Member Spotlight: 5 minutes with community champion, Max Anderson

By Penny Schnarrs posted 10-11-2023 01:00:21 PM


Reach out to @Max Anderson (he/him/his), Director of Instructional Design and Learning Innovation at the University of Illinois College of Medicine for the past five years, about library-related questions, educational technology, DEI+, AI/ML, instructional design, and more. Let's learn more about this month's #MemberSpotlight

black and white headshot of Max Anderson in v neck shirt, white male with short beard, smiling and short blonde hair and dark eyes.

If you’re viewing this Member Spotlight as a non-member of the community, won’t you consider joining us? 

Why do you think engaging in the AAMC Virtual Community is important?
I love the virtual community as it is a more modern way to interact with people compared to listservs. The new interface is similiar to social media which makes it easier for people to navigate. For me, the virtual community has proven to be such a welcoming place to share ideas and ask questions of my peers from all over the country. The connections I've made here are extremely valuable to me.

What was the best book you most recently read?
I read The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai this summer and loved it - it's partly set in Chicago where I live now and in Paris where I have spent a lot of time. I'm also re-reading A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.

What’s the best piece of professional advice you have ever received? Why?
Don't take things personally. Being a sensitive individual, I try to be mindful that the way other people behave or act is not necessarily about me.

What’s the worst piece of professional advice you have ever received? Why?
When I worked at a not-for-profit, it was suggested to me to not take a job offer at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (which is the outreach arm of the National Library of Medicine) & would be based in Chicago. If I had listened, I would likely not be in medical education now.

What do you think is the best, most challenging, or most unique thing about working in academic medicine (or your field or specialty specifically)?
Right now, it feels like things are changing at such an exponential rate, such as with artificial intelligence and how it is impacting our students, faculty, and staff.

What do you hope to gain from this online community?
I have already gained so much from this community, including new friends and colleagues from institutions all over the country. I'm inquisitive by nature so bouncing ideas off people in the community has been a rewarding experience.

Did you have an unusual path to your current career?
I thought I would be teaching French in a college somewhere or perhaps teaching English as a Second Language in France (which I did do for a year in a town called Aurillac), ultimately decided to go back to get an advanced degree in librarianship, and after more degrees, I'm now in the ed tech world. They are all probably related in some way but definitely feels different than generations before me when people would work in one field for most of their life.
Thinking about all conferences, workshops, webinars you have attended in the last few years, was there a speaker or session topic that stands out as your favorite?
I've been attending the IAMSE series on artificial intelligence (AI) lately and uncovering some insights I had not thought of in terms of how to approach AI for our stakeholders.

How do you prefer to start your day?
Coffee and meditation, not necessarily in that order. On the weekends, a long bike ride in the country.

How do you prefer to end your day?
Cooking at home or meeting up with friends to take a walk or bike ride along the lake.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about your position?
That I'm here to tell faculty how to teach (probably due to the term 'instructional design' in my title).

You’re throwing a dinner party and can invite 3 people (alive or dead). Who do you invite?
Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou, and Leonardo da Vinci

How did you maintain your wellness and resilience during the pandemic? Any tips to share with others?
I love to ride long distances on my bike, so I did that a lot during the pandemic and continue to do it now. It was great early on because fewer people were driving which made the roads feel much safer. If anything, just get out for a short, brisk walk daily to keep your body moving.

You live/work in Chicago. What’s your favorite restaurant there? Is there something special we should check out next time we visit?
There are so many amazing restaurants here in Chicago it's hard to choose! I ate at The Gage (on Michigan Ave near the Bean) recently and the food / service is always excellent. Something off the beaten path is to visit the Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette (just north of Chicago but accessible via public transportation). It is really a marvel of architecture. If you are here in mid-October, there is an annual 'Open House Chicago' where hundreds of historic buildings are open to the public to learn more about the history and architecture and impact on the city.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I wanted to be a teacher because my mom taught kindergarten and I used to play with her supplies as a kid.

What do you do to turn things around when you’re having a bad day?
Meditate, do breathing exercises to calm the mind, take a walk, and/or take a long bike ride.

If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?
Camera, Maps, News (is the phone part a given?)

What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten?
Probably 'tripoux' when living in France - it's not for the faint of heart. It's essentially sheep's feet wrapped in stomach.

Do you have pets? 
I don't have any pets right now but would love to get a dog again someday. I grew up with a schnauzer.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I appreciate the AAMC virtual communities for making it easier to find like minds to share ideas and brainstorm. The AAMC has been such a welcoming professional 'home' and I have made great friends with many staff at the organization.


Say “hello” to Max here in the communityFeel free to post any questions you have for him in this blog post, or direct messages via the community are also a great way to connect. 

If you’d like to be featured in a future Member Spotlight post, reach fill out this form. Curious about what a community champion is? Read more here.

And, if you’re viewing this Member Spotlight as a non-member of the community, won’t you consider joining us?