Moving on

This week I resigned my position as instructional technologist at Queens College. May 27 will be my last day.

My main reason for leaving is my dissertation, or rather my lack of dissertation. I’ve been done with graduate classes for longer than I care to admit, with nothing between me and the degree but the dissertation (as if it were a small thing!). During my time at Queens College – two years as a CUNY Writing Fellow followed by two years as a full-time instructional technologist – I managed to consistently use the job as an excuse not to work on philosophy to the extent that I should. I plan to continue doing web development for the CUNY Academic Commons and elsewhere while I work on my thesis.



As a number of my dear readers are already aware, the path leading to my decision was paved with self-doubt and second guessing. Obviously, there is the stress of going from having a full-time job (and paycheck) to not having one. More surprising, to me at least, have been the nagging misgivings about my relationship with the world of educational technology.

Like a lot of other people I know in the field, I entered edtech on accident. But over the last four years I have found a place in several different kinds of communities built around the intersection of technology and the classroom: communities at Queens College, across CUNY, and beyond. To the extent that leaving day-to-day instructional technology means distancing myself from those communities, I am very sad to do so.

As for the work itself? Here my feelings are more mixed. Certainly the high points of the job have been quite high indeed: working in close collaboration on meaningful projects with great people. But even during the good times I’ve always had a lurking feeling (which has occasionally crossed my lips in mixed company!) that the position itself was an unnatural one. It’s in a broken system – mediocre software, insufficient resources, unthoughtful pedagogy, a stagnant culture surrounding the relevance of digital technology in the university – that the instructional technologist flourishes. Like a doctor or a plumber or a parent, a big part of my job was to get people not to need me anymore.

That’s not to say that edtech is somehow pointless, anymore than it is to suggest that medicine or plumbing repair or parenting are without value. You might even argue that a field that arises out of such genuine need deserves to exist even more in virtue of that very fact. And so it probably is with edtech. Still, a sort of (mild) existential angst has plagued me since I took the job, a feeling that I’ll be glad to leave to my more intrepid colleagues.

I have enormous respect for people doing the extremely important job of on-the-ground edtech. That I will be respecting from a distance leaves me feeling bittersweet. But mostly I’m excited, to watch, as an outsider, how the field evolves in the upcoming years. In the meantime, I’ll be being productive in new ways!


15 thoughts on “Moving on

  1. D'Arcy Norman

    Wow, Boone. Congrats on making the leap. You’ll kick some serious ass on that dissertation. I doubt you’ll truly leave anything behind, though. You’ve been such a big part of the field, probably in ways you don’t realize. The world needs more Boone.

    Rock the hell out of that dissertation.

  2. Luke

    Good riddance. 🙂

    In all seriousness, I wouldn’t necessarily conclude this is the end of your career in ed tech. We’ve talked about this, but I disagree with your assertion that in a perfect world an educational technologist would be superfluous. The job at its best is one of collaboration, facilitation, and reflection. Faculty, universities, and pedagogy benefit from having people around whose primary role is just that work.
    (Now, the extent to which that work truly gets to be the primary work of an educational technologist is another question…) The fact of the matter is that you’re damned good and offer a unique perspective on those crucial issues, so I wouldn’t be surprised if those elements are present in whatever work you do down the line.

    And, would you rather be a philosopher in Wyoming or an educational technologist where they have real pizza?

  3. Jim Groom

    Yeah, can’t say i disagree with you about the misgivings of edtech, I wrestle with them regularly. Not sure edtech is any more unnatural than a lit professor, but the one does seem predicated on the other, and that in many ways points to some of my own questions about it. Either way, it is a major loss for the edtech community that your will be moving out of the day-to-day, but bully for you on hunkering down and finishing the dissertation.

    good luck Boone, and I imagine I’ll be seeing you online even if you aren’t “doing” edtech—fact is, these relationships aren;t exactly only professional, like Jaws IV, it’s personal.

  4. iSimone

    Hey Boone,

    All the best for your new path then. I myself am having my last university exam next Friday and am also looking forward to do new, exciting things 🙂

  5. enej

    Пока Boone

    I wish you didn’t go just as we are starting to experiment with BuddyPress.
    I wish you all the best, with whatever you are about to do 🙂

  6. Brian

    Here’s to ya Boone. Glad I got to meet you, however distracted I happened to be at the time.

    I’ll keep you in my newsreader and my Twitter feed just the same. I look forward to seeing where you go.

  7. Tsaishiou

    Enjoy your dissertation writing! You’ve done such an amazing job and people will certainly miss you a lot~

  8. KMNL

    If you’re ever in a position to want to do some freelance buddypress code.. remember this comment, and hit me up.

  9. Amy

    Hey Boone,

    All the best for your new path then. I myself am having my last university exam next Friday and am also looking forward to do new, exciting things 🙂

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