Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reading, reflecting, re-energizing, researching, (W)riting (I hope)

I have the privilege of being on sabbatical from teaching at Coker College this semester. It has taken me awhile to get used to not teaching. I continue to tell people this teaching job is the best job I have had in my working life and I do miss the day-to-day connection with students. And, maybe reflection is not one of my strong points and that is another reason I miss the structure of an intense teaching and meeting schedule. Truth is, I am getting more comfortable with leisurely coffee-bagel-reading sessions than I might have imagined. The Midnight Rooster is a fun place for that type of focused leisure discussion.

For about the past nine months I had been suggesting to my colleague George Lellis that the list of past advisees that continued to show up in our new advisor system had given me an idea for some research into the "real world" lives of our graduates. We both thought that might be a good idea but did not move forward for all those daily reasons of not enough time. So, one of the things I have accomplished on the Spring 2011 sabbatical is a research survey of the communication majors and minors who have graduated from Coker College since 2000.

Already, this has been an interesting project. One of the major areas of interest is how the distribution process worked. There are just over 90 names in this population study. Clarissa Davis of Coker's Institutional Research Department was able to provide those names and the Christie Happ of the Coker Development and Alumni office was able to provide contact information for many of the names. The major part of interest in this distribution process comes from the fact that most of the surveys were distributed through a communication medium that did not exist when I began teaching mass communication at Coker in 2000 -- FACEBOOK. This new medium has been a major addition to reaching our graduate population.

As of this morning, February 24, 2011, I have responses from 60 people in the survey. That is going to show up as a very strong response rate. So, let me just say here that I appreciate the assistance of Clarissa and Christie and the COOPERATION of all the alumns that have enriched this survey with their responses. I think this project is going to be extremely useful to our Communication Department and to Coker College. Thanks!

Obviously, I will be commenting a great deal more about this project over the next several weeks.

Other sabbatical opportunities so far have included being able to talk with students at Tanglewood Middle School about public speaking (my daughter Inga teaches there) and is doing a project that includes a presentation as one of the metrics for the students. And, this weekend I will be attending some Red Cross training for volunteer public information officers.

Among books read:
How to become a presentation god

Among books read but not understood
The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Green

Among the books in progress
The New Rules of PR by David Merriman Scott

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