Colleen J. Burnham

Curriculum Vitae

Professional Reflections

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Colleen J. Burnham professional experience

Click to view a printable version of my vita or my resumé
*Updated Presentations & Publications

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As is evident by the variety of sub-categories in this portfolio, I do seem to be a jack of all trades when it comes to the skills I bring to a professional position. A colleague once told me that tangents and varieties of thought are required and are a “good thing” when one is talking about mathematics, that is to say that it is one’s ability to look beyond the obvious and to allow one’s brain to travel in several simultaneous directions that often brings one to the appropriate answer. It is that quality that I want to demonstrate with this particular collection of examples of my work.

My professional interests lie in the application of the study of human behavior. I find it absolutely fascinating to watch and learn from those around me – not in a nosey sort of way, but toward understanding the whence of others as they navigate their current world, collectively and individually. We humans are natural scientists, collecting data about others constantly, often on a “less than conscious” level; when we recognize and work with that phenomenon we are able to educate – ourselves and others. Every single moment is a learning experience; it is realizing the opportunity for discovery in those experiences that causes the formal scientist to emerge.

This site is organized such that there are links to which one can navigate to grab a glimpse of my work, and there are pages, written by me, to which anyone may add a comment. I have created the page Statement of Recognition with the permission of its author (Dickson, 2008) as a sort of standard letter of recommendation.

I have organized the sidebar to include each of the salient categories of my professional contributions. The particular blog hosting template sorts the categories into alphabetical order, and so does not necessarily represent the “weight” of my work in its ordering. Examples listed in the sidebar are links to documents, files, and web pages. Occasionally, web sites are not available – I apologize in advance for any apparent “dead links” encountered. It seems worth noting that the site is my own domain site that I maintain in order to host several different organizations, including my own formal academic and educational endeavors.

The e-Portfolio section includes professional presentations, a sample “how-to” webpage, and the e-Portfolio that I produced as a function of my participation in the University of West Georgia distance educator certification program. I am particularly proud of the document The Promise of E-Portfolios, co-authored with the Thomas VP and Dean of Academic Affairs. While it is a representation of my writing, it also demonstrates a positive collaborative effort.

The Information Literacy category contains links to three different examples of my involvement with training faculty, students, and staff in the skills necessary for efficient and effective use of resources. The “2007/2008 use of information resources” demonstrates both the institutional use of the position I held at Thomas College, and my method of articulating that use for the purpose of documenting services. The Faculty Workshop Proposal is the formal “new course description” that I followed as I developed and ran training workshops.

An ability to understand and use new technology is the underpinning of effective course development and research. Instructional Technology, a catchword for all things non-human in the formal classroom, includes everything from “old fashioned” transparency projectors to on-demand webcasting. In addition to two workshop descriptions, a “how-to” website link, and the “use of information resources” report, I have included a faculty survey that I wrote for the purpose of identifying the best times for training sessions, and the topics that faculty are most interested in learning. I was able to use the responses to hone workshop schedules.

As an online student at two colleges, and the primary trainer at Thomas College for effective use in and of the Blackboard and Moodle course management systems, I developed many workshops, surveys, and presentations about Online Learning. This category contains links to instruction and information “events” that demonstrate a variety of online presentation skills. I found the research required for the short PowerPoint presentation The Effectiveness of Online Learning very helpful as I mentored faculty and students in the use of course management systems.

The category Teaching Philosophies includes projects written for the UWG certification program. While I don’t think my philosophy of learning or teaching falls neatly into one defined methodology, working from the premise that we are perpetually in the process of increasing our respective repertoires does often seem to run counter to proscribed educational pedagogies. This category is where I have stored my “thoughts” about the process of educating.

The remainder of the links and categories are relatively self-explanatory: My Interests will have links to my “extra-curricular” activities, including community band membership and management, sewing, carpentry, pets, and kids; Samples of My Work is a place to store those examples that fit nowhere and everywhere; Odd Professional Information is where I have stored blurbs and “not necessarily current” resume information.

As has become my signature sign-off: Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, comments, and or concerns.




My Standard Cover Letter

December 2008

I have been employed in the small liberal arts college environment since 1992, after having received my undergraduate degree in research psychology from a large state university; I am currently a Masters of Business Administration candidate. As a direct function of my skills, the positions I have held throughout my career each developed into essential curriculum enhancement such that members of the institutions frequently and regularly sought out my analysis and input for the purposes of curriculum assistance and development.

As a life-long learner I am, frequently by example, able to enthuse students and faculty alike as they learn about and incorporate the various pedagogies and technologies associated with quality undergraduate education. My ability to deftly assess and address a learning opportunity outside of the formal classroom has earned me a reputation as a trusted and valued mentor to all who know me. Students often remark that they know to ask me questions because they trust that we will work together to find an answer. Recently, a faculty colleague wrote to me:

What we have done in the education of students has been better and more effective because you have been with us. You have been the utility player that we need, troubleshooting technology, information literacy, assessment, lab procedures and regulations, Blackboard, Moodle, library resources, SAILs, statistics, report writing, ePorfolio (sic), tutoring both students and faculty, anticipating our needs, identifying potential problems, developing solutions, acting as a sounding board; the list can go on and on. (Dickson, 2008)

I was most recently employed as the Information Resource Specialist at Thomas College, during which time my primary defined responsibilities were the installation, incorporation, support, and maintenance of all areas considered “instructional technology”. I was solely responsible for the creation of all instruction sheets for instructional technology [equipment and applications] on campus, and maintained “24/7” support for faculty, staff, and student users. In addition to physical classroom technology, I was responsible for all user interaction with the Blackboard and Moodle course management systems, including course design, mechanical-skills training, and help-sheet creation for all faculty, staff, and student users. Included in the support model is my ability to assist in and augment faculty course development through materials conversion, variety, and accessibility in the virtual and face-to-face environments.

Beyond my instructional technology duties at Thomas, I was responsible for all information literacy training for students and faculty.Using the Standardized Assessment for Information Literacy Skills (SAILS) survey developed by the “projectsails” team at Kent State University (Ohio, USA), I worked with the English faculty as they incorporated information literacy to their individual and collective curricula. The SAILS survey measures functional understanding of information literacy. Because scores are reported in aggregate form, I was able to collaborate with the Student Affairs staff to align the SAILS data with the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) for the purpose of defining a shared benchmark for a consistent institutional level assessment of information literacy programming as it might impact student retention.

As an extension of actual classroom technology, I was a member of the Ad Hoc E-Portfolio committee and was involved at the institutional level with E-Portfolio implementation, production, adjudication, and publication.I worked as a mentor for both faculty and students as they learned the practice of reflecting on their respective academic careers in the context of the school and its curriculum. I was the considered campus liaison to and representative of the Vice President of Academic Affairs with regard to all E-Portfolio presentation, and frequently was invited to speak to classrooms on the topic of E-Portfolios at Thomas.I have presented professionally on E-Portfolio implementation and production.

As an invited member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Assessment formed in response to accreditation directives, I brought my experience as a liaison for faculty and students with regard to curriculum development, practical use of instructional technology (hard and soft), information literacy education, and the E-Portfolio project. The stated purpose of the committee was to design and implement a process for assessing curricula programming with specific regard to the college mission and its core competencies.

Built into the models of instructional technologist and information literacy training is the ability to master the tremendous variety of software available to the faculty and student members of an academic community. I am a “quick study” and therefore conversant in numerous software applications, including (but not limited to): Office Communicator,SPSS, electronic test-banks, interactive textbooks, electronic database search engines (e.g., EBSCO); “standard college support packages” such as Blackboard,Office 2007, PhotoShop, SharePoint, Acrobat Distiller, MicroSoft Expression; and computer systems such as WindowsXP (Professional & Home), Windows VISTA (Home, Professional, Ultimate), and MAC OS X (no “cats”). I consider myself a “multi-platform” user and trainer, adept at generalizing across the variety of media and web software packages currently available, such as (but not limited to): Frontpage, DreamWeaver,Movavi Video Converter, Arachnophilia, Camtasia, Bamboo Tablet, and NVu. As an online student at two institutions, I am comfortable with WebCT, Blackboard and Moodle, and the internet in general.


e-Portfolio Thoughts

There is a standard vocabulary associated with e-Portfolio production that can be identified in one sentence: We collect artifacts for the purpose of selecting particular artifacts that most accurately represent our work and or education for the purpose of reflecting on the whence and potential impact of that work and or education. It is a process that humans do naturally every day. Our “selfness” is a representation of all of the experiences that we have had; we give more weight to some events than to others; we are most often able to articulate how we feel about something based on that weighting of experiences.

Interestingly, the e-Portfolio is an artifact all by itself. While it is essentially a web page filled with links to the items that represent one’s work and experience, the act of building the “e-Port” is also a demonstration of “the one”. The e-Portfolio itself represents one’s work and experience. It is its artifact value that makes the process of creating an e-Portfolio a logical “capstone” situation in almost any venue – building an e-Portfolio causes its author to review his or her whence personally, professionally, academically, allowing a clearer glimpse at tendencies and interests.

I remember from an Introduction to Philosophy course [years ago!] that Plato supported the premise that we know we’re happy when we look at ourselves and discover a smile on our face. The e-Portfolio is precisely the same exercise. By looking at ourselves (and our work) we are more able to discover who we are. The academic e-Portfolio allows its author to tease out real interests and abilities for the purpose of articulating those traits. The e-Portfolio is Plato’s “smile” – we know who we are, what we’ve done, and what value can be attributed to our work by virtue of having formally looked at it all.


Written by Colleen J Burnham

October 27, 2008 at 11:07 pm

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