On Gratitude, Teams, Leadership, and Leaving SNHU

As I leave SNHU for a new adventure at Louisiana State University, I feel the need to reflect upon my time at SNHU and some learnings that I will take with me always.  Some of these might be pertinent to other teams or other leaders, so I decided to share.


My thoughts, as always, start with the team.  I was blessed with some remarkable talent coming into the team at SNHU, so that was a starting court advantage.  Initially there was so much going on under the hood that needed addressing that I didn’t focus on leading people so much as diagnosing issues and setting up plans for fixing.  This was a mistake.  I missed signals.  I didn’t learn my team as well as I should have.  It was a bigger team than I was used to, and it took forever for me to connect all the names with the faces, particularly with those that I didn’t work with on a day-to-day basis.  This was a #LeadershipFail.

Some big things I did right too.  I asked for feedback.  I encouraged folks to tell me what they really thought, to not agree with me.  I created a space where we could challenge each other.  I invested heavily in the development of the team in domains in which they were interested.  We set expectations for involvement in professional development.  I continually challenged folks to (1) think about what could they stop doing so they could focus on doing other things to support growth, (2) never say something wouldn’t work because it hadn’t worked before.

The things I improved over time were:

  1. Learning more about the individuals on my team so I could support their progress
  2. When you ask introverts for input, you need to give them time to process and get back to you
  3. Confirm what people say – what is said is happening is not always what is actually happening; you can’t fix something that isn’t accurately diagnosed
  4. Create org charts with faces attached when you have large teams
  5. Ask the people who do the work what would make their work more effective and more meaningful
  6. Celebrate wins; take time to pause for the victories.

I have always believed that chance favors the prepared, and a huge part of my job is to ensure that my team is prepared for the future.


My team gave me this awesome going away party.  It was a gift that I will treasure forever.  It had a meme slideshow with our “in jokes.”  We were treated to a performance by Anthony from the multimedia team, who is apparently a superstar performer and singer (who knew?).  A bunch of the team wore blazers because I generally “suit up.”  We had awesome cupcakes.  The team got me a gift basket complete with Ohio, New Hampshire, and Louisiana cookie cutters, NH maple syrup and a cutting board, a bunch of girl-boss office tools – luggage tags, pens, etc., – a notebook, a Serenity (a la Firefly) coloring book and coloring pencils, a Target card, a book on 365 things to know about Louisiana, and even two books set in Louisiana for my kids!

I could not have been more floored, or felt more loved, or felt more inadequate – how could I ever do for them all they did for me?

I have a couple personality traits, that, for good or for bad, contributed to my ability to make change at SNHU.  The first is an overwhelming tendency to say “Why not?”  Why can’t we do that?  We could probably do that!  Even things that are improbable and unlikely stretch goals are achievable with the right team.  Setting appropriate expectations and then blowing them out of the water is what we can do together.

last day desk

The above photo is of my desk today, my last day in the office.  It is utterly representative of my time here.

  • The paper plates from when we did the “What can you clear from your plate” exercise
  • Coffee
  • Going away cards (thank you!)
  • Congratulations cards from when I got my PhD, along with hashtag paperclips
  • A “NO” button from my boss that I never ended up using
  • The binder with the CBE research from the SNHU Accel team
  • The origami squirrel from when the team did a whole Squirrel Stomping exercise at our retreat to focus on the work that matters
  • The SNHU super student journey sketch I did (affectionately known as chutes and ladders)
  • Going away fudge
  • Ibuprofen
  • Balloons from the amazing going away party that the team threw for me
  • A broken mouse from when the ceiling rained on my desk
  • A Yoda bobble-head from our LMS migration project (I still don’t know who dropped off that gift at my desk!)
  • The memorial card from a family friend who passed away young from cancer
  • A sympathy card the team gave me when my beloved father-in-law passed away a month after we moved the family away from Ohio.


Underneath all of that are some family photos, including my kids Molly and Spencer, and my amazing husband Peter.

We are all, ultimately, dust.  And what matters is what we can accomplish together as a team.  We only do together.  #WinAsATeam

I love you team, and will be #ForeverGrateful.




New Learning Models | Academically Speaking

Check out the full article on SNHU’s Academically Speaking Blog – a section is below:)

New Learning Models | Academically Speaking

New Learning Models

Posted on December 8, 2017 by
Dr. Sasha Thackaberry

Historically in online learning, the dominant model has been transitioning content delivery from a face-to-face format to an online format. This emphasis paralleled the development of distance learning, and utilizes a primarily “broadcast” model of education, and, despite research advances in effective pedagogy in online courses, largely still dominates online education. Though the history of online learning in the U.S. begins with behaviorism and moves to cognitivism and constructivism online courses are still largely content delivery based according to Stefanie A. Hillen and Melodee Landis in their article, “Two perspectives on e-learning design: A synopsis of a US and a European analysis”.

This is beginning to change. Recent innovations in higher education have moved the focus from information delivery and seat time to a focus on outcomes According to Andrew P. Kelly and Frederick M. Hess in their article, “Beyond retrofitting: Innovation in higher education”.

Shanna Smith Jaggars and Di Xu revealed four primary themes that contribute to quality in online courses in their article, “Predicting online student outcomes from a measure of course quality”:

  1. A well designed and organized course interface
  2. Clear learning objectives and standards
  3. Strength and variety of interpersonal communication
  4. Effectiveness of technology use

A wide variety of evidence supports each of these components, however social engagement in the online environment was heavily supported in being a critical component to student success – both learner to faculty and learner to learner. Needless to say, the technology has lagged behind these developments—many technology systems like Learning Management Systems (LMSs) lack robust communication and collaboration tools. Many LMSs are also built on legacy technology, and eschew user interface design in favor of a standard format created seemingly without user experience designers.

One of the many disruptions of MOOCs (Massive, Open Online Courses) was the emphasis on a consumer-grade technology experience. These newer platforms were freed from legacy assumptions and were developed from a website perspective as opposed to an LMS perspective. The learner was now looked upon also as a user.

This “learner-as-user” paradigm aligns well with newer learning models like Competency-Based Education (CBE) and accelerated learning models. The focus on the learner-as-user comes at a time when many LMSs are transforming, attempting to address usability issues and social collaborative learning needs. The pedagogy (or in this case, andragogy and heutagogy) is aligning with these market forces in order to improve the learner experience all around.

The increased influence of open standards through IMS Global certified standards like LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) and Caliper (a data standard,) have moved the dial on what publisher content and tools should be able to integrate with out of the box. While custom APIs are still necessary in many cases, moving to a more “plug-and-play” system focus increases the flexibility of the system, the data that can be extracted from it for analysis, and an integrated learner experience. The additional content and tools are brought into the LMS in a seamless fashion, rather than sending the learner out to experience a variety of learning environments….

Read the full article here: 

#TheFeynmanExperiment – Deeper Learning

In my chosen field of edtech, there is a TON of information that comes out on a daily basis.  Emerging programs, options for microcredentials, new tech standards, new ideas about what education is, creative ways to recruit, retain and graduate learners, regulatory concerns, innovative accreditation options, methods for designing learning, etc., are always constantly developing.  It’s almost too much to keep up with.

Recently, the necessity of keeping up with so much information began to weigh on me.  I’ve read shallowly to simply keep up with it all.  I haven’t dedicated enough time to a deeper understanding of the important pieces.  It’s becoming hard to separate the signal from the noise.

So I decided to figure out a better way to do it.

I’m going to challenge myself to write a brief post every other day.  I will read an article (journal or otherwise,) listen to a podcast, read blogs, etc., and figure out what matters from it.  In turn, I will create something (post, infographic, me drawing on a napkin) in order to explain that concept/theme/pattern/information in a (hopefully) coherent fashion.

In order to do this, I’m going to adopt The Feynman Technique.

The Feynman Technique involves four steps in order to learn more deeply.  There’s actually a “pre-step” that isn’t noted in this explanation.

  • 0 – Consume some sort of info
  • 1 – Explain the topic in simple language to someone from outside the field
  • 2 – Use the act of explaining to identify where you haven’t fully grasped the information
  • 3 – Go back to the original info and figure out the pieces you missed
  • 4 – Repeat previous steps until it you’ve got the concept nailed down yourself

The explanation to another human should be short and sweet, and include a simple analogy.

For my experiment, I will use my husband.  His name is Peter.  He is not in edtech, so this will be a good opportunity for me to attempt to explain this “in simple language to someone from outside your field.”

I am calling this “The Feynman Experiment:  Explaining Edtech Concepts to My Husband.”  So.  I need to go tell Peter about this.  I’m pretty sure I can get him to agree.  If not, maybe I’ll make a nice, clear analogy, and then he’ll go for it.

He’s currently sick with the latest series of germs that Thing 2 brought home from preschool (children are essential petri dishes with cute chubby cheeks.)  I’m guessing maybe I can officially rely on his participation sometime this weekend.






Advice for Last Day

Hi All!  Please read this entire post as it will save you time!


The below rubric is for the ePortfolio.  I have gotten some questions on it, so I’ve provided a bit more detail to help you.  Check out the rubric with some additional description which should help.  ePortfolio Rubric with Description.  Because of this, the ePortfolio (and ePortfolio ONLY) deadline will be extended to 1 PM tomorrow, Sunday August 6.  That is 1 PM EST.  #I’mSeriousAboutThis

Check out the Remaining Assignment List

The opportunity to submit revisions has passed.  Focus all your energy on assuring your outstanding assignments are completed.Leadership in eLearning Environments·        Create a mission, vision, and values statement for yourself when leading in higher ed environments that include eLearning components.

  1. ePortfolio (due by 1 PM EST on Sunday, August 6)
  2. eLearning Glossary (due by 11:59 PM on Saturday, August 5)
  3. Mission, Vision, Values (due by 11:59 PM on Saturday, August 5)
  4. Doctoral Students Only – additional reflection (due by 11:59 PM on Saturday, August 5)

Things To Not Do

Please do not do any of the following:

  • Contact me late this afternoon or evening with questions about assignments.  Because seriously.  🙂
  • Ask me if you can turn in assignments late.  I have already extended the timelines because the submission patterns lean heavily to weekends (which is fine.)  But, no, I will not accept any work submitted later than the above stated deadlines.

Things To Do

  • Ask me anytime before 3 PM if you have questions!  I’m here to help!  Text is best but I’ll be checking email too.
  • Check your email next week (once I get final assessment scores in, I will be sending out codes for digital badges!)
  • Stay in touch!  Sometimes professional opportunities really do come from contacts.  In particular I have been impressed with some extremely high quality work, and the persistence of some of you!  Persistence is a remarkable quality, and it will serve you well!

Thank You

For having me in this course as your guide.  It may have been quite different from other online courses you have taken.  It’s not easy, that’s for sure, but it’s all about “proving” your competencies, which is why I allow resubmissions!


7-25-17 Guide to Everything eLearning Update

Hi All –

So, as we are moving along at breakneck pace, and as I’ve been emailing back and forth with many of you, I’d like to provide some reminders to keep everyone on track.  Remember that all coursework is due on Friday, 8/4/17.

1)      Review the rubric for the ePortfolio.  This is due on Friday, 8/4/17.  It does not just entail your work in this course – it also requires that you curate your work from other places, etc., so don’t wait until the last couple days to look at those requirementsJ  And, though I probably sound like a broken record, use the rubric.  I will be grading with it.  In my experience in higher ed, it is exceedingly rare that you receive a rubric and expectations for each project/assignment.  Please use them as the tool they are intended to be – a recipe for your success!

2)      Be sure to also finish up your eLearning glossary.  This is also due on Friday, 8/4/17.

3)      For PhD students – don’t forget you have an extra PhD assignment here:

NOTE:  All work is due in by FRIDAY 8/4/17.  HOWEVER, I am going to extend the deadline for the ePortfolio and the PhD reflection ONLY to 11:59 PM on Saturday, 8/5/17. 

It seems like many of you primarily work on the course on the weekends (which is fine, this is real life,) so if you can get in the eLearning glossary (remember do not cut/paste – you must rewrite,) and the final week’s assignment (,) in on Friday, that should give you Saturday to finish up the ePortfolio and the PhD assignment and get everything in so that I can madly grade ePortfolios on Sunday.

There have been a couple of schedule challenges here and there, and, while I will not be changing course policies or expectations, I will provide a one-time only opportunity for remediation.  I recently wrote this article on WCET’s blog:  In Defense of the LMS:  You can gain up to 300 points if you provide me a 800 word analysis of the article noting what you agree with, disagree with, etc.

If your analysis contains grammatical errors I will not review itJ  Edit it yourself, and have someone else edit it if you need to.  Read it out loud to yourself if you have any doubts (better yet, write it and have someone else read it out loud to you.)  Please submit via email by 11:59 PM this coming Sunday, July 30.

Alright – there it is!  Please contact me by text, email, Google hangout whatever to get a hold of me:)


Week 5 and 6 Recap

For Guide to Everything eLearning.

Some trends emerged from some recent work that I wanted to share in totality.  Also, be sure to look back on the comments on your journals (I’m still working on them for this week.)  Make sure to read the feedback in the rubrics that are attached to your gradebook items.  And let me know what you need!  Always available via email or text.  Or Google hangout!

Word to the wise – if you did not cite something in an assignment, I’m sending it back to you to cite before I grade it.  This is a core expectation of graduate level work.  You would not submit a paper that had no citations, or only cited a handful of the components of the content addressed. 


One of the things that popped up several times was the complexity of integrations between college systems.  A current trend in higher ed tech right now is looking at implementing something called “middleware,” which is basically a central hub of integration.  All the applications and platforms would integrate into the middleware, which then would integrate into all others.  The data can be stored where it’s preferred (sometimes a data lake, etc.)  This enables technology systems to be switched out more easily, in a plug and play manner.

On Use of Big Data

For those of you who expressed concerns about security and privacy in the use of Big Data in education, I have good news and bad news.  The bad news is, there really is no privacy here.  Apparently that’s true of the internet at large, but also for institutions looking to target students for interventions, improve persistence, etc.  But what’s to keep institutions from putting learners in a box?  What if a learner doesn’t need interventions?  Or an unidentified learner does?  If it makes you nervous, feel better knowing that very few institutions a) do this, or b) if they do it, do it well.  Amazon is far more likely to predict something you’d like to buy, or even Netflix something you’d like to watch.

LMSs:  Distinguishing Characteristics –

Though Canvas is technically open source, the vast (vast!) majority of institutions that use it have Canvas host it because of their SaaS and continuous delivery model.  Canvas does benefit, however, from the large number of developers at universities who contribute back to the code.  Pretty smart model from their perspective (saves on development costs -LOL!)

Some of the descriptions of the different LMSs were a little overly optimistic about their functionality.  This is likely due to the fact that most folks were referencing the sites of the LMS companies for information about the LMS companies.  Which provides a rather rosy-colored view of themJ

It’s also important to note that some of the significant functionality listed as part of the various systems are optional, and therefore not a part of the base product.



Feedback on ePortfolios & Other Info

Hi All!  Some video feedback on your ePortfolios and Week 1 work below.  In addition to that, please note that you CAN use the discussion board to provide feedback to other learners on their blog posts if you cannot post for whatever reason on their actual blog.  (Also, make sure I have access to view your ePortfolio:))

Call me – email me – text me:)  Let’s partner to get you through this thing!  6.2 weeks and counting!!!! – Sasha

New Digital Learning Compass Shows Distance Ed Enrollments Trending Upwards

Very timely report from @WCET and @PhilOnEdTech etc!

WCET Frontiers

Higher education enrollments for all students fell, but more students enrolled in distance education courses than ever before. This is one of the findings of the new “Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017” released by the new Digital Learning Compass partnership.

The report uses data for the 2015 U.S. Department of Education IPEDS Fall Enrollment survey. Since the Fall term of 2012, IPEDS has collected distance education enrollment data. In the report, released today, analysis of both the most current year’s data (2015) and the trends over the past few years are examined. The distance education community is thankful that the Department continues collecting this data.

Who is Digital Learning Compass?

WCET is pleased to partner with the Babson Survey Research Group and e-Literate to update you on distance education enrollments. Together, the three organizations form the Digital Learning Compass, which seeks to be the definitive source of information on the…

View original post 485 more words

How to Win at Momming While You #LeanIn:  Practical Tips

So this post is NOT about judgement.  What it is about is practical strategies you can use to help advance your career and stay sane.  If it works for you, great.  If not, no worries!  It’s tough being a working mom, trying to advance in a complicated world that keeps getting crammed full of random things we’re supposed to take care of.  See if any of this helps:)

Let me first establish my street cred.  I consider myself to be a wickedly productive person.  In the past 2 years I have:

  1. Had two children
  2. Completed coursework for my dissertation, defended my proposal, and started my research
  3. Wrote and produced 2 plays
  4. Received two internal promotions, and then got my dream job
  5. Moved halfway across the country for said dream job, sold a house, bought a foreclosure and renovated it (including chalk painting my kitchen cabinets, which I highly recommend)
  6. Published articles (both peer-reviewed and industry blogs)
  7. Had a ton of fun, happiness, straight up joy and straight up sorrow

In other words, I’m a very busy working mom.  Most of you probably have your own lists of accomplishments, and a long list of dreams that you want to accomplish.  Hopefully these tips will help you get there!

It’s a Game.  Win It by Playing It (Emphasis on Play)

Let’s face it – most of you reading this probably have first world problems.  Thinking about, talking about, even considering Leaning In means that you have an extraordinary opportunity that a huge percentage of women in this world will never have in their lifetimes.  Think on that for a minute – these other women and girls growing up will never have the opportunity to choose their dreams and go after them.  So when it get’s tough – it has and it will – remember that you are not in that position.  To whom much is given, much is expected.  Keep it in perspective.

So if you’re going to jump in the game, jump in it.  Do it joyfully, this is fun!  You get to decide what you’re good at, what you want to do more of and less of, and the type of future you want for your family.  That’s the coolest thing ever – embrace it, acknowledge it, and make smart decisions knowing what you’re doing.

What is your goal?  If you don’t know, you likely won’t achieve it.

**Write down your top 5 list of things you want to accomplish it, and rewrite it every day.  In longhand.  Actually rewrite it.  Keep your eye on the ball.  Over time your goals will change as you accomplish them, that’s great.

**Create your own 5-year strategic plan based on those goals.  When will you accomplish them?  How will you know you’ve accomplished them?  Make it no longer than a page, and reference it frequently.  I’ve had to update mine several times, but I always get to check something off every year.

This is a Guilt-Free Zone

I decline guilt.  For quite some time I felt the edges of guilt, but now I’ve just let it go.  I’m a bit of a slacker mom naturally, so it was a good fit, but it’s actually the best thing to do for yourself and your family; here’s why.

I would be a terrible stay at home mom.  Terrible.  I don’t have the personality for it or the patience for it.  It’s best for me to be working, and it’s best for my kids for me to be working.  Yay!  Done with that.  If you’re struggling with this one, write down why you’re not a stay at home mom.  That matters.  And if you discover you want to be a stay at home mom, figure out how to make that happen and how to win at that.  Leave the guilt behind and make it a mental practice to squash it every time it comes up.  It’s wasted energy.  It diverts you from your joy and your purpose.

**Write down why you’re growing your career.  How will it benefit your happiness?  Your family’s happiness and health? How will it get you closer to achieving your dreams or changing the world?  Why are you even doing this?  You’ve already made the decision that it’s important.  Now make sure you remember that every day.

You Can Only Prioritize if You De-Prioritize

Seriously.  You can’t do everything.  Decide – explicitly – what’s important and do less of the other things.  This really matters particularly as women statistically do 50 more minutes of domestic chores every day.  Many of us also manage other things – dentist appointments, immunizations, birthday party invites, bills, house repairs, etc.  So let’s decide what NOT to do so that you can focus time on what you WANT to do (and need to do to advance in your career.)

As an example, I gave up cooking when I went back to get my PhD.  We eat a lot of organic frozen vegetables, quick oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs and pre-cooked bacon.  We have rotisserie chicken at least one night a week, and Fridays are pizza night.  If I get bored, we order something in or pick up something prepped already at the grocery store.  And I am utterly unapologetic about that.  Frozen veggies are fine, and no one ever died from eating frozen chicken tenders twice a week.  It will be ok.

Other things I don’t do – I don’t worry about my choices of energy providers, I haven’t changed my cell phone provider in years, and I haven’t cost-compared cable plans.  It takes time to do these things.  I’m probably paying more than I need to for my electricity, I could likely have more 4G LTE on my cell plan for less cost, and my husband did the cable comparison, and all of that is a-ok.  Because it’s a trade off of time, but also of attention.

Decide what you’re going to worry about and what you’re going to let go of.  And then really, really let it go.  Give it a little kiss, write it on a leaf, and watch it blow away in the wind.  It gives you space to focus on what matters.  This includes choices about what you’re going to harass your spouse about.  Decide what takes longer to follow-up on than to just do yourself, and agree as a couple on what each of you can handle (as much as that’s ever truly possible.)  It is a decision to let “that which does not matter truly slide.”


**Write down what you’re going to stop doing.  Seriously.  “I will immediately throw away any offers for cheaper cell phone providers, better credit card offers with more points, etc.”  Acknowledge that you will lose some money or benefits on these things.  You’re not losing money in the long term, because your time is money.  Invest it where it will grow – in your career.

Embrace Your Inner Slacker Mom

Just go there.  Trust me, it really feels good.  My husband is a bit older than I am and has frequently remarked on how families revolve around their children now, and how that’s out of whack.  I totally agree.  We dove into this.  The children fit into the family and not the other way around.  Not to say I don’t support my kids – my daughter has taken dance, and music and theater lessons (over time.)  We’ve chosen good schools for her – yay school choice!  But she is in not in multiple activities.  She comes home from school and does her homework and plays.  She clears her own place setting and cleans up her own toys, as does my three-year old son.

Not only am I 100% ok with not spending every weekend carting the kids to various activities, I really think it’s best for them.  First of all, the statistical likelihood that your child is going to become a professional football player, champion chess player, national spelling bee winner, award-winning child actor, or prima ballerina is pretty slim to begin with.  I’d rather have a kid who chooses one or two things that they’re passionate about and focuses their attention on that along with learning how to be a self-directed, good human being.  Which means that kids should be forced to confront their own boredom and solve it on their own.

I used to rotate my kids’ toys.  It’s ridiculous that they have so many toys that I would rotate them.  Now I just leave them where they are.  And you know what happened?  We have books being used as books, and as architectural structures to support tents, and houses for the Barbie horses because the Barbies didn’t end up making it into that last rotation.  Constraints force creativity.  Thankfully there are now studies that reinforce this – that having actual free time supports the creativity and healthy development of kids.  That doing chores is good for self-discipline.  So assign those chores!  Stop buying more toys!  Just do it.  You’re the mom.  You get to decide.  If they’re desperate for a new video game they can do what I did when I was a kid – babysit for my own money to buy my own toys myself.  (Not when they’re 5 or something.  Age appropriate.)

Here’s the hard part – you will get flack for this.  People have a tendency towards being judgey.  We all do – slacker moms included.  So say after me “It’s great that your kids do polo and gymnastics and are on the show Iron Chef Junior.  It’s awesome that your son played Carnegie Hall.  Super cool that your daughter won the national science fair!  Me?  … Oh I’m a slacker mom.  My kids play and do chores.”  Own it!  Remember that your kids will be better off long term to run around in the yard, cook their own mac and cheese, and fold their own clothes.  They won’t need to be on your health insurance at age 27 and they likely will have a job.  Once they find something they’re passionate about, they’ll go after that and you can support that because you’ll have bandwidth – it won’t be sucked up by a million tiny things.

I let my daughter earn quarters to do harder chores.  And then she can make choices if buying toys is worth her money and effort.  Suddenly the stuffed unicorn that she could not live without becomes less important when it costs her time and effort and takes away the heaviness from her piggy bank.  I consider that a #MomWin.  I’m also teaching her fiscal responsibility and avoiding cluttering up the house and wasting money at the same time.

**Decide what activities you can stop doing with your kids.  Narrow it down.  What do you actually have to support?  What do your kids love?  Support that one thing or two things at the level at which is appropriate.  If you have a kid interested in dance that has no natural talent or rhythm, feel free to do that once a week.  If you have a kid with natural turnout, great rhythm and incredible drive, find a way to get them to pre-professional dance lessons five times a week.  Outsource if necessary.

**Teach your kids to clean up after themselves.  Seriously, why don’t we do this?  I tell my kids to only pick up the toys they want to keep.  You really only have to throw away toys once or twice to get this to work fairly permanently.  The key here is not flinching (unless it’s that one dolly that your daughter has had since birth – that would just be mean.)  If you say it, do it.  When kids start cleaning up their own place settings, setting the table and helping with dinner, it will be an initial time suck.  They will be bad at it.  You will need to do more cleanup temporarily but they will get better and they will be able to do it by themselves.  (In a related note, if you have smaller ones, don’t use plastic.  Use ceramic mugs for drinks.  Kids push over plastic really easily, but ceramic mugs with wide bases don’t fall over so easy and break into big pieces when they break, unlike glass.)

**Stop participating in random school things that don’t matter anyways.  My second-grader will not be scarred if I don’t show up at her Halloween Parade at school during the middle of the day.  It probably will be impactful to her when I cross the stage at the graduation for my PhD.  Help your kids contextualize that so that they, too, can prioritize.  If they complain about those things, explain them.  “It’s super cool that Jenny’s mom can volunteer for school stuff, honey.  That’s not what Mommy does.  Mommy runs a department, which means that we can live in a nice place and travel and can still help out people in need and contribute to a better world.  That’s how we roll.  We also celebrate Jenny’s mom – she’s super good at what she does.  Mommy’s not good at that.  Mommy’s good at other stuff.”

Celebrate Your Wins with Righteous Happiness

When you win at something, take the time to pause and celebrate it – really celebrate it.  Do something fun.  Have an extra date night or girl’s night out!  We need those wins to recharge.  We deserve those wins when they come. Take the time to groove out on them.

But here’s the key – you can’t do something that you normally do, or it’s not special.  Just like going out to a nice restaurant loses its meaning and specialness if you eat out at nice places all the time, doing something that you otherwise would be doing isn’t a celebration – it’s relabeling a normal activity.

**Decide ahead of time what you’ll do when you achieve a goal, and then actually do it. Make it special and make it worth it.

**In order to make room and preserve money for that celebration, stop shopping.  I did this a few years ago to virtually no negative effects except for a happier bank account.  When you think about it, there are a few things that you actually need that you should get and care for and use.  30 pairs of heels does not qualify.  Then, when you get that promotion, buying two super-special pairs will really matter and won’t just be another Saturday.


This is maybe one of my favorite recommendations for working moms.  I recommend taking on some extra side work that pertains to your field – teaching in it, consulting in it, conducting workshops, etc.  You can put those types of things on your resume.  Then, turn around and spend that money to hire someone to clean your house, or send your clothes out to the dry cleaners, or get dinner delivered in 3x a week.  You’ll end up revenue-neutral, but you’ll be building your resume.  That matters more long term.

Why is outsourcing so important?  Most professional women have the extra burden of having to present a polished professional image.  This, much like the additional 50 minutes of chores a day, requires actual time that cannot be spent answering emails, writing articles, or reviewing industry briefs.  I figure it takes me probably about 30 more minutes per day to get ready for work than my husband – considering shaving legs, makeup, hair, struggling into Spanx, etc.  So I need all the time on task that I can get to advance in my career.  It is just reality that women have these natural disadvantages by virtue of societal expectations.  Surprise – they’re not going away.  So strategize ways to outsource, or at the very least to simplify your routine.

**Find something field-related that will make you a little money that will build your resume, then turn around and spend that money outsourcing something you can’t put on your resume, like “laundry-folding” or “bathroom scrubbing.”

**Simplify everyday decisions.  Buy 5 suits and 10 shirts and rotate them.  Seriously.  Don’t spend even 10 minutes a day making fashion decisions.  Remember that men aren’t spending time typically doing that sort of thing.  It diverts you from your purpose.

Your Drone Or Your Vacation:  Prioritize

So.  Economic reality.  Truth is that it’s hardest when you’re a mid-level manager to get that next position where it would be easier – financially – to outsource stuff.  Truth is two-income families are the reality for most people.  It’s easier to #LeanIn if you have lots of support, which usually comes in the form of domestic help, better schools and childcare.  Money makes things easier.  If you don’t have that ability, it’s time to decide what to sacrifice to get it.

My advice is – preserve vacations, sacrifice stuff, and get the help you need around the house.  This actually works really well with some of the other tips, because you won’t have time for shopping anyways – LOL!  Just stop buying stuff.  You don’t need most of it.  You don’t need a drone.  Really.  You don’t.  You don’t need a fancy car.  You don’t.  You don’t need a high-end purse, or even a mid-end purse.  This a career, not a fashion show, so use an attache case.  You really, really don’t need more than 10 pairs of heels.  Really.  You don’t.  You do need to get away and unwind.  Experiences have been shown to increase happiness, whereas stuff does not.  Stuff, you have to take care of.  “The things you own, end up owning you.”

**Write down what you’re not going to buy any more.  I searched for years for a really great, gray, single-strap purse that could fit my tablet.  I never found this white whale of a purse, but along the way I must have bought 10 bags that could have been “the one.”  I gave up buying purses.  It turns out – you don’t need a ton of purses!  You need like 3 – maybe 4, and a decent attache case.  Unless you work in fashion, when’s the last time you heard someone say “Wow, is she using her black bag again?  Why doesn’t she go shopping more instead of focusing on that wonderful strategic and tactical plan for process improvement?”  And if you work at a place where people say that, you really, really need to find a new place to work.

Leave the Baggage, Take the Gifts

Just like when you were growing up, when you had to take the best lessons your parents taught you and leave the baggage of their parenting behind, do the same thing with these tips.  Try them.  Take what works for you and leave the rest behind.

My best, best advice for working moms is to be what you are.  Don’t try to be something you don’t really want to be anyways.  Make it a habit to not guilt yourself.  Prioritize appropriately.  And back it up.  Win at your own game – the game you decide you want to play.

Being a working mom trying to #LeanIn is hard stuff.  But you got this.  Get your confidence game on.  You’re going to fall down.  You’re going to fail at this.  But like any good gamer, you’re going to get back up, soldier on and level up.  #WinatMomming and #WinatLeaningIn.

And here’s a STRANGE thing.  You may get blowback for being happy and successful.  People may smacktalk your strategies or your priorities.  And in the words of the immortal Ani Difranco “A thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy while you are just flying past.”  And that’s ok.  Nolite bastardes carborundorum.  In the words of Margaret Atwood – don’t let the bastards get you down.

You go and you be the very best working mom you can be.  Have fun.  Win.

And know that even on your worst day, you’re probably not trapped in an under-developed country without plumbing deciding if you need to go into prostitution to feed your seven children now that your husband has passed away of an entirely preventable disease that he got due to utter lack of access to health care.  Perspective.  We got #FirstWorldProblems


Got a tip of your own?  Leave it below.  But I reserve the right to delete posts related to advocacy for 31 or more pairs of shoes.  That’s where I draw the line.  Seriously.

Quality in CBE Programs and Courses

Not too long ago, C-BEN released their Quality Standards for Competency-Based Educational Programs in draft format.  Previously, Western Governors University had released a CBE course quality rubric.  In the Quality Matters Rubric released in 2014, standards were included and codified to apply to competency-based courses.

This increased emphasis on codifying quality in CBE programs is valuable work towards transparency and ensuring that the movement is able to communicate the value of the programs to accreditors, the DOE, and higher education at large.  Few classroom programs would be able to meet the rigorous standards described in these documents.

Other quality tools can provide valuable and applicable guides for the development of CBE programs, including Universal Design for Learning, the Essential Quality Standards 2.0 from eCampusAlberta, Blackboard Exemplary Course Rubric, iNACOL’s National Standards for Quality Online Courses V2, and OLC’s Quality Scorecard.

As we see CBE being addressed as a modality, as opposed to a stand-alone effort, how will we see these quality tools converge?