The last day of finals this term is on December 18 and commencement for Fall is December 20, but I will be pretty much wrapped up with my courses and the semester by the end of the day today. That means EMUTalk.org will be taking its customary winter break pretty much from this evening until after New Year’s and the start of the winter term. As is usually the case, if something really weird or newsworthy happens over the break, I’ll probably post about it; otherwise, there won’t be anything here until the new year.
Speaking of which: the end of this term marks the beginning of a special time in sitedad’s day-job. I’ll be on sabbatical during the winter term, and because I won’t be teaching in the spring/summer of 2015, I’m stretching this one semester sabbatical to August. Mind you, I’m not going to be completely away. Unlike some of my sabbaticalling colleagues, I’m not leaving the area to a cabin up north or a completely different country, and I still have my fingers in several other various projects that will regularly bring me to campus in the next eight months. But mostly, I’ll be away.
I’ll probably keep blogging about my sabbatical work here, in case you’re wondering. My official project is to work on a book about Massive Online Open Courses (“MOOCs”), which has been the topic of most of my scholarly stuff for the last couple of years. My unofficial project is to unplug and reflect a bit.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be a professor to people who are outside of academia, and describing a sabbatical is even worse. When I go home to my family this time of year (my wife and I are the only academic-types on both sides of the family), we inevitably are told how lucky we are to have our summers completely off, and lately, we’re quizzed about why college is so expensive nowadays. So you can imagine how much I’m looking forward to explaining the concept of a sabbatical. My mom has already at least once referred to it as my “vacation.”
The realities of what a sabbatical is all about is a little more complicated, of course. The reason I’ll be on sabbatical is because I wrote a well-received proposal for a research project, so my first plan (obviously) is to work on that research. But the fact of the matter is academic work can be pretty intense both in terms of the hours you’re working and (especially in the last few years of “crisis” in higher education) the stress of the environment. So taking the moment to step back from things like committees and teaching and other service and to unplug (metaphorically) a bit is as important a part of things.
How this all ties in with EMUTalk.org: I plan on continuing editing and posting to the site mainly because it actually doesn’t take that much time, usually 30 minutes a day or less. At the same time, I’m hoping to spend a little less time with the site during my sabbatical, and I’m also thinking it’s time for me to encourage more contributors to step forward again. I don’t want to return to the old days when it was a little more “free-for-all” in terms of other contributions, but I am also thinking that it’s getting a little old for all the posts to be just coming from me. I wouldn’t even mind if I couldn’t get a couple of co-siteparents in the next few months. If you’re interested in getting more involved, let me know.
Enjoy whatever holiday you celebrate this time of the year; see you in 2015