AcAdv, Higher Education

The Future of Advising

This week I am at the NACADA’s International Conference, Melbourne, Australia (#NACADAmelb) with The Global Community for Academic Advising. Today our panel (George, Catherine, Jennifer, and myself) started a conversation around the following prompt: “The Future of Advising: Current and Past Predictions to Shape Our Future.” This panel was designed to poke at the issues and uses of technology in higher education for student support, academic advising, and personal tutoring. Much of the discussion was focussed on the Lowenstein’s chapter, Envisioning the Future (as shared in What’s On the Horizon for Academic Advising? recorded lecture), and Steele’s article, Five Possible Future Work Profiles for Full-time Academic Advisors, specifically to address the following issues with advising:

  1. If advising is teaching, how will technology assist in its delivery?
  2. How will technology shape the role of advising as a profession?
  3. How will current trends such as “big data,” “predictive/learning analytics,” and financial support in higher education impact advising? 

Although this international conference holds a variety of perspectives and definitions for academic advising, students support needs and challenges in our post-secondary institutions are very similar. Regardless of geographic location or educational systems, collaboratively we can benefit from our collective experiences just like the innovators who created the digital revolution (Isaacson, 2014).

Themes emerging from our discussions included student support needs, advising responsibility and workflow, peer tutoring/advising roles and models, change literacy, leadership strategy with change, and cultural considerations. Most often people want to talk about the shiny, bullet (technology) solution, but really there are a number of other considerations for the future of advising and students support in higher ed that go beyond a platform or application.  With this panel discussion, we really wanted to provide a springboard to dive into the issues relevant to advising, beyond technological solutionism.

RobotsJob

Fortunately for us, we had a number of brilliant administrators and faculty at our #NACADAmelb session who asked insightful questions and prompts we should think deeper about. I will leave these questions here for you to ponder as you consider what lies ahead for the future of advising and student support in higher education:

    • Will there be a future?
    • Advising is such a personal, developmental relationship. How can technology – any technology – deliver better than a real person?
    • How do we engage and keep students engaged in online advising?
    • Will academic advising ever be part of a strategic plan?
    • Will advising ever be rewarded like research or teaching?
    • How do we effectively support students?
    • How do we use our data to predict future trends and be more proactive in a digital and physical advising environment?
    • How can technology be used to support student advising?
    • What are the best exemplars in the field?
    • How do we keep the pace with the communication styles and needs for our learners?
    • What are the best tips and tricks for distance education advising?
    • How will the status of advising, as a profession worldwide, be valued?
    • What are the pedagogical and theoretical underpinnings the global community of advising (NACADA) should consider?
    • When will robots be able to do my job? [Find out.]

References

Isaacson, W. (2014). The Innovators. How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. New York: Simon & Shuster.

Lowenstein, M. (2013). Chapter 14: Envisioning the future. In J. K. Drake, P.   Jordan, M. A. Miller(Eds.), Academic advising approaches: Strategies that teach students to make the most of college. (pp. 243-258). San Francisco,  CA: Jossey-Bass

Pasquini, L. A. (2015, February 22). What’s on the horizon for academic advising? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkGgsJrRZMg

Steele, G.E. (2006). Five possible future work profiles for full-time academic advisors, NACADA Journal, 26(2), 48-64.

Learning Community, Rhizo15

Thinking About Communities for Learning {#Rhizo15 Week 5 – Catch Up}

Q: What a #Rhizo15 post? But Laura, I thought the course was over? Is this not true?

A: The #Rhizo15 is never over with a community like this one. #truth

Week 5 poked and prodded at the notion of community for learning, with questions like:

  • How do we make sure there is always room for new and contrarian voices?
  • Do we need to create a them to have a we?
  • How do we cultivate a community learning ecosystem so that it continues to grow outward rather than inward?
  • What does that mean for learning?
  • Must rhizomatic learning be an invasive species?

In my efforts to set up my 10-week Summer courses (why I dropped off the #rhizo15 path as an “active participant” both blogging, tweeting & on the Facebook group), I thought more about how communities can enhance learning, both the informal and formal sides. As I read the #rhizo15 week 5 blog posts and thought a the questions above – it made me consider access and agency to learning – my own and others. Whether it has been a course, certificate, professional meeting or a training seminar — the best experience in learning has been the people and their contributions. The opportunities to dialog and share experiences have lent to stickier and more meaningful learning — for myself and others. There is great knowledge With regards to facilitation and instruction, I would agree with Lisa’s sentiments from week #4 where the fearless #rhizo15 leader, Dave has “chosen words, for every one of his prompts, that are very open to interpretation.” Others interpreted this prompt with metaphors and ideas, including cultivating a garden of learning/teaching, thinking about spontaneous growth, and considering lines of flight for the #rhizo15 course/community.

I agree with these sentiments for my informal learning practices. In a number of my personal learning networks and communities of practice, there are always issues of cultivating a broader network and experience for those involved with learning. It is critical to avoid the online echo chamber when surrounded by like-minded people. This notion of echos in the network vary for #rhizo15 learning community. Some believe this community provides learning support and outlets to challenge the norm, while other community interactions or experiences might be determined by an algorithm. It is important to find ways to challenge and engage the learning community to reflect upon their practice and consider contrary points of view. Sometimes it is a good idea to step back to assess the conversation and learning in the community. I think it’s healthy to have a critical eye when reviewing the participation, discussion, and contribution in the learning community. How can we evaluate and reflect this practice more in our own learning networks?

echochamber123

The Echo Chamber [Revisited] by @gapingvoid

In my efforts to set up my 10-week Summer courses (one of the reasons why I dropped off the #rhizo15 path as an “active participant” both blogging, tweeting & on the Facebook group for a while), I thought more about how communities can enhance learning, both the informal and formal sides. In reflecting on my own formal learning/teaching, I have always valued individual contributions and experiences shared by others. Whether it has been a course, certificate, professional meeting or a training seminar — the best experience in learning has been from the people. We typically have been prompted to respond, answer, or be involved in some sort of interaction — however the learning happens more when the group of learners actively participate, chat, and share. This got me thinking about how to develop a learning community in a formal course curriculum and consider ways to personalize the learning experience.

Forcing or facilitating openness? You decide.

I like the idea of openness guided by the instructor. I enjoy finding meaning and ways to interpret the discussions; however I knew that most of my learners need directions and clear targets. This prompt encouraged ways to facilitate “openness” in my own teaching/training to revitalize a sense of exploration for my learners/participants. I want to facilitate a space that is structured “enough”; however it  does make room for all voices and galvanizes my learners to contribute to include their different perspectives and experiences. How are you encouraging these type of “open” learning experiences in your courses? How are they being interpreted/received by your students?

This past Monday kicked off the Summer sessions at UNT, and I was excited to welcome my learners in #LTEC3010 (Personal Development) and #LTEC4000 (Introduction to Training and Development). Both courses guide career and professional development either as individuals or within an organization [both course syllabi are posted here, if interested]. Interestingly enough, these two different courses have a lot of similarity in understanding organizational learning and individual performance in the workplace. There is enough “structure” for our online undergraduate courses; however I have made room for research, questions, creativity, and contributions from the learners. To be intentional about community learning, there are a number of activities (e.g. discussions, research projects, etc.) and examples to encourage self-directed learning offered in each class. As per usual, I hope to model the impacts online communities of practice and professional mentoring can have on individual academic/career development, while also introducing how informal and online learning networks can support new modes for training and development.

We shall see how these learning communities develop and grow… more to share soon (I hope).

networkedscholar, Research

Being A Networked Scholar

Using social media and being a networked scholar allows provides you with an online, research presence and connects you to academics inside and outside your field. The power of open, social networks, allows academic to connect to research and researchers across disciplines. Consider all the ways you can collaborate and share in social media. A growing number of scholars have adopted and joined these online scholarly communities to meet other like-minded scholars, solicit for research support, share project progress, and disseminate findings beyond a conference publication or journal article. A core value of open, online networked scholarship is it is “a place where scholars can congregate to share their work, ideas and experiences” (Veletsianos, 2013, p. 648).  There are a number of researcher identification and citation tools connected to social media sites and scholarly metrics. Teaching and research information are being distributed and shared across platforms and communities.

elearn14-digital-scholarship-21-638

“It is a critical time to rethink how research is produced, distributed, and acknowledged.”

(Pasquini, Wakefield, Reed & Allen, 2014, p. 1567).

As I investigate workplace learning and performance, it has been helpful to blog and bounce ideas off on others on Twitter. I have used Mendeley to work on literature reviews, Google+ hangouts for research team meetings, Google documents for collaborative writing/research, searched Academia.edu or ResearchGate to access publications, and posted academic results to SlideShare. These are just a few ways I like to “show my work” and work in the open as a scholar. Being social and online allows me to reflect on my academic teaching and research scholarship experiences, and it has connected me to a great number of academics who I learn and research among.

If you or another academic colleague are thinking about how social media and networks can impact your teaching, research, and service scholarship, then here are a few insights George & I shared via Royal Roads University post on networked scholarship.

Network with colleagues

Higher education faculty and academics are adopting social media in growing numbers. A 2011 survey, for example, found that 45 % of higher education respondents use Facebook for professional, non-classroom purposes. Joining social media networks allows scholars to connect with colleagues, offer resources and discuss issues of professional interest.

Solicit feedback and reflect on your research and teaching

Academics increasingly share their work online, often engaging in activities that impact practice. Academic-focused social networking sites, such as Academia.edu and Mendeley, and general interest sites such as Twitter and SlideShare provide scholars with places to distribute, discuss and expand on their research and teaching.

Reach multiple audiences

In sharing in open social networks, scholars enter into an interdisciplinary territory and often break down barriers between academic disciplines. Not only are the traditional walls of the academy thinner online, but academic work could reach broader audiences, such as practitioners and journalists.

Cultivate your identity as a scholar

Social media and online networks allow scholars to manage their online identity, track their citations, identify their spheres of influence and connect with colleagues. These tools support different ways in which knowledge can be produced, shared, negotiated and acknowledged. Learn more about a few of these tools here and here.

Become more open

Using social media and online social networks means being a tad more open, and that’s good for all of us. Openness is the practice of sharing resources and materials (e.g., syllabi, lectures, research papers) in a way that allows others to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute them. Social media and online social networks often support an ethos of openness, enabling academics to share their work more frequently. A more open approach to scholarship allows knowledge and education to flow more freely and to be used more widely.

What advice do you give early career researchers and academics who are just getting started with social media?

I am not naive to say that being a networked, social scholars does not have any issues. What challenges do you see in being part of the “open” and involved in networked scholarship? Let me know. A follow-up blog post on this particular question and issue to come…

References:

Pasquini, L., Wakefield, J., Reed, A. & Allen, J. (2014). Digital Scholarship and Impact Factors: Methods and Tools to Connect Your Research. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2014 (pp. 1564-1569). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.editlib.org/p/148918.

Veletsianos, G. (2013). Open Practices and Identity: Evidence from Researchers and Educators’ Social Media Participation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(3), 639-651.

A version of this blog post is cross-posted on the Royal Roads University website.