AcAdv, Career, UGST1000

Open Options: Choosing a Major With Road Trip Nation

With first year students, there are many new, exciting and scary things about starting college or university. Higher education offers a place to be intellectually challenged, develop socially, discover your interests, and engage with a variety of opportunities on campus and beyond. The road and journey are both wide open. The open road and the growing number of academic/career possibilities seems to be a bigger challenge to our student population. Besides the confusion of campus jargon and the navigation of a larger than high school institution, there seems to be more students and family members at orientation who are anxious about making the “right decisions now” for later. Many higher ed students have an idea or inkling of what they want to do, but most are not sure about their academic options, career path planning, and helpful resources to support their decision-making process.

For UNT students who enter into the undecided/undeclared program at UNT, the Office for Exploring Majors [where I work] utilizes the Roadtrip Nation (RTN) resources and has a  RTN project as part of the UGST 1000 – First Year Seminar class.

The Open Road for #UGST1000 Course Design The RTN project helps students explore their personal, academic, and career path. More importantly, it allows them to learn that there is more than one path to obtain their goals and dreams. In picking up  Roadtrip Nation: A Guide to Discovering Your Path in Life and Finding the Open Road: A Guide to Self-Construction Rather Than Mass Production – I was reminded about my own academic/career journey and questions I had in undergrad and after. There are a number of different professional journeys and narratives that provide readers a “path” of how to get to where you want to go.

Overall, I will be using Finding the Open Road stories and interviews (posted online) to help expose the pre-Journalism (News, Advertising, Strategic Communication & PR) and pre-Business (Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Management) students in UGST 1000 figure out how to navigate their own experience. I do like the strategies and ideas in the “Do It Yourself” section of the Roadtrip Nation book to help guide our students learning. The plan is to take the follow chapters and make them into easy-to-use guides for both the UGST 1000 instructors and students that follows the Roadtrip Nation Manifesto:

  1. First, Find Your Red Rubber Ball – What inspires you? What is your passion? Identifying interests, values, and likes.
  2. Whom Should You Meet? – tips on how to find people, being resourceful, using your personal network, how to reach out to new people
  3. Getting the Meeting – cold calls, the pitch, being persistent, communication strategies
  4. Preparing for the Interview – researching the person, their company, their work experience
  5. In the Meeting – what to talk about, suggested questions, informational interview samples, interview/meeting etiquette
  6. Closing – ending a meeting, sending thanks, developing a mentoring relationship

RTN asks....

References:

Marriner, M. & Gebhard, N. (2006). Roadtrip Nation: A guide to discovering your path in life. New York: Ballentine Books.

Marriner, M., McAllister, B. & Gebhard, N. (2005). Finding the open road: A guide to self-construction rather than mass production. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

#AcWri, #phdchat, Learning Community, Learning Technologies, PLN, Social Media

Personal Connections in the Digital Age – A Book Review

Speaking of book reviews… there are a few texts I’m reading now that I will be submitting for #acwri projects and there are others I will blog about from my #SummerReading list, such as Personal Connection in the Digital Age by Nancy K. Baym

Personal Connections in the Digital Age #summerreading

This book was published in 2010 as part of the digital media and society series to share how new technologies are impacting our lives and altering our communication. As I research and compile information on digital media and its impact for learning and training for my literature review I thought this academic work provided a solid overview of digital relationships. By sharing the evolution of technology, mediated communication, and online community development, Nancy Baym presents both theoretical frameworks and historical perspectives about digital media’s influence on our society and personal relationships.

Baym provides an overview of interpersonal communication, and she threads both academic research and societal practices of digital media use in this book. As an academic text, there are a number of detailed references and theoretical underpinnings that I have flagged to follow-up as I edit my own literature review. For others who might not be researching and writing in this area, I think this book is still accessible and an interesting read as digital and social media consumes our lives. The technical jargon is kept to a minimum and the writing flows well with research, examples, and anecdotes intertwined in the text.

As I read this book, it was easy to reflect on my personal connections and how digital media shapes my PLN. I thought about how great it is to have peers and communities that I can interact with and play in – without being geographically close to them. I thought fondly of those relationships that have been either been initiated online or mediated digitally from a distance, and I am thankful for how digital media as evolved. I am able to communicate  and enage with a variety of networks/communities beyond e-mail, discussion forums, and IM (Thanks VoIP, video, web conferencing, photo-sharing, social bookmarks, blogs, Twitter, social networks, and much more!).

For anyone who is interested in personal digital connections and what it means to be “connected” to a learning network, I think you will enjoy this book. As  digital identities and online communities grow, it will be critical to consider the issues Baym introduces in each chapter:

  1. New forms of personal connection – identity of the self online and offline, interactivity on the internet, and reviewing social context for digital media
  2. Making new media make sense – emerging technology reflection, social construction, technological determinism, and how technology shapes the social
  3. Communication in digital spaces – how digital media influences communication and personal expression; digital mediums and modes; context of communication
  4. Communities and networks – online networks, shared practices online, social integration, relationship development, lurkers, virtual “space” and community engagement/civic action; networked individuals vs. the collectivism
  5. New relationships, new selves? – meeting new connections, digital identity development, authenticity, socially mediated/constructed relationships
  6. Digital media in relational development and maintenance – building relationships with those you met online, mediated relationship development – influences & effects, social norms and information sharing
#AcWri, #phdchat, Professional Development

A @PhD2Published Post: A Book Review is #AcWri Too

This blog post is cross-posted at http://www.phd2published.com/. Thanks for the invite to write, @dratarrant.

For graduate students and junior faculty, book reviews can be a way to dip your toes in the publishing realm of academic journals. Although peer-reviewed articles are the pinnacle for publishing and tenure, I do not think academic book reviews should be scoffed at. A book review is a great way to engage, comment, and contribute on a colleague’s work in the field. More importantly, a refereed journal publication review can be a fun piece to hone your writing, develop your analytic reading skills, and provide interesting insights for your fellow researchers to read.

Image c/o EricLanke

The process of writing a book review encourages academic researchers to engage in the literature. Often, the practices of summarizing chapters and restating ideas provides the book reviewer how to read a book to understand the author’s key points. A great book review will weave the text into the current academic subject.

Here are some general guidelines for book reviews I have seen in academic journals and suggested practices from those who are writing #acwri book reviews:

  • Read – Check out book reviews in journals that you might be interested in publishing in 1st. See what books are being selected for review & check out the format/style.
  • Good Publications to Review – Find a book that highlights issues or resources relevant to the field and/or subject of the academic journal you are submitting to
  • Describe & evaluate– focus on the book’s purpose, contents, format,  and authority
  • Not Just a Summary – Positions and opinions should be supported with a logical argument and review the pertinent literature. Highlight strengths and weaknesses of the publication, and why this book is interesting and/or useful.
  • Be constructive with your criticism. Remember to be kind and respectful to the author(s). A great deal of effort on the author, editorial board, blind review, etc. has been put into this text. Choose to be constructive with your criticism.
  • Provide your thoughts on the book – use quotes sparingly. Readers will be interested in what YOU have to say.
  • Share key ideas. What is the main idea of the work? What does this publication contribute to the field?
  • Review Your Review – try to read from the vantage point of your audience. Is there too much/enough summary? Does your argument or key thoughts about the text make sense?

Typically academic journals will accept book reviews for publications that have been released within the year that highlights issues or resources relevant to that journal topic, genre, or field. If you are lucky, some journals might even purchase the book for you to review. It would be important to select a text that would offer solutions or directions to the field, and it would be helpful to verify with the editor if the publication would be appropriate to review.  Sometimes, journals will give preference in the review process to book review essays that comment on two or more related books

In thinking about the book review requirements for the Learning and Performance Quarterly journal, I took a gander at a number of scholarly sources that published book reviews. Here are some of the common technical requirements* for academic book reviews:

  • Reviews of publications within the recent year, i.e. 2011 or later would be acceptable now
  • Include the title, author(s), year, publisher, publisher location, ISBN, cost, book format, and page numbers of the book(s) under review.
  • Keep it simple. Typically book reviews are between 600 to 2000 words (unless you are reviewing a period or series of books).
  • An abstract of 150 words or less might be required to accompany the book review.
  • Draft a short biography and/or contact information to be included at the end of your book review.
  • *Follow ANY and ALL other book review requirements for your specific journal of choice.

Happy #acwri reading & reviewing!

Learning Community, Social Media, Training, UGST1000

Facebook for Learning Communities: Groups vs. Pages

Image c/o Interactyx.com

In supporting and creating instructor resources for our 30 or so first year seminar classes, one areas I’m currently working on is our social media for learning (quel supris!). There are a number of resources, “how to” guides, and instructional case studies to support digital learning pedagogy. In curating content for our #UGST1000 (formerly UCRS 1000) Blackboard Learn Instructor site , I realized that the area of using Facebook and other social networks for our learning communities was lacking. Sure there are a few of us out there using these spaces, but it was rare to see any information available for suggested practices let alone understand how our campus social media beliefs impact our Facebook for learning.

Below is the quick guide I created to introduce Facebook Groups & Pages for our first year seminar instructors. I welcome and encourage others to post your ideas and share resources to the comments section – so we can enhance our #edusocmedia learning practices.

What Are Facebook Groups?

Facebook states that groups are designed “for members of groups to connect, share and even collaborate on a given topic or idea.” Groups have been used to market, promote or share group happenings. The key feature behind Facebook groups is the ability to make them “invite only” or limit these spaces to specific groups, i.e. like your seminar section of UGST 1000. These groups can be private or closed for only your students. Although this is a closed feature, you will need to “friend” students in your course to a closed or secret group; however an “open” group option will allow you to add anyone from Facebook.

WARNING: You may (gasp!) not have students who are on Facebook or wish to be “added” to a private group. Keep this in mind. Also, I would encourage you to work with your Peer Mentor in your class to support the cultivation and development of this online learning community.
Instructor perspective:
Ryan: They all REALLY liked our class Facebook group and participated in that quite a bit. I’m considering just using Facebook this time around rather than try to get them all onto a new social network.

Laura: Peer mentors a great support & can often set up these Facebook groups and “friend” students for the instructors. I would encourage this and support the peer mentors as they develop community in your UCRS 1000 Group (ours from Fall 2011) online and in class.

What Are Facebook Pages?

In contrast to Facebook groups, which are focused on organizing around specific topics or ideas, Facebook Pages “allow entities such as public figures and organizations to broadcast information to their fans.” If you are looking to set up your class’s “official Facebook presence” you would opt for a Facebook Page. Students just need to “Like” the page for the semester and they can always opt out when the semester is over. Students who like this page will need to remember to check and monitor their Facebook stream to ensure that they are reading updates posted for the course so they do not miss out on any happenings, announcements or updates.

Simply put, Facebook Pages is a simpler tool for instructors and peer mentors to maintain and use for UGST 1000 Learning Communities. Students, staff, and faculty can view an open Facebook Page even if they opt to not have their own personal account on Facebook. Pages are an easy medium to put out content, share updates, and keep your learning community informed. As the administrator for this page, I would strongly encourage interaction to encourage 2-way conversations by using polls, asking questions, and encouraging comments, pictures or videos to be posted to the course page. You will want to enable sharing features for your community and talk about the purpose or standards for your social space.

Instructor Perspectives:
Laura: I like how you can share ideas, post comments and have others follow along with the discussion – it is a great way to connect to student in the social space of Facebook without having to add them to my own personal/professional “friend” list. The Pages can also be integrated with other features such as Twitter, blogs, photo sharing & videos. Here is the Office for Exploring Majors Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/ExploringMajors

Do You Want to Have a Facebook Group or Page for YOUR Learning Community?
If you are trying to determine whether to use a Facebook Page or a Facebook Group for your UGST 1000 class there are a number of other resources posted in the reference section below to help you best understand the features.
There are a number of other seasoned  instructors who might want to share their ideas or thoughts on the use of both Facebook Pages and Groups (or other social networks) for UGST 1000. Take a look at the handy chart below that breaks up and compares the features; however with other social media things change and are always subject to change.

Facebook Groups & Pages Learning Resources:


10 Reasons Why Facebook is Ideal for Managing Social Learning

The Ultimate Guide for Using Facebook in Education

Facebook Groups Vs Pages: The Definitive Guide

Facebook Groups Vs. Pages: What’s The Difference

Facebook Tips: What’s the difference between a  Facebook page and group?

Pros and Cons of Facebook Groups vs. Pages

Facebook Group vs. Facebook Fan Page: What’s Better?

#phdchat, PhD, Professional Development, Reflections

What They Didn’t Teach You In Graduate School… The #phdchat Edition

What They Didn't Teach You in Graduate School

I finally wrapped up reading What They Didn’t Teach You in Graduate School during my #summerreading stint. This is the first edition and there is now a 2.0 update. This book is geared towards American doctoral students and academics; however PhD’s outside of the US might find value with these 199 academic hints.

There are a few good hints scattered throughout the book for budding academics and PhD students. Here are a few snippets from Gray and Drew (2008) geared for myself and other #phdchat comrades:

The PhD

  • Finish your PhD as early as possible.
  • You must finish your PhD to move up the academic ladder. The world is full of A.B.D.’s.
  • Be aware that the key danger point in any doctoral program is the one where you leave highly structure coursework and enter into the unstructured world of the qualification examination and the dissertation.

On Writing

  • Learn how to write clearly.
  • Limit self-plagiarism.
  • One of the most useful things you can develop is a pool of research references stored in your computer [or an online storage space of choice].

On Publishing

  • Submit your papers (other than those you know are stinkers) first to the best journals in the field.
  • Write most of your articles for refereed journals [not for conferences, meetings, etc.]
  • As they say in Chicago, publish early and often.
  • Include single-author papers in your portfolio.
  • Recognize the delays in publishing.

Appendix A – The Dissertation

  • Don’t assume that if you are having trouble defining a dissertation topic that the entire dissertation process will be that arduous.
  • Put a lot of effort into writing your dissertation proposal.
  • Be skillful in whom you select for your dissertation advisory committee.
  • In doing a literature search, use the “chain of references.” Begin with one or two recent articles (a survey article helps!). Look at the references that are cited.
Obviously Appendix A, The Dissertation, is on the forefront of my research this summer as I finish the last of my coursework this Fall. Reading this book provided some great insights and motivation to continue to push through. The book was bluntly written and I found it pretty helpful to read honest advice and expertise from other academics in the field. This book reminded me of previous conversations I have had with my own faculty advisor. For those of you who do not have a faculty advisor or another academic mentor in your life, you should read this… and probably find an academic mentor. Doctoral students need an advisor/mentor (or two) who will give us both a reality check and support as we embark on our academic life. Good luck with your journey!

Reference:

Gray, P. & Drew, D.E. (2008). What They Didn’t Teach You in Graduate School: 199 Helpful Hints for Success in Your Academic Career. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.