AcAdv, Collaboration, Higher Education, Learning Community, SAchat, StudentAffairs, Virtual Communities

Creating Digital Communities of Practice to Enhance #StudentAffairs & #HigherEd

Last year, I wrote a piece for the NASPA Technology Knowledge Community (TKC) after responding to a post made by the TKC Chair @JedCummins via the TKC Facebook Group. I was just noticing that the Summer 2012 call for submissions is coming up and Osvaldo is looking for submissions (due June 8/12 – see the Facebook Page for further details). Although the TKC publication is geared towards a newsletter format, I think it provides Student Affairs professionals an opportunity to write and share about their technology trials, tribulations, and accomplishments on campus.

Little did I know that my submission would go into the #NASPA12 Knowledge Communities publication (my piece can be found on pages 50 & 51) that was distributed at the conference. Thanks for sharing it beyond and sending me copies via “snail mail,” Jed! I appreciate it.

The overall just of this piece describes how the social web and emerging media is  coevolving with the changes and developments of higher education and the Student Affairs profession. New learning environments and networks allow higher education professionals and faculty to connect, curate, and collaborate beyond on our college campus. It is exciting to see how online networks afford new joiners in the field of student affairs, advising, and MORE to access information, contribute to the conversation, and develop a digital footprint. Whether you call it a PLN, PLE, hangout, community of practice, network, gathering space, or “water cooler” chat — there are great things happening in social, online spaces to enrich the work we do at our institutions with ourselves and our students. I like where this informal learning and development is going. This is probably also why @julieclarsen and I decided to share our “Developing Your Network” presentation one last time at today’s #UNTAdv12 Conference for the advising professionals as well:

There are amazing things that lie ahead for these informal networks in higher education. This is an exciting time. I look forward to participating and learning where these digital communities of practice, including as #SAchat, #SAtech (hoo-ray for the new chat!), #AcAdv Chat and others go. With this fine group of educators and practitioners, I am sure these networks have the potential to move mountains. I would challenge and encourage participants in these communities to use these spaces to think critically, solve problems, create innovative ideas, develop effective practices, share knowledge, and support one another.

#phdchat, PhD, Virtual Communities

Organizational Learning Constructs

The nature of learning at the organizational level is a challenge to measure. Huber (1991) defines  organizational learning as the development of new knowledge or insights that have the potential to influence behavior.

There are a number of human resource development articles that reflect the individual learning experience and objectives. In considering the organizational learning process, I began to look at the organization level for learning in online communities of practice for an organizational science perspective.

Image via Organizational Learning Software… <>

In researching and working on my final organizational theory paper, I began to assess how learning characteristics can be evaluated in online learning networks and communities of practice. There are a number of models and evaluation instruments to assess learning in organizations; however the constructs established by Yang, Watkins, and Marsick (2004) provide a solid framework for methodology and empirical assessment:

Systems Thinking – Senge (1990) identifies a learning organization as an organization that has the ability to creat alternative futures and possesses the following five disciplines: team learning, shared visions, mental models, personal mastery and system thinking. 

Learning Perspective – The learning organization is an “organization that facilitates the learning of all of its members and continuously transforms itself in order to meet its strategic goals” (Pedler, Burgoyne & Boydell, 1991). Eleven areas are identified through which this occurs: a learning approach to strategy, participative policymaking, informating, formative accounting and control,, internal exchange , reward flexibility, enabling structures, boundary workers as environmental scanners, inter-company learning, learning climate and self-development for all.

Strategic Perspective – a learning organization requires an understanding of the strategic internal drivers necessary for building learning capacity. Goh (1998) identifies five core strategics building blocks: clarity and support for mission and vision, shared leadership and involvement, a culture that encourages experimentation, the ability to transfer knowledge across organizational boundaries, and teamwork and cooperation.

Integrative Perspective – the concept of the learning organization is “on that learns continuously and transforms itself..Learning is continuous, strategically used process – integrated with and running parallel to work” (Watkins & Marsick, 1996).

These constructs will help define and lay the ground work to establishing a solid theoretical framework for assessment. I welcome any and other suggestions to reviewing online communities of practice with regards to organizational learning.


Huber, G.P. (1991). Organizational learning: The contributing processes and the literature. Organization Science, 2; 88-115.

Goh, S. C. (1998). Toward a learning organization: The strategic building blocks. S.A. M. Advanced Management Journal, 63(2); 15-20.

Peddler, M., Burgoyne, J., & Boydell, T. (1991). The learning company: A strategy for sustainable development. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Random House

Watkins, K.E. & Marsick, V. J. (1996). In action: Creating the learning organization. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development.

Yang, B., Watkins, K. E., & Marsick, V.J.(2004). The construct of the learning organization: Dimensionsmeasurement, and validation. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 15(1); 31-55.

BreakDrink, CTCX, Virtual Communities

Talking Social Justice with the @BreakDrink #CTCX Crew

The @BreakDrink Campus Tech Connection (#CTCX)podcast posse discussed our thoughts on social justice and technology today. If you missed the recent podcast you can take a listen HERE and/or read the show notes that have been Storify-ed. A few of the key themes we touched upon include:

I.  How Technology is Created & Used – the global impact & consumerism.

II.  BYOD & Social Economic Status for Students on Campus – no student left technologically behind.

III. How Technology Can Support Issues & Causes – how to engage our learners.

Listen to internet radio with BreakDrink on Blog Talk Radio

We had many questions about what others in higher education and student affairs thought about social justice and technology:

  • Does technology provide our students with tools for revolution or activism?
  • What does our technology & consumption mean for our students and educators?
  • Who has access to technology on campus?
  • Are we really contributing and engaging in the global community with a RT or Like?
  • How can we have better collaborative and collective modes of technology paired with social justice actions at our institutions?

We just touched the tip of the talks for what it means for technology & social justice. 

What got me thinking further was an interesting presentation by @maymaym (Meitar Moscovitz) at the 8th Public Anthropology Conference titled “Dreaming of Compassion”. This talk discusses how the internet now affords social changes and issues to come together and be valued beyond cultural, geographical, economic, and political boundaries to the entire human race in our connected realities.

“In the network economy, the more plentiful things become, the more valuable they become.” Kevin Kelly 

This principle of “the more, the merrier” brings into question of how we value of different relationship types in the social network and how our objectives can be intertwined with others social pursuits and needs in the world. Similar social networks provide both connections and shared intelligence. There is a great amount of power that can be influenced and perpetuated in a collective organization. A few examples we discussed include:

Open Ideas


And I also think there are a few good resources shared by Dr. @courosa for education & action for social justice+technology.

Since social networks and viral activity have the ability to spreads news and information at an accelerated rate, it is possible that online action can start an actual reaction. The question we put back out there is to find out how other educators engage learners to move their connections of goodness  beyond a  RTs or Like, and put it into action? 

eduMOOC, Learning Community, Open Education, PLN, Virtual Communities

Online Learning Today with #eduMOOC

Last week, the #eduMOOC course with over 2, 500 participants located in over 60 countries participated in the first session topic Online Learning Today for the Online Learning Today… and Tomorrow course.
I will be honest – the massive, open and online courses format will not be taking first year undergraduate courses by storm. Many of my incoming students are concerned with transition from high school to higher education, and often stay clear of online courses in their first semester. In contrast, as a graduate student and self-proclaimed life-long learner, I like the autonomy and independence a MOOC has to offer. I like to connect, share and learn informally with others, so this is probably why I signed up for the course.  The first week’s session (Thursday 1-2 pm CT) was recorded and the PDF slides were archived for those who could not attend the live session. Here are a few key questions and ideas discussed from the panel:

Who do we serve in online learning today?

Online learning has typically met the needs of our non-traditional learners; however with the impacts and growth in emerging technology for education online learning is becoming a staple at most higher education institutions. As we are encouraged to “do more with less,” online learning is now required to meet the continuum of learners and learning pedagogues are not quite developed for many campus learning environments. Although online learning is just another dimension of learning, more higher education technology leaders need to identify methods for effective design and high-quality curriculum delivery.

Is the nature of how we learn changing? How? Why?

Both the learners and learner environments have evolved over the past 30 years. The delivery, medium, and evaluation of learning has impacted today’s higher education classroom. Emerging methods of curriculum execution and faculty instruction are beginning to increase learner engagement beyond our campuses. Online learning allows for fluid participation and continuous experiences. Learning has always been social; however new mediums now increase our learning networks across the globe and enhanced how learning objectives are reached.  

In order to meet the needs of global learners in higher education, more institutions will have to move forward with technology or be left behind. Other questions that were discussed by the panel include: 

  • How do for-profit vs. not for profit higher education institutions impact online learning? 
  • We may have one the access war, but have we won the accessibility war with online learning?
  • Are we considering universal design for learning
  • Is there still cannibalization of online learning? Disrupting College via @amprog
  • How are faculty, instruction & evaluations designed to review impacts for online learning?
  • What are the challenges for online learning today in 2011?
Captain Obvious point: Online learning is growing and many institutions are behind in their development and support for this type of learning. This fact is apparent. Take a look at most higher education course offerings online and how these courses are designed. Online learning IS growing, in terms of, demand, quality, global reach, resources, and access. What I am more interested is HOW higher education institutions will meet the demand of online learning? Institutions are currently struggling with decreased budgets, low enrollment numbers and maintaining staffing needs to support our student populations – just to name a few challenges.
In reflecting about the session, I can not say that I came away from it learning a whole lot of new ideas – more these questions will shape what lies ahead in this course for the weeks to come. I was sort of disappointed that the panel did not represent any global educational leaders in the #edtech field as planned – but hopefully this will change in future sessions. And I did take note of the debates around the actual value of this #eduMOOC and other MOOCs for education and learning in a few blogs, Twitter and other online entities of the social web – which also has contributed to my learning. 

It’s this sort of discourse that most challenges me to think and really, a MOOC is similar to a personal learning network and what you decide to make of it. As a seasoned-learner, I find great value in on-going discourse that occurs on the #eduMOOC backchannel on Twitter, on the eduMOOC Fb group or just reading blog posts that share ideas and resources about the course topics. I encourage others to engage by following a few key hashtags [#onlinelearning #eduMOOC #elearning] and start a dialogue with your classmates. I still think the best types of learning from MOOCs comes from the community of learners and those participating in the learning network. As it was said best:

CCK09, EC&I831, eduMOOC, Learning Community, Professional Development, Virtual Communities

What’s A MOOC?

What is a MOOC? What it is not = 


Flickr photos c/o maraker & cobalt123

Many of my educational technology peers might have heard the term MOOC tossed around before. For those of you who are just hearing this acronym, let me further explain. MOOC = Massive Open Online Course. It is exactly as the title describes. Here is a further description from Jan Schwartz‘s article – Learnings from a MOOC:

In the MOOC, the facilitators aggregated the conversations on a daily basis via a mass email, took a few really good posts (in their opinion), and advanced the conversation by asking more questions and pointing the discussions in relevant directions. Their choice of good posts included both the pro and the con of topics of connectivism and connected learning. 

The term MOOC was recently shared in yesterday’s Wired Chronicle article . When I heard about this upcoming MOOC last week I was looking forward to this course. My past experiences in other MOOCs – EC&I 831 & CCK09 – have contributed to my professional development, academic research and personal learning networks.  As an on-going learner, MOOCs often cultivate my learning interests and challenge me to go beyond what I  learning realms.

The Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois Springfield is currently welcoming participants to their upcoming eight-week MOOC starting on June 27, 2011. [You can follow @edumooc or the hashtag #edumooc on Twitter and check out the eduMOOC wiki if you just care to “lurk & learn”]:

Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow

This collaborative course is completely open and free. Check out the great schedule for weekly panel discussions with experts in field. This will be a fun learning opportunity for some and perhaps great professional development for others.  I also encourage you to check out Dave Cormier‘s videos that shares  “What is a MOOC?” and how to be successful in a MOOC:

Collaboration, Learning Community, PLE, SAchat, Virtual Communities

Let’s Get Visual with Data

Fizz is one of the many ways to review and analyze online data. I am a visual learner. Naturally, I am intrigued with visual research and data analysis. The 2010 Horizon Report indicated that Visual Data Analysis will be  impacting technology and learning in higher education in the next four to five years:

Visualization tools like Many Eyes, Flowing Data, and Wordle are making statistics and data fun. These representations present actual facts and ideas in visual format to strengthen research and debates. Visualization tools help support learning and engagement for both educators and learners. Besides making meaning and giving access to facts, visualization allows learners to personalize and engage with data. A fellow doc student, Kevin Guidry, shared a great example of how to represent an online community in Twitter with his Visualization of #SAchat Data. Seeing this data allows more people to understand the dynamics of a community and how they connect online.

Another great proponent of visual statistics is Hans Rosling. Hans  is bring sexy back with statistics as he details his love of stats on the one-hour BBC documentary The Joys of Stats and his non-profit project Gapminder. For those of you who think statistics is a dirty word, I encourage you to take a gander at this one. If you are not afraid, I encourage you to get more visual with your research, learning and data. Here are a few resources to get you started – please comment and share more tools that you use & love to visualize data:

Collaboration, Learning Community, PLE, Professional Development, Social Media, Virtual Communities

#Hashtag + Community = Learning?

Photo c/o Flickr User drips

Hashtag – The Definition [and then some]

I value my learning networks and those communities I engage, listen, follow and participate in online on a regular basis. In thinking about my PLN, I often rely on a few of #hashtags for information, resources, support and more! Here’s a quick visual c/o Wordle:

In thinking about my initial involvement with #hashtags and learning communities I often ponder people, categories, and the learning groups I am an active member in. Earlier in my involvement with a few #hashtag groups, I am reminded of preliminary tweets from various groups and consider newbie reactions to the community who might share initial uncertainty of involvement and question what is happening and how the conversation evolves:

It isn’t until later that I have engaged with these communities and realized the potential for my own learning and development – personally and professionally. This evening, I was fondly reminded of the impact and appreciation during the #AcAdv Chat and how a simple #hashtag can unite and connect an online learning community :

A question I threw out to my Twitter friends this evening was – “Pondering my hashtags this evening… what ones do you follow to learn, engage, connect, etc? Please share.” Here was the quick response:

A combination of ideas initiated after these immediate query & response on Twitter – is it the #hashtag, person or community you are engaged with? Will your #hashtag live on? How do you form effective learning networks on Twitter? What combination of people & #hashtags will meet the need in ones PLN? These are further investigation areas I will consider to ponder in my research and studies. Your thoughts and ideas are always welcome.