Classes, and Contests, and Conferences! Oh my!

Last week, I started a class hosted by Indiana University called Educational Assessment: Practices, Principles, and Policies.  Next month, I'll start a class on Exploring Personal Learning Networks, hosted by Northwestern University. Both are free, and both will run concurrently, at least in October. The first is eleven weeks, and the second is five. Am I crazy?

Let's start with the second class. An email notification about a blog I follow advised that there would be a class on personal learning networks. As it turns out, while I didn't know the term, I already have built such a network. The fact that I received the email was just a piece of that. Personal Learning Networks refers to facebook pages, google + accounts, twitter accounts, blogs, websites, etc that you follow to learn more about your field of interest. I probably do this most through twitter; though, lately, I've just been favoriting tweets to read a later date. I don't follow many blogs because I simply don't have enough time to read all of them. I follow even less facebook accounts, and I have zero friends on Google + that are neuroscientists or psychologists interested in music cognition. I suppose I ought to remedy this! And, by remedy, I mean take this class next month!

Similarly, a facebook page suggestion led me to this assessment course. There are currently 300 students worldwide in this class. Yesterday was the deadline for the first assignment, and I know we'll be losing probably fifty students. Our next assignment is to read through each others' wiki-portfolios and make comments. As I was browsing, I noticed a number of students who didn't do the assignment. I imagine they signed up for the class and simply forgot it had started. But, I simply couldn't pass up a free class that would teach me more about my interests. The instructor has placed me in a social networking group with other educational researchers, and I hope to keep this blog updated with my thoughts as I move through this class.

Next week, I'll enter round one of a short story contest that will take place one weekend a month through January. It's double elimination, and prizes range from software licenses up to $1,500 and a publishing package. I've never entered a contest like this before. At a minimum, I'm excited to receive feedback on my fiction writing. I'll also share about this contest, as I move through it. I know that I'll at least make it through to December. The December and January contests will be determined by how well I do in the first two challenges.

And, finally, I'm already looking at next year's conference schedule, at least those conferences that have already been scheduled. There are a number that are on my radar, and I'm trying to find the one that is the most cost effective. The two I'm leaning toward are the NAfME Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference held in St Louis in April and the  Milestones in Music Cognition meeting held at McGill University in Montreal in July. The April conference's keynote speaker is Dan Levitin, and Dan Levitin works at McGill, so I'm sure you see why those two conferences are of interest to me. Of course, there is also the APA convention in Washington, DC next October, but I'm not sure what I'll be doing that far down the road.

So I am keeping myself busy. It is extremely frightening to me to think of working outside of the house. The last time I did, I ended up in a wheelchair and unable to speak. I've rehabilitated significantly, but the fear remains. I'm pushing myself forward with the classes, contest, and hopefully conferences. It's a year worth looking forward, don't you think? I can re-evaluate my depression, anxiety, and physical abilities at that point and decide the next step.
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