cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by CarbonNYC

Just short of a year ago, I blogged about stepping into the great wide open.

I quit my job “in these economic times” and planned at least 9 months of rewind, as well as an epic odyssey loop of travel (which came to be) and I came back from that great wide open.

I also spent a few weeks sanding and painting my deck.

This time with my own choices of what to do was a gift I can never say enough thanks to my late true life fairy godmother (thanks Aunt Martha!). It was hardly sitting around (besides the deck sanding).

And with the passing this year of my Mom, my savings again could allow me another year or two of free living. But it did feel time to get back to a place to do some W.O.R.K.

A goal of the trip was to figure out that age old question, what do I want to do? I left my job last year, cause I knew that it was not IT. I gave some thought to being a consultant, got advice from people I respect who are making it, but shied away from the idea of selling myself around (that is a gross characteristic what that means). I then thought about the idea of still traveling, but spending longer time at places (months?) doing short term work. My idea that you don’t really learn what makes a place work in a few days and it could be interesting to be embedded some place a while, provide some services there, learn about what makes them tick, and take that working info around, sort of a Pied Piper?

That too was vague, but I asked a few colleagues about the possibility. A place I dreamed of going was the DTLT team at University of Mary Washington, home of UMW Blogs, ds106, etc.

To cut what is already growing into a long story short, when I talked to Jim Groom about it as a possibility, he said they don’t have any visiting geek positions, but that they would be opening a full time slot, and suggested I apply and consider moving my base to Fredericksburg, in fact, offering me a place to stay in his house. I had already pledged to coming here to teach (as adjunct) a section of ds106.

Why do this? In my previous stints at Maricopa and the NMC, I was working at the organizational level of learning, and they were great perches to get to do a lot fo R&D, understand things from a systems place, etc. But I felt a calling to get to a place of innovation right where the teaching happens, and where I would have the opportunity to teach too.

And the other appeal was to work with a great creative team; in my previous positions, I worked with other people, but for the technology side, I was pretty much on my own. Here I sit at a table with the great energy of Jim, Martha Burtis, Tim Owens, and Andy Rush. It’s a great seat. And that’s not to mention a long list of super creative faculty here I am eager to get to know better. And getting to be here for another Faculty Academy? Cherry on top.

In late January, I closed up my little house in Strawberry, and did a 4 1/2 day sprint back across the country (between class ending Wednesday night and arriving in time for class Monday night)

And thus vague tweet…

So yesterday, was my first official day of employment as an Instructional Technology Specialist at UMW. What am I doing? Finding out. I’ve got my homework to do and meet people, I will be working with faculty in the Humanities, tinkering with wordpress. Other things on my list hopefully to explore are:

  • Update and maybe overhaul of 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story
  • Development of Feed2JS as a WordPress plugin
  • Explore the MediaWiki / WordPress integration that has been a huge success at UBC
  • Implementation of the PirateBox technology in other spaces.
  • Rich media publishing on the web, sites that don’t look like web pages, but more like say Jux. Not apps, the web, that’s where its at. Maybe it is HTML 5? Got to learn.
  • Visualizations. I want to learn a tenth of what Tony Hirst does.

And that is just a scratch list. I await the ideas I don’t know about yet. Got ideas? My ears are open.

But it’s great to be back in the saddle, and it could not be at a better place. Want to know what UMW and DTLT are really about? Get yer butt here in May for Faculty Academy. I am working there, hoping I can carry my load.

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by joeywan

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Wow. Congrats to you, and to UMW, for the new setup. The only thing I worry about is having all that edtech goodness in one place – do we need to write up a Continuity of Government plan or something?

  2. You and Jim together? The universe will implode!

    Seriously, congratulations, Alan. Sounds like you’ve had a great time over the last year and now it’s time to get back to what you’re best at. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Great news, Alan. Congratulations to both you and UMW. Looking forward to the awesomeness you, the Reverend, and the other fine folks at UMW will cook up in the future.

  4. Home ds106 home! Congrats! Great to have you back from the odyssey. The faculty and students of UMW are lucky to have you+crew! =)

  5. Hey, Alan,
    You gonna flip that Faculty Academy?
    I’m a Faculty Technology Specialist, too, and I don’t know a fraction of what you do. Jim wouldn’t have even looked at my resume for the full time gig, so count your blessings and enjoy!

  6. This is very very good news! That’s an incredible team of people. I think Udell called it the “Dream Team” at some point, the name still fits. And you’re really the perfect fit — a hyperliterate hacker looking for new challenges. Congrats!

  7. Wow, DTLT just turned the knob up to 11! I fully expect mind-blowing things in the near future. Congratulations on the gig!

  8. It’s seriously amazing to have you as part of the team. If I ever could have dreamed a year ago that not only would I get the chance to work in instructional technology, but that 6 months later I would be joined by you I would never have believed it. We’re the luckiest group to get you and I have no doubt we’re about to blow minds as a team!

    1. Thanks everyone, I’m gonna blush. This is the stuff that keeps the emotional pilot light on those cold nights.

      And a double thanks Tim, you set the bar high here already with what you’ve done in less than a year, cant wait to dream and create along side the team here.

  9. Congratulations! I’m so excited about this new chapter in the story of your life! I know that they are lucky to get you and you will be a huge asset to them! Now that you are on our side of the country, I hope we cross paths again! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Alan … so very happy for you and the rest of UMW (Jim included). Super bold and very cool. You know roads run a little further north into PA, right? Good luck and take no prisoners!

  11. So proud of my little brother! I know how creative and smart you are. Now you can share with students and inspire the next generation! Glad to have you back on the east coast so I can see more of you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Ah the social web: It took me watching a vimeo upload by Andy Rush of Bryan Alexander at UMW to discover this fabulous news. I am happy for you and happy from UMW. I do agree with one of the commenter’s above…the intarwebs and the universe are soon to explode with the likes of you, the Rev Dr Jim Groom, and the Mighty Martha Burtis all in the same room.

    Kudos to you for taking the time to think and to reflect. High fives to UMW for having the good sense to bring you into their fold.

    Hmmmm… now that you aren’t wandering the globe anymore, maybe you can git yerself a dog?

    Here’s hoping!


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