BreakDrink, CTCX, Open Education, Reflections

Is The Internet YOUR Playground?

This past week on @BreakDrink the Campus Tech Connection (#CTCX) podcast we discussed online filters and search, and how this impacts our knowledge, perception and view. The initial discussion was sparked by the Eli Pariser’s TED Talk about online “filter bubbles” but our conversation cycled into the retrieval and sharing of information within our personal and professional worlds. [Sorry @jefflail – I know you are not a fan of TED, but it was an “idea worth spreading” for the #CTCX show on Monday.]

On the show, we discussed if it was possible to seek unbiased information through our search results, consumption of media and varied perspectives on a topic.  As a History major, I was encouraged to review and assess my sources and citations. It was important to ensure there was an unbiased perspective and account of the information shared. Now that we have the ease of Google, Yahoo, Bing and other online search engines, few people take into account how or where this information is aggregated during search. To test the limitations to online filters, @jeffjackson, @jefflail & I spent some time Googling and contemplating if the internet was actually our playground. Ideas around search engine optimization, online experience, controlled sharing and the openness of our internet were key concepts discussed. It was a pretty good conversation about information collection and filtering – which shall continue throughout my research and professional work. 

For now, I will divert to someone who decided to take back the internet playground. David Thorne is a writer who decided to push the envelop one day through funny personal email exchanges (that not everyone might find funny, but he sure did). Thorne’s most famous exchange with a spider drawing went viral in 2008 which increased traffic to his personal website. To fund the server for this website David decided to create a book calledThe Internet Is My Playground, to share more online interactions. 

Thanks to NPR All Tech Considered for the great piece on David Thorne.

This blog post is also cross-posted on => Campus Tech Connection | Live Googling & Filter Bubbles

BreakDrink, CTCX, Podcast


Thanks to Break Drink and almost a year of broadcasting weekly shows, I can official say I am a podcaster. Does this mean anything to anyone? Probably not – but for me it sure has. The Campus Tech Connection (#CTCX) has helped me to engage and inquire about all things tech, student affairs, higher education and then some. Break Drink recently celebrated the 100th Podcast by bringing the entire group of podcasters together. The BreakDrink team, which includes the #StudentAffairs, #OnDuty, #CTCX, #EDUsports podcastor and contributor ARL275, were able to reflect and share their own podcasting experiences. 

I have been producing and participating in the podcasting since 2007 [first with the Academic Advising & Career Centre at UTSC], however my recent podcast times with Break Drink have been more frequent and regular. Unlike a blog, podcasting allows me to put a real voice behind some thoughts, resources and ideas. With my co-hosts,  Jeff Jackson & Jeff Lail, I have learned and engaged more in my academic and professional development. 

Here is a past presentation I pulled from my archives for others who might be interested in entering into the podcast realm. This is just  a start, however perhaps it will kick start your podcasting plans.

Here are just a few things I have learned and enjoyed as a Break Drink #CTCX podcaster:

  • You have to ENJOY it – if you like what you’re talking about it keeps the listeners interested & coming back for more
  • It is a Process – we have learned & improved along the way; it is okay to make mistakes
  • Gadget & Tools – identify what hardware and online resources work best for YOU. There are LOADS out there free & paid
  • Be Genuine – you are there to have a bit of a chat; be yourself
  • Plan – it’s okay to have a plan/script to keep you on track especially if you have many hosts & multiple interview questions
  • Co-Host Backchannel – we use IM on Google Chat to keep the flow & avoid talking over each other
  • Get to Know Your Audience – engaging in the Meebo room & the #CTCX backchannel on Twitter lets your live listeners play
  • Ask & Invite – We have invited some pretty amazing guests who we would not have talked to if we did not ask them to join 
  • SHARE! – not only do we talk, but we also post links & resources on a blog each week to follow up from the show
  • Be Open – to feedback, collaboration and new ideas! 
  • Teamwork – it has been great to put a schedule, invite guests and plan topics a a group
  • Always More – The learning never stops – there is always more trends, innovations, happenings and questions to ask 
Open Education, PhD, PLE, PLN

This Research is Brought To You By The Letters K, P, H & D

Some of the basics we learned in kindergarten can also be applied to how you learn as an adult. I have been thinking a great deal about how to organize my information and research as a graduate student. I strive to be both an open learner and transparent educator, so let’s see if I can use a few principles from my kindergarten years to explain how.

Share everything

With the ease and cost of the social web it is easy to share with others. Social media applications and resources provide a great community for others to read, publish, and write content online.  In a previous post, I shared how I engage with social media both personally and professionally. The value I get from sharing is that if I pay it forward it often comes back in return. I value ideas, articles, opportunities and challenges that are posted in my PLN. Learning is a continuous cycle.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

As a researcher and writer, I am often scanning and reading for a literature review or an article. To quote a common phrase by my faculty advisor – “Publish or perish!” One lesson I learned early in my academic career came from a History faculty who told our class, “You have no original thought. Be sure to frequently cite your sources.” This statement is somewhat true. You might have a great idea; however it has most likely originated from someone or somewhere else.  Using online bibliographic resources like Zotero and Mendeley  are key for my APA-induced world. When I am blogging, creating presentations or sharing in my networks – I often refer to where I get these great resources too. It’s important to give credit, where credit is due.

Live a balanced life.

Remember to nurture yourself. Take the time to attend to your basic “F” needs: family, friends, food, fitness and fun. Although you may be consumed by your academic interests, it’s important to find harmony in your life. As my Niagara University Crew coach said, “If you want to row strong and win the race, you need to be able to balance your boat.”  Balance is critical to sustain yourself and your priorities – do not forget to find time to laugh.

Take a nap every afternoon.

Naps are great. Maybe an afternoon nap is not realistic in your office, however effective sleep-care maintenance can be. Consider taking breaks throughout your day: stand up, leave distraction, and get un-connected for a while. Find a way to hit your refresh button – take a walk, sit in the sunshine, meditate or daydream. These breaks create a space for your mental reserve.

Hold hands and stick together.

Many find the process of the PhD daunting, but just remember: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I have found a few different groups and spaces to connect to on locally and far away.  to support my learning and research. On campus, I am part of a collaborative doctoral student research group for my program ATPI where we connect weekly IRL and on a wiki/google docs for projects, presentations and publication work. The #phdchat community has been a group I have found helpful to chat with on Twitter and ponder my own process – plus they have some great resources to share on their wiki. Beyond that, I have a connected to the PhD Journey group on Flickr, tagged my bookmarks in a Delicious way, and stay on top of my news and trending information via RSS in a Google Reader. 

Be aware of wonder.

There is always room to learn. Believe it or not, it is not possible to know everything there is to know. That’s what keeps life interesting. I try to open my learning options by staying tuned in to new literature, scanning a myriad of  blogs, listening to a variety of podcast, or connecting to a researcher in a different field then my own.  Don’t let your academic work get dusty.