At the intersection of academia and practice

I’ve been reflecting on where am I am and where I want to be. I’ve gone to several conferences lately, in hopes of finding my place and finding my tribe. More and more, I am discovering that I am at the intersection – neither in nor out. I stand in the middle of the academic and practitioner spaces, with one foot in each, never sure which direction I should be shifting my weight.

My research is in the practice space – I work within organizations to create educational experiences. There is not always a clear line between my practice and my research. They co-exist in the real-world space.

I have gone to a couple of conferences that purport to provide something for both academics and practitioners. When I speak to people there, I hear that the practitioners find the information really useful, but the academics don’t. The academics come mostly as a meeting place for distance colleagues – an opportunity to socialize and have deep meaningful conversations with familiar faces (familiar but working in distance universities). For academics, the information being presented at the confernece is too familiar. It is more of the same.

I’m struct by the lack of innovation in the practice world – where people report on innovations that are nothing new. In the practical world, a failure to do the background research on what has been done before means that there is a consistent re-inventing of the wheel and calling it innovative. On the academic side of the fence, innovation is stifled there too. Here, the literature is studied before the innovation is undertaken – this way, it is not nearly as likely to be a re-invention of the wheel – rather it is a new take on the world. However, the processes are slow and the barriers are many. Too much bureaucratic structure and the ties of historical norms stifle innovation in academia.

I’m amazed that innovation can happen in any space. So, I go in search of where I can do fun and innovative things at the intersection of academia and practice.

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