Why Understanding Differences and Coming Together Matter

To say that this past week has been eventful, would be putting it mildly. If you were under a rock or disconnected from any media, then let me do a brief re-cap of a few events that occurred:

During the week’s happenings, many were tuned into the news and social media streams. An even larger percentage of people expressed their thoughts, feelings, and concerns in various social media outlets. As events unfolded in different geographic locations, it was amazing to see people come together to show support for one another. The power of the community and lending a hand has been seen widely in these shared spaces. For example, the #RunForBoston initiative and the Americans for Mariage Equality equal signs could not be missed. Social media affords individuals to get involved, speak up, and share their thoughts.  Both our mobile and connected technologies have the power to make our world smaller and unite a community.

Unfortunately, there is a double-edged sword for this social sharing. With the increase in open, public dialogue comes harsh comments and demonstrations of disrespect. I learned that few often considered other perspectives as social/media streams shared a number of incorrect and inappropriate assumptions, outbursts, accusations, and opinions. It saddened me a bit, and I often stepped away from the screen.

On Tuesday (4/16), I attended the Condoleezza Rice Distinguished Lecture hosted at UNT. My friend @brucebmann said it best when responding to this photo “No matter your politics, she is an amazing speaker.”

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 2.46.31 PMThis comment, and listening to the talk, made me think about my own perspectives and bias. How often do we challenge ourselves to think in a new way? How can listening to another perspective better inform our decisions? How is it possible to bring groups in conflict together?  I think it is possible, and I know that I am not alone.

Although “victory” has been seen this week, I don’t think that these events are really over. I challenge more of you to think about your influence and impact in social [media or not] spaces. What you say, tweet, blog, post, etc. influence the dialogue and community. It is easy to get [digital] high fives from friends and followers; however have you considered extending your reach to those you might not agree with? When is the last time you chatted with someone about the issues from this week who thinks differently than you do? Step away from the screen, and get to it.

How Do You Cultivate Mentoring Opportunities?

During our session at the #UNTAdv12  Conference last week, our panel hosted a discussion on the topic of mentoring in higher education. We talked about what formal and informal mentoring looks like on our college and university campuses, specifically to support our faculty, develop our staff members and engage our students students. Here are the key words that were shared during the discussion:

It is important for campus communities to consider the potential of mentoring. There are a number of benefits to supporting mentoring at a college or university. Some might be interested in connecting our students to their learning environment, while other institutions might be interested in helping new faculty transition. A number of mentoring programs provide return on investment for employees, which includes increased retention, career development, and professional engagement. By developing a culture of mentoring, organizations have the ability to increase collaborative learning and support sustainable leadership.

What sort of mentoring is happening on your campus or within your organization? Please feel free to add your mentoring program or resources to the open google doc: http://bit.ly/MentoringMatters

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

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

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

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

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

Organizational Networks, Relationships & Sensemaking

In organizational life there are interpersonal networks, within and across organizations, and interorganizational networks, with exchanges of resources, alliances, and shared directors. Network thinking has a long history in sociology , such as the dynamics of triads and the “web of group affiliations.” New constructs such as resources dependence, institutional theory methodology, and computer power encouraged formal methods for network analysis, assessing relationships and structures, and testing new theories.

Networks provide a way to visualize and analyze patterns among relationships of the nodes (parts) and ties to determine distribution of information, resources, energy and authority. This type of network analysis has lead to further review of organization connectedness, including:

  • formal and informal networks among members and units
  • social network analysis to quantify position or importance of actors in the network
  • characterization of technology, industry and product space
  • types of ties among organizations
  • organizational alliances, partnerships & affiliations
  • review networks of organization distinct from functional, divisional or matrix form
  • hybrid of ties among organizational units
  • dynamic networks in industrial districts
  • networks structures and differences depending on economies and politics
  • cross-cultural comparisons of networks
 Practical applications for organizational networks and relationships include application of the following steps for both individuals and organizations:
  1. Setting up a personal learning network (PLN) - developing a PLN to meet your personal and professional goals
  2. Establishing a professional presence online -establishing you digital identity and presences online
  3. Selecting online networks & tools - where to start, tools, tips and social spaces
  4. Finding your voice – developing a sense of self in the community of practice and contributing to that shared community
  5. Network collaboration – being able to weave your online network to learn, grow, curate and contribute

References

Scott, R. W. & Davis, G. F. (2007). Networks in and around organizations. In Organizations and organizing: Rational, Natural and Open system perspectives, Chapter 11.

Further Readings

Borys, B. & Jemison, D. B. (1989) Hybrid arrangements as strategic alliances: theoretical issues in organizational combinations. Academy of Management Review, 14, 234-249.

Daft, R. & Weick, K. (1984).  Toward a model of organizations as interpretation systems.
Academy of Management Review, 284-295.

Granovetter, M. (1983). The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited
Sociological Theory, Vol. 1, (1983), pp. 201-233.

Levine, S. and White, P.E. (1961) Exchange as a conceptual framework for the study of interorganizational relations. Administrative Science Quarterly,5: 583-601.

Milliken, F. J. (1990). Perceiving and Interpreting Environmental Change: An Examination of College Administrators’ Interpretation of changing demographics. Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 33, No. 1 (Mar., 1990), pp. 42-63

Park, S. H. (1996) Managing an Interorganizational Network: A Framework of the Institutional Mechanism for Network Control. Organization Studies, 17: 795-824.

Ring, P.S. & Van de Ven, A.H. (1994) Developmental process of cooperative interorganization relations. Academy of Management Review, 19, 90-118.

Salancik, G. R. (1995) Review: WANTED: A Good Network Theory of Organization
Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 2 (Jun., 1995), pp. 345-349

Weick, K. ( 1993). The collapse of sensemaking in organizations: The Mann Gulch disaster. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38: 628-652

Weick, K., Sutcliffe, K., & Obstfeld, D. ( 2005). Organizing and the process of sensemaking. Organization Science, 16 (4): 409-421.

Why Networked Anything Matters…

Time sure flies when you are catching up from conferences and travel! October has been a very productive academic and professional month for me, which has left little time for blogging here. Let me re-cap the conference fun that has been happening & that I might have mentioned on Conference Review/Preview BreakDrink #CTCX show last week.

October kicked off with a bang as I discussed in previous blog post about the #NACADA11 Conference. The altitude and momentum was quite high in Denver for the advising group and it left me wheeling with some new ideas in my new gig with the Office for Exploring Majors. More to come on that end soon…

Mid-month I said aloha to a great group of advising/counseling professionals as I joined the University of Hawaii System Advising Workshop. This was my first keynote where I was wearing a lei, and I enjoyed discussing was the importance of holistic advising in order to support the needs of our students and the campus community.

Here the slides and the open Google doc http://bit.ly/UHAdvising2011 of resources I shared:

The goal of this workshop was to introduce technological and systematic changes happening across the UH system and discuss how they can continue to connect across the many islands as counselors/advisors to support their student needs. I want to send a very big mahalo to the amazing group of advising professionals who invited me to speak, and who I have learned a great deal from during the conference and beyond. The friendly and welcoming attitudes there just might have me visiting the gorgeous state of Hawaii again.

My first visit to the state of Hawaii could not be complete with a few sight-seeing trips. I joined a moped tour to see some of the best waves, beaches and of course some adventure:

I could not leave the island without another professional development opportunity – the AACE E-Learn 2011 #elearnconf. I spent the next week connecting and learning about research, models and instructional design ideas from a wide variety of colleagues from around the globe. A big shout out to my adopted Australian/Kiwi/Dutch #elearnconf family from Deakin University. I think that Bosely knows how to effectively with his angels, and I hope to meet up with you all someday in Melbourne. Did someone say the PLE Conference might be there in 2012?!?!

I presented two best practices sessions that discussed the alternative professional development opportunities from BreakDrink.com and the connected and informal blended learning environments of FYE courses. Both are current chapters I’m working on for the upcoming IGI Publication “Cases on Formal, Non-Formal, and Informational Online Learning: Opportunities and Practices” book that will hit the presses in the near future. Kudos for all the hard work put in by a few of my co-authors and researchers that I have been collaborating with as of late – @KevinRGuidry, @mljohnson3 , @michellerodems & @jeffjackson. Thanks for your efforts and insights.

Finally, there was no better way to end the month than with the #NASPAtech conference last week. Unfortunately, my academic and professional obligations kept me grounded from being there IRL. I am grateful for the amazing backchannel of conversation and my excellent co-facilitators @jeffjackson and @lesliedareNCSU to have me hangout in a couple of Unsessions via Google Plus Hangouts with extras.

I hope that both Unsession conversations about #AltProDev and #SAmobile [both open & shared Google docs] will continue long past this conference. I look forward to joining the next #NASPAtech, since I think this one sounded like it was such a success. High five @NASPAtweets & everyone who brought their #SAtech ideas/thoughts to the conference and backchannel. 

Collaboration Required: #CTCX Discuss How Tech Can Support the Evolution of #HigherEd

In a recent broadcast on NPR, Don Tapscott shared his ideas on Rethinking How We Teach the ‘Net Generation’. Education models in higher education to meet the needs of today’s learner. A chapter in his latest book, Macrowikinomics, is dedicated to how higher education institutions need to change, specifically with regards to learning pedagogy and content creation. 

Flickr photo c/o kjiersten

In thinking about how the future of higher education will evolve beyond the classroom, I was wondering how Student Affairs and other Higher Education professionals can best support today’s learner. Higher education has been recently challenged with economic crisis, accountability questions and increased demands the employment market. It is important that higher education professionals consider the new dimensions and requirements to support our students, distribute information and organize services on campus. In a recent BreakDrink Snackable Session, @suebecks presented an idea on collaborating on a global level to swap ideas, share resources, answer questions and engage in a broad conversation that needs to occur in #HigherEd:

After this mini presentation, there was a thoughtful online dialogue with participants who shared their thoughts and perspectives on the issue. Many agreed that higher education could be better supported and improve through a global network for collaboration. There are many easy and accessible tools to drive this momentum and manage knowledge. After this session BreakDrink created a wiki to continue the conversation and collaboration of ideas:

HE Wiki 

“With such a networked approach to work and leisure time, traditional university classroom is starting to feel less appropriate.” ~Don Tapscott

  • What does this mean for #StudentAffairs & #HigherEd professionals who support student development?
  • How can SA & HE consider a collaborative approach for student development & student services?
  • Is it the evolution of the #StudentAffairs or #HigherEd professional or the student that needs to change for effective campus engagement?
  • Are there any examples of institutions and campus environments who best support students online or digitally?

Join us on Monday (7/18) at 7 pm CT as the BreakDrink Campus Tech Connection (#CTCX) talks LIVE about collaboration in higher education & how tech tools can support this evolution. We will also welcome @KMcCarthy8185 onto the show to discuss her #52in52 project for our NEW show segment called, The 15 Minute #SAtech Share.

Join the #CTCX gang with your thoughts, questions & ideas:

  • Listen to the show LIVE 
  • Tweet your thoughts using the hashtag #CTCX 
  • Call or Skype during the show: (646) 652-2342 or breakdrink
This post is cross-posted at BreakDrink.com

Let’s Get Visual with Data

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

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

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

Talking About PLNs on #SALive

My good friend/colleague Eric Stoller invited me to join his latest adventure with Student Affairs Live (#SALive) last week to further share my thoughts on PLNs and how to breakdown the silo mentality in higher education. #SALive is an extention the awesome weekly Higher Ed Live (#HElive) video podcasts/shows offered weekly by Seth Odell. Both of these weekly shows provide interesting and engaging topics for students, professionals and faculty members working in higher education.

I thought I’d share a few of the show highlights & discussion points below…

What is a Personal Learning Network (PLN) for Student Affairs Professionals or others in Higher Education?

  • Professional development – learn from content-area specialists
  • Locate resources for your Student Affairs (SA) content  area – such as free websites, software, etc
  • Get ideas from experienced SA Pros & Grad Students – initiatives, programs, suggested practices in the field
  • Learn about new technology & how to integrate it into professional field and/or content area
  • Find collaborative solutions – crowd-source it!
  • Getting connected – to people, knowledge, information, best practices, opportunities
  • Staying current with the trends & literature in Higher Ed & SA: – interesting links, news, articles, journals, event
  • RSS feed of reading fun – blogs, news, people, podcasts & then some!
  • Having a bit of a chat – dialoguing & sharing
  • Support – motivation from peers in your professional network

General PLN resources shared during the video podcast:

This is just one of many Student Affairs Live episodes for @EricStoller – so if you liked the first few be sure to check it on Wednesday at 3 pm CST. The next #SAlive show on April 6th will be about the #NASPACPA Association Consolidation vote. Tune in live here: http://bit.ly/StudentAffairsLive

#Hashtag + Community = Learning?

Photo c/o Flickr User drips

Hashtag – The Definition [and then some]

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts On My PLN

I have been pondering the value of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) for quite sometime. I value educators, professionals and researchers in higher education who share, connect and collaborators with me online and IRL. Here’s a great video describing how a PLN functions and works compliments of  tektrekker on YouTube:

Not too long ago @clintlalonde interviewed me for his masters thesis research paper on learning networks. I agreed to this Skype interview, as PLN is a strong interested on my own research thread. A BIG thanks goes out to Clint for having me reflect on my PLN. After reviewing the transcripts from our interview, I thought I would highlight a few thoughts I shared about my PLN:

  • a shared space where I connect and engage with a community of peers
  • this group is a sort of a scaffold & sounding board
  • a place go to for resources and ideas
  • usually related to my interests or areas I want to expand upon
  • technology did not create my PLN, but is is now a great and easy medium to cultivate it
  • resources for personal and professional development is in the network
  • 140 characters really does have value in my own educational development
  • my network is varied and there is never a dull moment – this is why I stay engaged
  • it has different themes within different nodes & groups
  • crowd-sourcing – starts the conversation, inspires project development and collaborative initiatives
  • it can evolve and it can change  - the medium may change but the messages & info is always there
  • I never stop learning…that’s why I heart my PLN!

Here are a few great articles and resources from educators in my PLN:

5 Things You Can Do to Begin Developing Your Personal Learning Network

What is a PLN? Or, PLE vs. PLN?

PLN: Your Personal Learning Network Made Easy

Personal Learning Networks – David Warlick

pln by ClintLalone.net

The Educator’s PLN Ning

Have you grown YOUR PLN lately?