#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.
#HEdigID, Learning Community, Networked Community, Research, StudentAffairs

Opening the Discussion: Digital Practices and Online Interactions at #ACPA18

This week, I am excited to be in Houston for the 2018 ACPA Convention (#ACPA18) to open up the dialog and start a discussion about how we engage digitally as student affairs educators and higher education professionals.  The two sessions I am involved comes directly from our research study in progress: Networked Communities of Practice.  The first session we’re facilitating will be today, Tuesday, March 12th (10:45 am- 12:00 noon) will be to discuss case studies around digital practice and interactions online. We are honored that our 75-minute competency-based session will be sponsored by the Graduate Student & New Professional Community of Practice. Check out the other sessions they are sponsoring this conference:

We Need to Talk: Digital Practices & Ethics in Our Profession

As Student Affairs educators leverage technology for professional practice, we have failed to discuss how our digital lives intersect with our work lives. This competency-based, case study guide is designed to facilitate conversations about expectations and realities of what it means to be a professional online. To help you discuss ways to support digital-ethical professional practice in higher education, we have identified a few scenarios to discuss and develop a positive culture online. We encourage you to start an open dialogue on these issues and identify potential solutions to address unwanted interactions and inappropriate behaviors in professional online networks. Please feel free to bring these case studies back to your campus and/or graduate programs to continue the conversations. This resource is shared with the following Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Goals

At the end of this competency-based session, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe professional, ethical issues related to digital practices and online behavior.
  2. Identify actions and responsibilities within professional online networks and digital communities.
  3. Outline resources and effective strategies to support the digital professional practice.
  4. List questions, issues, and concerns about digital professional practice and ethics online.

Guidelines for discussion

Let’s have a real discussion about digital practices and issues online:

  • We want open conversation
  • No “stupid” questions/ideas
  • Candid problem-solving
  • Transcribe your main points, questions, & resources
  • Share suggestions for practice

#ACPA18 Convention Workshop Resources: http://bit.ly/sadigitalethics

Cite and download a copy of the workshops case studies:

Pasquini, L. A., Eaton, P. W., & Ahlquist, J. R. (2018). We need to talk: Digital practices & ethics in our profession. 2018 ACPA Convention, Houston, TX. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.5971354.v2

Student Affairs Professionals on Facebook: An Empirical Look

On Tuesday, March 13th (11:15 am-12:15 pm), we will be sharing our findings of what we have learned about the Studnet Affairs Facebook Group. We hope to share WHAT and HOW this online community of practice engages its members.

Paper Abstract:

Research on networked practices in higher education often focuses on how social and digital technologies are utilized by academics for teaching, learning, and research.  Very little attention has been given to understanding how postsecondary educators are interacting and disclosing both personal and professional experiences on social networks.  Social media platforms have been embraced by educators as a way to extend communication, share information, network, and build communities. However, there is limited empirical research examining the topics and issues disclosed by student affairs and higher education practitioners within these networked environments.  Facebook is one of the key social networking sites utilized by postsecondary professionals to mediate conversation and develop community online. This study focused on understanding how higher education staff, student affairs educators, and graduate students use one particular Facebook group – The Student Affairs Professional Facebook group.  Through descriptive and qualitative analysis of Facebook group posts, shares, comments, and interactions, this study identifies the central topics and issues discussed over a 15-month period of time. This research shows how professionals and graduate students join this Facebook group to share professional development, offer learning/training resources, and disseminate graduate education information. In addition to professional practice, this Facebook group is often used as a forum for offering/soliciting advice, individual self-help support, personal storytelling, and to share humor with colleagues.

This Research Paper session is structured to have three papers within a one-time block. This means we will only have 12 minutes to present our study findings with minimal discussion.

That being said, we know this research study needs to be discussed more broadly with the field. We want to open up the dialog with the Student Affairs Facebook Facebook Community members. We plan on hanging out after this session, and we are thinking about other ways to share our findings and open conversation online after ACPA. Let us know how we can share more with you in the comments below or send us an email: networkedcop@gmail.com

Reference:

Eaton, P. W., Pasquini, L. A., Ahlquist, J., & Gismondi, A. (2018). The student affairs professional Facebook group: An empirical look. 2018 ACPA Convention, Houston, TX.

Collaboration, Learning Community, Virtual Communities, virtual teaming

HOW TO: Virtually Team and Facilitate Meetings

Did you know you can meet and share with your colleagues and peers beyond an event, campus, or meeting? Perhaps you find a shared research project idea or a group of you had an idea sparked while at a conference to continue working on or you have a great colleague from afar you want to work with – then virtual teaming might help you stay connected and allow for collaboration. Through effective management of a remote team and hosting semi-regular virtual meetings, you can to provide updates, share ideas, and seek support for these new projects/initiatives. Regular meetings allow members of your community to connect and communicate beyond emails or the listserv.

Synchronous meetings allow you to deliver information, encourage discussion, and involve your communities or teams in a dynamic way! A remote/online meeting is more dynamic, structured way to connect beyond a  listserv or any social media channel. It is recommended to make these type of group meetings effective by having defined objectives and outcomes, an agenda, and a facilitator. To avoid “The Conference Call in Real Life” situation, here are a few suggestions to plan and organize the facilitation of a remote/online meeting. Or maybe you are Rethinking Office Hours in a distance/online way to meet the needs of your students, staff, and faculty — the possibilities are endless!

To work with your team from afar, you will not only have to consider meeting but also manage your work. Whether you are collaborating on research, developing a presentation, organizing a program or planning a conference — you should consider how you are going to virtually manage your team’s time and tasks. This #acpa16 Genius Lab resource will introduce you to tools and strategies to effectively share information and outline a few project management basics to help you collaborate more effectively.

The “HOW TO” Steps

  1. Planning a viable agenda or series of agendas. Identify your purpose of the meeting, what you will discuss & the agenda structure, e.g. information, open discussion, updates.
  2. Effective use of technology. Try out and experiment with your technological applications and platforms in advance, so you are familiar with how they work & troubleshooting. Be sure to include any instructions to your community members on how they will have to log in or access your meeting space and materials.
  3. Preparing participants and pre-work or pre-meeting information. By sending information in advance helps to prepare your participants for the meeting by letting them read materials, review the agenda, and prepare items to talk about or ask questions on. Emailing a reminder with this information makes for a more functional remote/online meeting.
  4. Keeping participants focused and engaged. During your remote/online meeting, think about adding in a poll or survey question, provide a space for open discussion, consider other ways participants can “talk” at the meeting, e.g. Instant Message, chat functions, within the open, shared Google Doc, etc. Consider assigning roles during the meeting, such as meeting minutes, rotating chair/timekeeper, point-person or project leads, etc.
  5. Building trust and social capital. Establish a rapport with your team or group members at meetings during the in-person meeting (if possible) or through ongoing communication between meetings on the listserv or a social media platform. Get to know your members, and allow them to get to know you! Continue this beyond the face-to-face (F2F) time to build rapport.Remember to include introductions and/or an icebreaker during your meeting. Suggestions included the References (Ericksen, 2012).
  6. Maintaining momentum between meetings. The discussion and development within your community do not have to end at the close of a meeting. Encourage meetings to plan projects (webinar, research, writing, etc.) during the in-between times & leave space on the next agenda to report in & for progress updates.
    • Encourage members to follow up or reach out to you with ideas or suggestions after the meeting as well.
    • If there are multiple projects within your community, you might want to utilize a shared space like Dropbox and/or a wiki to keep all the information and developments in one central location for an easy leadership transition.

*NOTE: Consider the remote/online conferencing tools and meeting resources in advance. How you will facilitate interaction and dialogue before, during, and after your online/remote meeting? How you will engage your participants? When can they comment, give feedback or ask questions? Think about the types of interaction and needs for your meeting when deciding on your Meeting Collaboration Tools. Also, consider options you might have available at your own institution for meeting platforms and applications – ask and learn!

BONUS: Check out the Why We Collaborate NPR TED Radio Hour for MORE ideas about collaborating with your virtual team.

A Few Meeting Collaboration Tools & Resources:

References

Chavanu, B. (2013, July 6). Online meeting guide: Software and strategy. Make Use Of. Retrieved from http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/online-meeting-guide-software-and-strategy/

Craemer, M. (2014, March 2). 7 tips for effective conference calls. Seattle PI. Retrieved from http://blog.seattlepi.com/workplacewrangler/2014/03/02/7-tips-for-effective-conference-calls/

Ericksen, C. (2012, May 2). Eight great ice-breakers for online meetings. Cisco Blog. Retrieved from http://blogs.cisco.com/home/eight-great-icebreakers-for-online-meetings

Fried, J. (2010, October). Why work doesn’t happen at work. TEXxMidwest https://www.ted.com/talks/jason_fried_why_work_doesn_t_happen_at_work

Hogan, J. (2015, March 15). 25 ways educators across the country are using Google Hangouts. The Compelled Educator. Retrieved from http://thecompellededucator.blogspot.com/2015/03/24-ways-educators-across-country-are.html

Schindler, E. (2008, February 15). Running an effective teleconference or virtual meeting. CIO. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/2437139/collaboration/running-an-effective-teleconference-or-virtual-meeting.html

Thomas, F. (2010, December 20). 5 tips for conducting a virtual meeting. Inc. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/12/5-tips-for-conducting-a-virtual-meeting.html

Wolf, L. (2010, October 13). How to host an effective virtual meeting. California Digital Library INFO News. Retrieved from http://www.cdlib.org/cdlinfo/2010/10/13/how-to-host-an-effective-virtual-meeting/

Young, J. (2009). Six critical success factors for running a successful virtual meeting. Facilitate.com Retrieved from https://www.facilitate.com/support/facilitator-toolkit/docs/Six-Critical-Success-Factors-for-Successful-Virtual-Meetings.pdf

Learning and Performance, Learning Community, PLE, PLN, Professional Development, Virtual Communities

Learning and Development on a Backchannel

Lately,  I have been thinking a lot more about backchannels for learning and development (L&D) as I chat with folks involved with networked communitiesIn education, there is no doubt you have heard about a backchannel for learning, whether it was during a conference or at a professional meeting. You’ve most likely even participated in some sort of backchannel — even BEFORE technology crept into your educational practice. Let’s return to the original meaning of the word, shall we:

Backchannel learning is a “covert” way we are sharing our educational experiences online. It’s like we’re in the back of the classroom passing notes — except now it is digital and openly shared, and (probably) more productive than it was when we were younger. Maybe.

Our digital and connected backchannels allow this note-passing to augment what is happening at a specific moment in time. Today’s backchannels offer a way to showcase professional development opportunities, disseminate scholarly research, distribute resources for practice, curate knowledge from an event, and archive the learning so that it “lives” beyond a geographic location, calendar date, etc.

Et Voila: Pull To Open image c/o Flickr user kpwerker

One popular way to participate in a backchannel during a conference is by using the designated Twitter hashtag when posting tweets [Hashtag: A symbol used in Twitter messages, the # symbol, used to identify keywords or topics in a tweet. The hashtag was an organic creation by Twitter users as a way to categorize Twitter messages and link keywords posted on Twitter.] Here is an example of a study comparing #AERA15 & #AERA16 hashtag usage (Kimmons & Veletsianos, 2016).

Increasingly, I see peers tweet quotes from keynotes, articles from scholars, ideas for practice, and I am often entertained by interactions between colleagues I know — all from the comforts of my home office. With a small travel budget and too much data to collect this summer, I appreciate the ability to jump into this type of backchannel to learn about the conversation as these are rich threads that dig into issues and upcoming trends we see in the field. Additionally, if you’re keen you dip into other types of meetings from other organizations to learn more about how their discipline/functional area could influence your own professional work.

Beyond the typical conference or professional meetings, we also see similar traces of L&D happening on a backchannel to be paired with a webinar, business meeting, streaming keynote, and campus program/initiative.

With new technological affordances, there are many other ways we can create backchannels for learning and ways to develop talent. For example, here is how I use Twitter and WordPress as a backchannel with  first-year seminar class, #ugstSTORY [ARCHIVED CLASS]:

I am impressed to see a number of my colleagues use a number of OTHER technologies that are social and connected to create backchannels for L&D online — here are just a few examples– but there are LOADS to search and discover:

  • #phdchat wiki: This is a PBworks archive is from the initiative of the all the Twitter sharing and discussions hosted with the #phdchat hashtag. This community supported me during much of my doctoral research. There is a wealth of information shared and curated on this wiki site. Although this space has not been edited in over 3-years the #phdchat community lives on. Thanks for moderating and cultivating this community, @NSRiazat.
  • Digital Storytelling 106 (#ds106): is an open, online community/course from the University of Mary Washington by instigator(s) of the domain web (ahem… @jimgroom & @cogdog). Course Requirements: a real computer, a hardy internet connection, preferably a domain of your own and some commodity web hosting, and creativity. TUNE into #ds106 radio streaming: http://ds106.us/ds106-radio/
  • Teaching In Higher Ed PodcastSlack Channel: The wealth of information shared in this podcast since June 2014 is amazing and I’m thankful for how Bonni (@bonni208) brings in various guests to support my own professional development for pedagogical planning and to support my own teaching in higher ed. Beyond this regular audio podcast, she also has a community of listeners who she connects to and with via her Slack backchannel and via Twitter.
  • Virtually Connecting (@VConnecting): The virtual buddies bring a small group of on-site and virtual folks together at professional and academic meetings via YouTube Live (formerly Google+ Hangouts) to have a “hallway conversation” about the relevant issues, conference experiences, and to host a conversation at different conference events. They welcome new virtual friends and typically have a Google form for you to complete in advance to sign-up OR you can watch the wealth of archives from previous V-Connecting sessions on their YouTube Channel. Kudos to, and for starting this initiative.

Thinking About Finding a Backchannel for L&D? Here are a few suggestions for hashtag backchannel communities on Twitter:

OR maybe you want to START your own L&D backchannel? Think about your PURPOSE/GOAL first, and then browse these digital spaces and places for initiating a learning backchannel for your professional interests and development:

What digital spaces do you use for your own learning backchannels? How do you engage in professional development via online backchannels? Let me know!

References

Kimmons, R. & Veletsianos, G. (2016). Education Scholars’ Evolving uses of Twitter as a conference backchannel and social commentary platform. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(3), 445—464.

Muñoz, C. L., & Towner, T. (2011). Back to the “wall”: How to use Facebook in the college classroom. First Monday, 16(12).

 

Academia, AcAdv, Learning Community, Professional Development, Reflections, SAchat

Your Digital Self & Online Community: Let’s Twitter Chat About It #SAchat & #AcAdv

In my last blog post, I asked if you have thought about your digital self and what it means to be a “resident” in various spaces and places online.  This is a common question I pose and ponder with higher ed colleagues and friends I work with, connect with online, meet face-to-face, and now as I collaborate on research looking at Networked Communities of Practice. When it comes to digital participation there is no right or wrong. That being said, sometimes I think of this quote from the Sydney MCA as our lives continue to evolve online:

19500948685_f2386f3e10_o

Last year, the TED Radio Hour podcast featured TED speakers who dug into what it means to be digital and connected in its two-part episode, Screen Time, Part I and Part 2The segments dive into how the digital version of ourselves are impacting who we are. There is one quote, in particular, that resonated with me from Jon Ronson’s segment in Part 2:

“The way we are defined on social media, on the Internet, and on Google has become more important than who we actually are as people.”

Ronson’s TED talk presents ideas he writes about in his book So You’ve Been Publically Shamed. His segment “How can our real lives be ruined by our digital ones?” discusses how the online self is impacting our offline self. With the recent US election, there are no shortages of examples of tasteless social media shares and volatile toned posts displayed online. The election is not the cause of this behavior; however, these type of actions and interactions within the higher ed community online are disheartening. If you are presenting your actual self online (and not an anonymous profile/account) the expression “in real life” or “IRL” no longer applies. What we do inside the screen does impact our life beyond the screen. What happens digitally and on the Internet IS IN REAL LIFE (exit distance worker soapbox rant for now).

As Inger puts it very well, there are some “academic assholes in the circles of niceness.” If you are on the social web and in higher ed, there is no doubt that you have witnessed more cruelty than kindness from your colleagues and far less empathy or compassion from your fellow practitioners in online communities.  For many of us who live our working life online, I think “our second selves” are impacting who we are.

Maybe it is also time for some reflection and perhaps a candid discussion about our digital self and our online communities. Thanks to two online communities — #SAchat and #AcAdv — we’re going to get real and talk these issues in higher ed in these upcoming Twitter Chats:

#SAchat TOPIC:

Personal and Professional Identity on Social Media & Online

sachat_logo

Thursday, December 1, 2016 for the DAYTIME #SAchat from 12-1 pm CDT; Follow @The_SA_Blog on Twitter

Let’s discuss what it means to “grow up” professionally online and offline in higher education. What motivates you to interact, engage, and share? What social networks and hashtags do you connect with for your work in student affairs and higher ed? Has being online impacted what you do professionally or personally? Share with us about your own digital identity development, specifically how it influences who you are and your work on campus. 

  • MOD for the DAYTIME #SAchat (12/1/6); TOPIC: Personal and Professional Identity on #SocialMedia & Online [Chat Transcript ARCHIVE]

#AcAdv Chat TOPIC:

Learning Online With And From A Community of Peers

acadv_chat

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 for the #AcAdv Chat from 12-1 pm CDT; Follow @AcAdvChat on Twitter

Let’s have a conversation about how online networks and digital spaces support your professional and personal well-being. Where do you learn online? What communities contribute to your work and success in #higher ed? Tell us how these networked communities offer resources, share ideas, and offer care for you, your professional role, and your personal growth.

  • MOD for the #AcAdv Chat (12/6/16); TOPIC: Learning Online With & From A Community of Peers [Chat Transcript ARCHIVE]

If you work in higher education and care about these issues, please join in on one or both discussions on Thursday (12/1) and next Tuesday (12/6). We look forward to hearing what you have to say on the topics…Twitter Chat soon!

Do you have questions about this or our research team, please feel free to contact us or suggest a way you would like to collaborate!

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).

Learning, Learning Community, Rhizo15

Time to Drop the Mic Instructors: Learning Gone Wild {#Rhizo15 Week 4}

Thanks for your#Rhizo15 hack in week 4, Viplav. Your questions really got me thinking:

  • How do we really learn online?
  • How much of control and direction do we need?
  • How much of control do we want when we teach?
  • How do we expect others to learn in such environments?
  • What do we expect of them as co-learners?

For #Rhizo15, a strong and involved learning community, the answers are easier to navigate when we remove the instructor or when “DAVE’S NOT HERE.” With a number of educators who are passionate about learning and entrenched in thinking in #rhizo15, you are bound to keep the conversation going and the learners engaged. For most of us, we have experienced traditional pedagogical models and like the ideas of this sort of free-form learning and ability to dip into the curriculum as we like. Also, it won’t take much for someone to create a video, post a cartoon, record a sound cloud, or throw up a blog post on the topic of getting rid of the instructor. As co-learners, we thrive among the course banter and expect one another to contribute. So getting rid of Dave (metaphorically, of course) in #rhizo15, would not impact this course as much as we think (no offense, Dave).

Now, what would happen if we removed an instructor from a course? This could be online or face-to-face class. How would the learners react? When control is given to the course participants, will it be “Learners Gone Wild” or will our students take up the charge to contribute? My thought: it really depends on the course design.

drop-the-mic

These questions made me think back to my undergraduate days at the University of Guelph (Go Gryphons!), where most of my 4th-year history seminar courses were just that. As per the typical course syllabi, we were assigned weekly readings; however instead of coming to a “sage on a stage” lecture we were required to do the teaching. Each week 1-2 students volunteered  to offer a micro lesson, develop questions, and  facilitate the discussion on a topic. The professor often sat back in the class, and let us drive the critical analysis, synthesize the material, and debate about issues. It was GREAT! I thought – THIS is what learning is all about at university. I want more!

StudentCenteredTheories

Student-centered learning theories & methods for flipped learning (Bishop & Verleger, 2013).

Student-centered learning is the key to deep learning, and although not described as “flipped learning” (Bishop & Verleger, 2013) back then, this is what most of my history faculty did at U of G. If you set up your curriculum to purposefully ALLOW for peer-to-peer learning, then removing the facilitator/instructor from the course may be just what you need. By creating intentional spaces (online or in-class) and opportunities for your students to co-learn, you might just be surprised on how they can bring more life to the course subject. During the course, instructors become facilitators of learning to support students with active learning strategies, such as individual problem-solving and team-based projects.Empowering your learners to take the reigns requires them to be embedded in the discipline of study. When you teach someone else about a concept, it requires a deep understanding of the material before you have to explain or critique it.

This does take some intention and planning in how you set up your course structure. It will be important for you to think about where, how, and when you want to infuse peer instruction and the support required for your learners. Think about how you want learners to contribute, lead, evaluate, and understand. When done well, this type of learning has huge benefits for both the instructor and leaders. There are so many possibilities to create dynamic interactions, meaningful conversations and critical thinking about your subject without your lead. Embrace the idea of “letting go of teaching” to see what might happen in part or all of your class. You might be pleasantly surprised at what YOU will learn from your students. Be sure to answer the following questions before you “drop the mic” as an instructor (adopted from Hoffman, 2014):

  • What positive opportunities can student-lead instruction offer your students?
  • How can instructors benefit from creating a cooperative learning experience?
  • What are the possible challenges students and instructors might with peer-assisted learning, and how might they be avoided?
  • What are evidence-based practices for learning environment without an instructor?

Interested in joining the #Rhizo15 world late or want to be part of the conversation and not just a lurker? Dave’s got a guide for that:

  1. This is a list of all rhizo15 blog posts
  2. Pick a title that resonates – click on it.
  3. Leave a comment
  4. Approach mirror, give the person in the mirror a high five
  5. Return contentedly to previous activity
Check out the course website http://rhizomatic.net or go to the hashtag on twitter #rhizo15
Also, you can write late blog posts (like me!) on any of the weekly topics.

For those #Rhizo15 slackers like Kevin & me (well, myself more so), we’re working on said things. The Slackers #Rhizo15 Guide will be available… when we get around to it. 🙂

Slacker's #Rhizo15 Guide... to comeCartoon via @dogtrax (Thanks, Kevin!)

 References:

Bishop, J. L., & Verleger, M. A. (2013). The flipped classroom: A survey of the research. In Proceedings from the 120th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, GA.

Hoffman, J. G. (2014). The functionality and feasibility of flipping. Proceedings from the 25th International Conference on College Teaching and Learning, (pp. 112-126). Jacksonville, FL