When my name was put in nomination for board member-at-large, the nominating committee asked me to fill out an application. I was lead to believe that the responses would be posted in the election page, but for some reason they’re not, I haven’t been asked to provide any kind of photo, bio, or other statement, but I believe the membership has the right to see why I think I should be elected to the board of directors as a member-at-large. Here are the answers to the nomination application as I submitted them. [Note: This page has since been linked into the bio/statement box on the election form]
1-Describe your involvement with AECT, past and present.
I first became a member in 1999 in the first year of my PhD program at the University of Northern Colorado (UNCo). In 2000 I was the Strobehn Intern and Mentor Scholar in the last Spring conference (Long Beach). At that time I noted that the graduate student lounge, an historic part of the AECT Annual Conference had fallen into inactivity. This seemed wrong to me so I returned to Greeley and began trying to organize grad students from around the country. I used free tools available in public spaces and managed to build a cadre of grad students from around the country.
I used some of the Mentor award money to pay my way to the Summer Institute in Montreal during the Summer of 2000 and convinced Marcy Driscoll (then president elect and program chair for 2000 Denver) to find me space for the Graduate Student Lounge. The idea was that the “host” school for the annual conference would provide students to support that effort and have the opportunity to showcase their individual programs. Since the 2000 Denver conference was in our backyard, UNCo took the lead and began the new GSL. In the intervening years, the grad student group has risen in prominence within the organization and I’m pleased to have had some small part in re-vitalizing this important piece of AECT history.
In 2002 I was elected by the Division of Distance Learning and served as DDL Program Chair for the AECT 2003 Anaheim. After moving up to President in 2004, I started trying to revitalize the DDL by posting my Wednesday Wanderings to the DDL list. That created a fair stir in the community. In October, 2004, the new president asked me to move off the list so I took my Wanderings to the Cognitive Dissonance blog where I have continued to write about issues relevant to the AECT and Distance Education — for better or worse.
In the summer of 2003, I was nominated to join the AECT Strategic Planning Task Force and joined Donal Little in dealing with issues surrounding leadership within the AECT and the strategic positioning of the AECT in the context of the field as a whole. Along the way, we’ve established several tools to help in the collaborative effort including the flagship – Terra Incognita. One of the more exciting tools is the new interactive interface for the annual conference — The Overlay — that we hope will serve to unite the members “on the ground” with those who are unable to attend. By giving them a mechanism to connect with each other while onsite, the idea is that they well form those connections that will carry them forward into the coming year and bridge the “contact gap” between conferences.
I’ve also served on the AECT Special Needs Committee since 2000 and was appointed to Chair that committee this year.
2-Describe your education, career and other experience including leadership roles in other professional organizations.
I hold a BS in Business Administration (Marketing) from SUNY/Buffalo, MA and PhD in Educational Technology from University of Northern Colorado.
I spent 20+ years in management information systems before moving to Greeley. In that time I was president of the Software Management Association, a professional organization for IS people responsible for the maintenance of legacy business information systems.
I spent 5 years as a corporate trainer in the Denver area specializing in Internet applications and the Microsoft Office suite before starting graduate school. In my time here, I have worked with the Dept of Special Education to help them get master’s programs in blindness, deafness, and significant support needs online.
3- In 500 words or less, describe your vision for AECT?
The AECT is a community with rich historical roots. We come from the proud traditions of the DAVI. Our past members have shaped the world of educational technology. Looking forward into the new century, we have a rich field of opportunities and a firm foundation upon which to build them. The AECT should use its knowledge, history, and expertise to address the larger issues of education in the new millenium.
4.What would be your agenda be and/or what should the agenda be for moving AECT forward in the next 3-5 years?
We need to stake out our strategic markets. Member benefits of the last century are largely meaningless in the world of blogs, aggregators, and ubiquitous access. Google is the clearing house and Amazon the mall. eBay has become the world’s flea market. The AECT needs to move into that space to provide a kind of membership experience that does not replace the face-to-face, but augments it and facilitates it where it cannot happen in physical space — even creating new kinds of membership experiences that cannot happen without access to the new technologies. In the same way that online education can aid, assist, and augment classrooms, the AECT should pursue that notion. We should:
Recruit underserved populations:
– A large number of practicing professionals are in one-person, unsupported shops where physical participation in the conference is not possible.
– A larger number of people are cut off simply because they have no readily available mode of connection to the field.
Provide the connections
– Create tools and avenues for members to talk to members. The once-a-month newsletter is obsolete and it’s time to move into “everyday” contact among the membership.
Address the continuing education requirements for existing members
– The one thing our members need is a reliable source to connect to innovation and training in applying those innovations.
– Provide a model for modern publications practices that keep the best of the old, but update them to the new.
The value of membership is not embodied in the static content protected by the organization’s firewall, but rather in the opportunity for daily contact with the people who are active, working, thinking, and shaping the field of educational technology. The prime member benefit is not in WHAT being a member gives me access to, but who. It’s not the “names” and it’s not the people who have long vitas and big bookshelves. It’s having access to people who can inspire, inform, cajole, amuse, and sympathize.
The first word says it all. Association.
5. Why do you think you would make a good candidate? Also, please reflect briefly on your leadership style and group facilitation style.
Being a candidate is the easy part. The AECT doesn’t require a candidate to do much. The follow through is the key and I think that I’ve demonstrated a good track record in organizing action and following through. I believe that a lot of people recognize my name from being active with the graduate students and in my work with the Strategic Task Force. When I stand up in front of the assembly, many of the people will know who I am and what I stand for. They may not agree with me, but they will at least know who I am and what I believe. From that perspective, I think I have sufficient recognition within the organization to be a viable candidate. (I’m not sure if that means a “good candidate” or not.)
My leadership style is on display daily in my blogs (Cognitive Dissonance and Terra Incognita). I lead by example. I don’t ask anybody to do something I’m not willing to do myself — and often demonstrate it for them along the way. I have strong opinions but I’m incapable of rejecting a logical argument against me. While many may see me as arrogant, age and experience have given me a perspective that I hope — someday — will resolve into real wisdom. In the meantime, I believe that leadership requires somebody who is willing to stand up and lead — even while recognizing that the direction may be wrong, and knowing that direction may need to be changed for good cause. I don’t believe in doing something just for the sake of doing something, but I do believe that inaction should be a deliberate choice, not a default.
Thank you to the Committee for considering me for the post.
Nathan O. Lowell, Ph.D.
National Center on Low-Incidence Disabilities