Hmmm…Where to begin…I’ll give you the abridged version…
I bounced around a few colleges, and changed majors six or seven times, before I hobbled together a degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005. A short stint as an assistant college baseball coach at a small Division III school made me realize balancing two full-time jobs to pay the bills, well, sucked. I did enjoy teaching the game, and thought going back to school to become a teacher would be a good fit. (Education was major #1 after all.) Some research showed moving to Arizona was one of the quickest, cheapest and easiest ways to become a teacher. I didn’t have a girlfriend or a dog at the time so I packed my bags and headed to Arizona in 2006 with the burning desire to experience something new and different.
Fast forward to 2009/2010…I was growing frustrated as a high school social studies teacher because my students couldn’t find, evaluate, organize, synthesize and utilize information for a purpose, and I didn’t really know what to do about it. Our high school didn’t have a full-time certified librarian, and our library clerk happened to break her foot one weekend. Monday morning I learned she was out for the week which, in effect, shut my class out of our previously scheduled library time. I was pissed. So, I started researching the role of a school librarian in a high school, and first learned about ‘information literacy.’ I was so enthralled I lobbied the school board to fund a full-time librarian position (it only took me another whole school year to convince them), and earned my MLIS with the hope of being an education librarian. You know, to have a positive impact on all those future teachers, and show them how cool information literacy was. They’d soak it up like a sponge!
By the time I finished my MLIS, I was married and had moved from Arizona to Michigan (where my wife is from). It was also the time I realized finding an entry level academic library job in the Midwest was extremely difficult. Once my oldest daughter was born, I ditched the part-time job to be a stay at home dad, and a part-time job applicant. After six months of that, I finally convinced my wife to let me apply for jobs outside the Midwest, and another 12 months and 40+ applications later I became the Education & Instructional Technology Librarian at East Carolina University in late 2014.
It’s been a wild ride since then. Mostly because I first learned about John Dewey, Seymour Papert, Paulo Freire and the like for the first time. (Why the hell weren’t they covered in my teacher prep program?) Over time, I learned more about constructivism and then connectivism and cMOOCs and, finally, open education. I also became the “3D printing guy” not because I had ever used a 3D printer before, but because I was “the only person in the library with instructional technology in my job title.”
A special thanks to (in no particular order) Cog Dog, Stephen Downes, Audrey Watters, Doug Belshaw, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and so many others willing to share their thoughts and work online. It took a while, but reading their work for so long finally convinced me to get my own website and blog going.
I hope I can contribute something to the conversations I follow with interest online…