New Chapter: Life Reboot

Jun 29, 2012 by

For the last year, I’ve felt this yearning to do something different. I’ve been a full-time faculty member for a decade now, teaching many of the same courses semester after semester after semester after … yeah, well, you get it.

A series of conferences and events in the last 6 months has made me realize that my “alignment” between my passions and my job was off.  I attended the UpToAllOfUs un-conference in February, and felt a strong pull to do something different, something more amazing.  I attended the TEDxSummit in April, and coming back to work was like a rude awakening after being in a liquid network of ideas for 5 days. And then I attended the LAK conference and really just felt unsettled about how I was spending my time.

Since I began blogging in 2007, I’ve learned about so many things in my free time: education technology, the scholarship of teaching and learning, social media, data visualizations, professional development for faculty, higher education, leadership, learning analytics, eLearning strategies, game design, writing, speaking, technology for productivity, mobile apps, and … well, probably a lot of things that aren’t coming to mind right now.  In this decade I’ve finished a Ph.D., made a name for myself as a futurist, and connected with instructors, innovators, and futurists around the world.

Now, the time has come to shed one identity (math faculty) and take on a new one.  It’s actually an identity I’ve been donning in my “free” time for a while now, I’m just shifting the focus to it full-time now.

I have accepted a position as the Director of Learning and Research at Instructure (they build the Canvas learning platform), in Sandy, Utah.   The position will give me a chance to grow professionally, to use all the skills I’ve learned in the last five years, to work with some really amazing, talented, and energetic people,  and (bonus) I get to move back to the mountains.

The view from the Instructure building.

Why Instructure? After all my complaining (for years) about the state of the LMS market, I began using Canvas in May and fell head-over-heels in love with it. It is, by far, the best learning platform I’ve ever seen, and Instructure is innovating like mad. I have always said I’d know the right job when I saw it, and this is it!  I want, more than anything, to help Instructure  to build and spread the best learning platform the world has ever seen, and I am super-excited to get started.

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  1. Congratulations on your new adventure and Utah…yeah! One of my favorite places. You have really peaked my curiosity about Canvas, being a avid Moodler. If you could point me to one or a few resources that you believe would make me to go “Wow” and possibly “sell me” on the idea that canvas is far superior to all other LMS’s I would appreciate it.

    Thanks and Best of Luck to You! (utah is a lot closer to Alaska than MI….:-))

  2. Allison Weiss

    I relate very much to this journey you’ve been on, Maria. It will be fantastic having your energy, vision, and ideas in the office. Welcome to Utah!

  3. Paul Topping

    Congratulations on your new position. I lived in Sandy for three months back in ’83. It is a pretty place with those mountains looming in the background wherever you go. Have fun.


  4. Daniel Kopsas

    Instructure will be lucky to have you! I can’t wait to see Canvas for myself. I keep hearing great things about it.

    Good luck to you!

  5. Congratulations, Maria! Sounds like the start of a great adventure.

    I, too, am taking a big step, moving from UBC in Vancouver to UCSD in San Diego. For me, it’s not a jump to a different track, though, it’s a big step forward in the direction I want to go.

    One of the things that is making this move easier, and harder, is Twitter. I already chat regularly with dozens of colleagues around the country that I’ve never met in person. I’m not leaving them behind when I move. And there are lots of people I know in real life, here in Vancouver, that I’ll continue to work and laugh with via Twitter. It’s comforting that my followers and followings are coming with me.

    At the same time, I felt bad, almost guilty, during the period from applying for my new job and getting it because I couldn’t share my job-getting experiences with my Twitter community. You know, confidentiality of who’s applying for jobs, not wanting to reveal any info that might come back later, not wanting to reveal going after a job and then not getting it. I’m so used to sharing my professional and personal adventures, I felt bad not being able to tell everyone about the thrill of emailing my CV, or how nervous I was about the interview in 5 minutes, or the adrenaline rush when it was over.

    Did you feel that, too?

    Again, congratulations. There’s nothing better than waking up each morning and eagerly, sincerely looking forward to getting to work. “[yawn] What, it’s Tuesday? Awesome, I’ll be at work soon!”


    P.S. Hate to play the self-plagiarism card but I think I’ll post a version of this comment on my blog. That’s where I record my experiences, good and bad, and this is another post on why twitter is an important part of my job.

  6. Congratulations, Maria! Following your passion is always a good idea. Sharing your passion is even more fun. Best of luck. Amy

  7. Good luck. If it makes you feel better, I’ve been plugging Canvas in my neck of the woods.

  8. Debra Lacey


    Congratulations on your new adventure! May you continue to find joy and excitement in your new pursuit. You will be missed in Michigan, but I have a feeling that our paths may cross again in the future!

    Best of luck to you!

  9. Maria,
    Congratulations; I’ve been checking your site since the Higgins Lake Retreat for the outcome. We’re excited to be making the transition to Canvas… don’t let those boys get too big too fast!

  10. Jim Hutchins

    I’d love to talk with you when you have time about Canvas. I’ve been using it since the UEN beta test and I’m excited that they’re adding an educator to their team. There have been cultural differences that lead to communication problems, as I’m sure you’re aware if you read Instructure’s feature request board. I think you have my email from the comment.

  11. Glenna Decker

    Good for you, Maria! I am so pleased for you that you are able to continue to pursue your passions and move to the next level of your journey! The view is lovely and I am glad that you get to return to the mountains – but Lake Michigan will be calling out to you! The best to you. I look forward to reading your updates.

    Oh, and congrats on finishing the Ph.D – I am finally at the point of working on my proposal. It is encouraging to enjoy another classmate’s success, even if you were more than a few courses ahead of me!

  12. Susan Young

    Congratulations! Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures in Utah and at Instructure.

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