Great memories, Good luck and Excited for what lies ahead

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Play this song as you read… you won’t regret it.

Great memories. As I leave behind my days with the Office of Distance Education and eLearning, I look back with a smile. So many fond memories: Ethiopia, iTunes U bootcamps, collaborating on workshops and taking face-to-face OSU courses online. I cherish the opportunity to work with creative educators and use the skills I developed in my adventures ahead.

Good luck. Digital education and eLearning is not a light task at a place like Ohio State; however, ODEE’s staff – through strong technical knowledge and partnerships – is prepared for the challenges ahead. Best of luck to ODEE and OSU colleagues as they revolutionize the Buckeye teaching and learning experience!

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Excited for what lies ahead. I am excited for the Nationwide Financial culture and continuing to develop myself professionally. The Business Performance Excellence team will be a dynamic environment for me to utilize and expand upon what I learned at ODEE. I am ready for this new chapter in my career.

Through all the exciting work, there is no doubt that I will miss the people of ODEE the most. I bid you farewell and wish you my best! -Kevin

LT team for Twitter

When this Boy Meets World: Reflecting on #GlobalOneHealth

When this Boy Meets World
Boy Meets World
Wandering down this road, that we call life
Is what we’re doin’
It’s good to know I have friends that will always
Stand by me
When this Boy Meets World.

My first night in Ethiopia I tried to settle in with a good friend called Netflix.  Unable to stream – and still deciding if I’m proud or ashamed to admit – I pulled up a great alternative:  Season 7 of ‘Boy Meets World’ on YouTube.

So I unpacked for my journey with help from Cory, Topanga and Mr. Feeny.  (Random tidbit:  Did you know that Mr. Feeny was the voice of KITT in Knight Rider?  Well, William Daniels, to be precise.)  Unsure exactly what our experiences would be in Ethiopia, I was excited for the journey ahead.

When this Boy Meets World
Boy Meets World

I’m not a person who goes abroad for 11 days and says that it changed me.  I returned to Columbus with the same values, but do have a broadened perspective of what we can accomplish as educators.  In a recent blog post, I spoke about the role Ohio State can play in effective cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural partnerships.  I took copious notes, and my mind was going a mile-a-minute while we interacted with our Ethiopian collaborators.

It was amazing to see their ambition, expertise and pride first-hand.  This is something we could not capture through emails or Skype conference calls.  Thank you to Dr. Wondwossen Gebreyes, ODEE and the Center for African Studies for creating this opportunity for our team.  This trip will aid our collaboration greatly!

Wandering down this road, that we call life
Is what we’re doin’

Our trip to Ethiopia kept us on the run.  Days of training workshops, traveling and partnership meetings, we were running on fumes and caffeine.  Lucky for us, the local coffee was pretty fantastic.  During the first half of our journey, I tried to soak it all in.  Figure out our place in this giant puzzle, and prioritize where we can best help in the Global One Health initiatives.

As I’m sure Cory (Tressler, not Matthews) and Nicole would agree, just being around Wondwossen for a few days helped put the puzzle pieces together.  He sees the 30,000-foot view of our project, and where each partner can contribute to the digital learning, rabies education and collaborative teaching goals on this work.  It also didn’t take me long to realize that Wondwossen is sort of a “rock star” – having strong relationships with both government officials and educators.  He’s the right person, and right personality, to make our Global One Health dreams a reality.

It’s good to know I have friends that will always
Stand by me
When this Boy Meets World.

A great by-product of my trip were the friendships gained.  I cannot say enough about the hospitality of our Ethiopian partners.  Several took hours out of their days to provide us with campus tours and join for dinners.  They embodied a passion that was both fulfilling and motivating for me to see.

I enjoyed the time spent with Wondwossen, Cory & NicoleThree amazing yet humble people in their fields, these educators represent everything that is great about being a Buckeye.  The Ohio State community is fortunate to have them out in the world doing what Buckeyes do.

Ending a blog post – especially one that puts a lid on my trip – is always a daunting task.  Do I end with a profound statement?  Or a thought-provoking question?  But then I realized, I had a human fortune cookie at my disposal.

I had a memorable time, and am fortunate for the entire experience.  If you have the opportunity to involve yourself with the Global One Health initiative, I highly suggest that you consider it.  Class dismissed.


Discovering Discovery Themes 7,500 Miles Away

I have a confession to make:  prior to last night I had never read Ohio State’s Discovery Themes.  You might be in the same boat, I won’t tell.  Here’s your chance to brush up.  Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz.

Cory Tressler demonstrates a video lecture

Thursday’s visit to the Addis Ababa campus provided me with the opportunity to reflect on Ohio State and its role in global health and education.  Our team’s major goal for the day was to conduct our second iPad rollout:  distribute seven iPad minis to our partners and conduct a training session on relevant features/applications.   Although we were here to teach, we were by no means the experts in the room.

Joining us were authorities on tuberculosis and human papillomavirus (HPV) research, as well as officials from the Ethiopian Public Health Institute.  Experts renowned in their respective fields, these colleagues gave us their full attention for more than two hours to learn how a device only 9×6 inches in size could revolutionize their work.  Yes, there is a need here, but more importantly there is the passion to learn and grow.

Kevin Kula addresses a group question

We took time to review the five, iTunes U courses that will be developed for Phase 1 of this grant work.  Spanning across four Colleges at Ohio State, these five courses supplement one another and share the interwoven, OSU Discovery Themes of Food Production and Security and Health and Wellness.  Since I was ingrained in the course development process these past three months, the interconnections and partnerships gradually became clearer to me.  I began to see how our Digital First Impact Grant initiative is truly about Global One Health.

Our iPad training session was followed by a campus tour.  It didn’t take me long to take note of my surroundings:  students walking to class with their eyes focused on a smartphone.  A walk through a large, social science classroom reminded me of the view from Independence Hall.  And while the Addis Ababa campus did not have a Mirror Lake, per se, they did have their “kissing pond.”  But we’re Ohio State.  Aren’t we supposed to be different?  If not, why did we travel 7,500 miles to be here this past week?

Classroom seating in Addis Ababa lecture hall
Classroom seating in Addis Ababa lecture hall
Look familiar?  A snapshot of Independence Hall.
Look familiar? OSU’s Independence Hall

I began this blog by reflecting on Ohio State and its role in global health and education.  A few paragraphs later, I’ve been led back to a mere thirteen letters in our Discovery Themes:

Collaboration (taken from OSU Discovery Theme Guiding Principles)

  1. The Discovery Themes Initiative must be a model of interdisciplinarity and transinstitutionality that promotes and enhances broad university collaboration.
  2. The Discovery Themes Initiative will build on existing strengths and/or develop new programmatic excellence that will achieve a substantial comparative and competitive advantage.
  3. The Discovery Themes Initiative will support existing faculty excellence, building current faculty work into a collaborative experience.

Sitting around the table this week with colleagues from our Ethiopian partner universities, I realize that Ohio State is not intrinsically different.  We have the same questions and concerns.  We have the same experts asking questions of how to better health and education for humanity.  So how can we best exemplify this as Buckeyes?  We can step up on our cross-disciplinary, cross-institutional, and cross-cultural collaboration.  Dr. Gebreyes likes the word synergy.  After this trip, I do, too.

Synergy [sin-er-jee] noun – the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements

Session pic 1

Pelotonia – Why I ride


2014 marks my third year riding in Pelotonia. After August 9th, I will have been on a bike exactly three times in the past 10 years.

In 2012, I showed up to the Columbus Commons at 6AM not knowing if I could stay upright on a bicycle. I came armed with a borrowed bike and two flat tires (luckily the Pelotonia crew is ready for riders like me with bike pumps on site). I don’t need to say much more to describe that I am not a biker. It’s likely that someday I will be, maybe when Ultimate Frisbee takes less of a priority in my life.

Pelotonia has made me get on a bike to fundraise and raise awareness for cancer research. Always the second weekend in August, this event usually starts a jam-packed day for me. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Last year, I went directly from my Pelotonia ride to my summer league tournament, and from there to a wedding. This year, Cory Tressler is riding 50 miles to the finish line to then jump on a plane to a fishing trip in Canada. Just like me, I’m sure Cory wouldn’t want it any other way.

Every rider has his or her story of why they ride. Melissa Miller got back the Pelotonia bug (riding in 2010) and joined our Team Buckeye peloton. Melissa is riding from Columbus to New Albany in support and memory of her family members who have battled cancer. Also on the 50-mile route, Liv Gjestvang a recent cancer survivor, is riding out of gratitude for good health. She hopes to give back to families who, like hers, benefit from the great patient support and research done at The James.

Thanks to Marcia Ham, David Lindstedt, and Henry Griffy, who have shown their support by becoming virtual riders. Their fundraising and awareness efforts are greatly appreciated. (My pre-apology if I left any riders out.) An additional shout-out to ODEE/OCIO Leadership, who have generously backed participation, funding, and awareness of Pelotonia 2014!

These are our stories, and we’re sticking to them. We have joined Team Buckeye to help create a cancer-free world. Thank you for your donations & support! #OneGoal

For more information on Pelotonia 2014, here are some helpful links:
Rider registration
Virtual Rider registration
Where the money goes (video)


Great Time, Great Cause


Tuesday, April 29th started like most Ohio spring mornings: with rain. But there was no way weather would keep our Learning Technology team down. Spearheaded by the efforts of Ashley Miller and thanks to economy-sized purchases at GFS, our team headed south to the Ronald McDonald House.

Across the street from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Central Ohio serves “families with seriously ill children by providing a home-away-from-home.” Our team was there for the day to cook and serve lunch, as well as take a tour of their wonderful facilities.

10AM strikes, and it’s time to start cooking. Our team unloads our supplies and is ready to make our home in the fully equipped RMHC kitchens. Today’s menu: grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato or chicken noodle soup, chips, fruit, and freshly baked cookies. With a plan to feed over 100 people, it was time to fire up the griddles. In true Hooker fashion, Dave gave an insightful recommendation of how we could perfect our grilled-cheese-making process by buttering the bread in one stint. A few slippery hands later, doing this streamlined the process … “like butter” a la Linda Richman of Mike Myers SNL fame.

They’re like butter


Ashley, Cory, Liv, Tara, and Sam held down the fort in kitchen #1 helping with the main course duties. Armed with an impressive lineup of griddles, the grilled cheese sandwiches were toasted in amazing fashion and speed. Crock pots warmed with soups and the fruit and chips were spread over the island in great display. Even Steve Lieb pulled away from his paternity leave to be part of the experience, adding the intangible qualities that only Steve can.

Queenie and I were on cookie duty next door, working two ovens to bake cookies for our guests (and some ‘broken’ samples for us, too, for quality control). We were fortunate to have an RMHC guest cooking breakfast nearby, so our cookie making took place to the aroma of pan-fried bacon. With help from Tara, Ashley, and Cory, the cookie sheets had little rest until 150 gooey, chocolate chip cookies were baked and ready-to-go.

At 12PM, lunch was served. Engaging in conversations with RMHC guests, our LT team heard several touching stories and great testimonials on the services provided by the Ronald McDonald House Charities. After eating lunch ourselves, we took a tour of the facilities. It was impressive to see the role that local donors, professional teams, and community organizations played in the RMHC’s facilities and history. From arcades to laundry services to giant teddy bears (great for napping, btw), the RMHC provided all-inclusive amenities to its guests. We saw first-hand the value that this facility provides. It was not a hotel, but a home for families who have something much more important on their mind.

Wrapping up our tour, we snagged a photo op with Ronald himself, who sits on a bench at the entrance of the RMHC. And we got a great shot. Even though that April morning started overcast and rain, we walked into an amazingly sunny and warm afternoon. Coincidence … I think not. Just another perk of the RMHC.





AUDL Week 2

A great win against the Chicago Wildfire last Friday night!! Top 10 highlights from around the league below (#6 and #2 from our game) and the Montreal crowd was unreal. Canada sure likes their Ultimate.

But even with the win, what made my night was our friends from Oakstone Academy joining us for throwing, autographs, and camaraderie after the game.

Outreach Revolution

dis·tin·guished (adj.): marked by eminence, distinction, or excellence

Wednesday afternoon, a group of ODEE-ers and friends crashed the Senior Leadership Meeting. We were joined by Michele Bondurant, Diana Lantz, and Jack Miner – among other colleagues – representing Ohio State’s Distinguished Staff Award committee. (Kudos to the Office of Human Resources, giving the moment a Publishers Clearing House feel to it. Way better than a “congrats, you won” email.)

Liv photo

We packed 40ish Buckeyes into the coziness of 175 Mount Hall to congratulate Liv Gjestvang, Director of Learning Technology, on her honor of being selected as one of Ohio State’s twelve recipients for this award. Even Liv’s partner, Julie, and their son, Karsten (both shown in the foreground of the picture above), were able to join for this memorable occasion.

The website for Ohio State’s 2014 Distinguished Staff Award notes the following selection criteria:

• Enhancing the quality of work-life in ways that make a significant difference for colleagues or customers.
• Providing outstanding and ongoing excellence in services to faculty, staff, students and/or other customers.
• Developing creative solutions to problems that result in significantly more effective and efficient department or university operations.

I couldn’t say it any better, so I won’t even try. We at the Office of Distance Education and eLearning are fortunate to have Liv as a leader and colleague.

This post has nothing to do with brownie points. In fact, I think those stopped being passed out in the 3rd grade. This is about giving credit where credit is due. Thank you to Ohio State’s Office of Human Resources, colleagues who headed up Liv’s nomination (special shout-out to Steve Lieb who orchestrated ODEE’s side of the application process), and those at Ohio State who make our job both gratifying and fun. Congrats, Liv, on your ‘all-around awesome’ award!