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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#AcWri, BreakDrink, Conference, Podcast, publication, Research

The Scholar-Practitioner Paradox for Academic Writing [@BreakDrink Episode No. 8]

I have been thinking about the needs and challenges higher education and student affairs professionals have with regards to evidence-based practices. In higher education, there is no shortage of topics and ideas to explore. I have been fortunate to collaborate with both scholars and practitioners in education to study a number of issues, including scaled-open learning, digital learning strategies, social media policies/guidance, mentoring programs, and networked experiences, just to name a few.  Beyond this short list, there are a number of practitioners who have reached out and we’re in the process of establishing research plans for professional development, mapping competencies to training, and leveraging technology in networked communities. My work partnering and collaborating with scholar-practitioner better informs my research methods and in explaining the findings/implications.

Scholar-practitioners generate new knowledge to improve practice, yet how they prioritize and go about their work varies with where they are on this scholar-practitioner continuum (Wasserman & Kram, 2009). The challenge with this work is there is VERY LITTLE TIME professionals in higher ed have to do scholarly work. When you are working in an educational service role for a 12-month contract, it is a challenge to move through the research process. Wasserman and Kram (2009) observed how competencies, needs, and values align with the competing roles of the scholar-practitioner to match either the work or research interests. Scholarly habits and the writing process requires deep concentration and focus on thinking critically to endure through a research project — from the study design, methodological planning, recruitment of participants, to publication and dissemination of findings.

Although higher education administrators and staff are in the best position to analyze programs, student populations, and services — there is not enough scholarship produced from professionals IN the field.

In their book, A Guide to Becoming a Scholarly Practitioner in Student Affairs, I think Hatfield and Wise (2015, p. 6-8) touch on a few reasons why practitioners do not often contribute to academic writing and publications:

  • Not enough reading – that is, not as knowledgeable of current research in (and out of) the field, theories, and evidence-based practices from academic outlets
  • Not expected of positions and not valued – undervalued and underutilized research skills; some of these skills may have been minimal based on training, education, experience, etc. as it is not required in administrative positions
  • Second-class citizen syndrome – some might not have a terminal degree (Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.) or if they do, little academic scholarship has been completed beyond their dissertation work; also feel on a different level of the faculty at their institution (and often treated that way).
  • Inadequate academic preparation – research, evaluation and assessment training from each graduate program varies and many question skills and competency for research and publishing
  • Silos on campus – little interaction between departments, divisions, functions, and academic departments exist although we are trying to support the whole student.
  • Lack of motivation – when was the last time you saw “scholarship and research” in a practitioner’s job description or expectation to participate in scholarly conferences and publishing?

 

Many of the above items, I think, are describing student service/affairs professionals in the United States — as I have a number of higher ed colleagues who are required to produce research in their staff role. There is no shortage of op-ed pieces often shared among higher education social networks, blogs, podcasts, videos, and more. The issue is we rarely see published conference proceedings, journal articles, or academic outlets producing PEER-REVIEWED pieces from and about practice contributing evidence and understanding from the field.

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking with Jeff Jackson (via our @BreakDrink podcast) about this challenge and what we are witnessing among practitioner peers. The first installment “on academic writing and scholarship” Jeff and I dig into academic writing/scholarship for BreakDrink Episode No. 8, where we discuss the differences of Academic vs. Practitioner Conferences. From the book by Hatfield and Wise (2015), chapter three talks about presenting at professional conferences; however, none of the associations shared offer any published conference proceeding for presentations shared and are not the same as submitting a paper or academic poster for another association that is more scholarly in nature. I think Hatfield and Wise (205) offer a decent introduction to scholarly writing for the novice student affairs professional  — but I think it is lacking in a few areas (as detailed in the podcast and notes below). If you are interested, feel free to read this book review (Delgado & McGill, 2016) and listen to our thoughts via the podcast here:

@BreakDrink Episode No. 8 – Academic vs. Practitioner Conferences [SHOW NOTES]:

Episode No. 8,  might be part 1 of a few series on this topic about “being an academic” or “scholarly work.” Jeff and I have recorded a few meanderings as we think/share on this topic. If you have questions or want to know more about the following items, let us know: mentoring for #AcWri, how to put together a manuscript, proposing a conference paper, data management, or starting a peer-review journal OR being part of an editorial board. Let us know! 

Conferences Run Down in 2017: Scholar vs. Academic Conference

American Educational Research Association (AERA) hosts a research/scholarly conference annually and this year #aera17 conference was in San Antonio, TX with Jeff in attendance. This professional association is HUGE, but thankfully it is broken down into Divisions and  Special Interest Groups (a.k.a. SIGs). Division I is Jeff’s Jam: Education in the Professions as he also attends the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and perhaps Division J may be where some of the doctoral/graduate scholars hang out. Related to this association you will find THE journal, Educational Researcher, that is well-regarded by scholars; however AERA also has AERA Open and other publication outlets.

We just wish we saw more of this at practitioner conferences. Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) also held their annual conference at the same convention center in San Antonio, TX back in March. Both Jeff and I were there, and we attended a session on publishing in the NASPA journals from this association [Sadly the new Technology in Higher Education: Emerging Practice was not represented in this session this year.] It’s not as though sessions at Student Affairs or Practitioner conferences do have a poster session, and I have seen “Research Papers” presented at ACPA Convention and NACADA has offered Research Symposiums at regional conferences.  The conferences mentioned in Chapter 3 of Hatfield and Wise’s (2015) book: ACPA, NACA, NACADA, NASPA, ACUHO-I, NODA, & NIRSA

Academic Conferences We Have Also Attended to Note:

 

Conference Proceedings 101

Conference proceedings are scholarly papers a number of academics/researchers include on their vitae for the tenure and promotion. This is the “carrot” as to why faculty or scholars would attend a conference and allow doctoral researchers grants to travel, beyond the value of networking and discussions with peers. A proceeding could be a short (or long) paper presented at a conference, and sometimes there are even print proceedings published for your conference abstracts/papers (e.g. #SMsociety15 proceedings). All papers typically have a specific format (e.g. AECT’s manuscript requirements) and are submitted for a formal (typically blinded) peer-review process before they are accepted. Typically these are shorter papers or a conference abstract (not a beginning of a journal article abstract format), where you present your completed research projects. A number of social sciences and education conferences have specific formats beyond the APA Style 6th Edition, but that is a good start. If accepted, you will typically present your paper at the conference in a condensed format, such as 10-25 minutes, with a set of other papers in a single session. Each presentation is directed to showcase research by describing a brief literature overview, research methods (data collection, analysis) and findings/implications. This might be moderated by a discussant, moderator, or not at all with a brief (2-5 minutes) for Q&A at the end of your presentation/session time slot.

Other formats typically at scholarly conferences we have seen — but this is not an inclusive list:

  • Conference abstract (1000-2500 words) – how to guide and killer abstract writing
  • Full Papers (up to 8000-10.000 words)
  • Notes  or Work/Research In Progress
  • Poster Sessions (also via a device, e.g. laptop, tablet, etc.)
  • Workshops/Hands-on Sessions (e.g. how to use R-Studio for text mining)
  • Competitions or Expos — challenge/solution program feature to showcase work
  • Plenary/Keynotes
  • Doctoral Colloquium
  • Mentoring Programs

Episode F.A.Q.

  • Q: Is it considered a self-plagiarism to reuse (published) abstracts for talks? A: Yes. You want to avoid text recycling and should NOT but publishing the same work to different publication outlets.
  • Q: Is presenting about my program or an assessment of an initiative at my campus research? Does this count? A: Maybe. Did you get IRB approval from your institution before collecting data? Are you following the scholarly practice of your educational/social science peers? If not — this might be an assessment. Still great — but it could not be submitted as peer-reviewed conference proceeding or journal article.
  • Q: What is this Yellowbook that Jeff referred to during the podcast? A: It was known as a “phone book” and it’s directory of names of people and businesses for you to locate their contact information. You might use the Google or another search engine these days for said things. Apparently, Yellowbook as rebranded to “yb” and now has a website: https://www.yellowpages.com/
  • Q: Why is Tony Parker out for the rest of the NBA season? A: He injured his quadriceps tendon on Wednesday, May 2nd. {tear!}
  • Q: What is Fiesta? A: A 10-day annual party celebrating culture, food, fun, and parades in San Antonio, TX that typically falls at the end of April. More about Fiesta. Best tagline: “A party with a purpose” https://www.fiesta-sa.org/

Our Pro-Tips for Attending Academic Conference:

  1. Prepare for the Conference: Review the conference website to see what research is being presented, who will be attending, and who you should meet (new & friends) while you are both at this event. Are you a fan girl/boy of a particular researcher and you want to chat about their work/your work? Are you hoping to collaborate with other scholars? Do your homework and figure out who will be there. Maybe you want to set up a meeting over a meal/coffee/drinks OR find a particular session where you can be introduced to new peers.
  2. Attend the First Time Attendee Session (if they have one): Get the lay of the conference land and get a good overview/guide to what is going on during the event. Is there a mixer with food and/or drinks? Attend and meet a few people. Prepare to be social and have your own “elevator pitch” about what you are currently studying or working on right now. Think about this before you show up to the conference.

Overall, we think higher education professionals could do better with sharing MORE research-based information at our conferences. Many of these sessions are often hidden within the general program sessions and/or found in a poster session — that is often not well-attended. Hatfield and Wise (2015, p. 8) challenge practitioners to research by asking:

If you could give voice to those who were marginalized, if you could change the field of student affairs through your voice, if you could create better collaborations across campus with our academic colleagues, and if you could share your insights with parents, students, and other invested stakeholders so that they will know what we contribute to student learning and development, why wouldn’t you?”

Why are we not encouraging more scholar-practitioner collaborations? And what incentives could you offer early career researchers and senior scholars to attend these conferences? These are ponderings we are thinking about from reading this book (Hatfield & Wise, 2015) on SA scholarship. We think it’s a decent starting guide to getting into academic writing. Sharing evidence-based initiatives are required to be relevant in higher education. This value needs to be showcased more by and with student affairs, student services, and those not on an academic track to offer others insight to the work we are doing.

@BreakDrink Podcast ShoutOuts

 

If you have a thought or two, please share it with us via one of these channels. We’d love to hear from you on any one or all of following the “BreakDrink” podcast channels:

We welcome comments, questions, and more! If you happen to listen to Apple Podcasts a.k.a. iTunes, please consider leaving us a rating and review. Thanks!

References:

Delgado, A., & McGill, C. M. (2016). A Guide to Becoming a Scholarly Practitioner in Student Affairs by Lisa J. Hatfield and Vicki L. Wise (review). Journal of College Student Development57(7), 898-900.

Hatfield, L. J., & Wise, V. L. (2015). A guide to becoming a scholarly practitioner in student affairs. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Wasserman, I. C., & Kram, K. E. (2009). Enacting the scholar—practitioner role: An exploration of narrativesThe Journal of Applied Behavioral Science45(1), 12-38.

Conference, Professional Development

Have Conferences, Will Travel – Fall 2014 Edition

With the start of the academic semester comes a series of conferences. I’m grateful for the conference survival guides and other helpful conference hacks shared by my PLN. Due to limited travel funds and time, I had to decline a few conferences; however I will be sure to follow along the Twitter backchannel (I am looking at you #HEWeb14 and #SMSociety14).

In considering the cost of professional development at many conferences, I have learned to get more involved to help fund this sort of travel.

jure

Image c/o @jure

Here are a few ways to get involved and learn how to fund your own conference travel with your professional affiliations:

  • Volunteer at the conference – check-in desk, hospitality, and more! Ask to volunteer!
  • Apply to present a Pre-Conference workshop – often you are eligible for comped registration and/or bonus honorarium to travel.
  • Get involved with conference planning – join the conference steering committee or planning group. It gets you networked and often offers a discount for registration and/or accommodations
  • Get invited – See if invites are available for featured talks, workshops or edu sessions. Tap into your network and share what you are working on.
  • Stay with a friend – I have housed and been housed at a number of conference locations just to avoid the steep hotel costs. Bunk up, or find a local off the conference beat.
  • Apply for a travel grant – This might be at your own institution, through the professional organization, or other entity.
  • See what’s local – You will be surprised to learn a number of different conferences, workshops, and other P.D. that is happening in your own neck of the woods OR online. 🙂
  • Present virtually! – Limited travel? See if the conference offers virtual papers, workshops or posters and submit your CFP! If you’re in the #edtech realm, you will likely find this a popular option to travel.

Here is my quick conference list for the Fall 2014 term:

Where are you traveling this academic term? Will our conference travel cross paths? How have you creatively spread your travel funds? Please share. 🙂

#phdchat, PhD, Professional Development

Have Conferences, Will Travel

Apparently when it rains, it pours – for conference proposal acceptances, that is. Since this semester is light on course work, heavy on dissertation proposal research, and I have a amazingly supportive supervisor/department, I will be fortunate enough to be able to attend a few conferences this term.

Laura Pasquini Where is Shee

Here is the rundown for my tentative CONFERENCE travel schedule:

Dalton Institute 2013 http://studentvalues.fsu.edu/2013-Dalton-Institute
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL  January 30-February 2nd   Follow: #dalton13 Invited Keynote: Student Development 2.0: Optimizing Social Media to Connect Your Campus

AHRD Conference http://www.ahrd.org/ 
Washington, DC   Feb 13-17, 2013
Abstract paper: “A Review of Theoretical Frameworks Explaining Formal Mentoring Relationships”; Thanks to my co-author Mariya Gavrilova-Aguilar who will be presenting

iConference 2013  http://www.iconference.ischools.org/iConference13/2013index/
@iSchools & UNT Host, Fort Worth, TX   February 12-15, 2013  Follow:#iconf13   Our #UNT Social Media Expo team (Andrew Miller, Leila Mills, Mark Evans & I) qualified for the grant from Microsoft Research FUSE Labs on our paper: “Towards a Methodology of Virtually Augmenting a Knowledge Sharing Community of Practice: A Case Study of the Local Food System of Denton, Texas”


South by Southwest (SXSW) Education Conference & Festival http://sxswedu.com/
Panel Discussion: Social Media in Higher Ed – where are we going? with @Bcroke, @tjoosten, & @bradpopiolek
Austin, TX  March 4-7, 2013  Follow: #sxswEDU

Emerging Technologies for Online Learning – Sloan C http://sloanconsortium.org/conference/2013/et4online/welcome
Las Vegas, NV   April 9-11, 2013   Follow: #et4online                               @et4online Conference Planning committee; graduate student instigator/encourager

 

Futures of Academic Publishing: UNT’s 4th Symposium on Open Access https://openaccess.unt.edu/symposium/2013

May 30-31, 2013   Dallas, TX


NACADA 2013 International Conference http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Events-Programs/Events/International-Conference.aspx
Maastricht, Netherlands   June 5-7, 2013
Workshop: Communication 2.0 Plans: Effectively Engaging Students Online
*Possible poster and panel session involving the #AdvTech survey and Social Media in Higher Education research.*

10th Annual Sloan Consortium – Blended Learning Conference & Workshop http://sloanconsortium.org/conference/2013/blended/welcome 

Milwaukee, WI    July 8-9, 2013

Invited Workshop: Supporting Blended Learners’ Need to Develop Social and Connected Skills Through Digital Pedagogy

Let me know if you will be attending, presenting, or frequenting any of the above conferences. I expect to meet up with the usual [professional/scholarly] suspects I collaborate with, and I look forward to new colleague connections and learning during this conference season.