions process, has compiled a storify from the Twitter stream during the Open Forum on 11/4. Definitely worth a look!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Application for Promotion and Communities of Practice

...or, the November I did AcWriMo. But more on that in a moment.

On Friday, November 1st, I met the biggest deadline of my career thus far.

The deadline was not just for my application materials (pictured). It was the deadline by which I needed to have met five qualifying criteria for promotion to the rank of Associate Professor, having to do with my three areas of faculty responsibility: librarianship, scholarship, and service. Without describing them in detail, suffice it to say, the requirements are very involved, time consuming, and challenging, each in its own way. By far the most challenging was the scholarship criterion -- which is, basically, that I need to have "substantial" scholarly activity in my field that is juried/refereed/peer-reviewed, etc., and in my profession the minimum I was given was "two peer-reviewed journal articles, published or accepted for publication by the time of application," which thankfully I have. I also needed to complete my Master of Arts in Theology degree. My mantra this past year has been: "Just get to November 1st, Donna." And, by God's grace, and the immense support of my husband, Paul, and my amazing research partna', Teresa, I made it: My application is in, and I actually feel good about my chances of being promoted by my colleagues on the Board of Rank and Tenure at my institution. Either way, I don't need to worry about it again until January, when my meeting before the Board will be scheduled.

Another thing I've been looking forward to is getting past November 1st so I can do my research and scholarly activities without the punitive "whip" of a career making-or-breaking timeline under which I needed to work. I can do my research at the pace that best suits the project, not my academic timeline. I feel very excited about this next chapter in my work, and have a plan in this upcoming year for research that is feasible, exciting, and important. I'm feeling very motivated by this freedom. 

So, on Friday when I returned to my Twitter stream after being away for a few days, I realized a community of practice called AcWriMo was a perfect fit for this next month in my academic life. Like NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, AcWriMo takes place during the month of November, during which participants post their writing goals publicly and have a commmunity of fellow writers with whom to share progress, and from whom to receive support. If it isn't obvious from its name, AcWriMo is a community of practice dedicated to academic writing. 

And so, in the spirit of public accountability, here are my goals for AcWriMo 2013:
GOALS: 1 application for promotion completed and submitted; 1 journal article drafted; 1 article query sent; 1 co-authored book chapter drafted; 1 IRB application revised; 2 metaliteracy blog posts published; 1 masters thesis blog post published; 2 peer evals written and submitted.
PLAN: Work uninterrupted on at least one goal per work day for 1-2 hours. 
Ambitious? Perhaps. And I wonder if I'm setting myself up for "failure" by fully admitting that for a few of these, if I can just end the month with a decent amount of progress made, I will be satisfied, since I can continue to work on them in December. The key for me is that I make a concerted effort to work on all of these this month, so when December comes I won't be starting from scratch on any of them.

The co-authored book chapter as well as the peer evaluations are due by the end of this month, so they will definitely be completed.

I admit that I cheated a bit: I declared these goals yesterday, on November 2nd; I accomplished the first goal on November 1st. But, if 20 pages, single-spaced, of me 1) explaining what it is I do as a faculty librarian, and, 2) making my case for academic promotion to my faculty colleagues, doesn't count as academic writing, I'm not sure what does. And it felt good to start off the month on such a good foot.

The journal article I hope to draft will use a substantial amount of past writing cut from a different article, but to revise it into what I want it to be I need to do some more research, as well as a fair amount of new writing for it. So, while this is still the biggest goal listed (aside from the promotion application), I won't be starting from scratch on it, so I have a good chance at completing it.

And finally, as you can see, blogging figures into my goals as well; more specifically, blogging related to the Metaliteracy MOOC I'm in, which I needed to take a hiatus from in order to finish my thesis and apply for promotion. I'm hoping to return to it (and catch up on past MOOC talks) later this week.

I'll be tweeting with #AcWriMo about this experience. Wish me luck! And for any other AcWriMo folk reading this: Go forth and write (academically)!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Master's Thesis: Defended + Acknowledgments and Introduction

Image source via Pinterest.
Yesterday afternoon, I successfully defended my Master's thesis, titled:

"Now lay aside all earthly cares": 
Knowledge of God through Christian Worship

Although there is still paperwork to file, the physical degree to confer, and my commencement ceremony to partake of, at the conclusion of my defense I became a Master of Arts in Theology. I am excited about the work I produced, and relieved to have finally accomplished this important milestone. Besides the personal fulfillment it brings, it is also a requirement for applying for both promotion in academic rank and tenure in my position of Assistant Professor on the library faculty at my school. I plan to apply for promotion this year, with the deadline of November 1st for submitting my application materials, so completing and defending my thesis this month was a necessity, and one I am proud to have accomplished.

When I posted the news yesterday on Facebook, first that the defense was occurring later that afternoon, then that my defense was a success, I also included the title of the thesis in my status update, and many people in my life expressed an interest in reading it. I am about 95% sure that I will give my library permission to make the digitized version of the thesis accessible to anyone who knows the link or searches for it in our library catalog. I have a newly developed commitment to open access and to making my work available to be found, read, and engaged with...a commitment which has the freedom to blossom in the wake of having accomplished two publications in blind peer-reviewed journals in my field--publications which unfortunately are not at present openly accessible. I hope to rectify that in some way soon, but in the meantime, I wrote my thesis not just for me, but for anyone who participates in worship, especially in the Orthodox Christian context. I can't justify keeping the work behind an access wall. Which is all to say, unless my mind on this matter changes between now and filing the paperwork for the completed thesis, I will post the link to the full version on my blog once that process is complete. 

All of this being said, there are two short excerpts I want to share now, right here in the body of this blog post. One is my Acknowledgments page, because I want to be able to easily link to and share my thanks to these individuals, so I can share them sooner rather than later. The other is my Introduction, which is around three pages long. This lays out my research question, and my proposed answer to it, and explains how I go about demonstrating the answer over the course of the thesis (i.e., which writers I draw from and to what ends I do so). This second excerpt will be of interest to anyone for whom the title of the work sounds like something you want to read more about. The Introduction also begins with a reflection on my personal experience of worship, from which my research question sprang, so it is also a glimpse into my perspective as a choir singer in an Orthodox Christan parish. So, without further ado, here are the excerpts, to which I invite feedback and response.
I am very grateful to many for the support, prayers, insights, and influence that have led to this completed work. 
To my colleagues and administrators in the Library Department here at The University of Scranton: thank you for your support and flexibility as I completed my coursework, and then researched and wrote this thesis. I couldn’t have done it without you behind me. 
To my instructors in the graduate theology program: thank you for helping to form my thinking throughout the program as I approached this capstone research project; and thank you especially to Dr. Nathan Lefler and Dr. Maria Poggi Johnson, for your time and expertise in reading and offering feedback on this work.  
To my classmates in the program: I truly believe that learning happens in community, and your presence in the classroom with me as we attempted to wrap our feeble minds around the mysteries of God was a gift. Thank you.  
To Dr. Will Cohen: thank you for your time and willingness to guide me through this work, and for your valuable insights that helped me transform a rambling research idea rooted in personal experience into a fully-formed work that manages to maintain its heart.  
To my mother, Celia, my father, Jack (Memory Eternal.), and my brother, John: I wouldn’t be the scholar I am today without your encouragement; thank you for giving me the confidence to pursue what fulfills me and for always making my work feel worthwhile.  
And, to Paul and Anna: thank you for being my reason for sitting down at the computer and cranking this work out. I did it for you, with love. 

As a member of the choir in an Orthodox Christian parish, my experience of the liturgy—from the Greek leitourgia, popularly understood to mean “work of the people”[1]—is at once beautiful and, at times, puzzling. Every Sunday I attend the liturgy, during which I sing and participate, along with my fellow parishioners, in communal worship. The entire service is sung through, with the choir singing the responses on behalf of the faithful, though what I offer here can easily apply to any other manner of service during the liturgy, including simply standing actively at prayer. For the hour and a half or so that I am in church for the service, it often feels like time stands still—or, in some sense, ceases to exist. While singing the prayers and hymns of the liturgy, the most fulfilling moments are when I can’t hear my own voice, when my voice gets absorbed into the greater work of the choir as a whole. These are also the moments when time does not seem to exist in the same way it does when I am focused on singing technique, or paying close attention to how I sound in reference to the singers around me. These moments of timelessness during the liturgy are restful—they are what I look forward to every week when I go to church. And yet, it takes work to achieve them: the work of getting myself and my family to church each Sunday, learning the music, understanding the prayers, developing my vocal instrument, and so on. 
This experience is not unique to me. Hilarion Alfeyev, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk in the Russian Orthodox Church, describes his own experience of worship in the liturgy in the following manner:
Orthodox divine services are characterized by inner integrity and astounding beauty. . . . The entire service is conducted as if in one breath, in one rhythm, like an ever unfolding mystery in which nothing distracts one from prayer. . . . two hours are never sufficient for me, since the time goes by so quickly and the dismissal comes too soon . . . [due to] the sweetness of communion with God and the unearthly stillness and calm that enter the soul while serving the liturgy . . . (n. pag.)
Alfeyev’s experience mirrors mine, but he would be the first to agree that despite this gift we’re given in liturgical worship, the act itself requires much of us if it is to successfully yield to an experience like the one described here. It is this paradox, at once beautiful yet puzzling, that drove the research of my inquiry and defined the question of this thesis: How is this work, rest? 
The simplest form the answer to this question might take is to say: This work is rest because in it and through it we come to know God. The aim of this thesis is to articulate how this occurs, where the Incarnation of God in Christ makes possible man’s participation in the divine through worship and liturgy. To this end, Chapter I focuses on foundational ideas from Plato and Aristotle of how the human soul, containing reason and intellect, can be said to participate in the divine; these ideas are later taken up by Christianity and applied to the act of worship. Chapter II offers the thought of Saints Augustine (354-430 A.D.) and Maximus the Confessor (c.580-662 A.D.) on the topic of how knowledge of God is understood in the Christian context; several key shifts in emphasis from this topic’s treatment in antiquity are identified and developed, including the expansion of man’s participation in the divine to include the human body as well as the soul, and the apophatic character of God where man’s access to true knowledge of God (i.e., “mystical theology”) is mediated by an encounter between God and the Body of Christ (i.e., the community of believers) joined in a dynamic unity through divine worship. Chapter III moves the discussion to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, when a generation apart Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper and Eastern Orthodox theologian Andrew Louth engage in questions related to human reason and intellect and how these work together to enable us to achieve our highest humanity: to know God in a manner both human and divine. Chapter IV brings the inquiry full circle, drawing on the above scholars, as well as twentieth century Eastern Orthodox theologians Alexander Schmemann and Georges Florovsky, to demonstrate how worship is both the primary activity through which we come to know God, and, our loving response to that knowledge. 
Before proceeding, a disclaimer must be offered. The irony is not lost on me that I am offering a work that hopes to articulate the nature of how we come to know God, when the “answer” to this question is that, for the Christian believer, this knowledge is made possible in and through divine worship centering on the Eucharist. As my priest is wont to say, the simplest and most effective response to an inquirer’s question, “Who is the Christian God?” is: Come and see (cf. John 1:46), coupled with an invitation to attend liturgy some Sunday morning.[2] That being said, and as will hopefully be made clear in the following work, a rigorous critical engagement with the question has an important purpose to serve, for such inquiries help to prepare and condition the mind toward the restful anticipation required of us to fully enter into divine worship, enabling us to come to know God in and through the process. 
[1] The popularizing of this definition can be traced to the pastorally oriented liturgical theology of Alexander Schmemann; as Stefanos Alexopoulos explains, “Indeed, seeing ritual as a magical act is a real danger in highly ritual traditions, including the Orthodox, and I believe it is this danger that moved Schmemann and others after him to define liturgy as the ‘work of the people.’ While in the North American Protestant and possibly Catholic setting emphasis on this definition might limit or even diminish the understanding of the Eucharist as God’s gift, in an Orthodox setting there is need to emphasize the involvement and role of the community” (see pp. 288-289 of “Did the Work of Fr. Alexander Schmemann Influence Modern Greek Theological Thought? A Preliminary Assessment” in St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 53 (2009): 273-299). 
[2] The role and function of catechesis in preparing a person for entering fully into the community of faith presents an important tension that exists between the Orthodox Church’s requirement that new adult members receive rational instruction in the faith prior to sacramental initiation, on the one hand, and her practice of baptizing, chrismating, and communing infants who themselves have yet to reach the age of reason and understanding, on the other. It is a tension with significant implications, but which falls outside the scope of this thesis.
UPDATE: I've now posted the link to the full-text of my thesis, for anyone interested in reading it in full.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Metacognition & Information in New Contexts

Image source.
In the Metaliteracy MOOC I'm playing around with how I record my responses to the information presented to us by the facilitators. Writing longform blog posts does not appear to be my go-to preference; interestingly, tweeting my way through the MOOC Talks, or even some of the text-based readings, is working out better for me. This is ironic for me because I'm experiencing the talks asynchronously--so, not live, but via recording after-the-fact, due to the fact that I am always spending time with Bookie during the live session times and not at the office yet. It's ironic because tweeting through a talk is usually done to participate in the live backchannel during an event, and I'm not experiencing the information live. I'm still finding it the best way to record my ideas, though, so I'll probably stick with it.

I'm also finding myself wanting to return not only to the Twitter feed for the #metaliteracy hashtag in general, but also to my own tweets on the talks and readings I've worked through so far. I do this a lot--reread my own writing on a topic, so as to process the information further. (I'm a hyper rereader.) It's getting more and more difficult to go find my tweets in this manner though, since some are from talks and readings that are already a few weeks old. So, as an experiment that aims to solve this problem, and also get my blog back into the MOOC conversation, here below are all of my tweets from Char Booth's MOOC Talk from September 18th (watched by me on September 20th), titled Metacognition: A Literacy of Awareness. This was a series of tweets I definitely wanted to preserve for future reference, so they make a good test case to see if documenting my MOOC participation in this manner is useful, to me or anyone else. Here they are:

It's always interesting to see bits and bytes of information in new this case, tweets transposed and reordered in this blog environment.

If you're a MOOC participant and you actually read or skimmed through this post and are still reading, let me pose the following question:

What's it like reading a stream of tweets in chronological order as opposed to reverse chronological order as they appear in their native environment on Twitter? What's gained and what's lost? Anything else interesting about experiencing 140-character tweets in the blog environment? [Do also feel free to respond to the actual content of any of my tweets as well, though in true metaliterate fashion, I'm just as interested in how the presentation of this information affects its meaning, as I am in the information itself.]

Thursday, August 29, 2013

MOOCing it up, #metaliteracy style

A whole slew of things in my work and in my head are converging in a learning experience called the Metaliteracy MOOC.

If you're in higher ed in almost any capacity, you've likely encountered the term "MOOC", which stands for Massively Open Online Course, in any number of headlines. If you're not in higher ed, those links will give you an idea of what most MOOCs look like right now. In many cases the MOOC is interpreted as the harbinger of doom for higher ed as we know it.

But then I encountered the following video explanation of the term, produced by the researcher who originally coined it, and the picture looks much brighter:

That's a learning experience I'd love to participate in. And time willing, I'm about to. I've gone ahead and registered for the Metaliteracy MOOC as a participant, which will run over the course of fall semester. While I can't guarantee to myself or the other participants that I will be uber involved every single week in the connectivist* discussion happening around the tag #metaliteracy, especially since I have a ton going on at the moment, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and give it a go.

It helps that I've been using the tag #metaliteracy on Twitter for a while now, since my recent work with my research partner Teresa has relied heavily on the metaliteracy framework developed by none other than the facilitators of this MOOC, Thomas Mackey and Trudi Jacobson. More on metaliteracy can be found at their metaliteracy blog.

In fact, this is as good an opening as any to share here that Teresa and I just had an article accepted for publication in Reference Services Review called (wait for it...): "Teaching metaliteracy: a new paradigm in action". (*dun dun dun!* Like BAD WOLF in Doctor Who, it's EVERYWHERE!) In our article we use Mackey and Jacobson's metaliteracy framework as a lens through which to present our findings from the first run of our Rhetoric & Social Media course, which we co-designed and have co-taught for three years now. It's been assigned to Vol 42 Issue 2, which is due out June 2014--crazy, I know, but that's the way of academic publishing. I would like to have seen it assigned to an earlier issue, since next June is when ACRL (my profession's national organization) will be approving a revision to the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, a thirteen year-old document which Teresa and I have used heavily in our work for six years now. And this revision is being done by a task force that is being co-chaired by (wait for it...) Trudi Jacobson, co-facilitator of this MOOC I'll be participating in, and posting about here.

Oh yes, my participation in this MOOC will mean the rate of posting here is likely to go up a bit over the next few months, so that's a plus; though, the posts will all be about metaliteracy, and thus very process-oriented and reflective and likely to be dealing with technology, learning, and information. But if you're reading this blog post, that means you participate in the kind of learning I'll be reflecting on whether you realize it or not, so this post series is likely to be more relevant to you, my lovely readers (whoever you may be at the moment!), than you perhaps suppose.

So by now I bet you're wondering: What on earth is metaliteracy? Many of the links above answer this question in a variety of ways. But Teresa and I defined it very simply for ourselves a few years ago: it's a critical awareness of why we do what we do with information.

Via Pinterest** The first step to becoming metaliterate is to become aware that this^ is a reality for just about everyone, though it is only those of us who are aware of this fact that are in danger of overexplaining or being totally inarticulate on a regular basis. UPDATE: This.

What that awareness looks like in practice, and how we can develop it, are all things that may come up in future posts (though Teresa and I definitely discuss this in our article, which I'll post more information about when it is farther along in the publication process). But here's a clue: blogging about it is a good way to start. :)

*There are no good online summaries of connectivism, so I'll do my best to sum it up for you: Connectivist learning is learning that occurs within a network created by technology; it posits that learning takes place in a particular way in the spaces between people who are a part of each other's learning network, and as a result relies heavily on the technology that facilitates that connection.

**I tried to trace the image back to an original source, but alas, I hit a dead end at this link, and anyone else out there who reblogged the image has made it clear they did not design it themselves. And this difficulty in attributing an original source for this image is a perfect example of what metaliteracy seeks to address: not so much in correcting the fact that attributing an original source for the image is difficult, but in making us aware that it matters that this is so. (Is your head spinning yet? ;) )

Friday, August 23, 2013


Fall semester begins Monday, so I took the transition in my daily schedule as an opportunity to revamp a few things here on the blog.

First, there are new tabs along the top of the blog. I plan to add to and clean up their content as time goes on, but for now they will do. But do check them out if the "meta" aspects of this blog interest you at all.

And, I decided to install the Disqus plugin for commenting. Old comments should still appear on old posts. I am hoping this will make new visitors to the blog feel welcome to comment and say hello. I just hope my longtime commenters also continue to experience ease of use when it comes to commenting because of (in spite of?) this new commenting plugin.

Thank you as always for reading! More from me soon once I have a few big deadlines behind me. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Blur x 2

One of the reasons I started a blog was due to a desire to participate. It's been hard lately, though.

I recently read a blog post by a mommy blogger that describes something she calls "The Blur":
My father describes the years when his children were young as "The Blur". So that's where I was - deep in the Blur. My father is a somewhat inconsistent source of wisdom on parenting issues, but he hit the nail squarely on the head with this one. I am on a 24 hour cycle of waking, sleeping, nursing, napping, cooking, cleaning, wiping, folding, dropping off, picking up and putting away.
She goes on to describe how this phenomenon has made her a moron (her word, not mine). I'm a mother of a one year-old (yes, she turned one last week--ahhh where did this year go??? Oh wait, THE BLUR) who also works outside the home in a job that is intellectually rigorous, to say the least. I'm not sure I'd call myself a moron in any complete sense, though I do have my braindead moments that I know are caused by a combination of sleep deprivation, stress, and a flirtatious dance with burnout. I know for a fact that most of the time we in my little family are in "survival mode", and that's okay. (Somehow, we're thriving in it? Is that a contradiction? Let's call it a paradox.) "Survival mode" can be beautiful too. But, it is blurry. And a large part of why I haven't posted in so long, but not the reason entirely...

...because you see, I am also in another blur. The Junior Faculty Blur (TM). I have no link for that one because I am coining it now as a parallel but similar experience to the Motherhood Blur described above. This one looks something like: "I am on a 24 hour cycle of waking, sleeping, planning, writing, reading, highlighting, outlining, emailing, tweeting, posting, meeting, talking, and teaching." Yep, that about describes it.

In this post from last November, there are three writing projects listed under "Future". Two of them (the book chapter and the article) are out of my hands (read: done, for the time being--hallelujah!). The third, my thesis, is underway. It all needs to be 100% done by November 1st of this year so I can apply for promotion to the rank of Associate Professor. I'd love to blog about each, and I am hoping to, eventually...but not today.

Plus, the Fall semester begins in less than a month. Plus, there's that adorable, mobile, one year-old I mentioned (and oh em gee she looks tiny in the pictures at that post from last November!).

Which is all my way of saying, my apologies, friends and readers, for my absence. I really wish I could participate more in the act of reflective living-learning-working-mothering right now. But I'm learning there is a season for everything, and right now I am in a short but intense (read: deluge) season I'm calling The Blur x 2. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, though, which means I'll get my head above water soon.

But until then, here are some pictures of my Bookie, intentionally not of her face since I have a policy (for now) on my blog where I don't share pictures of her actual face nor her first name. If my year has been blurry, I can't imagine what hers must have been like!

Finally grew interested in books!
Well, turning the pages at least...

Crawling around church on Sunday :)

Pull up on ALL the things!!!
And now, back to it. See everyone when things get a bit less blurry!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Information Constellation on Bloglovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Bloglovin was just put on my radar by my friend as a potential contender against Feedly for my RSS Reader replacement when Google Reader goes away completely on Monday. Because I view this kind of change in tech-related stuff as inevitable and in many ways out of my control, I haven't used Google Reader in months, wanting to expend my energy on getting to know what was likely to become my new system (Feedly).

Feedly beat out everyone else because I could have a high number of feeds without giving them my money, and, it has a decent mobile app. I was disappointed, however, that it didn't have a web-only interface and relied on a browser plugin to work in a normal web browser.

I generated this meme back in March.

But, I was not the only one, and lo and behold enough folks spoke up about it that Feedly made this change a week and a half ago. I was very impressed with this responsiveness, and will likely stick with Feedly for the time being as a result.

However, today I learned about Bloglovin, and while I don't see myself completely moving over my feeds from Feedly any time soon, I decided it was worth "claiming my blog" there in case any of my modest readership does decide to use that platform as a Google Reader replacement. In order to claim my blog, I needed to publish a post with a special link included: the first link at the top of this post. Hence, this post.

So, there ya have it folks. If you're on Bloglovin, do feel free to follow me there. And as I tinker around with it some more I may surprise myself and decide it meets my needs over Feedly...that will take a lot of tinkering though. (I'm relieved to at least see that Bloglovin has a mobile app, as well as a clean web-only interface, so there may still be a worthy competitor for my RSS affections yet...)

And don't worry folks, I haven't forgotten about my blog--which, by the way, has a fancy new personalized domain name ( which shouldn't affect your subscription to the blog. I've just been buried in deadlines. Hopefully a chance to share about some of them, and other exciting things, will come sometime soon... Stay tuned! (And thanks, as always, for reading. :) )

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Paradigm Shift

Eight years ago I underwent a paradigm shift of the kind one can't plan or orchestrate in this life, but instead one arrives at primarily by God's hand.

Paradigm shift...
On May 15, 2005, the Feast of the Holy Myrrhbearers,* I was Chrismated into the Orthodox Christian Church.

Every aspect of my life, from school to work to family and everything in between, has been changed for the better because of it.

And I've been grateful every day since.

*This year is a year in which the liturgical and civil calendars line up almost identically to how they did that year, since today is also the Feast of the Holy Myrrhbearers. Always fun when this happens. </liturgicalgeek>

Edit: Looks like I commemorated this event last year on the blog as well using much the same language. Guess it's just that important. :)