Lately, there’s a question rolling around in my head that is keeping me up at night. I don’t know exactly how to word it, but it goes a little something like this:
How can I connect with more people?
I don’t mean how can I get more people to read this blog (though that would be nice). Rather, I am thinking about how I can connect with more people over the work I am doing. See, I’ve written plenty of articles and published them in the *right* (for lack of a better word) journals. I know some people read those journals, but I can’t help but question how many people really read and use the work that I do. It’s a mid-life career crisis I suppose. It’s the post-tenure baby blues. But I just have this idea gnawing in the back of my head that writing articles isn’t enough anymore. Maybe it was back in the day. But not anymore. Writing articles, something I used to love, feels so disconnected from the world at the moment. Maybe it’s just me.
Is it just me? Tell me if it’s just me.
I’m not saying I should stop writing articles all together. I’m not saying they don’t matter. I just read a bunch the other day by a host of other people, and reading them greatly helped me with my work.
But I think I need to do more than write articles which means I will probably write fewer articles because my time will be devoted to doing these other things. What are these other things? Well, back in the Spring I launched a YouTube channel although it is sparse. When I started teaching the high school kids I had to devote all my attention to them, and I lost traction in building the channel up. However, I see this channel as having a lot of potential to be grown and developed.
Recently, I published my first e-book born largely out of frustration with the slow moving publishing industry. I’m editing a second e-book (on using formative assessments in high education) and working on a third (how to implement blogging as a pedagogical technique in higher education). I’m excited about these because I think they fill a void and also help us reach out to each other in a more efficient manner.
In working on my blogging e-book, I reached out over FB and twitter to ask people what they would like to see included in the text and got some great feedback. For example, someone mentioned that she really wanted to know more about how to select a blogging platform. This was a chapter I had in the outline but had considered cutting. Once I heard that it could be useful I decided to keep it. For me, that was a great moment. It made the process of writing less isolated plus it connected me with a person who might actually want to read and use my book.
Think about it….I write books and articles for a variety of audiences. One of my primary audiences is teachers. But when do I actually get to converse with teachers who might use the material? When do they get to discuss my book with me – or whatever I am doing – as it is in progress and being developed? How might my audience shape my work? I think that offers many exciting possibilities. I don’t blame anyone for these things not happening. If anything, I was just constrained by what I accepted as the normal way of approaching research, writing, and communicating within an academic setting. But let me tell you a secret, I am not so happy with the status quo approach.
Of course the status quo approach to research and writing has served me well and would likely continue to serve me well if I happily, and blindly, went off down that path. But I would always be looking over my shoulder. Always wondering what might have been. And I cannot have that. No. I have to take a step onto a different path. For me, it is the right thing to do.