Professional Development, Training & Development

The 2015 #et4online Conference Preview

#et4online bannerThe Online Learning Consortium (formerly Sloan Consortium), MERLOT, and our Emerging Technologies steering committee wanted to give you a sneak peak of what lies ahead at #et4online, so we hung out to share details about the upcoming conference being held April 22-24, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.

Who attends #et4online? (you might ask)

Who attends #et4online

Image c/o @brocansky

6 Reasons Why You Should Join Us for #et4online

Or hear what the #et4online Steering Committee Members have to say in today’s Google+ Hangout ON AIR (recorded):
Michelle Pacansky-Brock Conference Chair – @brocansky
Jason Rhode, Assistant Conference Chair – @jasonrhode
Jane Moore, MERLOT Program Chair – @janepmoore
Laura Pasquini, OLC Program Chair – @laurapasquini

Here are just a few of the MANY highlights for the #et4online program that we shared:

Interested in attending (virtual or on site)? Register TODAY! Early bird pricing ends on February 25, 2015. I hope to welcome a few of you to Dallas in April. Do you have questions about the conference or program? Want to know great places to find BBQ in Dallas? Want to get involved and volunteer? You know where to find me. I’d be happy to answer any/all questions. Hope to see you soon!

Book Review, Social Media

Book Review: The Etiquette of Social Media

At the end of last year, I was a lucky GoodReads.com winner of Leonard Kim’s (a.k.a. @MrLeonardKim) book – The Etiquette of Social Media: How to Connect and Respond to Others in the World of Social Media. As I teach a professional development class and write/research this topic, with regards to social media learning and performance, I thought this might be an interesting read to add to my shelf.
Thanks for the book @MrLeonardKimOur lives are more social and online. For those who say “in real life” or “IRL” – let me just tell you, social media is real life. There are less distinctions and divisions between our online and offline selves. That being said, there has been little provided to model good behaviors and polite encounters on social media platforms. Little Miss Manners ought to write a quick overview for social media; however I think that Leonard Kim got to it first with this book. There are a number of questions and situations that need to be addressed with individual use of social media, and Leonard Kim attempts to provide examples and strategies the following questions he introduces in this book:

  • Should we act however we want online?
  • Should we censor ourselves?
  • Are we supposed to act civilized on certain platforms but casual on others?
  • What happens if we encounter a bully [online]?
  • How do we start a conversation with a potential business partner, client or future employer?

When I read these questions, I immediately thought about the number of questions I am asked about using and interacting with social media on a regular basis:

  • Do I have to have a professional photo/avatar?
  • Should I include my full name on my social media platform or website URL?
  • Should I start a blog
  • Who should monitor our office social media account(s)? And how should this be done?
  • Should I have more than one profile to interact with my colleagues vs. students?
  • What social media spaces should I be active on to learn or network within the field?
  • Who can I go for help with my own social media development/use?

With in the influx of social media platforms and increasing amount of users within our professional online networks, there are a number of questions being added to both lists. This book was a light read, with some great points and examples for both my students and early career professionals/academics who frequent social media – or want to use it further learning and performance.

Kim’s book addresses the individual use of social media, and implications using these platforms might have in your personal and professional life. In other social media books, there is a directive for organizational content development, marketing, and/or business; however these text rarely mention how professional should interact and behave online. Kim offers examples of interactions and posts from common social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora. Although these tools might be used right now, he addresses acceptable behavior online in any forum and encouragers his readers to be nice and respectful. Other segments of this text address personal/professional goals that includes research, building a good reputation, being polite with interactions, connecting with others, and seeking out a mentor for advice. Many of these concepts can be applied to online communication and development; but really have a greater focus on professional growth and life objectives. In contrast, later chapters do detail the potential negative aspects for being active on social media, such as  negative comments, how to manage online attacks, and how to deal with cyber bullying.

The bonus final chapter identifies how to effectively reach out to a new contact and how to avoid awkward interactions with digital messages. This section is dedicated to supporting those who want to gain experience with effective “cold call” social media messages to potential peers, collaborators, employers, etc. To be honest, a number of my students could use the basics for effective e-mail drafting and see the examples provided in this chapter, including these common denominators for a successful message (Kim, 2014, p. 92):

  • Grammar is properly used.
  • Address the respondent by name.
  • Each message has a unique sense of personality, reflecting the messenger.
  • A heartfelt and genuine compliment is stated at the beginning.
  • Build common ground on points and based on initial research.
  • Show that you respect and value the time of the message recipient.
  • Provide a reason behind the message.

Overall, I appreciate how this book deals with social media and the individual use, specifically personal interactions and polite communication. For staff and faculty in higher education, Kim provides some helpful examples and useful facts throughout the book, and it is a quick read for your students.

Reference:

Kim, L. (2014). The etiquette of social media: How to connect and respond to others in the world of social media.

#TBT Blog

#TBT Blog Post #3: Resoluting. #oneword2015

In honor of the new year, I thought I would see how I resolved to do better in the past. I still agree with my earlier sentiments, as I will stick with reasonable goals and good behaviors for 2015 (like I have been working on in 2014). I typically have a few projects on the list, and over arching objectives for each year (and semester… and month). That being said – I have been more of a fan of the #OneWord idea to motivate and encourage the year ahead.

Last year my #oneword2014 was simplify. The purpose was not to have goals, but rather consider my process and space of where I worked and lived. I think I reached this objective, and I have trimmed down my life clutter. This year,  my #OneWord2015 is NOW to remind me to always be present. It is important to remember the past and, of course, plan for the future; however  it is often a challenge (for me, at least) to be present and in the moment — so I will use the word NOW to remind me.

By taking on the word now, I hope to be more thoughtful, and on-task with projects, research, writing, and teaching. I think it is critical to direct my attention to those who I am collaborating with for work, and family/friends in my life. The word now will serves as a mean to act intentionally and be present with those around me more. I also see the word “now” as a way to be. It is important to focus on what is directly in front of you, and to not always look down the road. There is much to be said to be content with what is happening and going on in my life. As a planner and with possible change (life, career, location, etc.), I know this will be a good challenge for me for 2015. Maybe I should have reverted back to my 2007 resolutions… wish me luck!

——

#TBT Blog Post #3:

Resoluting. [Blog post from 7th January 2007]

I am not one for resolutions. They never last. Goals are better. However this year I was inspired by Jeff’s Cheapest New Years Resolution post on his blog… or rather I wanted to create/post a few simple (yet clever) resolutions. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Catch up on missed “Lost” episodes (season 3).
2. Initiate more high fives.
3. Listen to one new song a day.

So far, so good. I watched the re-cap episode of “Lost” last night. I high-fived co-workers while watching Team Canada crush Russia to win the gold medal last Friday at the office. And I have enjoyed numerous new tunes on Pandora.com (thanks Jeff) to help with my listening pleasure.

Small and attainable objectives. It’s where it’s at, folks.

blogs, Reflections

2014: My Blog in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Since WP put in the effort, I thought I would review my stats from the year — seems like the annual thing to do and all.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Who Views

No surprise that America is my biggest audience — as that is where I live. I wonder how US-centric WordPress is in general, and how that impacts those who blog, write, share, and produce content here. I’ve been pondering content sharing online since that talk Laura Czerniewicz (@Czernie) gave on visibility and presence in scholarship in #scholar14.

“Some of your most popular posts were written before 2014. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.”

Maybe I was more interesting from 2010-2013? Or at least my post topics or titles were. Based on my click view stats from this year, compared to the last few years, my overall readership has decreased. Then again, it looks like I posted 48 blog posts total, which is down from from 59 post in 2013 and 62 posts in 2012. Perhaps I was a tad busy writing other things in 2014 (*ahem* Dissertation *cough*). It is no wonder why a number of readers decided to look back into the archives of this blog – top 5 hits included:

I am not concerned. I started and continue to blog to share ideas, reflect on learning and put a few things out there with regards to my own teaching, service and research scholarship. I blog for myself, and the community of practice who shares similar sentiments and values. It’s quality not quantity, right? I am honored to have a number of new followers and loyal subscribers from my PLN who read, respond, and engage.

Top Commenters for 2014

I’d much prefer to get comments and thoughts shared on posts then just click views any day. Plus you never know what a blog post might lead to. Often it has been a new connection, collaborative writing, and even research fun – OH MY! {Yes – this even includes random meet ups and spontaneous dance/beach parties. True story.} Beyond my blog reflections, is where the real networked magic happens. These posts are really just a springboard to more learning, fun, and research.

If you care to learn more about the TechKNOW Tools stats from 2014, feel free to click here to see the complete report. Thanks to the many social platform links and even a shout out to Josie for referrals here. Happy blogging to all in 2015! Blog on.

p.s. Why the heck would I want to use the new WP editor? I much prefer the classic wp-admin mode ANY day for my blogging experience. Seriously.

Professional Development, SAchat, Training

Twitter for Professional Development… Make it Part of Your PD Plan. #SAchallenge

In the field of learning and performance, there are a number of ways to train and develop employees. A number of professional organizations and educational institutions are interested in supporting online learning communities to enhance learning and development for “the workforce of tomorrow.” This often results in going to where the communities are already active online, i.e. social media. A number of social spaces, including blogs, videos, microblogs, and photo sharing websites, have been repurposed for training and development by the community. One of the largest areas for professional development has been on Twitter with users aggregating around a hashtag to form a community. In higher education, a number of Twitter-based communities of practice are emerging as the “combination of improved facility and user flexibility has created an environment in which networks and communities, albeit of a restricted kind, can flourish (Lewis & Rush, 2013).

sachallenge

It is no wonder why we see The #SAChat January Twitter Challenge #SAchallenge appear with the start of the new year. Although I’ve been loosely off the social grid for the holidays, I tuned back in to find January #SAChallenge prompts posted to get connected and involved on Twitter:

During the month of January, we will be tweeting out various challenges and ideas of ways you can engage on Twitter – starting with basic how-tos and moving towards looking at different ways to engage through the medium. Each weekday will bring at least one “challenge” – something you can do to either learn more about using Twitter or to refresh yourself and make you think about using it differently, especially within the #SAChat community. We’ll be posting the challenges here if you miss one and want to catch up.

I applaud the @The_ SA_Blog community managers for facilitating the #sachallenge.  To best support learning and development, The SA Collective L-Team are actively supporting their online subscribers and cultivating the #SAchat hashtag, by utilizing these key community management skills:

  • Listen. It might be a great space to broadcast and disseminate content – but that’s not how you hold a conversation. What do people what to talk about, not just receive? What is the online community engaged in? What are the conversations about online? Take a minute to read and learn from others online.
  • Participate. You need to be a community member, too. Try to join conversations as a peer contributor, not a facilitator. Contribute useful ideas, articles, research, and more. Your online community will want you to be actively sharing online like others in their learning community.
  • Include. Let others help find and create content, guide conversation, start new discussions. It’s a change for many of us in the field who what to “lead” the professional development experience but will pay off in a more vibrant, sustainable community. Encourage members of the community to be the active voice.

I think Twitter is a key component of my own learning and development, and I often encourage others (i.e. students, professionals, faculty, etc) to set up their own Twitter handle [HOW TO: Set Up a Twitter Account], and/or follow along with the community hashtag. I am also more than happy to connect and chat with those of you who reach out to me on Twitter (a.k.a. @laurapasquini), or by any other means if you want to to talk about Twitter or professional development. Although the #SAchat hashtag focusses on the Student Affairs arena there are a number of other higher education and discipline-based Twitter communities to follow.   

Dubbed the Twitter Queen by @hglez9

Photo mashup credit goes out to @hglez9

That being said, I also caution using Twitter as the only means for learning and development. As an avid Twitter user, who has learned a great deal from tweeting over the past few years, I have a healthy skepticism that Twitter is the “best” platform for delivering professional development. Apparently, I am not alone. Audrey Watters recently asked this question in her blog post “Is Twitter the Best Option for Online Professional Development?” and identified both its benefits and challenges. Twitter has created opportunities for conversation, research, collaboration, and support; however I have also witnessed spam bots, self-promoting followers, bullying, disciplinary implications in academia, and other not-so-nice things.  I was reminded by Audrey that “there is a fragility to our ability to connect and share online. Some of that fragility comes when we opt to rely on for-profit companies to run the infrastructure. We do not own the conversations on Twitter. We have limited control over our data and the content we create and share there.” That is not to say you should not participate and engage – but don’t let Twitter be the ONLY only means for your PD.

In my opinion, I think Twitter can augment, not replace, learning and development. Let Twitter be one part of your professional development plan for 2015, and then ask yourself what do you want to learn? Think about what goals you are setting for yourself first, and then consider the spaces you want to engage in this year. Always put your PD goals ahead of the platform, and then go searching for where you want to engage this year. You might also consider searching out training and development opportunities at your institution, at your professional associations, with trade/professional journals, by reading new literature & books, through research projects, signing up for a course/seminar/webinar, by conducting an informational interview, by reaching out to others in your network, and always by discussing your goals with mentors and peers from the field. Perhaps you might even take the time to reflect on these training experiences when you return to/start some “bloggery” (Thanks for the term, Bryan) to process your learning and development. Good luck with your PD goals for 2015! Let me know if or how I can help.

References:

Lewis, B., & Rush, D.  (2013). Experience of developing Twitter-based communities of practice in higher education. Research in Learning Technology, 21. Retrieved from http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/18598 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v21i0.18598.

Watters, A. (2014, December 17). Is Twitter the best option for online professional development? Hack Education. Retrieved from http://hackeducation.com/2014/12/17/twitter-professional-development/.