HAPS Leadership (#15): Communication Committee

“Recruiting someone to tweet for us seems to cause them to dissolve into thin air!”

140129 (1) Pat BowneI’m laughing as Pat Bowne is explaining some of the ups and downs of the Communication Committee.  When she’s not rubbing elbows with royalty, Pat is helping HAPS reach out through various social media sites.

“I started tweeting to advertise my novels.  That started to mesh with my passion for A&P and I started tweeting for HAPS.  At the time, I was one of two Regional Directors (the other being Jason LaPres) who was tweeting routinely.  The Board decided that we should have a focused approach to social media.”

That decision created the Communication Committee.  Working with the Membership Committee and Marketing Committee as a Super-Committee, the various chairs have negotiated various responsibilities and themes.  From their tele-retreat, they decided that the Communication Committee would use our Twitter account to advertise upcoming research, medicine, and teaching, and our Facebook account to advertise about HAPS-specific events.  Add to that David Evan’s weekly email of HAPS Links, and we’re getting word out fairly consistently.

“One of the challenges is recruiting new committee members to help with the postings.  As I said, when we recruit someone and get them access to our twitter account, they seem to spontaneously combust…I hope there’s not a connection.”  I can see her smile even through the phone line on that one.

Pat is tweeting twice per day and re-tweeting her weekly posts on Saturday.  If you’re curious to follow our social media footprint, go to the HAPS website.  In the top right corner are links to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.  Each will take you into a whole new world.

140129 (6) Social Media

“If you have a passion for any of these sites and a passion for Anatomy and Physiology, I think we’ve got a great arena for you.  And don’t worry; we’ll make sure that you don’t disappear into the ether!”

3- Community

Don’t tell anyone, but I would  be willing to pay TEN TIMES my HAPS dues to be a member of the society, because my HAPS membership is THAT valuable to me.  Now, I’m certainly glad I don’t have to pay ten times the dues (thank you HAPS!), but it is interesting to explore the reason I value my HAPS membership so greatly, and it doesn’t take me long to figure it out:

Image of "community" on a bullitin board.Last semester, when I participated in the APS Archive Scholars Program, we spent a week talking about the characteristics of a quality online community.  One of my group mates was a fellow HAPSter and both of us cited HAPS as an example of a highly functional and meaningful, mostly-online community.  As the week’s conversations progressed, I realize that HAPSters have created an invaluable community because of the deep and meaningful participation from members across a vast range of professional niches.

Just look at the HAPS email listserv.  I can post a question to the list and people often begin responding within minutes of my original post. I am always overwhelmed by the generosity and professionalism of the responses and I am a much better teacher because of the amazing community that sustains the listserv.   And it makes sense, because if I posted a question, and no one responded, I would be less likely to post another question. The energy required to post just wouldn’t be worth it.

But I think there is more to the HAPS community than just random participation and this is something that is really amazing.  There is a diversity of expertise out there in HAPS-land that is just quality.  My students get a kick out of the fact that I can ask a question on the list, and have it answered by the women who wrote their textbooks!  In December, I asked about how to tell the difference between a uterus and a bladder when dissecting a human cadaver.  I was shy about asking the question, because I didn’t want to appear unqualified or uneducated…but previous experiences with the list made me feel like even if the question WAS a little weak, the HAPSters wouldn’t make me FEEL weak about asking it.  And true to form, I received a wealth of diverse responses that helped me figure out that my dear cadaver no longer possessed her uterus (though she did have one ovary).  It was like having 10 highly experienced and generous mentors providing input at exactly the moment I needed it.  What a fantastic resource.

I can see why the APS Archive Scholars Program emphasized this concept.  They want to build a meaningful online community with the archive at the center. I was a shy contributor to the archive at first, but after thinking about the value of contributing, I decided to be a little braver in how I participate in non-HAPS online communities.

I admire the vision displayed by the HAPS leadership that creates the community where people feel welcome and safe to contribute.  When they encourage folks to “join the HAPS family”, it is just really really true.

HAPS Leadership (#14): Animal Use Committee

Last year, during the annual HAPS conference in Las Vegas, I was checking out the exhibit hall between seminar presentations.  It was the second full day of the conference – Monday – and you could feel an amazing electricity in the crowd.  I spotted Nick Despo, chair of the Animal Use Committee, sitting off the side.  He was out of breath, but laughing, as we made eye contact.  I came up and asked what was so funny.

Talk to Nick about the great posters that his group have presented at recent conferences.
Talk to Nick about the great posters that his group have presented at recent conferences.

“It’s always such a hoot to see the First-Timers get into the Scavenger Hunt.  I just spent the last few minutes, helping a group of First-Timers run Eric Sun to ground.  We cornered him over by the coffee stand and pinned him down for autographs.  I saw a couple of Regional Directors on the other side of the room and sent the First-Timers after them.  I’m just catching my breath before the next big onslaught of people with cards to sign.”

 The Scavenger Hunt is a tradition that we – the HAPS Steering Committee – developed in 2007 and have enjoyed every year since.  First-Timers get a card listing almost all of the HAPS Committees and their Chairs.  The goal is to get all of the Chairs to sign your card, as well as two fellow First-Timers and your Regional Director.  Once you turn your card into the Steering Committee, it goes into a drawing for the chance to win free conference registration to next year’s annual conference.

“The Scavenger Hunt is such a great idea!  It’s wonderful to see First-Timers collaborate in finding Chairs.  People who might otherwise have trouble meeting people now have a common goal with a hundred others.  Pretty soon, they’re chatting, working together to bring down a Chair, agreeing on a place for lunch, and becoming an integral part of the HAPS family.  Wow!”

Quick, there goes a chair!  You take the left and I'll catch him on the right!
Quick, there goes a chair! You take the left and I’ll catch him on the right!

 Just then, several First Timers see the infamous bulls-eye button on Nick – designating him as a signer – and they rush to him with their cards.  He happily starts telling them about his committee, grabbing cards and telling me to help find the other Chairs who haven’t signed yet.  I grab a few First-Timers and head off after Pat Bowne – Communications Committee – as I hear Nick laughing.

“Welcome to HAPS!  Tell me, what do you know about proper animal use in the lab?”

2- Getting ready for the tornado!

F5 Tornado entering Manitoba, Canada
Sometimes the start of a new semester feels like the onset of a very big storm…

I am taking advantage of my last few relatively empty days before the new-semester-tornado hits me full in the face.  Many of the items on my ToDo list from the last week are HAPS related.

  1. I already nominated a student for the The Primal Pictures and Human Anatomy and Physiology Society Scholarship.  The GREAT news for the rest of you is that the deadline for scholarship submission has been extended to Tuesday January 28th!  This scholarship is an amazing opportunity to reward one of your excellent students with a $2000 scholarship plus a very close to free trip to the HAPS annual conference in May.  Show your support for HAPS, Primal Pictures, and your fantastic students by nominating someone by the 28th.
  2. I already registered to attend this year’s Annual Conference in Jacksonville, Florida May 24-29.  Last year, I was a “first-timer” in Vegas.  I remember asking the folks on the email list serv if they thought the Annual Conference was worth attending.  (I look back at that question and laugh.)  I saved the wonderfully welcoming email responses to my question, all of which essentially said, “You HAVE to come meet us in Vegas!  You are already part of the HAPS family and we want to talk about teaching A&P!”  And indeed it was so.  I started saving money for Florida about two days after returning home from Vegas.  THAT is how cool the Annual Conference is!  (And if you are an adjunct, you can still apply for the Adjunct Faculty Scholarship that will cover your registration fee.  The deadline for that scholarship has been extended to January 31.)
  3. I am upping my game for the Annual Conference and am working on a workshop proposal.  This is due on February 4.  (I bet you can’t guess what I want to do my workshop on….!)  The only disadvantage I can see to presenting a workshop is the fact that I will have to MISS other workshops during that time slot.  The workshops were my favorite part of the Annual Conference (though I really enjoyed the poker walk as well.)
  4. The last thing on my HAPS-related  list of things ToDo before the tornado hits is to investigate getting a Twitter account.  I recently attended the Open Ed conference in Park City, UT and the number of people tweeting their thoughts during the conference was slightly shocking.  Folks shared that following the conference tweets facilitated some very interesting connections and conversations.  I’m intrigued…maybe it is time to learn about those hash-tags.

Classes start on Tuesday.  Let the storming commence!

HAPS Leadership (#13): Central Regional Director

140115 (1) Murray Jensen“Baltimore…somewhere in the 90s.  That was my first HAPS conference.  Since then, I’ve attended most of the annual conferences, served on a few committees, contributed articles to the HAPS-EDucator, and worked on the effort to archive past issues of the HAPS-ED on the APS Teaching Archive.”

I’m talking with Murray Jensen, Central Regional Director for the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society.  He’s telling me about joining the HAPS Board of Directors.

“With the encouragement of John Waters, I put my name on the ballot for the HAPS Central Regional Director.  It’s been a logical step, as I expand my horizons and learn more about HAPS.  Still, the Talking Head’s lyric – ‘How did I get here?’ – comes to mind.”

140115 (2) Talking HeadsHow did your passion for teaching anatomy and physiology begin?

“I started my professional career as a high school science teacher.  I taught everything from 9th grade special education to anatomy and physiology.  Teaching in the chaos of a high school has put most of my future teaching endeavors into perspective.  Ever try to teach 30 spastic, hyperkinetic, vocal, and emotional 9th graders how to use a volumetric flask on a Friday afternoon during the last period of the day?  You can imagine.

 “I currently teach freshman-level anatomy and physiology at the University of Minnesota, but have kept my contact with high schools through a dual enrollment program at the U.  That has allowed me to keep in touch with high school teachers and educate them about the incredible opportunities through HAPS.”

What sort of opportunities?

“My biggest project for that is a HAPS Central Regional Conference that we’re planning for October, 2014.  We’re looking to have it at a nearby high school (Murray is currently in Minneapolis, Minnesota).  At this conference, I hope to attract both regular HAPS members as well as high school A&P teachers.  We’ll have the usual plenary sessions and workshops, but there will also be ample opportunity for high school and college educators to interact and – as we do so well at all of our conferences – share successes and headaches, brainstorm new ideas, and generally have a good time.  If you know of an educator, high school or college, who might be interested, please send them to the HAPS web page to learn more.” 


1- The Archive of Teaching Resources

Greetings HAPSters!  It is great to be getting ready for a fresh new semester of flippin’ fun times.  This promises to be a special semester, because after five years of working as an adjunct at my school, I have been hired for a “temporary” full-time spot this semester.  While sometimes I think the best part of this promotion is the fact that I have an office (!!!), the rest of the time I am just really Really REALLY excited to be teaching both Human Anatomy and Human Physiology (2 separate classes on our campus) at the same time.

Because of my work last semester in Human Anatomy, that course is pretty well set up.  All my video lectures are recorded, I have a decent set of clicker activities for class, and I have some rockin’ new strategies to deal with the creeps who choose to cheat on my exams, thanks to the HAPSters on the email listserv.  Physiology is less prepped, but I have a very motivated (and patient) group of students this semester.  And I’m not complaining at all.  Hey, I have an office in which to work!

Archive of Teaching Resources Logo
HAPS is partnering with APS to build an incredible Archive of Teaching Resources

In my blog posts this semester, I am excited to continue talking about “the flip”, and I also plan to spend a significant time talking about my experiences last semester as a participant in the American Physiological Society’s Archive Scholars Program.  This was an amazing program in which we reflected on pedagogy, discussed the core concepts of the 2011 Vision and Change report, and explored the incredible Archive of Teaching Resources. Each part of this program was game-changing for me.  As you probably know by now, I LOVE talking about pedagogy.  And I really didn’t know much about the content of the Vision and Change report, so it was great to learn more about it.  And the Archive…?  Let me just be clear.  The Archive of Teaching Resources is an UNBELIEVABLY gluttonous wealth of activities for the Anatomy/Physiology classroom.  I would get LOST in the archive, bouncing from one fascinating activity to the next.  And the really cool thing is that MANY of the activities were created by HAPS members!  HAPS has partnered with APS to help fill the archive with meaningful activities.  For example, most of the content created in HAPS–I courses is published in the archive!  And materials from the HAPS-EDucator is also published to the archive.

So if you have some time and haven’t already done so, check it out.  I look forward to sharing some of the ways the Archive Scholars Program informs my teaching this semester.

HAPS Leadership (#12): Membership Committee

140108 (2) CrowdThe Human Anatomy & Physiology Society runs on its membership.  The members are the driving force that makes HAPS the great organization that we all enjoy.  Keeping track of this vital group is the responsibility of the aptly-named Membership Committee.  Leading this group is committee Chair, Elizabeth Pennefather-O’Brien.  I had the opportunity to connect with Elizabeth over the break and wanted to share with you what I learned.

What attracted you to the Membership Committee?

I’ve been a member since I joined HAPS.  Involvement in this committee really aided in my integration into the HAPS community.  Interactions with the chairs and members helped me really connect to HAPSters at my first annual conference.

Describe some of the functions of the Membership Committee.

We keep an eye on the demographics of the Society to learn who you are, what you want from us, and what you can share with us.  We’ve offered surveys in the past that have helped us to improve Society benefits for its members.  We develop incentive programs to increase membership, such as differential dues for members.  We maintain a Jobs Wanted site on our website to help you find your next dream job.

Tell me about “the Maps”.

140108 (3) US mapThat is one of my favorite parts of the annual Conference (Shameless Plug = 2014 Jacksonville registration is now open!).  We create a North America map and a World map for each conference, allowing attendees to pin where they are coming from.  I enjoy spending time by the map to see the array of places that people come from…as well as take note of where we missed this year.  Did you know that we had 46 of 50 US states, 5 of 10 Canadian provinces, and representatives from Australia, Denmark, Egypt, Grenada, India, New Zealand, and Nigeria?  It is absolutely wonderful to have people from so many places gather to engage in educational conversations about Anatomy & Physiology.

Tell me about the energy of the Membership Committee.

140108 (4) Intl mapIt’s a great group.  We’ve gone through some changes over the past few years.  With the hiring of an Executive Director and the formation of a Marketing Committee, our focus and duties have shifted a little.  However, we’re finding our niche and are really excited about some new projects on the horizon.

Such as…

We’re developing our next survey and would love assistance in making sure that we gather the right demographic information.  We’re looking to promote continued membership (got ideas for retaining our members?) as well as increase our international membership140108 (1) Elizabeth Pennefather-O'Brien 2013We’re also working on ways to keep lines of communication strong throughout the year.  If you have questions or ideas, we’d love to hear from you.  Drop me an email at eobrien@hapsconnect.org.  Have a good one, ay!