Higher Education, Learning, Learning and Performance, Library, Online Learning, Professional Development

Why Can’t Learning in the Analog and Digital Just Get Along?

It’s the end of the academic term (well, almost, I’m still wrapping up my grading), but I have been thinking a great deal about learning, how we learn, and the modes of learning for both my students and professionals this semester. Back in March, Joshua Kim posed a series of questions related to the higher education conference learning that goes on, and questioning how we might need to rethink our own professional development for learning:

  • What if the way we think about professional development for learning professionals is actually holding back the learning profession?
  • What if what we really need is to create new knowledge?
  • What if what the learning profession really needs is original scholarship?
  • What if the resources, time and energy we devote to attending large professional conferences would be better spent in small-scale convenings, where the goals of scholarly productivity are foregrounded above all others?

These questions resonated with me, my friends/colleagues often ask if I will be attending an upcoming conference or event so we can meet up. As a professional with minimal funds for travel and also little interest in attending conferences during the academic term (I teach A LOT of learners during the two long semesters – Fall and Spring), many are surprised to hear I am not going to be at these events as I value professional learning. In the last few years, I have notices that I am not learning very much at conferences on site at these events. To clarify — I DO participate in valuable discussions, debates, and banter with peers at these events, but I’m not sure the format of a typical 2-3 day conference with keynotes, workshops, lecture presentations, academic papers/posters, etc. in a 2-3 day format is not how I WANT to learn.

Sure. I miss the connections and socialization within the profession at these conference events, but really, my learning and development is on-going and more tailored to what I need and want to learn about. These days, I think there are SO many ways to engage with professionals and gain the knowledge I am looking about — that I have not been interested in figuring out how to build a budget for one event. Sometimes I follow and read through a conference backchannel if I can’t physically attend; however, lately, I’m not sure I’m really missing out on anything. I think the biggest loss of not attending might not actually be the learning, but the networking and professional socialization that comes with the analog format of most conferences.  Also what is often lost in these large learning events, is the knowledge creation and sharing beyond a time, location, and date to a broader audience — that comes with “the common is a faith in the power of convening. And, in particular, a faith in the power of convening at scale” (Kim, 2019).

I think there are SO many ways professional to learn, develop, and gain knowledge in higher education. I typically find ways to learn from my peers and gain insights into my field through:

  • Books I borrow from the public & university library – I read A LOT!
  • Hashtags I search/follow/chat with on Twitter based on topics I’m interested in
  • Peers and colleagues work I follow — especially those who tweet, podcast, blog, and share in open access ways online
  • Journal articles and conference proceedings (ones that are publish)
  • PODCASTS! Like books, I listen to and learn from a wide variety of episodes, including the growing number of higher ed-focused podcasts, available on-demand, for download, and/or streaming. I guess I also create a couple to learn from as well e.g. @BreakDrink & @InVinoFab
  • LIVE/ARCHIVED web stuff: Webinars, web-events, broadcasts, YouTube live, Virtually Connecting sessions, etc.
  • Local events and happenings around DFW — at my campus, at other campuses, and general MeetUps or events. This even includes things posted on my local neighborhood network, NextDoor.
  • Subscriptions to learning, like this yearly membership I have to MasterClass.com
  • Open educational resources (OER) — e.g. MOOCs offered by FutureLearn, Coursera or edX and other OER repositories
  • Listservs and Google Groups — yeah, I still learn news, information, and find opportunities on these emailed spaces.
  • Library or research workshops at UNT Library like Software Carpentry for R and Python to tool up on a skills, platform, or research method.
  • Formal university courses. I take advantage of that staff/faculty discount at my own institution to take a non-degree course (I’m working on this certificate now).
  • Friends, colleague, and peer suggestions for learning and training — they just know I like learning, and what might peak my interest, in general. So I welcome referrals and suggestions for any of the above — and I get these often.

Beyond professional learning conferences, this sentiment also present with the work I do in the online teaching/learning domain. At our colleges and universities (at least in the US), there seems to be more value placed on the analog vs. the digital work we do on campus. If I am not physically “present” somewhere, how can the work I be doing the same as my colleague? What does a lecturer do who does not actually lecture? Good question, let me tease this out a bit as a couple of recent reads around digital minimalism and revenge of the analog has peaked these thoughts.

Over the past five years, as a full-time non-tenure track faculty member, I have been involved in a great deal of teaching/learning as a lecturer (who might not actually lecture). My work involves instructing face-to-face (F2F), online, and blended learning university courses and also designing learning/training on digital platforms AND within new physical teaching spaces. This has been fun, as I try to apply what I’m learning and discovering in my own research/learning (see list above) to re-tool how to best design these educational experiences digitally (like others who move to online teaching). That being said, when talking to some colleagues, I do notice the embedded bias for the “traditional” teaching methods (e.g. sage on the stage, chalk n’ talk, talking-head expert, etc.) for what it means to be present on a campus as a faculty or staff employee.

Looking back, I suppose most of my own experience as a learner involved F2F means of instruction, student support, and interactions. Before finishing my PhD, I had a number of F2F and blended courses I taught or had been enrolled in myself. Part of the assumption of online teaching comes with the culture on campus and the expectations of what an online course will entail for the learner. For F2F courses, I think there is less pressure to have your entire curriculum prepared, available, and online at the start of each semester. A professor or instructor can just show up and talk (on or off topic) based on what might be loosely included in the course syllabus or schedule that day, often without any concern for lecture capturing, archiving, and transcribing media (audio or video) of their presentation. As a F2F instructor who teaches on campus, there is no need to be explicit in detail for assignments, or itemization of instruction on projects, tasks, or activities for learning. Students attending these courses on site can ask immediate follow up questions before, during or after scheduled class time. Additionally, students feel a rapport or social presence with the in-class instructor that is different those educators they might have online (not always, but it often it is so). These interactions to learn with peers or through impromptu discussions in class, does not require a script, plan, or set outline of pedagogy when comparing it to the defined structures of an online course.  Then there are other F2F learning experiences when faculty stick to the scripted presentation/lecture with minimal interaction or engagement.

Since my faculty role has primarily involved designing and delivering online learning, I have been a fortunate to lecture and capture lessons on video/audio, augment how I offer student support in office hours, create useful learning materials beyond a textbook, create social presence for myself and learners in these courses, and be mindful of making my educational resources accessible in a variety of different formats considerations for multiple formats. This reflection of my teaching online is constant and helps me to improve how to make concepts and learning relevant for my students.

For learning, it does not have to be a THIS or THAT debate. When it comes to the digital or analog practices, I think there is value in both. Like making a mix tape of music or playing a vinyl record, I take the skills of searching, listening, finding, and curating my music on Spotify playlists digitally. I don’t think I could do one well without the other. The skills for learning design offline apply to how I think about my online curriculum. Both should exist — it’s not an either or when it comes to the analog and digital experience for learning. Our college/university campuses and our professional associations could use a healthy smattering of both. We need educators, administrators, instructional designers, and student support services that are versatile in both digital and analog practices. I think teaching online, over the past few years, better informs my pedagogical preparation and considerations for how I design and deliver learning. Whether it is an in-person conference workshop or an online week webinar, I think the pedagogical experiences help to merge my digital and analog practices. It’s marriage of both skills sets to reach a variety of ways to gain knowledge and learn.

We will never change how we create and share knowledge, or learn new ways to do things, unless we change our professional practices. The model of conference learning is fine to socialize and network with the select few who can afford to attend the conference; however, I would challenge the number of professional associations I am/have been a member of to think about how to BETTER share and TRULY scale knowledge in a manageable way, specifically:

  • How are these learning artifacts archived beyond the dates and locations of these events?
  • Are there ways to share knowledge and learning that we need to start modeling for professional learning, training, and development of our own?
  • How are professionals who do not attend engaged and encouraged to understand the value-add of these learning experience or resources shared from the in-person meetings?
  • What was can data be managed and learning objects be curated to organize what was shared, learned, and presented at these events?

I don’t have the answers to these, but I think this is worthy of further discussion and consideration. I know I would be willing to support and work with professional associations/organizations who would like to consider how to effectively organize their own digital libraries for learning, knowledge sharing, and advancement of the field. Let’s chat.

#AcWri, #AcWriMo, #AcWriSummer, #HEdigID, Higher Education, highered

#HEdigID Chat No. 5: Renew, Refresh, Reboot, Restart Your Academic Writing with Janet Salmons (@einterview) #AcWri

Hello Summer! This year, I am committing to my own projects, design, developments, and ACADEMIC WRITING (#AcWri)! That’s right. I’ve opted to NOT instruct any courses during the summer term. This is a first since I started my faculty career (Fall 2014). This is also an intentional choice. Things are building up and projects need to be completed. I decided this summer will be dedicated to completing ALL THE THINGS! This includes research projects in-progress (data collection, cleaning, coding, and analysis) and getting these to the right publication outlets and avenues.

So based on these goals and writing objectives, I’m thrilled to kick off this summer with a timely Higher Ed Digital Identity (#HEdigID) Chat:

#HEdigID Chat TOPIC: Renew, Refresh, Reboot, Restart Your Academic Writing

This Friday, June 8th the #HEdigID chat will be moderated (MOD) by Janet Salmons (@einterview) to sort out these forgotten or neglected academic writing (#AcWri) projects. This ALL DAY conversation will be hosted on Twitter with the hashtag: #HEdigID and via this OPEN Google doc: http://bit.ly/hedigid5

Do you have goals to get working on a writing project this summer? Are you changing your career goals, and this requires getting a few publications out the door? OR, if you have a writing project you’ve pushed to the side or you have neglected — then this #HEdigID chat is FOR YOU (and me).

“Academic writing includes more moving parts than other types, meaning we have more excuses for setting aside an unfinished piece of work.” ~ Janet Salmons

With a number of things to consider (e.g. updates to your literature review, methods for analysis, or even outlets to publish), you might just need this #HEdigID chat to get you to return to your own writing piece. Whether you are feeling excited or overwhelmed with your own academic writing, come join the online discussion to share what YOU hope to accomplish for your summer writing goals.

Here are the QUESTIONS you will see appear on Twitter and in the Google doc for your responses TODAY (June 8th) for this #HEdigID ALL-DAY digital chat:

  1. Please introduce yourself. Feel free to include: Where are you located? Where you work and/or your role? What you’re writing and working on these days? AND/OR Tell us your favorite place to write! #AcWri #AcWriChat
  2. Tell us about a writing project that you have left behind, let go, or let die. How long ago? What got in the way or prevented you from finishing this #AcWri project?
  3. Describe what kind of writing project are you trying to revive. What is this #AcWri project? Thesis/dissertation? Article? Chapter or book? Report or other professional writing? Please share!
  4. Is it time to revive this writing project? Reflect on your #AcWri purpose, in the context of your goals, do they match? E.g. Should this journal article now be a white paper report and/or blog post? Have you thought differently about a book chapter or book idea format?
  5. Let’s talk about updating this writing project: Is your literature review AND/OR your data out of date? What writing tasks, obstacles, and research will you need to work on to UPDATE this #AcWri piece?
  6. Does your writing PRACTICE or TOOLS need some updating to help you be productive with your project? What areas of writing practice support do you need? What #AcWri suggestions do you have for writers to be effective with their writing process?How will you commit to rebooting this academic writing project? What strategies and ideas do you have to be accountable to this #AcWri plan? Please share SUGGESTIONS and IDEAS for staying on track with this writing project revival!
  7. Final Thought (FT): What is one new SPARK or REASON you are inspired you to return to this academic writing project? What will drive you to prioritize this #AcWri project and commit to finishing it this time?

Converse with us? Join in discuss these questions and more! How to participate:

  • Tweet your response with the hashtag: #HEdigID

  • Share more in this Google Doc: http://bit.ly/hedigid5

  • Use these questions to draft your own personal reflection and response (e.g. blog post, video, audio, drawing or offline discussion)

  • Lurk and learn!

 

Update June 12, 2018:

ARCHIVE of the Tweets from this #HEdigID Chat

Follow-up blog post from the #HEdigID MOD, @einterivew: Keeping Writing Projects Alive

#HEdigID, Higher Education, highered, Learning Community, Networked Community, networkedscholar, PLN, Reflections

#HEdigID Chat No. 3: Privacy and Personal Data in Networked Spaces

If you are online and networked, your data and personal information is out there and it does not necessarily belong to you anymore. A number of us have signed up for a service, an application, or even a network under the assumption that it is “free.” What harm is there in answering a few personal questions to join an app, network, or online service?  Who would really be interested in my personal information I used when I completed that form or online agreement on that website? With a number of higher education colleagues living and working in networked spaces, we need to talk about how we have all (myself included) given away LOADS OF DATA to support our networked practices.

An introduction to the world of data online: Take a listen to Mozilla’s IRL (Online Life is Real Life) Podcast Episode 1: All Your Data Are Belong To Us.

“While you may think it’s no big deal to give away your personal data in exchange for free online services, how can you know that what you get for what you give is a fair trade?”

~Veronica Belmont, IRL Podcast: irlpodcast.org

Many of us have exchanged personal information for a “free” service, tool, technology platform, app, or network. This is common practice and almost a necessity to collaborate and communicate with others. How else can we stay in touch, share information, and participate in our personal and professional networks? Until the last few years, we have not thought much about the platforms or digital rights we have given away within these networked and digital spaces. We have witnessed a number of data breaches on popular platforms (e.g. LinkedIn and Dropbox) and we are currently gaining more insights into how scaled social networks, like Facebook, share our data with 3rd party providers (like Cambridge Analytica) and makes money off our individual profile contributions and participation in this platform.

I have been thinking about how we guide and support postsecondary stakeholders on social media and in digital networks for quite some time [see: socialmediaguidance.wordpress.com].  As social media permeates our personal and professional lives, a growing number of higher ed colleagues (like me) have been questioning the “privacy” (a.k.a. data) policies that exist on networked platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. [e.g. listen to @BreakDrink podcast episode, no. 10].

I am not sure the answer is to delete or leave a networked space. As our personal information and data is already out there, and a number of us are reliant on some of these tools to do our work and lead our lives. I don’t think these networked platforms are broken, disrupted, or that we need to even save social media. I just think we need to have a frank and open conversation about the things higher ed (as a whole) have been ignoring about these network spaces and platforms. Social media is no longer viewed as a trends or a passing fad. In the past, social and digital networks, were viewed as being on the periphery of the college/university experience. As these platforms have scaled and been embraced in our society, we are witnessing real impacts and implications within our campus communities.

It’s about time we have some REAL talk about individual privacy and personal data on social networks and digital platforms used by and among higher ed professionals. This month’s Higher Ed Digital Identity Chat on Friday, April 13th will be discussing the following TOPIC: “Privacy and Personal Data in Networked Spaces.”

Here are few QUESTIONS that will roll out on Twitter and are posted in the open Google doc for the #HEdigID Friday (April 13th) ALL-DAY digital conversation. In previous #HEdigID conversations we have talked about the affordances and challenges, but we have not touched upon our own personal data and privacy after we agree to an app or platforms terms of service. We need to discuss ways to support staff, faculty, and students using social media in higher ed, specifically in asking:

  1. As a networked higher education professional, what issues, topics, and questions SHOULD we be talking about with regards to our own privacy and personal data?
  2. What are your ultimate “Terms of Service” for sharing your personal data, updating your information, and putting yourself on digital/networked platforms? Share your philosophy or approach. [What are the things you are willing to give up when you sign up, log in, or share in networked spaces?]
  3. How does your higher ed institution or professional organizations educate and/or train yourself and colleagues about personal data and privacy online? Please share.
  4. How does your college/university guide or support community standards (e.g. policy, protocols, etc.) related to individual privacy or personal data in networked & digital spaces?
  5. For those who want to learn more about personal data, privacy, & security in #highered, what RESOURCES do you suggest? Please list & share (e.g. articles, websites, books, training, etc.).

What questions, issues, or challenges should we be discussing with our peers in networked spaces? How are we thinking about data and the use of data with our learners online? Are there ways to support engaged networked learning without compromising privacy or our personal data?  Feel free to answer any of the questions above as these are shared today (my Thursday, April 12th afternoon) until the afternoon of April 13, 2018 (in my timezone, Central Standard Time). This SLOW style Twitter chat is designed to allow more higher ed colleagues and friends to join in the conversation to account for different geographic regions, multiple time zones, busy schedules, and more

Join us on Friday, April 13, 2018 to discuss these questions and more! You can participate by:

  • Tweeting a response using this hashtag on Twitter: #HEdigID

  • Draft a longer response in the open OPEN Google Doc: http://bit.ly/hedigid3

  • Take any (or all) of these questions to create your OWN response in any media or format, you want: journal, blog post, video/audio reflection, drawing, or offline discussion. 🙂

I am open to YOUR suggestions. What QUESTIONS or ISSUES should we consider for this chat? Please share in the Google doc above or comments below. I’m looking forward to the conversation and contribution in Twitter and in the Google doc.
Collaboration, Higher Education, Horizon Report, K-12, Learning, report, Research

#FOECast: Ideation Week for the Future of Education

What project should we create to grasp the future of education and technology?

This is a big, bold question that is being explored and discussed in facilitated conversations via Bryan Alexander this week for:

Future of Education & Everything Community (#FOECast) IDEATION WEEK: February 26-March 2, 2018 

For those of you who know me (or are just getting to be acquainted), I am all for a grassroots initiative to discuss and dig into problems by and for a community. The idea of this week is to encourage “ideation” in an open, accessible way to explore how we’ll investigate/understand the future of learning, education, technology, and probably more. This is an exciting endeavor instigated by Bryan (and more!) to crowdsource where the Horizon report might go — or even expand into areas it did not reach. The goal (or dream) is: “to create something bold and new, a project drawing on the middle of the 21st century. This is a public and open process, through which we hope to get as broad and diverse a set of perspectives as possible.”

 

JOIN the LIVE Online Sessions to CONTRIBUTE!

During the online, synchronous meetings, these will be the four questions/prompts to guide the conversation:

  1. What needs did the Horizon report meet?

  2. What forecasting methods should we consider?

  3. What shape should a new effort take?

  4. What scope should this cover?

If you are not able to make a time/meeting, please feel free to participate in this organic and growing discussion. You can comment by tweeting and follow the #FOECast hashtag. Add your comments and responses to this open Google doc that continues to grow and be annotated (love it?).  Join and contribute to the ongoing Slack channel (find the direct URL here: https://beyondthehorizongroup.slack.com/). Additionally, you can post your own thoughts/ideas to the four questions (above) on your own blog, video, or other digital media of your choice. I have no doubt the community of futurists, instigators, designers, and then some would welcome all contributions … well, maybe not smoke signals (yet).

I expressed my sentiments about the NMC Horizon Report and the value it offered in the doc:

1) What needs did the Horizon Report meet?

I think the horizon report helps to bring together multiple stakeholders have contributed to the different entities in education come together (K-12, higher ed, and libraries) and the professional organizations/affiliations of practitioners and researchers. The horizon reports offered information, knowledge sharing, exemplars/examples, and practical experiences collected in one hub. Related to that, we started to bridge into other geographic areas and branch into the needs of industry. This cross-section of representation started to pollinate ideas and encourage people to move beyond a role or institutional focus into what is possible for the future of education. Does the horizon report need to be exclusive to technology? Should we be focused on the education landscape as a whole? This could be the changes in demographics for learners, educators, practitioners, and organizational trends/needs.

I’m stilling chewing on these questions… and thinking out loud (out blog?). I hope to join the conversations and be part of this collaborative discussion and threads on the interwebs. If you too care about the future of learning and have a thought of two — do join in. This is important and we need ideas from all around the education/learning table. What do you think about the future of learning, education, and technology?

 

An UPDATE on March 4, 2018:

After participating in a couple of conversations, watching the online discourse, and critical contributions in the shared doc/slack spaces, I thought I should finish up my own contributions to all that is shared and where this #FOEcast conversation might go. Here are my responses to the last 3 questions posed for the week:

2) What forecasting methods should we consider?

I am not sure about forecasting methods; however, I am not sure we do a decent job actually aggregating the data, research, and current practices in a comprehensive manner. There are a number interesting and creative pedagogical practices that rarely get reviewed or researched. Additionally, there is rarely many findings or research implications that are shared well with practitioners for teaching/learning/training. I would be more interesting in considering how we bring these information sources we currently have to understand the broader landscape. Perhaps this involves bringing different entities, stakeholders, organizations, etc. together to process and review learning practices in a few different pockets and industries. With criticisms of integrity withing the educational technology research and critiques of past NMC briefs, I am not sure how the past reports were developed always expressed the trends of teaching/learning/training around the globe. Who gets included or excluded with a Delphi panel? Why is there a focus on technologies and tools, rather than solving problems? How can future trend reporting truly reach and cover a broad spectrum of how learning and development is evolving with “innovative” or forward thinking pedagogical practice? Those would be the questions I would want answered for predictions and pathways forward for research methods to develop a new report.

3) What shape should a new effort take?

Perhaps going from the original Delphi model of “ask the expert” + community to curate a report of the “state of learning” (or training or development — per Stephen Downes above) to tease out the original PDF report and present it in multiple ways that interests and engages multiple audiences (e.g. educators, researchers, designers, admin, training, L&D, etc.). A digital showcase of applications beyond a webinar or webcast could include bit-sized examples of testing and experimenting with learning design, a technology in application for learning, or other via a podcast+show notes, video demonstration, testing exemplar of a concept, team blog of experimentation in progress, or a “behind the curtains” look for how to apply pedagogical practices. There is no shortage of how to share knowledge that allows it to cross into different industries, learning/educational areas, and could engage multiple professionals (not just K-12, higher ed, workplace learning, library, etc.) — this could be shared with those who are willing to test/try/experiment in learning. Perhaps focusing on the issues, concepts, and problems will help bring a broader audience and interest to the findings in these future of learning reports AND help us to connect the nodes between professions, practitioners, and a variety of industries. Let’s start encouraging play in other professional sandboxes!

4) What scope should this cover?

I think FOECast has the potential to go beyond the original Horizon Report. It could be more than a function of educational sectors or even geographic locations discussing the trends for technology + {Library, K-12 education, Higher Ed, etc.}. The new version looking at the future of education (or learning/development/training), could provide a pathway to discuss critical issues, contemplative ideas, and thoughtful pedagogical practices. Some of these trends may include technology; however, the focus could be on the issues or problems the collective wants to solve in teaching/learning/development. I would hope these reports (or open ideation events or whatever shape this takes) continues to involve an integrated community of practice to engage, question, think critically, contribute, and challenge one another to do better work (teaching, researching, designing, etc.). What are the questions we should be asking? What are the practices we could be testing or piloting? What are the nuances for teaching/learning?

I am a big fan of how Kay Oddone shared this diagram below and reflected how connected learning principles emerged out of the FOEcast week of brainstorming/ideation:

Project_FOECast_through_the_lens_of_Connected_Learning

I agree with this, and further push this idea to embrace how connected learning often drives professionals to contribute to a networked community of practice. The FOEcast week reminded me how an organic group of people can support and contribute to moving an idea forward. The community is vested in a common purpose and many want to not just talk, but also contribute to how we can shape our future practices, with regards to formal and informal learning. With formal education institutions (K-12, higher education, etc.) and professional associations/organizations there seems to be a tension of how to balance innovative ideas and approach future-oriented projects due to structural barriers or workforce constraints. This process allows for more freedom and willingness to connect the nodes to share knowledge and involve those who might be interested in a problem/issue or topic. What is great about this designed experience is the potential to move this conversation (and future actions) beyond a particular professional role/title/function, across institutional/organizational boundaries, and involve others who have not contributed their voice yet. This is critical, as sharing at the intersections of what we do in learning/training/development will help to truly advance our pedagogical practices.

There was so much thoughtful discussion and critical thinking shared on the live chats, hashtag and open Google doc (go see for yourself). Thanks for instigating this needed conversation, Bryan, and to all the contributors — it has been a real delight to read your ideas and hear your thoughts in this open dialogue.  I hope this process of thinking, talking, and doing something for the future of everything continues. I’m interested… count me in! This might be the wrap up blog post for the #FOEcast week, Final push: Create!, however; this conversation and community contribution seems to be just the beginning: https://www.foecast.net/

#AcDigID, edusocmedia, Higher Education, Reflections, Social Media, SocioTech

Re-Evaluating My Digital Self

Over the past year (or longer), I continue to think more about my digital self. This should be no surprise, as I am currently researching higher ed’s networked practice and I facilitate a workshop a couple times year about what it means to be an academic and professional online in postsecondary education. Typically, at the end of the calendar year, some people like to look back at 2017, “in review.” You might read/write end of year blog posts with a top ____ list of highlights/happenings. Or perhaps you’ve joined in on the Instagram “best9” of 2017 photo montage posting. This year, I am doing something different. Thanks to conversations I’ve had with JeffPaul, Katie, Chris, and others both offline and recorded [on the @BreakDrink podcast check out episodes 5, 7, 10 & 13] in 2017 — I will be setting aside some of my winter break to examine what it means to be present and connected online for ME. My personal review might be less merry or bright as I examine what I’ve shared or exposed to data/information in digital life. Festive? I know. 🙂

It has to be done. I need to really take a hard look at my digital self. This personal online audit will help to clean up and prevent potential hacks; however, this time I am including bigger questions beyond use/activity — as I plan review platforms terms of service, digital rights, data access, digital security, data extraction, and, ultimately, outlining if there is a purpose/need for “being” in any of these virtual locations. As net neutrality rules are killed and social (+ other) media continue to scale, I have a lot more questions I need to think about for my own work, learning, and life. The last few years there has been a reckoning for social media — more than anyone once thought over a decade ago. “Facebook is just a college thing” and “Twitter is just a fad,” were some of the things once said. Who thought these social networks would impact how we learn, work, vote, share, and more?

My digital self “under review” is not only a result of my distrust in sharing over media, the Russian hack of social media during the US election or even my aversion to having any “smart speaker” in our home that records and gathers data each day. Nor is it the fact that I live with a cybersecurity professional or that Black Mirror‘s sociotechnical sci-fi drama offers an eerie foreshadow to what lies ahead of us in the not-so-distant future. I embraced online and a connect being for over a decade now, so there’s no wonder why my digital footprint has me grappling with issues of digital security, personal wellness, individual safety, and the privacy paradox of living/working in a connected world.Image c/o The WIRED Guide to Digital Security

That being said, the free and open collection of knowledge on social media cannot offer regular fact-checking or verified expertise. This is critical for those who are a part of this shared, collective community online. The future of knowledge can be misleading if we are letting these platforms guide us by the information we share and the interactions within the network. As Tim Berners-Lee stated in his open letter written about the internet, he is concerned we have lost control of our personal data, misinformation is easily spread on the Web, and online transparency and understanding are needed in political advertising [as well as other spheres online].

Lately, I have been struggling with how our society is entrenched and relies on technological platforms. My true concern for self-auditing my digital life is to understand more about the impact and influence I have let technology and platforms invade my everyday way of living. As a reminder, platforms are:

“digital infrastructures that enable two or more groups to interact… [and] bring together different users… with a series of tools that enable their users to build their own products, services, and marketplaces” (Srnicek, 2017, p. 43).

The reliance on online networks and digital platforms might be more problematic than we think. There seems to be much power owned by these digital platforms. For example, the digital curation website, Storify, plans to shut down and delete data by May 2018. Like a few of my peers, I too am questioning the use of services and accounts we don’t own or control. I understand why a growing number of higher ed and ed tech colleagues are thinking the same was as they trim their digital contribution on Twitter, close down their accounts on major social media platforms, like Facebook, and take by control of the web by creating a domain of one’s own.

For me, this virtual audit exercise will include and go beyond social networks and connected sites to also examine WHERE, WHY, and HOW I live/work digitally. I think it’s a critical time to reevaluate the platforms and technologies we are using, in general. Where the data is stored? Who has access to what? Who owns the rights to my created or uploaded content? Am I utilizing appropriate _____ platform/technology for my personal/professional life? Are there other means that are not “free” I should be considering? It’s not like I have not done this activity before — but this time it might mean that I took “break up” with a platform or connected sites. For 2018, I want to be more diligent with my personal data, private information and online “being,” to limit surveillance/tracking online and to align my own values and ethics with networks and platforms I use.

Reference

Srnicek, N. (2017). Platform capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

#diglit, #NMChz, Digital Literacy, Higher Education, highered, Horizon Report, literacy, postgraduates, publication, report, Research, survey, technology, Training, work, Workplace

The Future of Work: Technology and Robots and Digital Literacy… OH MY!

Q: When will robots be able to do my job?

A: Not yet… (at least not all of it).

I’ve been thinking about how technology is and will impact the world of work. Thanks to NPR’s Planet Money calculator: Will Your Job Be Done By A Machine? and perhaps an empirical search on automation in teaching literature I’ve been reviewing for George … I might have robots on my mind. The calculator says my professional role is not likely to be fully replaced, but I have my doubts.

I can see ways we are already automating instruction, grading, peer review, etc. So career planning for many occupational roles will shift over time as technology is infused into the labor market. As I instruct a career planning course, Personal/Professional Development (#LTEC3010), I am quite concerned with how we are preparing (or not preparing) learners to thrive in an evolving career economy.  To support occupational preparation of the unknown, I have been picking up a few books on the future of work to add to the course– here’s what  on my book #shelfie that I read/reviewed (again) this past summer:

Although robots and technology will not take over ALL jobs in the future, the working economy will need new skill sets and agile employees. We know an increasing number of curricular and co-curricular programs in higher education are striving to include “Nonacademic Skills” and some programs are attempting to prepare learners for jobs that may not even exist yet. We hope the value of a postsecondary degree goes beyond a transcript; however, we have rarely looked ahead to align occupational preparation with the six driving factors and the needs for future work skills 2010 (Davis, Fidler, Gorbis, 2011):

  1. Life longevity: By 2025, the number of Americans older than 60 will increase by 70%.
  2. The rise of smart machines & systems: Technology can augment & extend own capabilities & workplace automation is killing the repetitive job.
  3. Computational world: Increases in sensors & processing makes the world a programmable system; data gives us the ability to see things on a scale.
  4. New media ecology: New communication tools require media literacies beyond text; visual communication media is becoming a new vernacular.
  5. Superstructure organizations: Social technologies drive new forms of production & value creation; social tools allow organizations to work at scale.
  6. Globally connected world: Diversity and adaptability are at the center of operations–US and Europe no longer hold a monopoly on job creation, innovation, and political power.

Based on these changes to the world of work, a degree and employment experience will NOT set anyone apart from the competition in the new job economy. You will have to continue to improve upon your skills, adapt to the changing environment, and plan for ongoing professional development throughout your career. Here are the top 10 skills needed for the workforce of 2020 identified by Davis et al., 2011:

  1. Sensemaking: The ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed. 
  2. Social intelligence: The ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions. 
  3. Novel and adaptive thinking: Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based.
  4. Cross-cultural competency: The ability to operate in different cultural settings.
  5. Computational thinking: The ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based. 
  6. Digital literacy and information fluency: The ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication. 
  7. Interdisciplinary mindset: Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines. 
  8. Design thinking: The ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes. 
  9. Cognitive load management: The ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functions. 
  10. Virtual Collaboration: The ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team. 

As I review/edit materials in my courses, I am thinking more about the digital literacies that encourage my learners to PRODUCE, CREATE, and SHARE before they graduate.  Much of HOW we prepare our learners TODAY, will impact how they function in the future job economy.  Are we thinking beyond the requirement of a course? Can we apply learning to occupational environments or non-academic settings? What ways have we been encouraging digital literacy and information fluency at our campuses? What have you required your students to create, produce, and share using different mediums or platforms? These are just a few questions I have been thinking about for course design, and I am pondering even more after drafting the latest New Media Consortium (@NMCorg) survey/report over the summer. Read more here:

2017 Digital Literacy Impact Study An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief  [Download: nmc.org/digilit-impact]

The 2017 Digital Literacy Impact Study: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief uncovers the learner’s perspective of how digital literacy training influences work life after graduation. As a complement to the definitions and frameworks outlined in the 2017 strategic brief on digital literacy in higher education, this study examines digital literacy in action as learners enter the workforce. More than 700 recent graduates from 36 institutions responded to an NMC survey that addressed the experiences they gained at colleges and universities, and how their proficiencies or lack thereof have affected their careers. Funding for this independent research endeavor and publication was provided by Adobe.

Reference:

Adams Becker, S., Pasquini, L. A., and Zentner, A. (2017). 2017 Digital Literacy Impact Study: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief. Volume 3.5, September 2017. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Higher Education, Networked Community, networkedscholar, Reflections, Research

Thinking About My Networked Self & Digital Experiences In Higher Ed

This past summer, I spent a great deal of time talking to colleagues in higher ed to learn how they utilize social media to connect with peers and support one another in online communities. These interviews and conversations have been enlightening to help us understand more about how our digital, networked selves come to work on a university/college campus and contribute to our professional fields. For some, it is becoming increasingly vital to share instruction, scholarship, and practice online.  For others, there are still concerns about being connected to colleagues as our social networks now have context collapse. In the online world, what IS really private vs. public? Which networks are used for personal and/or professional practice?

Open and digital channels help higher ed faculty and stuff in a number of different ways: asking/giving advice, collaboration on projects, free professional development, sharing information/resources, colleagues solicit advice, personal/professional support, and opportunities to learn in digital communities with common interests. Besides developing a digital presence or a “persona” online, higher education staff, administrators and scholars are utilizing social media and digital technologies to support their work, add to their professional development, engage with peers, learn in the collective and publicly in digital spaces and places.

This leads me to ask these questions of my peers working in higher ed:

  • How does being part of a digital learning network support your professional learning and development?
  • How are you shaping your online identity and presence to share your professional values?
  • How can your networked communities expand your knowledge and learning to enhance your role on campus and the work you do?
  • Why might others consider finding networked peers and practitioners to scaffold their own career goals?

Although there are benefits to “working out loud” and online, there are also a number of issues as we repurpose social, digital spaces. The stakes are high, as an increasing number of higher ed professionals participate in online social networks with minimal institutional guidance for sociotechnical support or training (Pasquini & Evangelopoulos, 2017). Social and digital networks are connected, public and scaled — and often not on spaces we own or have control over. Additionally, much of our own data is being collected and reused on these networked platforms. This has me wondering:

  • How are higher ed staff and faculty evaluating their online participation on these social networks?
  • How has their contribution to open, public spaces shifted over the years?
  • What does being online as a higher ed professional look like now?

These are just a few of the questions we are asking in our research study. If you are interested in sharing more about your own experiences as a professional in higher ed, please consider contributing by participating in an interview (more about the study here).

Research Interview Sign Up: http://bit.ly/networkedself

Part of this blog post is cross-posted via my Inside Higher Ed Digital Learning opinion piece.