Colleen J. Burnham

Curriculum Vitae

Cover Letters

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February 2010

To whom this may concern:

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Having held key instructional technology and design positions in liberal arts colleges since 1992, I have had a unique vantage point to observe and to participate in the progressively more sophisticated approaches to distance education and electronic resourcing. As a Professional Teaching Associate in Psychology, previous to the advent of course management systems such as Blackboard (ca. 2000), I was a primary innovator at Colby College, taking responsibility for curricular materials conversion as pedagogy increasingly indicated the use of electronic access to learning objects in the academic and scientific field of psychology. I was able to contribute to the overall institutional mission by researching and developing electronic forms such as Research Protocol Proposals for the Institutional Review Board and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. (Both collections are still in use.) I was a reliable and trusted resource for all ethical questions with regard to empirical research subject use campus-wide, frequently invited to classrooms as an additional curriculum resource for students and faculty.

At Thomas College, I held the position of Information Resource Specialist, during which time my primary responsibilities were the installation, incorporation, support, and maintenance of all areas considered “instructional technology” including the creation of all instruction sheets for instructional technology [equipment] on campus, as well as supporting all faculty, staff, and student users. In tandem with the use of and instruction in physical classroom technology, I was responsible for all user interaction with the Blackboard course management system, including course design, pedagogical transitions, mechanical-skills training, materials conversion, and help-sheet development for all faculty, staff, and student users. I developed and directed all information literacy training for students and faculty, including working with the English and Business faculty as they incorporated information literacy training into their individual and collective curricula.

As an extension of my defined responsibilities at Thomas College, I was able to positively, and significantly, contribute to the college mission as an invited member on several ad hoc committees designed to address NEASC directives. My contributions at Thomas included (but were not limited to): the collection, interpretation, and reporting of institutional data; writing and editing curriculum and program assessment reports addressed to both faculty and NEASC; co-authoring professional presentations and publications with several departments; acting as a professional resource for those faculty members pursuing doctorates; and developing protocol for new course design proposals for the purpose of creating a standard core curriculum that could be effectively assessed and evaluated in the future.

Currently, as the Curriculum Resource Specialist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, I am responsible for advising and supporting faculty and staff in the creation of learning objectives, curriculum content and course materials, and instructional design as all relate to “best practices” specific to the use of the Blackboard-VISTA (BLS) course management system. A new role in the school of medicine, I am positioned as a “high user” of all electronic resources and tools such that I may advise faculty in the appropriate incorporation of technological tools as traditional and innovative curricula are developed.

Throughout my career, I have availed myself of professional development opportunities such that I deftly apply empirically derived online learning theory and pedagogy specific to particular curricular learning outcomes. Certified by the University of West Georgia as a Distance Education Trainer, I developed and taught the faculty workshop Curriculum and Electronic Resources at Thomas College, and have been an invited speaker on topics such as e-Portfolio development and implementation, and the use of Social Media in higher education at various conference venues. My work in e-Portfolio implementation resulted in a collaborative essay published in ELECTRONIC PORTFOLIOS 2.0 (Cambridge, Cambridge, & Yancey, 2008), as well as an invitation to present a workshop at the St. Jerome University ePortfolio Conference in Waterloo, Canada (2008). Routinely asked to serve as an informal collaborative resource specific to curriculum and program assessment and evaluation, I have had many opportunities to contribute to in-house institutional reports and evaluations throughout my career.

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December 6, 2008

To whom this may concern:

[position-specific introduction paragraph]

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.

Please visit my “electronic portfolio curriculum vitae” for additional samples of my work at

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Written by Colleen J Burnham

February 21, 2010 at 4:47 pm

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