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.

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#AcDigID, #EdDigID, networkedscholar, Training & Development

Being “Professional” Online… Whatever That Means. #EdDigID #AcDigID

I just started reading the new book, The Digital Academic (Lupton, Mewburn, & Thomson, 2018), and I was reminded of the debate in The Guardian on being or not being a “serious academic.”  These two articles argue the merit of how scholars participate (or should not) on social media and digital networks. The two sides see involvement on social networks as either public discourse and knowledge sharing or as a complete waste of time only used for personal reputation management. Not surprising, this how networked practice is mirrored among the administrative staff I have been interviewing. Often postsecondary educators express the need to “be professional online.” Depending on the campus culture, professionals are either encouraged or discouraged from actively engaging online on social media. Most staff expressed uncertainty of any policies, expectations, politics, and implications of their own social media use. And commonly, social media and digital technologies are not often guided by academic institutions or via the professional organizations/associations. What is exciting about this edited collection (that I’ve read so far), is it unpacks these binary perceptions and dichotomous narratives. There is so much more to discuss than just good vs. bad for these social, online contexts. Just like our social identities, our online selves are so much more complex and things get complicated when we interact on certain platforms, connect with particular communities, and experience “being” within social networks. Just like our social identities, our online selves are so much more complex and vary in certain contexts. Things tend to get complicated when we interact on certain platforms, connect with specific communities, and experience “being” within particular professional online networks. Online identity is more fluid and less compartmentalized than ever before. Sure we share our practices and offer praise; however, there seem to be escalating issues and challenges we need to talk about in these online environments.

Sure, I can reflect back to the early days of participating in open, digital channels to ask for advice, share resources, support one another, and really have a bit of a chat (and banter) with loads of colleagues in #highered. I have definitely benefited from the offering of professional development via Twitter, open sharing of learning on blogs, and wealth of knowledge being shared by videos, open documents, and curated resources via my personal learning network. Although I still experience benefits to “working out loud” and participating in these online social networks, I believe “being online” in higher ed looks today looks different from when I first started, plus I recognize my own points of social privilege I have in these spaces. Our networks have grown up and with this scaled new look comes concerns about privacy, data collection, and reputation management. Additionally, there are a number of unwritten rules and informal sanctions facing higher ed faculty and staff in these social, digital places. “Academic work and academic selfhood in the increasingly digitised realm of higher education are fraught with complexities and ambivalences” (Lupton et al., 2018, pp. 15-16). So much is left unanswered:

  • What happens when our personal and professional online networks intersect and come to campus?
  • What behaviours and use of social media are acceptable for your role, discipline, and institution?
  • How do we work online and offline, when the boundaries are poorly defined and perhaps even seamless?
  • What implications are there for being online and connected in 2017?
  • How does being active on social media or in networked spaces impact career development and advancement?
  • What are we not learning about networked practice in higher ed we should know more about?

These are the questions I am asking (in my research and for my practice), and they are why I developed an OLC online workshop:#EdDigID: Developing Your Social & Digital Presence in Higher Ed (#AcDigID)

Next week (September 25-October 1, 2017) is the last offering of this workshop for 2017. [Update: I’m teaching the #AcDigID version January 8-14, 2018 for academic faculty and researchers.] This 7-day short course is like an expanded, self-pace webinar to understand and identify what it means to be networked as a higher education professional. This course was created 1st targeted only at networked scholars (#AcDigID), and it has evolved to discuss the affordances and challenges faced by both academic and administrative staff in higher ed who are digitally engaged. Although this workshop was pitched to me as a “how to” develop your online presence on social media, I think it would be a disservice to postsecondary practitioners if we did not discuss the blurred lines of our occupational selves, including private vs. public, online vs. offline, and context collapse between our personal and professional networks.

Here are the learning goals for the workshop:

  1. Evaluate social media and digital platforms for professional development and connected learning in the field;
  2. Establish effective strategies for developing/creating/improving your  digital identity for open, networked practice; and
  3. Outline the benefits and challenges of open and digital practice, especially when considering what it means for higher education staff and faculty are active on social media and in networked spaces.

For those who join this course, we will dig deeper into to help YOU consider HOW and WHERE you want to present (or not present) online.  SIGN UP HERE! If you are not able to formally join the #EdDigID workshop next week, no need to fear! I have created a few ways YOU can get involved, perhaps contribute, and potentially drop into this learning party/conversation:

  • TWITTER:
    • TWEET: Share resources around digital identity, networked experiences, and how you learn online and on social media using the workshop hashtag: #EdDigID
    • SHARE HASHTAGS: What hashtags do you track on or who do you follow on Twitter? What hashtags are YOU interested for colleagues in higher ed? #EdDigID
    • TW-LISTED: I have been curating Twitter lists for quite some time that includes peers in higher ed, academia, academic advising, librarians, and MORE! Do I need to add you to one of my Twitter lists? Please advise (on Twitter or in the comments below).
    • JOIN the#EdDigID TWITTER CHAT: Join us for the live, synchronous Twitter chat on Friday, September 29th from 2-3 pm CDT on the Twitters. We’ll be hanging out in this TweetChat Room and I will moderate this chat here: http://tweetchat.com/room/EdDigID
  • LINKEDIN: 
    • CALL FOR CONTRIBUTION: Are you using closed/private groups and networks on social media platforms? Are you forming communities to share in digitally closed spaces, e.g. Private/Secret Facebook Groups, Slack, Mastodon, etc.? Let me know! I will be hosting a synchronous meeting online next Wednesday (9/27) from 1-2 pm CST and I would LOVE if you could JOIN THE CONVERSATION if you’re interested/available.

Reference:

Lupton, D., Mewburn, I., & Thomson, P. (2018). The digital academic: Critical perspectives on digital technology in higher education. New York, NY: Routledge

 

Research, Social Media, SocioTech

How Do Higher Ed Institutions Use Twitter?

In a very limited way. Based on two recent studies examining Canadian and US post-secondary use of Twitter, we found most colleges and universities are using social media platforms as either a communication or marketing tool. Higher ed campuses have the ability to optimize social media technologies in the service of teaching, learning, and research – rather than focussing on institutional branding and marketing.

In looking at 145,822 original tweets and 70,792 retweets of 77 Canadian public universities Twitter profiles, we learned a great deal about colleges/university use. Results from this analysis indicated these institutions mostly use this Twitter to broadcast information and construct overwhelmingly positive representations of campus life. Here is a quick video overview of the paper:

In general, higher ed institutions represent university life as gratifying, enjoyable, and beautiful, by commonly showcasing:

  • Smiling and happy students;
  • Mostly middle-aged white male faculty members;
  • Upgraded and attractive campus buildings;
  • Accolades for graduation ceremonies;
  • Announcements about groundbreaking research; and
  • Highlights of sporting victories.

Unfortunately, Canadian universities are not alone as they present their “best self” on Twitter by:

  • Highlighting positive events and happenings
  • Showcasing a positive university life for the public; and
  • Promoting the institution’s brand

In looking at American college and university primary Twitter accounts (n=2411), Kimmons, Veletsianos, and Woodward (2016) found the Twitter histories [a sample of 5.7 million tweets, representing 62 % of all tweets created by these accounts] offered little innovation and value for the campus communities they are trying to serve. Most tweets posted by an institutional account are monologic, share information instead of eliciting action, offer an insular ecosystem of web resources, and express a neutral or a positive sentiment. This whiteboard animation can provide you a brief overview of this paper:

Based on my previous research on sociotechnical stewardship and social media guidance (Pasquini & Evangelopoulos, 2017), it is not surprising to see an emphasis on branding or focus on a promotional strategy for postsecondary social media use. In examining 250 institutional social media policies/guidelines, 64% (n=161) of these documents originate from an office connected to communications, marketing, and/or public relations at each higher ed institution. The primary direction and emphasis for social media use in higher ed have been co-opted from marketing and business planning to encourage a specific institutional brand, that is, one with a consistent voice and presenting strategically tailored messages that highlight positive campus environments.

From this examination of institutional Twitter accounts in Canada and the US, it is apparent the information and images portrayed in social media streams represent an incomplete student experience and an idealized image of college/university life. This is problematic, as these crafted messages with only positive sentiments could mislead students, staff, and faculty who are active in social media spaces. This use of Twitter presents an inaccurate portrayal of campus life, limit the representation and narrative of the student story, and it does little to model expected behavior or interactions in these online environments for all campus stakeholders. From this research, I would challenge our higher ed institutions to “do better work” if they are engaging on any social media channel for their college/university. These should be more than just communication and marketing spaces in higher ed. Think about the ways you can reach and involve your students, staff, faculty, alumni, and campus partners on these channels. Why are you not researching problems out loud, sharing the struggle of your learning, showcasing your teaching challenges, or offering/asking for advice? Twitter is the new town hall at our institutions and in our society. It is up to our higher ed institutions and its constituents to be present, to be active, and model ways to show value and real experiences on these social media platforms. We can do better than just use social media spaces as a marketing, communication, or promotional tool.

References:

Kimmons, R., Veletsianos, G., & Woodward, S. (2016). Institutional Uses of Twitter in Higher Education. Innovative Higher Education, 42(2), 97-111.

Pasquini, L. A., & Evangelopoulos, N. (2017). Sociotechnical stewardship in higher education: A field study of social media policy documents. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 29(2), 218-239. doi: 10.1007/s12528-016-9130-0 Published Online November 21, 2016.

Veletsianos, G., Kimmons, R., Shaw, A. G., Pasquini, L. A., & Woodward, S. (2017). Selective openness and promotional broadcasts: Twitter use in Canada’s public universities. Educational Media International, 54(1), 1-19. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09523987.2017.1324363

BreakDrink, Higher Education, Social Media

Have You Read the _____ Privacy (Data) Policy Lately? [@BreakDrink Episode No. 10]

In a past @BreakDrink episode [no. 5], we thank/blame Chris Gilliard (@hypervisible) for bringing awareness to how some higher education institutions are digital redlining learners with technology. For a repeat visit to the podcast, we asked Chris to join Jeff & I to dig into the issues of privacy, access, data, etc. by reviewing the “Privacy Policies” and Terms of Service for the three main hitters for social media we see used in the US: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Here are some links and notes from our conversations and review of said policies from Monday (6/19). Take a listen and be sure to REVIEW+ADJUST YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SETTINGS NOW! Or, just delete your account. 🙂

Privacy Apps and Search Engines to install to protect your privacy & browsing/tracking online:

Go on. Search one of the above search engines and compare your results for yourself. We DARE you!

Privacy image c/o Flickr User g4ll4is

Net Neutrality & Digital Rights

TOS & Policy 101 on the Social Web

When was the last time you considered reviewing a policy OR the terms of service (TOS) from your favorite social network? With the recent changes to “privacy” on a few of our favorite platforms, we thought it was an apt time to read and review the TOS for all of you. You’re very welcome. As a number of colleagues, learners, and friends in higher ed use (and repurpose) these social spaces for teaching, learning, and research — we wanted to really understand how these technology (not media) companies are thinking about  “Privacy” (or now called “Data” for certain platforms) and the policies around this issue. Here are SOME of the notes from our chat — please visit @BreakDrink Episode no.10 for more at BreakDrink.com

Facebook

Twitter  

LinkedIn  

We might be paranoid, but perhaps we need to consider the data we are sharing and what “true” privacy is when we are online. We thought we’d leave you with a few “light” reads (enjoy):

  1. The Thin Line Between Commercial and Government Surveillance 
  2. How an obscure rule lets law enforcement search any compute
  3. Intel agencies want to make the most controversial foreign surveillance rule permanent

@BreakDrink Podcast ShoutOuts

  • The Show About Race now archived, but a relevant conversation we need to have about race. Always.
  • Missing Richards Simmons – what happens when the fitness guru from the 80’s disappears from teaching his Slimmon’s class
  • Mystery Show (archive): “A podcast where Starlee Kine solves mysteries.”
  • Twice Removed (archive): “A new family history podcast hosted by A.J. Jacobs. They say we’re one big family: this is the show that proves it. You will be filled with delight… or abject horror. You never know. It’s family.”

@BreakDrink Reads & Watches

If you have comments, questions, or feedback about this podcast episode, please feel free to post a comment below, or follow us on the following the “BreakDrink” podcast channels:

We welcome feedback, comments, suggestions, and snark in any of the above digital spaces. If the podcast via iTunes (we still prefer this to the rebranded “Apple Podcasts“), please consider leaving us a rating and review. Thanks!

#AcDigID, #EdDigID

Social and Digital Presence in Higher Ed (#EdDigID)

Social media and digital technologies are not neutral. These platforms come with cultural, social, and political context — often engineered to encourage interaction, engagement, and some form of addiction. [Listen to more on this rant in @BreakDrink episode no. 7: The Tech Curmudgeons.] Nora Young (2012) details more about her perspective of disembodiment and digital culture in her book, The Virtual Self. There are ways that technology is shaping us socially and this, in turn, has impacted the way we work — even in higher education. That being said technologies are not “infinitely malleable” as we have witnessed “the character of digital technology to decontextualize and recontextualize, to remix and reassemble” (Young, 2012, p. 81). As I read perspectives on social technologies to interviewing higher ed professionals, I am reminded that fluidity between the online and offline self is both interpreted and approached differently by each individual. Digital culture is changing. Although it is not entirely “embodied” by as we “live” and work online, there are emotional, intellectual, and personal impacts for our offline lives.

 

Next week (May 15-21, 2017), I am facilitating an OLC online workshop (also offered September 25-October 1, 2017) to dig into issues and affordances of our networked selves. What does your online identity look like today? In higher ed, it is becoming increasingly vital to share your work and practice online. Besides developing a digital presence, higher education staff, administrators, and scholars are utilizing social media to support their work, add to their professional development, engage with peers, and share what they are doing to the public. Open and digital channels help colleagues solicit for advice, seek out support/collaboration, offer free professional development, share information and resources, and learn in networked communities with common interests. Although there are benefits to “working out loud” and online, there are also challenges and issues as we repurpose social, digital spaces.  This workshop was designed to discuss, explore, and consider how YOU want to BE online — if you do. At the end of this workshop, I hope participants will be able to:

  • Evaluate social media and digital platforms for professional development and connected learning in the field;
  • Establish effective strategies for developing/creating/improving your  digital identity for open, networked practice; and
  • Outline the benefits and challenges of open and digital practice, especially when considering what it means for higher education staff and faculty are active on social media and in networked spaces.

If you are not able to sign up for this #EdDigID workshop next week, fear not! There are a few other ways you can get involved, contribute, and participate virtually:

  • TWITTER:
    • TWEET: Share resources around digital identity, networked experiences, and how you learn online and on social media using the workshop hashtag: #EdDigID
    • HASHTAGS & TWEEPS: What hashtags do you track on or who do you follow on Twitter? What hashtags are YOU interested for colleagues in higher ed? #EdDigID
    • LISTED: I have been curating Twitter lists for quite some time that includes peers in higher ed, academia, academic advising, librarians, and MORE! Do I need to add you to one of my Twitter lists? Please advise (on Twitter or in the comments below). Thanks!
    • PARTICIPATE in the#EdDigID TWITTER CHAT: Join us for the live, synchronous Twitter chat on Friday, May 19th from 1-2 pm CDT on the Twitters. We’ll be hanging out in this TweetChat Room and I will moderate this chat here: http://tweetchat.com/room/EdDigID
  • LINKEDIN: 
    • CALL FOR CONTRIBUTION: Are you using LinkedIn for your professional, networked development? How are you learning on this platform? Let me know. It’s something I want to chat about in our synchronous meeting online next Wednesday (5/17) from 12-1 pm CST — you can even JOIN THE CONVERSATION if you are interested/available.
  • PODCASTS:
    • From my personal interest in podcast listening (and producing of podcasts), I have been curating an amazing number of podcasts for/by higher ed professionals and academics. I will be sharing this out via another project and blog post soon — but for now, what should be on my podcast feed AND what podcasts should the #EdDigID participants listen to?

Reference:

Young, N. (2012). The virtual self: How our digital lives are altering the world around us. Toronto, Canada: McClelland & Stewart, Ltd.

 

 

Higher Education, Social Media, SocioTech

Sociotechnical Stewardship: Guiding Social Media Policy and Practice in Higher Ed

In a previous blog post, I shared how I am visualizing scholarship via the Research Shorts YouTube Channel (Please SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/researchshorts). If you have not viewed any of these papers, here’s a list of journal articles, that are now videos on this channel, compiled by George. As an open, digital scholar, I thought that producing videos of my own work might be a solid idea to share scholarship. So here I go…

Remember that “really big paper” known as a dissertation? It was on the topic of social media guidance and such? If not — check out the website on the topic here: https://socialmediaguidance.wordpress.com/ Well, I learned one is never really Ph-inishe-D with this research until the research is published in a peer-reviewed journal [More on this #AcWri process and experience in a future blog post… I promise!].

I am proud to say this research has been officially published! This blog post shares a quick video overview of the paperlink to the journal article/pre-print paper, and the database of over 250 social media policies from 10 countries analyzed within this study. Thanks to all who contributed to this research and to others who will continue to use this open data set and research to further work in this area. This sociotechnical stewardship framework is organized from the key themes found from text-mining the 24, 243 policy passages reviewed within this corpus. Here are a few things we need to consider when organizing and guiding sociotechnical systems in our organizations:

I am continuing to understand how we best guide and support sociotechnical systems for higher education professionals as I interview participants for a current research project [Hint, hint: CONTRIBUTE to our current study that is “in progress” now: https://bit.ly/networkedself].

I hope other scholars and practitioners further this research and apply these practices to effectively support campus stakeholders. Want to learn more about this study, here is a quick video summary (4:59 minutes):

Social media technologies transform how we share, communicate, and interact with one another. On our college and university campuses, new media applications and platforms are transforming how students, staff, faculty, and alumni engage with one another. As these social, emerging technologies impact teaching, learning, research, and work functions on campus, we need to understand how social media use and behaviors are being supported. To help higher education administrators and organizational leaders effectively guide social, emerging technologies, we prove a summary of 250 institutional policy documents and we offer a sociotechnical framework to help support strategic, long-term technology planning for organizations and their stakeholders.

Download this research paper:

The article is published in the Journal of Computing in Higher Education here or find the pre-print version of the original paper on my ResearhGate profile.

Download a csv file of the higher education social media policy database:

Pasquini, L. A. (2016). Social media policy document database. Figshare. doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.4003401. Retrieved from https://figshare.com/articles/Social_media_policy_document_database/4003401

Reference:

Pasquini, L. A., & Evangelopoulos, N. (2017). Sociotechnical stewardship in higher education: A field study of social media policy documents. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 29(2), 218-239. doi: 10.1007/s12528-016-9130-0 Published Online November 21, 2016.

 

Higher Education, Networked Community, Podcast, Professional Development, Research, StudentAffairs, Training & Development

Where’s Your Digital “Water Cooler” for Professional Development?

Social media has afforded a number of educators (both in higher ed and K-12) a space and place to share, learn, curate, and connect.  If you look online, you will find no shortage of educational hashtags, podcasts, blogs, Twitter chats, online groups, and more. These user-driven, digital communities are thriving as teachers, faculty, staff, and students seek out professional development virtually. It makes sense as social media PD is on-demand, socially integrated, accessible from a variety of devices, portable, and FREE!

Image c/o Killer Infographics (https://vimeo.com/89969554)
Image c/o Killer Infographics https://vimeo.com/89969554

Last week, I shared how our networked communities are a bit like a digital water cool for PD on Vicki Davis’ (@coolcatteacher) 10-Minute Teacher Podcast, episode no. 19: Social Media PD Best Practices #DLDay (or Listen on iTunes). Check out the wealth of resources from Vicki, that definitely spills past K-12 education sphere:

cropped-the-cool-cat-teacher-blog

In looking at these social media spaces, both for research and practice, I am grateful for the learning, support, and care I have received from my peers. I share about the #AcAdv Chat community on this podcast and how it has impacted my practices, with regards to how I support learners in academic advising and instruction. Not only has it been a form of PD, but I am thankful for the connections I have made on a personal level.  I have a number of #AcAdv colleagues have become close friends, and I value them well beyond being a Twitter follower or Facebook reaction in my feed.

These social technologies are connecting professional to help us in the workplace. They allow us to be more fluid to allow for us to search for ideas, share effective practices, offer just-in-time training, and broadcast our daily work experiences online.

to-be-in-a-profession-being-social-is-really-important-and-vital-for-our-practices-to-advance-and-you-dont-do-that-without-learning-from-one-another

These social media “water coolers” are having an impact on how we work in higher ed. It’s not the medium, per se, but we should examine how these platforms impact our social interactions and community development in the field. I believe social media affords us great opportunities for how we share information, curate knowledge, support professional learning, and apply ideas into our practice. That being said, there are challenges and issues we must also consider with regards to professional identity development, being in a networked space to learn, and how these mediums might influence our practice. As we talk with higher ed administrators and staff for our research study, we are beginning to chip away at the motivations for being part of a digital community, how practitioners value online spaces to support the work in highered, what does it mean to be a “public” professional online, and how personal/professional identity is complicated, evolving, and varies based on social media platform or how a community is support.  This research is SO fascinating…

We will share more about our findings soon. That being said, we are still collecting data AND interested in hearing about YOUR networked experience. Where is your digital water cooler on social media? Where do you go online to learn, share, and curate knowledge? How does being online and in these virtual spaces impact your professional (and personal) identity, growth, and career?

SURVEY: http://bit.ly/networkedcommunity

Here s a short, web-based survey that will take 15-20 minutes to complete. You will be asked questions about your online/digital communities of practice, and you will be given the option to share about your digital, online engagement.

INTERVIEW: http://bit.ly/networkedcommunityshare

We are interested in understanding more of your digital, networked self, which might include reviewing your digital presence on social media and other online platforms, and you may potentially be invited for one (1) interview lasting approximately 45-60 minutes in duration. During our interviews, we will ask participants to reflect on networked practices in online digital communities, inquire about your observations of these communities, ask about your interactions and contributions in the network, and discuss issues related to professional identity and professional influence in online spaces.