#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.

#SAcdn, Reflections

#SAcdn Chat: What Does it Mean to “Be Productive” in #HigherEd?

We always seem to push forward and do more in our daily working lives. Being productive seems to offer many bragging rights for more hours worked, more emails replied to or even more things on our plate. But does this “productive” work leave us time to ponder and reflect about what we are working on? How do we take pause and find quiet time during each academic term? How do you step back from your daily, weekly, or monthly grind on campus? Are there ways you can be productive and find time to ponder each semester? Let’s chat about it and share HOW we are working to be our best selves in post-secondary education. Join us TODAY, November 21, 2017, from 12-1 pm CDT as we discuss the following topic on Twitter: Productivity vs. Pondering in Higher ed

HOW TO: Participate in the #SAcdn Chat

The #SAcdn hashtag has been embraced by student affairs (SA), student services, and professionals who support students in Canadian higher education. The goal is to connect and communicate what is going on in universities and community colleges across the country.

Here’s a quick overview of how to participate in #SAcdn Chat:

  1. Set up your Twitter Account (HOW TO: Set Up The Twitters).
  2. Follow the in #SAcdn hashtag on Twitter for the latest tweets.
  3. Follow @cacusstweets who will moderate the Q & A for the Twitter Chat.
  4. Get ready and excited for TODAY’s (11/21) chat by checking out the #SAcdn hashtag NOW!
  5. JOIN US Tuesday, November 21st from 10-11 am PT/12-1 pm CT/2 pm AT for the LIVE, synchronous #SAcdn Twitter conversation. We will “talk” about TOPIC: Productivity vs. Pondering in Higher Ed

Be sure to contribute to the LIVE #SAcdn Twitter Chat by:

  • Logging into your Twitter account as the#SAcdn chat will happen ON THE TWITTER platform.
  • Follow along in real time during the #SAcdn Twitter chat by following along on the Twitter hashtag: #SAcdn or this Tweet Chat Room: http://tweetchat.com/room/SAcdn
  • The MOD (moderator) @cacusstweets will ask 4-6 questions during the 60-minute chat; please respond with the Q# in your update, e.g. “Q1: Your Answer” Plus you now have 280 characters to respond!
  • Invite your higher education faculty/staff peers to join the conversation – all our welcome to join!
  • Include the#SAcdn hashtag in your tweets and responses (“@”) to others.

To help you prepare, here are a few of the #SAcdn chat questions to ponder IN ADVANCE of our conversation:

  1. How do you define “productivity” with regards to the work you do in higher ed?
  2. On the flip side, how do you ponder or reflect more about your work and role in #highered?
  3. What are the challenges of productivity you face on a daily, weekly, or semester basis in #highered? Please describe.
  4. Think of your last great “success” at work. What role did productivity and/or pondering (reflection) play? Please share.
  5. Instead of #inboxzero (email), when was the last time you bragged lately about getting 8+ hours of sleep, eating a healthy meal, or leaving your desk/office on time? Share 1 thing you do for your well-being.
  6. We always are on the go & trying to be productive. What is ONE (1) thing you are going to do to PAUSE and PONDER (reflect) during the busy end of year/semester time?

UPDATE: #SAcdn Chat TRANSCRIPT: Pondering vs. Productivity in Higher Ed

 

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.

Learning, Performance, PLN, Professional Development, Reflections, TBT Posts

Ode to Hashtag

Dear Hashtag,

I am SO sorry I missed your 10th birthday. With the start of the new academic term and a number of paper deadlines, my attention was elsewhere. I know. No excuse, right? But, can you please forgive me? Wait — I know how to make these belated wishes better!

To honor your decade of existence on social media and everyday conversation,  I decided to get creative with your birthday gift. I am truly grateful for the communities you unite, the awareness you share, the conversations you thread, and the subtle way I can give my tweets/posts/texts more meaning.

Ode To Hashtag

Hashtag, hashtag

We adore thee

Signal events and,

Tags for news

Tweets unfold like stories before thee

Link us to interests we so choose

Twitter chats used for work and play,

Say so much in just one little tweet.

Symbol of meaning is here to stay

Pound sign in speech is hashtag sweet!

 

Tweeters unite in hashtag chorus

140 characters: “Trends for you”

Blue bird, Larry, is tweeting o’er us,

Hashtag use connects us too.

Post composing, humor we’re sharing

Ideas in the midst of memes,

Protest tweets or GIFs of caring

Hashtags filter social streams.

Thank you for all that and all you have done this past decade.  You have contributed so much more to my life than I can ever thank you for — keep up the great work!

Your friend,

Laura

p.s. Here are a few throwback posts where I give you an honorable mention, as well. A toast to you! #cheers

MOOC, Online Learning, Reflections

The Student Story in Open, Online Learning

In starting a new year and a new term, I am thinking more about student stories and learner experiences in my courses. From my teaching in K-12 and now in higher ed, I continually strive to be a “good teacher.” We know that quality education comes from instructors who are reaching students and by improving learning design, delivery, and engagement. There are multiple intervals during an academic term where I stop to reflect on the lessons learned in online education and to think about my own instructional practice.

Like a number other instructors in higher ed, I review learner comments from the course evaluations at the end of the term. Beyond the evaluative score of these instruments, I think it is critical for instructors, learning designers, researchers, and administrators to listen to the student story in our online (and open) learning environments. Additionally, I solicit student my own student feedback at the beginning and end of the term to learn more about their goals and individual experiences. I also take short notes about each course assignment, project, discussion board prompt, or journal entry reflection to remind myself of how students engaged with/learned from these activities. Much of my instructional reflection involves pedagogical considerations, rather than technological applications. I want to encourage my learners to persist, so I offer opportunities to improve with draft assignments and provide on-going feedback/follow-up. In thinking about my communication practices and technological tools, I want to ensure my online classroom is interactive and offers opportunities to meet both the learning outcomes and student needs.

open_learner_stories

What do students really want from their online instructor? Here are a few things I have learned over the past few years of online teaching:

  • Provide a purpose of each course section connected to the learning goals
  • Easy to follow course design and navigation for online learning
  • Transparent expectations for requirements and how they will be evaluated/assessed
  • Clear directions for course assignments, projects, and activities
  • Meaningful online activities and projects that apply beyond the course or connected to their own career/academic goals – relevance!
  • Relatively quick responses to questions and/or communication standards as to when/how the instructor/TA for course support
  • A connection to the instructor via  “presence” or involvement in the course, e.g. video lectures, lecture/screencasting, audio files, course discussion participation, etc. to make it personal and meaningful

As I research online learning strategies to succeed, and continue to teach online each semester, I really want to know more about how my learners persist in online — so I can improve my own practice. In George Veletsianos‘ (2013) book, Learner Experiences with MOOCs and Open Online Learning, ten graduate students immerse themselves in open online learning experiences for two months and share their own narratives. This collection of peer-reviewed, learner essays offer further insight and reflection on the following questions:

  • What are learner experiences with open online courses, MOOCs, and other forms of open online learning?
  • What is it like to participate in open online learning?
  • What are learners’ perspectives of MOOCs?

Although I am not instructing a MOOC, this free e-book offered suggestions to improve learning delivery/design and identify ways to scaffold online environments for my own students.  This book may only a slice of online learning, as it shares learners’ reflections from MOOCs, it does indicate that distance education is a complex thing. Expectations, realities, and execution of this learning is quite varied.  I think these narratives provided by graduate students offer insight into distance education itself, and perhaps, how we even approach research in this arena. These student stories reminded me to involve my learners in the process of understanding their educational experience. When it comes to online learning, we should ensure the student voice is not crowded out by research ABOUT our students, that is, we need to think about research BY our students. I am thinking more about this key point as I contemplate how to best involve my sample population’s “voice” in my research and discover meaning further meaning that is often overlooked in scholarship.

Reference:

Veletsianos, G. (2013). Learner Experiences with MOOCs and Open Online Learning. Madison, WI: Hybrid Pedagogy Press.

#3Wedu, Reflections

#WINEvent and Corking 2016 with #3Wedu

This month, I have been dropping knowledge about savory red wines with Fiachra as we dive into our self-stocked Wine (Ad)vent calendar (this one was sold out). Each day leading up to December 25th, our household is celebrating the end of 2016 by unwrapping a bottle of vino for #WINEvent. Each wine was selected with a particular story in mind, and we share this tale and our thoughts the wine selection with each other (and sometimes friends who drop in). Want to learn more about the bottles sampled? Check out our 2016 #WINEvent Flickr album or listen to our daily stories/wine reviews via SoundCloud. It’s our way to send off and put a cork in 2016, as we’re sort of done with this year.

corkit

Do you know who is also OVER 2016? The #3Wedu ladies! Join us as we put a cork in 2016 with our final podcast on Wednesday, December 14th at 3 pm PST // 5 pm CDT // 6pm EST.  Episode No. 12 may offer a few reflections, NO regrets, and our future musings  for the Women Who Wine in Edu. Join us for the candid conversations and, as always, BYO-Wine (or festive beverage of choice)! We are looking forward to chat and cheers with you to send off 2016, and discuss what lies ahead for the new year. Come join the banter and comradery here: