Networked Community, Networked Practice

What Does the #SApro Facebook Group Actually Talk About?

Wow. It’s the end of June. It’s been pretty quiet on this blog, and really on most of my social streams. I have intentionally turn off, deactivated, and ignored my social media channels to really dig into understanding more about networked practices in higher education. June has been filled with a many research and writing tasks: reviewing up interview transcripts, editing a couple of manuscripts for journals, reading even MORE literature, and cleaning/organizing extant data (e.g. digital archives, online community spaces, etc.). Sounds like fun, right?

To take a break, I’m emerging from my #ShutUpAndWrite hiding location to give an update on one community we examined. At the end of May, a few of us (Paul, Adam, Josie, & I) discussed how and why we researched the Student Affairs Professional Facebook Group on the Higher Ed Live episode: “Researching Student Affairs Professional’s Digital Communities.” In listening to this broadcast, I thought this conversation with Tony was helpful to open up about our process and explain more about this type of research. Although we presented this study during #ACPA18 and we currently have an article “under review,” I thought I’d offer some highlights from our conversation for graduate students and professionals in Student Affairs.

In combing through the empirical literature on Facebook groups, there are a number of industries and a variety of professionals who utilize this platform for their occupation. What is unique about the Facebook groups we looked at, in comparison, it was rare to have a community be actively sustained for such a long length of time (since 2009) and to find one as as scaled in membership (30, 866 members as of today).

The community members of the Student Affairs Professionals Facebook group share a significant amount of data (information that something happened) and knowledge (information about why something happened) via this social media platform (a digital infrastructure that enables two or more groups to interact (Srnicek, 2017). There are so many assumptions, observations, and anecdotes for this group; however very little evidence has been gathered using data to inform what is being shared within the conversations of this digital space — so we guided our study with these research questions:

RQ1. What topics and issues do member of the Student Affairs Professional Facebook group discuss over 14-month period of time?

RQ2. What topics and issues gain the most shares, comments, reactions, and interactions?

To learn more about the process for data collection, analysis, and our preliminary findings, watch the archived @HigherEdLive episode here:

Here are just a few of the questions Tony asked with the relevant response after this time stamp:

  1. Introductions and about the topic [Start]
  2. [6:42] You decided to study the Student Affairs Professionals  Facebook Group. Why did you think this group in particular was important to study?
  3. [9:05] How did you collect the data you analyzed?
  4. [15:23] There has been a lot of talk about privacy issues related to Facebook and other social media lately. How did you protect people’s privacy and why is this important for researchers doing social media research?
  5. [17:25] What types of analyses did you conduct and why were these the analytical approaches you decided to employ?
  6. [20:10] What are some of the ways professionals are using this space, based on your analyses?
  7. [27:42] Which posts garnered the most engagement? What might this say about our profession and the ways that professionals are using groups such as the Student Affairs Professionals Facebook group?

When solicited for advice or resources for digital communities our panel offered a few helpful suggestions. Thanks for asking the questions and having us talk about our research process out loud, Tony. Here are our parting thoughts that closed the conversation [57:12]:

  • Josie: Instead of a resource, find people to look to “lurking and learning” and watch how they use these social and digital platforms. Pay attention to behaviors, reach out to chat with them, and ask questions – find a mentor to discussion your professional digital self with. Seek out people, and not just paper. Find others to learn and grow from within your network.
  • Adam: Look beyond the field and engage with communities beyond the field of Student Affairs and outside higher education; think with an interdisciplinary spirit about your own practice to encourage a diversity of thought to your own campus.
  • Paul: We need more experience and exposure to learn how to research in the field about the field in these digital spaces. A few suggested books: Methods – Sage Handbook of Social Media Methods; Conducting Qualitative Inquiry of Learning in Online Spaces; Digital Tools for Qualitative Research and Journals: Social Media & Society; Computers in Human Behavior; Internet and Higher Education
  • Laura: “Study problems, not things.” by @veletsianos Forget the technology or the tools. What is the question or issue you want to explore? We need more practitioners to be part of this research and be part of this process in understanding how and why we engage in digital communities and spaces. We need more people to find evidence and share the work we do.

Suggested Reads:

Helpful Resources for Community Moderators:

  • Are you a moderator or admin of a Facebook group? You might want to use https://sociograph.io/ This can help you understand more about your community and group as the Administrator; this needs to be an open group to use the tool. This can be a good starting point to learn about your community.
  • Need to gather a hashtag to archive your Twitter community conversation and interactions? TAGS is a free Google Sheet template which lets you setup and run automated collection of search results from Twitter: https://tags.hawksey.info/ [Thanks, Martin Hawksey!]

If you’re interested and want to learn more about the larger research project OR perhaps even get involved with research in this area — please reach out! To learn more the about networked practices in higher education and student affairs study, that is, general updates, publications, and presentations can be found here:  https://networkedcommunityofpractice.wordpress.com/

Reference:

Srnicek, N. (2017). Platform capitalism. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Networked Community, Professional Development, Research, video, Virtual Communities

What Communities and Hashtags Connect You On Twitter?

Twitter is commonly used for learning & development. We know that hashtags are great ways to link conversations, trends, news, and happenings on this social network. In real time, you can follow a story, participate in a conversation, and contribute to a community by including a hashtag in your tweet. A hashtag community might be formed by an instructor for a specific educational course or program. Or maybe there is a hashtag you are following for a professional learning event or for a specific conference backchannel (I’ve been known to inquire about these before). Hashtags have the power to share learning/knowledge from a conference for participants who are on-site or at a distance.

GotHashtagFor example, Kimmons and Veletsianos (2016) examined the tweets shared during the 2014 and 2015 American Educational Research Associations (AERA) annual conferences by reviewing the #aera14 and #aera15 hashtag. They found that backchannels are a venue for both scholarly and non-scholarly communications. It’s used for more than just promotion — the conference backchannel offers a way to share work, engage in scholarly conversations, and discussion current events or issues relevant to education.  Want to learn more? Watch the Research Shorts video below:


Conference participants gave a nod to other educational communities online, such as #edchat or #edreform, who regularly dialog, share, and interact with one another on Twitter using their group hashtag.

Like a number of educators, I have an affinity to a few Twitter communities online based on the hashtags they share and use. Some of these groups have regular  Twitter chats, and a number of Twitter communities offer support, advice, and guidance within a field or discipline. I’ll give a hat-tip to (one of many) a hashtag that supported my own work as a doctoral researcher active on Twitter => #PhDchat. This informal, online network has been known to support many graduate students work through dissertation/thesis development, swap research methods, and learn about effective academic writing practices (to name a few). emergent, online community is an informal network. Learn more about the #phdchat community from Ford,  Veletsianos, and Resta’s (2014) as they share their examination of this emerging, online network:

As some of you might know, I am working with some stellar researchers to learn more about how these online, informal Twitter communities/hashtags impact professional development.  We are currently gathering hashtags that you connect to for conversation and community on Twitter. If you participate in a regular/semi-regular Twitter chat with other educations — tell us about it! Or is there just a hashtag you follow and use frequently in your tweets? Let us know! Share your hashtags & Twitter chats you have in your discipline, field, or occupation by ADDING  to this OPEN Google doc — SHARE your Twitter Community and/or Hashtag here: http://bit.ly/hashtagcommunity Thank you!

References:

Ford, K., Veletsianos, G., & Resta, P. (2014). The structure and characteristics of #phdchat, an emergent online social network. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 18(1).

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.

Want to see more visual research? I suggest you go take a look at Research Shorts on YouTube => Subscribe & Watch NOW: http://bit.ly/researchshorts

blogs, Reflections

2014: My Blog in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Since WP put in the effort, I thought I would review my stats from the year — seems like the annual thing to do and all.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Who Views

No surprise that America is my biggest audience — as that is where I live. I wonder how US-centric WordPress is in general, and how that impacts those who blog, write, share, and produce content here. I’ve been pondering content sharing online since that talk Laura Czerniewicz (@Czernie) gave on visibility and presence in scholarship in #scholar14.

“Some of your most popular posts were written before 2014. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.”

Maybe I was more interesting from 2010-2013? Or at least my post topics or titles were. Based on my click view stats from this year, compared to the last few years, my overall readership has decreased. Then again, it looks like I posted 48 blog posts total, which is down from from 59 post in 2013 and 62 posts in 2012. Perhaps I was a tad busy writing other things in 2014 (*ahem* Dissertation *cough*). It is no wonder why a number of readers decided to look back into the archives of this blog – top 5 hits included:

I am not concerned. I started and continue to blog to share ideas, reflect on learning and put a few things out there with regards to my own teaching, service and research scholarship. I blog for myself, and the community of practice who shares similar sentiments and values. It’s quality not quantity, right? I am honored to have a number of new followers and loyal subscribers from my PLN who read, respond, and engage.

Top Commenters for 2014

I’d much prefer to get comments and thoughts shared on posts then just click views any day. Plus you never know what a blog post might lead to. Often it has been a new connection, collaborative writing, and even research fun – OH MY! {Yes – this even includes random meet ups and spontaneous dance/beach parties. True story.} Beyond my blog reflections, is where the real networked magic happens. These posts are really just a springboard to more learning, fun, and research.

If you care to learn more about the TechKNOW Tools stats from 2014, feel free to click here to see the complete report. Thanks to the many social platform links and even a shout out to Josie for referrals here. Happy blogging to all in 2015! Blog on.

p.s. Why the heck would I want to use the new WP editor? I much prefer the classic wp-admin mode ANY day for my blogging experience. Seriously.

AcAdv

5 Ways to Support Your Professional Development with #AcAdv Chat

Do you make New Year resolutions?  Or is it just time to set some goals for the academic semester? Academic advisors often support their student and the success of others; however to do this well it is important to take time to “sharpen the tool” to learn as well.

PD with #AcAdv Chat

In the spirit of the new year and improvement, here are 5 quick and easy ways to learn, grow, and develop as an academic advisor with #AcAdv Chat:

  1. Read the #AcAdv Chat Archives: There is a wealth of great ideas, messages, websites, and resources shared on the #AcAdv Chat Blog from past @AcAdvChat sessions for you to READ in the #AcAdv Chat ARCHIVES.
  2. Lurk on #AcAdv Chat: Maybe you are new to Twitter and are just learning how to tweet. We want to help you learn more About #AcAdv Chat. If you want to explore Twitter for the professional development check out one of our weekly LIVE sessions every TUESDAY from 12-1 pm CT by following the conversation here: http://tweetchat.com/room/AcAdv
  3. Sign Up For Twitter & Follow the #AcAdv Community: Get connected with academic advisors who are on Twitter. . Follow @AcAdvChat on Twitter or “like” our #AcAdv Chat Facebook Page. Also connect to a growing group of advisors who participate in @AcAdvChat and often tweet using the #AcAdv hashtag. Here’s a list of advisors on Twitter curated by one of our #AcAdv Chat Moderators.
  4. Participate in a LIVE #AcAdv Chat: Once you have read a few archives, signed up for your own Twitter account, and witnessed the @AcAdvChat during a LIVE session on Tuesday from 12-1 pm CT –JOIN IN! It will be a moderated (MOD) discussion  in a series of Questions (Q) and responses like this:

Question posted by the MOD @AcAdvChat:

Question

Response from #AcAdv Chat Participants using the #AcAdv hashtag:

Response5. Give #AcAdv Chat Feedback: Tell us what YOU want to discuss during the weekly chats – we LOVE feedback! Or perhaps you want to get involved as an #AcAdv Chat Moderator (MOD) or have another idea for us. Let us know here: http://acadvchat.wordpress.com/feedback/

This blog post is cross-posted at The #AcAdv Chat Blog.

Note to Readers: Not interested in #AcAdv Chat? Check out one of the MANY Twitter chats to connect, learn, and grow with in YOUR field from this shared Google Doc: http://bit.ly/TwitterChatSchedule Happy tweeting & learning!

Learning Community, PLN

Building Communities of Practice in Higher Ed

A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Milton Cox from Miami University, met with a group of students, staff and faculty to share ideas on how to build effective communities of practice at UNT known as Collaborative Learning Communities (CLC).  In his lecture and our discussion, Dr. Cox shared suggestions on how to “mind the gap(s)” in higher education and consider the broken spaces between our current disciplines, departments and silos on campus.  The process of connecting to establish a community of practice (in his example, faculty learning communities) it is to connect faculty and their institutions to think beyond their department, discipline and separate goals for the campus.
Image c/o Dr. Milton Cox
It is all to common to see department loyalty being rewarded and interdisciplinary activity questioned in higher education. There are also disconnects between student development and academic affairs priorities. For higher education to move forward it will be critical for faculty and staff to engage students in new ways of learning and scholarly activity. Although many students want to see the sage on the stage, to just consume information, it will be increasingly critical for our learning institutions to encourage inquiry-based learning and promote self-regulated scholarship.
One way to close the education gap and challenges in higher education, is to consider forming communities of practice (CoP) that work together. There are a number of students, staff and faculty need to collaborate to discuss civic engagement, learning communities, and pedagogical shifts to our higher education curriculum. Dr. Cox introduced the concept of Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs), which tend to be more structured than the organic CoP, and they are voluntary, structured, and at least a yearlong commitment from the members. Here are some other suggested practices for setting up FLCs:
  • size: 8-12 faculty, professionals, Administrators, TAs, students
  • voluntary membership by application
  • Affiliate patterns: consultants, mentors, student associates
  • multidisciplinary and from different departments
  • encourage participant curiosity
  • allow for richness of innovations
  • permitted relief from dysfunctional units
As we connected and discussed ideas around our own Collaborative Learning Communities (CLCs), we found sharing ideas could help work towards resolving institutional challenges and support the strategic goals for our campus. As our CLCs gather and collaborate, I am looking forward to connecting, brainstorming, and creating initiatives that will enhance what we do on campus.
Along with this idea for collaborative learning communities, Sue Beckingham, Jeff Jackson, Eric Stoller and I hope to discuss this topic as a #sxswEDU panel in 2013 => Communities of Practice in Higher Education as we hope to answer the following questions:
  1. How can communities of practice and learning networks play a critical role in meeting the challenges of higher education across the globe?
  2. As professional and personal learning networks (PLNs) develop, how can these informal entities support and contribute to the future of higher education?
  3. What are some actionable items and issues that higher education communities of practice can take on both at the local and global level?
Sign in and CAST YOUR VOTE HERE.

References:

Cox, M. & Richlin, L.  (2004). New Directions for Teaching and Learning:  Building Faculty Learning Communities.  Vol. 97.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wenger, E. (2002) Communities of practice. Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Volume 1.5, Article 5. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam. 
Micro-Blogs

HOW TO: Set Up a Twitter Account

  1. Go to http://twitter.com and find the sign up box, or go directly to https://twitter.com/signup.
  2. Create a Twitter account. If you are creating a Twitter account for a specific purpose or class requirement, you might want to read Disposable Twitter Accounts for Classroom Use by @ProfHacker – The Chronicle of Higher Education
  3. Enter your full name, email address, and a password.
  4. Click “Sign up for Twitter.”
  5. On the next page, you can select a username (usernames are unique identifiers on Twitter) — type your own or choose one Twitter suggests. Twitter will tell you if the username you want is available.
  6. Double-check your name, email address, password, and username.
  7. Click Create my account. You may be asked to complete a Captcha to let Twitter know that you are human and not a spam bot.
  8. Twitter will send a confirmation email to the address you entered on sign up, click the link in that email to confirm your email address and account.
  9. Add a photo (preferably a head shot) and write a short bio about you.

Resources:
Twitter in Plain English – YouTube http://bit.ly/ruNe4g
How to Sign Up for Twitter via the Twitter Help Center
A Beginner’s Guide to Twitter via ReadWriteWeb
Twitter Basics [VIDEO] http://www.jasonrhode.com/twitterbasics
45 Simple Twitter Tips Everyone Should Know About | Edudemic
7 Free Tools For Integrating Twitter With Your WordPress Blog
BreakDrink Twitter Guide http://breakdrink.com/twitter-guide/

Hashtags & Backchannels
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. Our class will use #ugstJOUR hashag on Twitter.

What Are Hashtags? via the Twitter Help Center
#Hashtag + Community = Learning? « TechKNOW Tools
How Hashtagging the Web Could Improve Our Collective Intelligence via Mashable
Backchannel in Education – Nine Uses
10 Ways Twitter Is Reinventing the College Lecture – Online Universities

PhD, Virtual Communities

Actor-Network Theory in Education

Give Me Some Theory... #LitReview

Actor-Network Theory has recently been referred to by Law (2007, p. 595) as  the ‘diaspora’ of

“tools sensibilities and methods of analysis that treat everything in the social and  natural worlds as a continuous generated effect of the webs of relations within which they are located. It assumes that nothing has reality or for outside the enactment of those relations.”

Further research in this theory helps scholars and researchers discover new approaches to a number of educational issues. In considering educational research, with regards to schools, universities/colleges, community agencies, corporate training organizations, and professional affiliations, ANT merges knowledge as situated, embodied and distributed.

Fenwick and Edward (2010) share how ANT challenges a number of assumptions that lie in educational conceptions of development, learning , agency, identity, knowledge and teaching. ANT identifies rich interconnections in both social and cognitive activity. As shared in the book, Neyland (2006, p. 45) has the ability to contribute to educational understanding of:

“mundane masses (the everyday and the humdrum that are frequently overlooked), assemblages (descriptions of things holding together), materiality (that which does or does not endure), heterogeneity (achieved diversity within assemblage), and flows/fluidity (movement without necessary stability).”

For those interested in reading the book in more detail, you will appreciate how Fenwick and Edward (2010) utilize ANT in education as a source of research practices, to consider:

  1. Concepts, approaches, and debates around ANT as a resource for educational research.
  2. Showcase studies in education that have employed ANT methods and comparing ANT approaches in other disciplines/fields.
  3. After ANT developments that challenges presumptions and limitations of ANT research.

Reference:

Fenwick, T. & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-network theory in education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Law, J. (2007). Making a mess with method, in W. Outhwaite & S.P. Turner (Eds.). The Sage Handbook of Social Science Methodology, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. pp. 595-606.

Neyland, D. (2006). Dismissed content and discontent: an analysis of the strategic aspects of actor-network theory, Science, Technology and Human Values, 31(1); 29-51.