I'm actually not a huge Rolling Stones fan, but the words popped into my head, so I went with it. I'm John Dolan, and I have the honor of taking on a brand new role here in the College of the Liberal Arts as the Director of Digital Media and Pedagogy. This is a shared position between the College and Penn State's Education Technology Services, whose primary mission is to provide leadership and support in the appropriate use of technology for teaching, learning, and research.
My role here serves several purposes. I will be working closely with Associate Dean Chris Long and the LAUS office to coordinate and direct the effective use of technology for teaching, research and student engagement. I will also be working with our faculty, departments, institutes and staff to better understand the impact of technology on the liberal arts and to help the College adopt and implement pedagogical strategies that take full advantage of the affordances new technologies offer. Ultimately, my goal is to ensure that the College is positioned to play a leading role in the creative and effective use of technology in education.
Though I am new to the College of the Liberal Arts, I am not new to Penn State. In fact, I am originally from State College, and returned to Happy Valley in 2002 after being away for about 13 years. During those years, I lived in Washington, D.C., Nashville and Atlanta, and then Washington D.C. again, before returning with my wife and two sons to be closer to my family. I received my B.A. in Advertising from Penn State and my M.B.A. from Vanderbilt, with an emphasis in marketing. I am currently in the "ABD" stage of my doctoral work in Penn State's College of Education, with an emphasis in human resource/organization development. The topic of my dissertation is the use of social media in the workplace. In addition, I am an adjunct instructor of public relations for the College of Communications.
I've been working in the technology space for many years. I was a product manager for several years with Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (now called Washington Post Media), where I was responsible for the management of several online classified advertising products. This was in the heyday of the web economy, and I got to see the swell of excitement and then the crash back to reality. Before coming to Penn State, I was an online general manager for two Knight Ridder (now McClatchy) newspaper properties as well. I have also worked at BellSouth (now AT&T), AT&T (still AT&T, sort of) and The Washington Post newspaper. I come to the College from Penn State Outreach, where I was the assistant director of Continuing and Professional Education (now called Penn State Business Solutions). (Are you getting the sense that my departure from organizations seems to lead to upheaval, mergers and name changes? Me, too.)
I have been an avid producer and user of social media tools for several years now-- podcasts, vodcasts, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google Docs, Flickr, etc. and am looking into even more in the future. To commemorate my new role, I have started a new blog, called "Walking in LA"
, which chronicles some of my thoughts and observations about the use of social and digital media in education. I am also the co-host of a podcast called "The U Report"
, which profiles Penn State faculty, staff and students to try to make this huge university seem a little bit smaller. This can be found on iTunesU and via Facebook, Twitter and our blog. I also incorporate social media into the course I teach, and will experiment this spring with the new "groups" feature on Facebook to see if that will be a viable source for communication and collaboration in my class.
Social media tools are sometimes described as "disruptive technology", a term that is credited to Harvard professor Clayton Christensen from an article he wrote in 1995. Disruptive technology is an interesting term, as it connotes some sort of out-of-control software program wreaking havoc in the workplace, turning desks upside down and spilling boxes of paperclips and folders all over the floor. However, what I believe it to mean is that it's the development of technology tools that improve (fill in the blank). It is disruptive because it is shaking up what was being done previously, not because it is passing notes in class. Any innovation, whether technology-based or not, could be considered disruptive to what was the state-of-the-art previously. It was said at the Educause conference I just attended last week that at one point in our history, a disruptive piece of technology in the classroom was this:
Which of these tools will we still see in classrooms 100 years from now? I couldn't venture to say, but I am excited to be part of the journey.
I can be contacted via email at email@example.com
, via Twitter @dolanatpsu
, by phone at 814-867-4412, or in my office in 100 Sparks. 100 Sparks doesn't yet have a number or my name on it, but it's next to 101 Sparks and has a Lion Shrine stained glass hanging in the window, so you can't miss it.
I would love to meet you, either in person or virtually, and talk, Tweet or exchange posts with you about your perspectives on the use of digital and social media within the College. I'm thrilled to be here.