“To be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner. I am not a teacher, only a fellow student.” — Søren Kierkegaard

Inspired by the quote above (which is the anchor of my teaching philosophy), I have been learning while teaching for a decade. Ten years ago today — on Monday, June 18, 2007 — I began my career in academia when I started teaching COM 120, Effective Persuasive Writing online at what was then called Axia College (University of Phoenix‘s online junior college).

It’s hard to believe that much time has passed; it feels like just yesterday when I began my career in academia after having previously consulted and worked in marketing. Technically I started teaching on September 2, 2006 when I taught my first traffic school class, but this was my first academic course. Since that first step I have embarked on a much longer journey. I have had the opportunity to teach and learn with more than 4,500 students in over 80 classes — in the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and online.

Acting as a “guide on the side” and not a “sage on the stage,” I combine learning with laughter and encourage students to pursue their individual ideas. Having taught students of various ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, I am especially sensitive to the diverse challenges with which my students might be contending.

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I join with my students on a journey of generative learning. Sensitive to the unique experiences, challenges, and learning styles of adult learners, I assign projects relevant to their personal and professional perspectives. Believing education should create community, not competition, I combine learning with laughter to construct a collaborative classroom. Interdisciplinary, I welcome varied viewpoints and encourage my students to own their education.

I have been fortunate to have taught for numerous notable educational institutions including American University in the Emirates (AUE), Jumeira University, Musicians InstituteNational University, Strayer University, UCLA Extension. and UC Santa Barbara Extension. Actively involving myself in higher education, I have embraced academia as both my vocation and avocation.

I have spoken at academic conferences; written a book, a book chapter, and several scholarly papers; conducted corporate training seminars; appeared on three podcasts; and made a 1.5 second appearance in Star Trek Beyond as an extra! I was also honored with an award from AUE recognizing my program development efforts for the College of Business Administration.

The past 10 years have been filled with personal growth and professional development; I have improved as an individual just as I have expanded my abilities as an educator. I look forward to many more years of continuous improvement in both areas.

These years have not been without their challenges and setbacks, but I remain grateful to my colleagues, friends, family, mentors, and students for the chance to help shape the lives of others, while giving my life greater meaning.

The Pod(cast) people have returned!

satisfactionistThe second part of my appearance on The Satisfactionist Podcast with Ben Olmos has been published. Be sure to also read the blog post about my first appearance.

Once again it was a great experience and, it appears Ben and I might collaborate on future episodes of the podcast; more to come soon!

This is the second of two podcasts in which I will appear (the previous podcast was published one week ago). My interview begins at 22:58; listen to it on SoundCloud below or you can also hear it on Stitcher.

Topics tackled in this episode include:

The “Gig Economy” and my “minor league pitching” experience teaching traffic school where I developed my classroom management skills. This lead to my adventures as an adjunct instructor for 9 years — during which I have taught 3,000 to 4,000 students in 70 courses (with numerous sections) at 16 different universities in 2 countries.

This lead to my work designing curriculum and developing courses that I taught and those I was specifically contracted to create without teaching them. We chat about my favorite word — rubrics — although, as an instructor, I am careful about when I use them to limit students from obsessing about matching their rubric to a specific grade.

We then discuss how I found my way to Dubai where I have been teaching marketing and management courses since September 2014. My expat experience was inspired by the possibility of my participating in a program with UCLA Extension in which I would teach for 30 day cycles in Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, that opportunity never came to fruition, but it did make me realize there was an entire world of opportunities outside of the United States — including two opportunities in Kabul, Afghanistan that I decided to pass on.

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We then explore my exceptional experiences living and working in Dubai where I have been widely welcomed by the local population and individuals from elsewhere who call UAE their home. I share details of driving the roads and roundabouts — including some Google Map misadventures!

I discuss the surprisingly temperate weather during the winter months (mid-October to mid-April) along with other aspects of daily life, including the impressive integration of SMS functionality and mobile phones into everything from paying speeding tickets to paying to park.

I also elaborate on my admiration for my students and the effort they invest into their education; they take their role as the next generation seriously and are focused on being prepared for the responsibilities with which they will be entrusted.

Notably, a large percentage of students at my current university — American University in the Emirates (AUE) — are Emirati (approximately 70%) and most of the remaining percentage are from other Arab countries or elsewhere in the world. In total I have students with 30 different nationalities here. It’s a wonderfully worldly experience!

Although it is challenging to be so far from my 10 and 12-year-old sons, traveling 8,000 miles from the life I had known to finally find a foothold in the life I had fruitlessly worked towards in the United States.

Similarly, contrary to the absurdity of the current election cycle in the United States, my experience in Dubai has been a rewarding and enriching one; I am grateful for this unique opportunity and am making sure to maximize the moment.

edx_logo_finalLastly I introduce and explain the ways my book, edX E-Learning Course Development, can be used by teachers and trainers to prepare, produce, and promote a course on edX or Open edX.

I explained my unique approach to starting each chapter with an anecdote, quote, or pop culture reference, additionally outlining how I worked from edX technical documentation, rearranging and re-imagining it in a way that aligns more accurately with the way an individual would create or convert curriculum.

We then boldly go on to discuss my experience as an extra on the upcoming Star Trek Beyond movie where I was on set for 17 hours straight!

Beam me up!

Serendipity+?

Yesterday I recorded a video for my online UCLA Extension Social Media Marketing course (MGMNT X460.398A) in an area under construction near my apartment in the Sports City area of Dubai, UAE. I’ve been living her shortly after I started teaching for Jumeira University this September.

Designed to mirror the content of Gary Vaynerchuck’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, the course challenges students to create a content marketing plan for a product, service, individual, or organization of their choice.

google+-auto-backupThe theme of the week for which I recorded the video is “Embracing Emerging Options.” As presented in the Round (Chapter) 8, Opportunities in Emerging Networks, the emerging social networks include LinkedIn, Google+, Vine, and Snapchat.

While today and even when the book was first published in November 2013 these platforms weren’t “new” in the literal sense none had yet achieved critical mass.

That said, Snapchat has quickly gained momentumVine has seen impressive growth,  LinkedIn has aggressively evolved from its initial role as an “online Rolodex,” yet the role and relevance of Google+ continues to fluctuate.

I was invited to join Google+ three years ago, early into it’s Beta launch. In the more than three years since I am still not quite sure what to do with it nor have I seen tremendous engagement on it, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

Speaking of which, if you’re not already doing so, please stop by my Google+ profile and follow me; I will do the same and, together we can enhance our experience on this platform with potential.

However, I actively use the Google+ Auto Backup feature and continue to be amused by the Google+ Auto Awesome functionality for photos and for Google+ Auto Awesome for videos as well.

And so it was remarkably coincidental (and strangely sentient) for Google+ to “Auto Awesome” my UCLA Extension video that included content about Google+ just a few hours later. It includes footage from the video I shot plus still shots I also took (yes, including a selfie; for shame).

Interestingly, it removed the actual audio track and made it more of a montage. More intriguing was the awkward yet entertaining  1980s sitcom style music Google+ added to the video!

So, without further delay, I present to you my Auto Awesome video:

Have you ever been Auto Awesomed?