Burnt Matchstick Art,
Stanislav Aristov 16

Has your interest in the courses you’ve been teaching, lessened?
Are your lectures less inspiring than they once were?
Does class participation seem to decrease?

If this sounds like you, or someone you know, perhaps they are battling with Academic Burnout. This  malady commonly occurs during an academic year, but particularly when you, the professor, teacher, presenter, or instructor, have not been inspired. Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. The causes for burnout in the academic realm are varied, but I liken the primary source to the following aphorism:

“A vessel filled with only self, will soon become empty.”

You can combat your academic interest over a single weekend, and reap the benefits for years to come. Here’s how:

Outside Resources
Begin by re-examining what your interests are. If you find that what grabbed your attention years ago is no longer attention grabbing, consider signing up for the newsletters@sciencedaily.com. Each week you will be sent dozens of informational discussions and articles across a spectrum of interests…and it is free.

Outside Parallel Think Groups 
If you have been teaching in a niche area, consider searching LinkedIn groups for forums that match your niche. If none exists, why not start one of your own and draw other like minded academics to you. Regardless as to how specific your interest is, there is a better than great chance that you will find others on LinkedIn, or draw others there. I mention this platform simply because of the level of credibility and professionalism I’ve experienced in groups I’m associated with.

Outside ‘Virtual Assistance’
A less labor intensive method for generating new ideas or cultivating promising research with current information is, use of curated content. Scoop.it, Paper.li, and other source/sites can scrub the internet for applicable information and present it directly to you daily, or even twice daily! You control what is searched for, and you decide what to examine or ignore. It’s a lot like having a personal virtual assistant reporting to you with informational articles, book reviews, interviews and other relevant and thought provoking information.

Whether you settle on on one or more of the tactics presented, the next step is where you actually release the hold burnout has latched onto you. Regardless as to the depth of the information your ‘virtual assistant’ has brought to you, it is essential that you take the next step and validate it.

“Trust, but verify.”

Breath New Life Into Old Techniques
At this stage, you will begin to reclaim some of the vigor and interest you once held. You can begin to examine new ways of presenting the information, or expand on methods you already use. For example if you have traditionally lectured on the parts of the brain, and how the represent memory, cognition, motor skills, or emotion; you might consider integrating your slide presentation with a Movenote generated video (www.movenote.com) which allows you to break your lecture into smaller 5,10,or 15 minute consumable ‘chunks’.

Your audience can watch your video on their mobile device before a quiz or exam, or simply be better prepared to engage in the class discussion. Here is an example I created to explain the program redesign for Criminal Justice http://api.movenote.com/v/dGRfKXmc65uVp What you will notice is the capability of integrating text, slides, or other media in a consumable and interesting format, which can be leveraged in various ways in your classroom. I mention Movenote because I’ve been using it in my classrooms with great success, and for academics, there is no cost.

I hope that you will explore these ideas and recommendations, and reclaim the vigor and interest that brought you into academia to begin with, and combat your burnout! I would love to hear from you as to how you employed these and other ideas to combat and defeat your academic burnout. Feel free to comment here, follow my on Twitter @Mfaculty, or drop me an email at mobilefaculty@gmail.com.

Best wishes
Dr. Eugene Matthews