blogs, Reflections

TechKNOW Tool 2013 – Blog Posts In Review

In the process of auditing my social media and web life, I thought I’d take a gander at what I blogged about in 2013. What the heck was I reflecting and sharing in 2013?

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 8.26.57 AM

Photo from  marsmettnn tallahase on Flickr

TechKNOW Tools received a number of views on older blog posts; however the key themes that were clicked on for 2013 included: academic writing, research gathering, teaching support, role transition, job search/application, conference sharing, learning design, and social media auditing.

Thanks for reading, and following along. I’ll be sure to share more in 2014. 🙂

Title

 

Digital Clean Up: Social Media Audit & How Not to Be Hacked
Lucky 13: Top Blog Post Views for Summer 2013
The PhD: Troubles Talk
 and Moan
 and So On
Using Verbs for Specific Learning Outcomes
Supporting Student Success at #UFTL13
#EDUSprint 1: Beyond MOOCs – IT as a Force of Change
Do You Have Social Media Goals?
The Dissertation Proposal. #phdchat
Your Higher Ed Website + Search: “Social Media Guidelines” or “Social Media Policy” = A Database for My Dissertation Research
Help My #ugstSTORY Class Tell Their Story
Gathering #SocialMedia Guidelines from Higher Education #SoMe #edusomedia #highered
#SXSWedu Panel: Social Media in Higher Ed – Where Are We Going? #smHE
#AdvTech at #nacada13
More Than Just a Hashtag!
#AcWriMo In Review: My Output
#AcWriMo & Accountability to Write
#AcWriMo Peer Pressure: Time, Challenge/Support & Cheerleaders
My #AcWriMo Goals for November
I’m “On the [Job] Market”: The Application Process
Passing the Torch: Leadership Transition in Our Professional Organizations
The Vitae: Brewing Academic Experience for Your CV
#phdchat, PhD, Reflections

The PhD: Troubles Talk… and Moan… and So On

As a PhD candidate, I am trying to be more cognizant  with my response when asked the following (common) questions:

  • “How’s your dissertation going?”
  • “When are you going to finish your PhD ?”
  • “Where have you been? I haven’t seen you in ages
”

phdFor those who are also “dissertating” like me, you understand how easy it is to offer a roll of the eyes, smile/nod combo, and “just great” to friends and family. When talking to fellow PhD candidates and scholarly researchers, we seem to be more open to dig right in to slag the our dragging timelines, cry about our progress, complain about our faculty support, identify dissertation distractions, and, of course, whine about the TIME we used or didn’t use productively.

I recently read an article by Dr. Inger Mewburn (a.k.a. The @ThesisWhisperer), who discussed such “troubling talk” among PhD candidates. Often it is the talk of troubles that brings PhD scholars together to form communities  of practice, like a learning network and/or support group. There has been a large growth in online blogging, tweeting, slidesharing, podcasting, and more from PhD and early career researchers. There’s an active online community that supports personal/professional development and sharing of resources.

One section in particular interested me as Inger shared her own experience with the transition from student to professional academic. Specifically Mewburn (2011) discusses how there is evidence for doctoral researchers who interact with one another often whine and encouraged this type of struggle storytelling with others, even if they were not having any challenges. In recounting experiences of PhD gatherings and discussion over lunch, Inger identifies with the camaraderie of a shared PhD struggle:

 “The recognition that others were struggling too certainly made me feel better, but at the same time my own role in the talk was strangely discomforting. I realised I was amplifying my writing trouble, making it into a ‘war story’  in order to make it amusing and interesting to others. I wondered: was my performance of an   ‘inept student’  in the kitchen a form of PhD student identity work? By talking about being ‘in trouble’ with my writing, I was positioning myself as ‘one of us’  (a student) and not ‘one of them’  (a professional academic)  which was closer to my lived experience. I began to wonder: did my fellow PhD students ever deliberately perform ‘non competence’  too? It’ s likely that many of them experienced good writing days, but I rarely, if ever, heard about them in the lunch room” (Mewburn, 2011, p. 322).

Which brings me to my own experiences, and thoughts about my PhD progress. Do I keep quiet or join in with the slagging if I am around others who are complaining about the struggle? Do I try to down play my advances in writing and publications with other grad students? Have I told any “war story” to entertain my peers, rather than the reality of my own research progress? It is easy to fall into this, especially when there are funny xckd.com images or brilliant PhDComics.com cartoons. Just posting something like this to get a like, RT, or share from others in my PhD community is commonplace with those of us who claim #GradStudentProblems:

grad student motivation graph

A number of blogs, such as The Thesis Whisperer, PhD Talk, and PhD2Published; and Twitter hashtag communities, like #phdchat, #gradchat, and the @GradHacker community of bloggers/Tweeters, have actually been quite helpful for my PhD progress.  I appreciate theses online communities for sharing ideas, talking about writing resources, offering advice, and linking to research methodology. When thinking about my own approach to “catching up” with my social networks (online and in person), I’ll be sure to not just moan about things. Although I do value my online networks, there’s nothing better than having a bit of a chat with other doctoral students/candidates or researchers when we get a chance to meet up and socialize.

Let’s not just use these social moments to be A.B.M. (always be moaning). As PhD candidates, our lives aren’t THAT bad. We were selected to study and research in a field or discipline we want, and really if it’s not your cup of tea 
 then maybe it’s time for a change anyways. Much of our PhD negative self-talk or even group-think can stifle research and writing momentum. Sure – there’s going to be issues and challenges; however we need to celebrate the small victories along the way. I know we have more productive and interesting things to talk about when we get together (online or in person), so let’s collectively encourage, motivate, and positively influence each other with our research progress. We CAN do it!

Reference:

Mewburn, I. (2011). Troubling talk: Assembling the PhD candidate. Studies in Continuing Education, 33(3), 321-332.

Learning Technologies

Happy Digital Learning Day! #DLDay – Top 10 Learning Web Tools of 2012

Happy Digital Learning Day (#DLDay)!

digital-learning2 (1)

To celebrate digital learning day today, I thought it would be a good idea to share my belated Top 10 Learning Web Tools list from 2012. As I have read other lists (here and here), I have been meaning to share useful tools that have helped me learn this last year. You may have heard me say “it’s not the tool” but rather how you use the tool – so I thought I would share my top tools that I have put to use for my own productivity and learning.

  1. Twitter – This is my active stream of information that allows me to track on conversations either via search, hashtags or through my Twitter lists. I value Twitter to find information, learn about news/trends, collect articles, read blog posts, and, most importantly, engage with peers on a daily basis. My evolving personal learning network (PLN) is definitely at the top of my learning list.
  2. Google Docs/Drive I have found Google Drive EXTREMELY useful in 2012, as I am often seen with my Chromebook in tow. Daily I can be found using Google Drive, as I typically take notes during a lecture/meeting, brainstorm storm agenda items, crowdsource ideas, collect information (via a Google forms), or store resources i.e. PDFs, presentations, and database files.
  3. Dropbox – Not all of my collaborators of research, work and writing use Google Docs, so I tend use Dropbox as my “go to” cloud storage and sharing with MS Word. I often move in between spaces and devices (mobile, PC, Chromebook, & Mac) both on campus and at home, so Dropbox is easy enough to save and return to any working projects or assignments. As a frequent flyer for with an edu account, I have accrued 23.22 GB of space through referrals, use, and a Dropbox quest. My Dropbox allows for easy work flow, specifically for storing conference presentations, collecting articles for a literature review, archiving tweets through IFTTT, downloading my mobile photos, holding my lesson plans, and editing manuscripts with co-authors.
  4. Google Search – When in doubt…Let Me Google That For You. I would say that Google is typically used as my initial search for information, news, and quick finds probably because I am often working in Google Drive (see #2) and using Google Chrome (see #7). I have learned benefits of refining my power searching skills, and also not having this as my only outlet for knowledge acquisition.
  5. Google Scholar Although I increasingly use the UNT Libraries – Find Online Articles Search more often these days, I can say that Google Scholar has been a helpful tool for finding data, collecting statistics, locating peer-reviewed journal articles, collecting my literature review materials, and retrieving other scholarly resources.
  6. Google + Hangouts The reason I value Google Plus is for the Hangouts. Both for a meeting space or “On Air” live recording, this forum has proven well for meetings, conference calls, presentations, demonstrations, peer-review process, and general catch up with colleagues. I do still use Skype; I have a greater preference for using a video conference space that has live notes, free group (up to 10) calls, connection to my Google Drive, and, of course, the ability to infuse ridiculous Google Effects when meetings run on too long. Side note: I  am curious to see what happens with the Google Plus Communities. I have recently been invited to a few, and I can see some potential with this feature in Google Plus.
  7. Google Chrome As a mobile learner and avid Chromebook-er, I would say that Google Chrome is a user-friendly web browser for productivity and workflow. I appreciate the streamline interface, search ability, extensions  and applications from the Chrome Web Store {which compliments my Android phone apps as well}. Also, it is quite compatible with Google Drive, Google + Hangouts, and easily transferable from my office to home computing life.
  8. WordPress I may have been exhausted from reflecting during my Masters’ program; however I think that having my own space and place for reflection has helped me in 2012. For a fellow researcher, I candidly explained why I blog and more about my blogging history; however I used my blog more this year to document my doctoral progress and process my own educational experiences. Thanks for being an easy space to draft, publish, and share these thoughts, WordPress.
  9. Delicious Although I use Scoopit, Storify, and Paper.li a great deal, I can say that Delicious is still my top curation tool. Since 2007, I have been collecting and organizing resource into my delicious account. When I share a URL on Twitter it automatically archive the link to my delicious account via packrati.us. This is great to return back to my tags and stacks to find notes, information, statistics, or articles that I can use for presentations and publications. Also I appreciate others in my Delicious network who stayed loyal to this tool (even after a few changes) and socially bookmark useful resources.
  10. Flickr This social photo sharing site has provided me with a lot of inspiration and ideas. Whether I have used creative common-licensed images for presentations and blog posts, or just as a tool to document my own PhD adventures, I appreciate being a member of the Flickr community. I often capture a photo of a presentation slide, make a note from class, or document an image on the go to house them on Flickr for future reference and referral.

For 2013, I plan on taking Jane Hart’s (@C4LPT) 10 Tools Challenge to find out how to use new tools to help for my own professional learning, research, and development as an educator/trainer. For those of you who want to join in the fun, check out the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2012 for inspiration to explore. Happy learning!

Higher Education, Social Media, StudentAffairs

Reflecting on Values & Identity from #Dalton13

Over the past few days at the 2013 Dalton Institute, I have been encouraged to think about the cross-section of how our cultural norms, use of technology, and institutional practices intersect to support students. Educational reform for higher education is not new; however it was refreshing to have a group of graduate students, faculty, scholars, and practitioners to be part of a thoughtful collective to think deeper about these challenges.

Although the institute’s focus was self-promotion, social media, and student development, it was great to hear a number of conversations emerge about the disruptive forces and potential opportunities to embrace change in Student Affairs. The philosophical narratives and analysis of technology’s impact on identity was enriched by listening to personal perspectives and such varied experiences.

Dare to Jump

Photo c/o @DaltonInstitute {Thanks @vanessaballer!}

As the final keynote of the institute, I gave my “triple threat” perspective as a student, instructor, and professional in higher education. My goal was to share ideas and practices to develop a richer learning experiences; specifically ones that I have valued as an active scholar. So, doing my best to follow the amazing #dalton13 featured speakers – I shared my own narrative, critiques, and insights on how emerging technology can support and challenge student development. I gave some tangible examples and ideas of how to move beyond the gadget, application, or “next big tech thing” by considering ways educators can be actively pushing their learners. I talked about everything from exploration to collaboration, specifically by empowering students to be part of the solution to our institutional challenges.

My #Dalton13 Keynote – Notes & Then Some! (thanks for the photos & tweets #dalton13 backchannel!)

I appreciated the conversations (although some were far too brief!) around identity and student values that  I had with a number of #Dalton13 attendees, especially the FSU HESA graduate students. Although a number of ideas were shared at the institute, I am still left thinking and reflecting about these key questions:

  • How are student values demonstrated in a digital environment?
  • Can educators have an impact on the character development of learners?
  • Is student development really impacted by technology? How so?
  • Does there need to be a shift in how we support our student population on campus?
  • How can our graduate programs do a better job of challenging and supporting scholar-practitioners with “self-promotion” questions?
  • Will higher education cultural norms and institutional practices be changed, or will we be left behind?
Higher Education, Reflections, StudentAffairs

A Kinder Campus to Collaborate

Be KindThere are a  number of students, staff, and faculty in my life who I have gotten to know along my academic and professional journey – as colleagues and as friends. I have been fortunate enough to experience college/university life as a student, professional, and instructor  at various types of institutions and in more than one country.  Each new experience has afforded me to work with insightful colleagues, learn about effective practices, understand a variety of student populations, and consider innovative ways to  support students, staff, and faculty.

In a recent Inside Higher Ed article I shared my thoughts on why our divisions in higher education need to think beyond their own areas. Some of the challenges ahead in higher education will require our departments/divisions to step our of their silos to collaborate and reach shared goals for our institutions. It does require some risk; however I think there are larger rewards for reaching out and conversing with others. In considering some of the opportunities and challenges in higher education – such as financial, legislative, staffing, and more – perhaps it is just the right time to sit down to chat and connect to others on campus. Institutional units will need to put their heads together to think creatively and collectively about some of these issues – if they are not doing so already. 

Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking about what a “kinder campus” means in higher education. I am currently participating in a Collaborative Learning Community (CLC) at UNT that brings students, staff, and faculty together to work towards a shared solution to a problem/challenge at our institution [more to be shared on this later]. Since we have diverse representation on this CLC, as the co-chair with another faculty member we have been considering the following needs to keep our group moving forward:

  • introductions are important – find out what everyone “does” on campus
  • use common language and define terms
  • establish purpose and goals for the CLC
  • share and distribute information/facts that are not known
  • establish a meeting time/day of the week
  • create agendas to guide, not limit the conversation/sharing
  • record meeting minutes for those who might be absent
  • online space for resource sharing 
  • flexibility and understanding for attendance is a must
  • define roles to guide actionable items & project initiatives
  • bringing food/treats is never a bad thing

Although cross-departmental meetings can be challenging, as it requires stepping outside our own domains and sharing across disciplinary boundaries, I have had some of the most productive conversations and ideas to emerge from these gatherings.

 

Are you part of a collaborative working group at your higher ed institution? What tips do you have to “be kind” and connect with colleagues outside your division/department?