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 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).
Much of what we’re discussing, is really just us processing ideas for a potential conference session and/or toolkit to get other higher education professionals involved in scholarly work. That is, front-line practitioners who directly work with and support learners. Typically these are professional staff who are involved in practice and rarely jump into the realm of scholarly writing and academic publishing — where we NEED to showcase and share evidence-based practices from the field. In talking and working with various scholar-practitioners, I have learned so much about how graduate prep programs vary in student affairs/services and/or higher education programs. Many of these applied education experiences are leaving higher education practitioners with minimal academic research knowledge and limited scholarly writing opportunities. In turn, the programs and practices implemented in post-secondary education, often leave out a research design, data analysis, and production towards an academic manuscript.
It is a critical time in post-secondary education where we MUST SHOW EVIDENCE and we SHOULD be contributing to the canon of student support services and student affairs scholarship. Higher ed professionals should be contributing to the empirical trail of our applied work beyond traditional teaching and learning — so it’s time #ShutUpAndWrite to PUBLISH!
We are just scratching the surface in this podcasts, as we being to think about developmental support for engaging practitioners and professionals in higher ed with the #AcWri process. After listening to the out-loud ponderings on this podcast, here are a few lessons learned from our own early career research experiences with academic writing/publishing:
Create products for publication. Always. We need to have graduate students, master’s and doctoral-level, to think about crafting their academic writing for a publication and not just a paper or assignment. Consider WHERE and HOW you would use each writing piece for publications. You should not just have artifacts from courses submitted for a grade. Consider how you will use each piece of your coursework or research for a potential academic publication as well.
Get experience with peer-review: Practice of reviewing for peer-review and/or editing to be part of the academic publication process. Academic writing and publishing is a PROCESS. Each paper submitted goes through a particular workflow and are (most often) managed by volunteers and scholars who will review your work. Reviewing manuscripts, copy-editing, and evening managing a journal takes TIME – but it does help you learn what to expect for the stages of submitting an article. If you have not completed any peer review for an academic journal, you should! Learning about the expectations and experiences from the backend of a journal will give you more insights to where manuscripts go when submitted for publication.
Search for your manuscript FIT!Scopus is the mega database of abstracts and citations of peer-reviewed literature: scientific journals, books, and conference proceedings. Search and download “Scopus List” a spreadsheet for specific details for each journal. Where could your paper fit in? Could you take another lens or approach to fit the journal scope? Assess the fit of this BEFORE you submit!
Avoid desk rejects: This is when an editor rejects your manuscript and (hopefully) offers you feedback on the scope and/or fit for your paper within a few days of the week of submission. This avoids your manuscript sitting through the lengthy peer-review process for no reason. Why not reach out to the editor in advance with your paper abstract to inquire more about the fit/scope and if your manuscript is appropriate for submission first? This is also a great way to learn about what the peer-reviewers will be identifying and develop your professional connections.
Not all papers need to be in prestigious journals: Consider submitting to B-level journals and having a few targets for your paper that might fit if it is rejected – so you can take feedback to update and/or turn around to submit somewhere else. There is NO shortage of academic outlets for publications. Consider asking academic mentors or scholars in your specific area of expertise/discipline what other suitable journals might be a good target. Have a few journal outlets in mind to resubmit if rejected.
Love Your Librarian: Ask your librarians for support with your research on topics, to journal outlets, databases to search for empirical literature, and/or where/how to archive your own publications (or say set up your own journal). Academic librarians have an understanding of where to look for publishing outlets with suggestions of database searches and recommendations for various disciplines of study.
Support and consider how you involve practitioners in scholarship — AND vice versa! Here are a few thoughts I shared about working with scholar-practitioners. Mentioned on @BreakdRink episode no. 8 and blogged by Laura. OR if you are a practitioner in education reach out to an academic to share about your potential sample population, research design, or general idea of study you want to be involved with for further inquiry.
If you have some resources and ideas on the topic of academic publishing — let us know! We would love for you to post a comment below, or connect with us via any of the “BreakDrink” podcast channels:
When was the last time you considered reviewing a policy OR the terms of service (TOS) from your favorite social network? With the recent changes to “privacy” on a few of our favorite platforms, we thought it was an apt time to read and review the TOS for all of you. You’re very welcome. As a number of colleagues, learners, and friends in higher ed use (and repurpose) these social spaces for teaching, learning, and research — we wanted to really understand how these technology (not media) companies are thinking about “Privacy” (or now called “Data” for certain platforms) and the policies around this issue. Here are SOME of the notes from our chat — please visit @BreakDrink Episode no.10 for more at BreakDrink.com
PSA: Facebook IS public. We repeat: FACEBOOK IS PUBLIC regardless of WHAT your privacy settings are; “the nature of these platforms is that they are extractive… their entire goal is to mine… data.” @hypervisible
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Consuming information online is no more than a click, scroll, or swipe these days. All searches are not created equal and rarely do we think about fact checking what we find on the Internet. I am not alone in thinking about how “…the Internet is actually changing the way we read the way we reason, and even the way we think, and all for the worse” (The Death of Expertise, Nicols, 2017, p. 111). In higher education, I think it is imperative we teach our learners and colleagues about what it means to participate and interact in digital spaces and places. How can our institutions help students, staff, and faculty “be” online and consider how both information and digital environments impact knowledge sharing and learning?
Definition: Digital Literacy and Information Fluency
Digital literacy is multifaceted. The New Media Consortium provided a Digital Literacy Strategic Brief (Alexander, Adams Becker, & Cummins, 2016) to identify the role policy, practice, and curriculum can have on all facets of our campus. Alexander et al. (2016, p.1) defines digital literacy as “not just understanding how a tool works but also why it is useful in the real world and when to use it.” To improve our practices for improving this literacy we need to think broadly about strategic planning and the creation of standards at our campus. There are new opportunities to encourage learners to become content and media producers, identify technical competencies for the workforce with industry-education partnerships, and develop smart collaborations within the community entities, such as governments, libraries, museums, and cultural heritage organizations. This report offers insights across universal literacy, creative literacy, and literacy across disciplines by offering exemplars in practice at institutions that include digital literacy in program and curriculum design.
Beyond digital competencies, we need to develop media and information fluency in higher education. The Association of College and Research Libraries (2016) has updated their literacy competency standards by developing a Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education to offer guidance “to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” Scholarly inquiry requires analyzing information for credibility and understanding if an online resource is primary, secondary or irrelevant. Information is constructed in context to digital environments and is often created as a process of knowing, reflection, editing, and production online. Beyond this, the Institute of Museum and Library Services are offering suggestions for data information literacy to help us understand how we manage, curate, and design curriculum around data and information. To encourage both digital prowess and information awareness online, we need to develop skills around: outline critical thinking for research, encourage digital teaming, and identify privacy, security and data issues online.
Critical Thinking and Online Research
Much of what we want our students, and perhaps colleagues, to develop is a technical competency with information management in the digital realm. Digital literacy and information fluency help us improve our understanding and acquisition of knowledge to move beyond the #FakeNews fallacies and make meaning of what we are learning. In seeing how fast information travels with inaccurate content, I often wonder if my learners understand how the Internet works? Part of our responsibility, as educators, is to teach effective search processes online, to investigate databases, and examine scholarly repositories with our students and co-authors.
Part of being a member of a college or university community is the opportunity for discussion and discourse among peers. Scholarly inquiry and debate cannot and should not happen in a vacuum. Learning experiences should offer ways to evaluate information and to participate in civic online reasoning helps our learners beyond course discussions, class activities, and assigned projects. With the advent of the social web and networked communication platforms, there is an increasing opportunity to gather virtual teams or to support distributed group work. How can you enhance distributed collaboration for learners and support your peers online?
The new social learning helps us “join with others to make sense of and create new ideas…[it] is augmented with social media tools that bridge distance and time, enabling people to easily interact across the workplace, passion, curiosity, skill or need. It benefits from a diversity in types of intelligence and in the experiences of those learning” (Bingham & Connor, 2015, p.8). These digital environments need to be woven into our pedagogical considerations learning design and considered in context to support virtual teaming among scholars. Much of the creative problem solving, production development, and final products for learners can be self-directed via peers online. Some examples, I have used in practice and for instruction include shared documents for education, planning virtual group meetings, supporting hashtags for learning, and offering on-demand, online office hours. There are many ways to learn and work from a distance – decide what your purpose or goal is first, and then explore what digital platforms to use.
Digital Privacy, Security, and Data
To further this notion, we need to consider how we thrive in the digital age and this should start at our colleges and universities. The US Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity put out a Report on Securing and Growing the Digital Economy. As human behavior and technology are intertwined, it will be vital to secure our technologies, processes, and products online. As we “live” online and continue to get hacked online, we need to identify how we will operate in digital spaces and also prepare cybersecurity workforce capabilities online as outlined in this report. Higher education IT colleagues are continually thinking about ways to respond to cybersecurity attacks; however, prevention and awareness among campus stakeholders should be priorities at our institutions. I often have my students and peers think deeper about their privacy and security online by introducing them to ideas shared by WNYC’s Note To Self: Privacy Paradox 5-part series and the Privacy Paradox tip sheet, specifically to have all understand how to protect personal information and perhaps to take control back of their shared personal data online. Beyond this short course, I often encourage colleagues and students to read recent news reports, or listen to podcasts, such as CBC Spark and Reply-All, to prompt discussions about current issues and events that apply to their own digital life to ask more about their own Terms of Service.
Remember that “really big paper” known as a dissertation? It was on the topic of social media guidance and such? If not — check out the website on the topic here: https://socialmediaguidance.wordpress.com/Well, I learned one is never really Ph-inishe-D with this research until the research is published in a peer-reviewed journal [More on this #AcWri process and experience in a future blog post… I promise!].
I am proud to say this research has been officially published! This blog post shares a quick video overview of the paper, link to the journal article/pre-print paper, and the database of over 250 social media policies from 10 countries analyzed within this study. Thanks to all who contributed to this research and to others who will continue to use this open data set and research to further work in this area. This sociotechnical stewardship framework is organized from the key themes found from text-mining the 24, 243 policy passages reviewed within this corpus. Here are a few things we need to consider when organizing and guiding sociotechnical systems in our organizations:I am continuing to understand how we best guide and support sociotechnical systems for higher education professionals as I interview participants for a current research project[Hint, hint: CONTRIBUTE to our current study that is “in progress” now: https://bit.ly/networkedself
I hope other scholars and practitioners further this research and apply these practices to effectively support campus stakeholders. Want to learn more about this study, here is a quick video summary (4:59 minutes):
Social media technologies transform how we share, communicate, and interact with one another. On our college and university campuses, new media applications and platforms are transforming how students, staff, faculty, and alumni engage with one another. As these social, emerging technologies impact teaching, learning, research, and work functions on campus, we need to understand how social media use and behaviors are being supported. To help higher education administrators and organizational leaders effectively guide social, emerging technologies, we prove a summary of 250 institutional policy documents and we offer a sociotechnical framework to help support strategic, long-term technology planning for organizations and their stakeholders.
On April 5, the women of #3Wedu traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana to facilitate roundtable discussions on ways to re-define education to support women in innovative contexts. If you haven’t heard about this, check out our last blog post about the #3Wedu Conversation at #OLCinnovate:
News, blogs, and panels are filled with horror stories from Silicon Valley, reflecting pay gaps, gender bias, and more. In our roundtable, we first asked, “what does it mean to be a woman in innovative education environments?” Next, we thought about how we might re-imagine the organizational structures of universities to be more supportive of women. Read and contribute to the #OLCinnovate discussion here: http://bit.ly/3weduinnovate17
In the next episode of the #3Wedu podcast No. 16, we’ll reflect on the roundtable conversations further, to share who we met, what we heard, and ways we might move the conversation forward into action. Join us…
I have been thinking a lot about expertise in higher education — especially as more institutions look to a growing number of “experts” to help solve their institutional challenges and issues. No thanks to Martin‘s book suggestion on expertise, my blog rant on this topic will be informed and directed as this text unpacks the challenges that knowledge and expertise holds. In thinking about expertise, Nicols (2017) shares how “…experience helps to separate the credentialed from the incompetent ” (p. 33) and it “distinguish[es] between people who have a passing acquaintance with a subject and people whose knowledge is definitive” (p. 39). This idea of expertise, of course, can be applied to a number of situations or issues in society — but for now, I will stick with the domain I work in, higher education (also, Chapter #3 of this book).
Nicols’ (2017) central premise asserts that our post-secondary institutions are failing to provide students basic knowledge and skills that form expertise, that is, “critical thinking: the ability to examine new information and completing ideas dispassionately, logically, and without emotional or personal preconceptions” (p. 72). He continues to also identify issues in Ameican higher education around the topic of expertise, including the abundance of students and faculty (and institutions), the manufacturing of Ph.D.’s that surpasses the academic job market demands, over-reliance and over credentialing of masters degrees, the influence of the ‘helicopter parent’ on education clientele, social media as a communication equalizer that removes respectful interactions, and over promising what a 4-year degree can offer for today’s employment market — just to name a few ‘highlights’ from the chapter.
I do agree with Nicols that our learners need to be more involved in the learning process. Our students need to be part of their education and doing more than just observing or absorbing information. Where is the debate? How are we engaging inquiry? When do we challenge our students to solve problems or apply learning beyond a course? I would much rather encourage a flock of critical thinkers rather than choosy consumers or relentless criticizers. I think enlightenment and growth should come from the learners, rather than being directed by the instructor. How are we encouraging this type of self-directed learning, higher ed?
That being said solid research on any given topic takes TIME and EFFORT. I agree with Nicols’ (2017) that “…the Internet is actually changing the way we read the way we reason, and even the way we think, and all for the worse” (p. 111). A simple Google Search on a topic is not as it seems, and the accuracy of information is rarely analyzed as we seek the quick response [More about this in @BreakDrink Episode No. 5 with Chris Gilliard]. Digital fluency and information literacy are skills we could ALL tool-up on (including myself) to improve upon our knowledge and move beyond the #FakeNews fallacies. If a research board calls on your expertise to “learn about the current higher ed trends” or a survey has a number of research limitations, then you might not want to put so much emphasis on a whitepaper report or generalizability of these findings [I have experienced both recently]. For those of us who seek to build on empirical work, how often do we cite or refer to a source without taking into consideration the sample size, context, or research methods? Why are we not applying more of these evidence-based methods into our practice? Are we suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect in higher ed, where ignorance is for dummies?
A recent Chronicle article identifies public intellectuals as “experts, often academics, who are well versed and well trained enough to comment on a wide range of issues [that is] professional secondhand dealers in ideas” (Drezner, 2017). Unlike these public intellectuals, we have also have thought leaders who “develop their own singular lens to explain the world, and then proselytize to anyone within earshot.” [This is perhaps why I cringe at being called a thought leader…] One individual argues about everything that is right about their own idea (thought leaders) or wrong about others’ ideas (public intellectuals). It is easy to see why the thought leader has eclipsed the ideas owned by public intellectuals (Drezner, 2017) — as many of us do not want to hear criticism and would much rather learn about the optimism and great future that lies ahead. Right?
Sigh. It is the best and worst of times to have any expertise or knowledge in a given area. Based on Nichols’ (2017) view, the “public intellectual, that is, people who hold the middle ground” on issues to have their knowledge and ideas put forward. In practice, I think this might be true — take this recent conference session example: I was sharing some of the initial findings of what we are learning from the Networked Communities of Practice study and a couple of the attendees wanted specific answers and guidance on social and digital platforms for professional development for student affairs practitioners. At the time, I could offer a few insights into uses of platforms and preliminary experiences; however, with this sort of research and SO MUCH DATA TO REVIEW — I could not tell them all they wanted to know.
Maybe this professional has only heard one (positive) perspective or has only heard similar ideas in a small echo chamber from the field on this topic. I was not surprised to learn practitioners and scholars are rarely found saying: “I don’t know” and “I want to know more before I give a definitive statement.” No one wants to look incompetent or uninformed, right? Just maybe this assumption of expertise or authoritative knowledge, by title, role, or credential in higher ed, actually limits how much we ACTUALLY know and understand on any given topic. Perhaps it’s time for a few more of us from the knowledge working field to claim less expertise and continue to ask more questions. It might bring us somewhere interesting…