Bringing Our Personality and Self(ie) to the Online

You can’t help but bring yourself to anything you are passionate about. I truly believe this.

Self-Love

This past week has brought conversation and debate prompted from a single blog post about The role of personality in education. Thank you, Martin. This post shared thoughts on how individual courses emerged with a “cult of personality” to drive it towards success, collaboration, interaction and then some. For these type of MOOCs, the learning design was intentionally focussed on the characters (Yes. Dave and Jim are characters… who I adore) to encourage participation and community in the vast Interwebs:

To be successful they often require someone with a well established online network to gather enough momentum, and because creating successful cMOOCs is hard work, that person usually needs to really be central in driving the course forward. And when this works well, it really does create a very engaging learning community.” ~ @mweller

I really think the “chalk and talk” can and should be changed for effective teaching and learning. This will take time, and much more than a popular face and/or a shiny technological platform to alter the culture of teaching and learning in higher education (online, blended OR F2F).:

…an understanding that public service is only a part of identity, and thus the educators who are engaging emergent technologies in the name of pedagogy and content need to be able and willing to build connections and relationships between the formal requirements of the educational system with the personal transformation of each individual.” ~ @RMoeJo

Of course, these ideas about personality and lead personalities are not always representative of the spectrum of learning we see leading these initiatives in higher ed. Social media has created opportunities for unique and powerful collaborations; however they have limited a voice from other populations. There are a number of flaws in elevating pedestals in online learning. Thanks for the reminder Kate, I appreciate her post to consider how we  reward and recognize privilege in our domain:

And on campus, we struggle with personality across student surveys and intellectual property policies: we haggle over the idea of the individual as creator of educational content whose expertise is the guarantee of student experience, while setting up procedures to assure the depersonalisation of content production so that students are protected from the vagaries of charm. Personality: can’t live with it, can’t live without it.” ~ @KateMfD

I am not naive in thinking a number of these social mediums and emerging technologies often influence the network, create affinity groups, and allow lead personalities to dominate. However; I am reminded these same social networks permit educators to customize student experiences, collaborate with researchers, and  build meaningful relationships to scaffold learning and inquiry.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with student development and academic advising faculty/staff the only way I know how to best engage in what I do. To be myself, specifically, how to model your persona in the online to support student success and professional development on campus. In the #AdvSelfie session, we discussed how it is important, more than ever, to be present and engaged in the digital. More than ever we need to ask questions, be involved, and participate in the backchannel conversations happening at and around out institutions.

Mentoring and modelling online is the key to success for all in higher education — this includes our academic staff/faculty, administrators, staff, educators, and students of all educational levels. In an effort to engage in this dialogue, I challenged participants at the #NACADAmelb and other professional/faculty in higher ed online to BE PRESENT. This challenge stemmed from a 30-day challenge for those who are active online (or should be). To be the example for others on campus, I encouraged the advising group (hey – we all advise one way or another) to be the example with The #AdvSelfie Challenge – so you should probably participate as well:

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The #AdvSelfie Challenge: Post your best selfie showing how you mentor and model your online persona for your #highered campus (students, staff & faculty) with the hashtag #AdvSelfie before July 31, 2015 at 11:59 pm CDT. Prizes WILL be awarded … so get creative!

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The Future of Advising

This week I am at the NACADA’s International Conference, Melbourne, Australia (#NACADAmelb) with The Global Community for Academic Advising. Today our panel (George, Catherine, Jennifer, and myself) started a conversation around the following prompt: “The Future of Advising: Current and Past Predictions to Shape Our Future.” This panel was designed to poke at the issues and uses of technology in higher education for student support, academic advising, and personal tutoring. Much of the discussion was focussed on the Lowenstein’s chapter, Envisioning the Future (as shared in What’s On the Horizon for Academic Advising? recorded lecture), and Steele’s article, Five Possible Future Work Profiles for Full-time Academic Advisors, specifically to address the following issues with advising:

  1. If advising is teaching, how will technology assist in its delivery?
  2. How will technology shape the role of advising as a profession?
  3. How will current trends such as “big data,” “predictive/learning analytics,” and financial support in higher education impact advising? 

Although this international conference holds a variety of perspectives and definitions for academic advising, students support needs and challenges in our post-secondary institutions are very similar. Regardless of geographic location or educational systems, collaboratively we can benefit from our collective experiences just like the innovators who created the digital revolution (Isaacson, 2014).

Themes emerging from our discussions included student support needs, advising responsibility and workflow, peer tutoring/advising roles and models, change literacy, leadership strategy with change, and cultural considerations. Most often people want to talk about the shiny, bullet (technology) solution, but really there are a number of other considerations for the future of advising and students support in higher ed that go beyond a platform or application.  With this panel discussion, we really wanted to provide a springboard to dive into the issues relevant to advising, beyond technological solutionism.

RobotsJob

Fortunately for us, we had a number of brilliant administrators and faculty at our #NACADAmelb session who asked insightful questions and prompts we should think deeper about. I will leave these questions here for you to ponder as you consider what lies ahead for the future of advising and student support in higher education:

    • Will there be a future?
    • Advising is such a personal, developmental relationship. How can technology – any technology – deliver better than a real person?
    • How do we engage and keep students engaged in online advising?
    • Will academic advising ever be part of a strategic plan?
    • Will advising ever be rewarded like research or teaching?
    • How do we effectively support students?
    • How do we use our data to predict future trends and be more proactive in a digital and physical advising environment?
    • How can technology be used to support student advising?
    • What are the best exemplars in the field?
    • How do we keep the pace with the communication styles and needs for our learners?
    • What are the best tips and tricks for distance education advising?
    • How will the status of advising, as a profession worldwide, be valued?
    • What are the pedagogical and theoretical underpinnings the global community of advising (NACADA) should consider?
    • When will robots be able to do my job? [Find out.]

References

Isaacson, W. (2014). The Innovators. How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. New York: Simon & Shuster.

Lowenstein, M. (2013). Chapter 14: Envisioning the future. In J. K. Drake, P.   Jordan, M. A. Miller(Eds.), Academic advising approaches: Strategies that teach students to make the most of college. (pp. 243-258). San Francisco,  CA: Jossey-Bass

Pasquini, L. A. (2015, February 22). What’s on the horizon for academic advising? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkGgsJrRZMg

Steele, G.E. (2006). Five possible future work profiles for full-time academic advisors, NACADA Journal, 26(2), 48-64.

PSA: Laura Down Under for June

This just in: I’m in the LAND DOWN UNDER! {Sorry if this is delayed information, as I just landed into Oz… but hey}

As this is my first visit to Australia (yeah, I can’t believe it either), so I thought I’d make the most of it. I’ll be in Sydney (until June 17) and Melbourne (June 18-July 1)to catch up with from friends, family & tweeps. I will be researching and teaching online — so if you  need me I am available by phone (text preferred to my Google Voice office number: 940-268-5920) or shoot me an email. I’ll do my best respond there or other social networks a.k.a. Facebook message, Twitter (@laurapasquini) or Skype (laurapasquiniphd) when I have access to WiFi. I might be ahead or behind your reply–but I will get to it when I can.
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If you’re in Melb, join us for the impromptu tweetup on June 18th http://bit.ly/melbtweetup

Or perhaps I’ll see you at the NACADA Melbourne Conference (#NACADAmelb)? Let me know!

#DallasDownUnder

Thinking About Communities for Learning {#Rhizo15 Week 5 – Catch Up}

Q: What a #Rhizo15 post? But Laura, I thought the course was over? Is this not true?

A: The #Rhizo15 is never over with a community like this one. #truth

Week 5 poked and prodded at the notion of community for learning, with questions like:

  • How do we make sure there is always room for new and contrarian voices?
  • Do we need to create a them to have a we?
  • How do we cultivate a community learning ecosystem so that it continues to grow outward rather than inward?
  • What does that mean for learning?
  • Must rhizomatic learning be an invasive species?

In my efforts to set up my 10-week Summer courses (why I dropped off the #rhizo15 path as an “active participant” both blogging, tweeting & on the Facebook group), I thought more about how communities can enhance learning, both the informal and formal sides. As I read the #rhizo15 week 5 blog posts and thought a the questions above – it made me consider access and agency to learning – my own and others. Whether it has been a course, certificate, professional meeting or a training seminar — the best experience in learning has been the people and their contributions. The opportunities to dialog and share experiences have lent to stickier and more meaningful learning — for myself and others. There is great knowledge With regards to facilitation and instruction, I would agree with Lisa’s sentiments from week #4 where the fearless #rhizo15 leader, Dave has “chosen words, for every one of his prompts, that are very open to interpretation.” Others interpreted this prompt with metaphors and ideas, including cultivating a garden of learning/teaching, thinking about spontaneous growth, and considering lines of flight for the #rhizo15 course/community.

I agree with these sentiments for my informal learning practices. In a number of my personal learning networks and communities of practice, there are always issues of cultivating a broader network and experience for those involved with learning. It is critical to avoid the online echo chamber when surrounded by like-minded people. This notion of echos in the network vary for #rhizo15 learning community. Some believe this community provides learning support and outlets to challenge the norm, while other community interactions or experiences might be determined by an algorithm. It is important to find ways to challenge and engage the learning community to reflect upon their practice and consider contrary points of view. Sometimes it is a good idea to step back to assess the conversation and learning in the community. I think it’s healthy to have a critical eye when reviewing the participation, discussion, and contribution in the learning community. How can we evaluate and reflect this practice more in our own learning networks?

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The Echo Chamber [Revisited] by @gapingvoid

In my efforts to set up my 10-week Summer courses (one of the reasons why I dropped off the #rhizo15 path as an “active participant” both blogging, tweeting & on the Facebook group for a while), I thought more about how communities can enhance learning, both the informal and formal sides. In reflecting on my own formal learning/teaching, I have always valued individual contributions and experiences shared by others. Whether it has been a course, certificate, professional meeting or a training seminar — the best experience in learning has been from the people. We typically have been prompted to respond, answer, or be involved in some sort of interaction — however the learning happens more when the group of learners actively participate, chat, and share. This got me thinking about how to develop a learning community in a formal course curriculum and consider ways to personalize the learning experience.

Forcing or facilitating openness? You decide.

I like the idea of openness guided by the instructor. I enjoy finding meaning and ways to interpret the discussions; however I knew that most of my learners need directions and clear targets. This prompt encouraged ways to facilitate “openness” in my own teaching/training to revitalize a sense of exploration for my learners/participants. I want to facilitate a space that is structured “enough”; however it  does make room for all voices and galvanizes my learners to contribute to include their different perspectives and experiences. How are you encouraging these type of “open” learning experiences in your courses? How are they being interpreted/received by your students?

This past Monday kicked off the Summer sessions at UNT, and I was excited to welcome my learners in #LTEC3010 (Personal Development) and #LTEC4000 (Introduction to Training and Development). Both courses guide career and professional development either as individuals or within an organization [both course syllabi are posted here, if interested]. Interestingly enough, these two different courses have a lot of similarity in understanding organizational learning and individual performance in the workplace. There is enough “structure” for our online undergraduate courses; however I have made room for research, questions, creativity, and contributions from the learners. To be intentional about community learning, there are a number of activities (e.g. discussions, research projects, etc.) and examples to encourage self-directed learning offered in each class. As per usual, I hope to model the impacts online communities of practice and professional mentoring can have on individual academic/career development, while also introducing how informal and online learning networks can support new modes for training and development.

We shall see how these learning communities develop and grow… more to share soon (I hope).

Being A Networked Scholar

Using social media and being a networked scholar allows provides you with an online, research presence and connects you to academics inside and outside your field. The power of open, social networks, allows academic to connect to research and researchers across disciplines. Consider all the ways you can collaborate and share in social media. A growing number of scholars have adopted and joined these online scholarly communities to meet other like-minded scholars, solicit for research support, share project progress, and  disseminate findings beyond a conference publication or journal article. A core value of open, online networked scholarship  is it is “a place where scholars can congregate to share their work, ideas and experiences” (Veletsianos, 2013, p. 648).  There are a number of researcher identification and citation tools connected to social media sites and scholarly metrics. Teaching and research information are being distributed and shared across platforms and communities.

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“It is a critical time to rethink how research is produced, distributed, and acknowledged.”

(Pasquini, Wakefield, Reed & Allen, 2014, p. 1567).

As I investigate workplace learning and performance, it has been helpful to blog and bounce ideas off on others on Twitter. I have used Mendeley to work on literature reviews, Google+ hangouts for research team meetings, Google documents for collaborative writing/research, searchedAcademia.edu or ResearchGate to access publications, and posted academic results to SlideShare. These are just a few ways I like to “show my work” and work in the open as a scholar. Being social and online allows me to reflect on my academic teaching and research scholarship experiences, and it has connected me to a great number of academics who I learn and research among.

If you or another academic colleague are thinking about how social media and networks can impact your teaching, research, and service scholarship, then here are a few insights George & I shared for a Royal Roads University post on networked scholarship.

Network with colleagues

Higher education faculty and academics are adopting social media in growing numbers. A 2011 survey, for example, found that 45 % of higher education respondents use Facebook for professional, non-classroom purposes. Joining social media networks allows scholars to connect with colleagues, offer resources and discuss issues of professional interest.

Solicit feedback and reflect on your research and teaching

Academics increasingly share their work online, often engaging in activities that impact practice. Academic-focused social networking sites, such as Academia.edu and Mendeley, and general interest sites such as Twitter and SlideShare provide scholars with places to distribute, discuss and expand on their research and teaching.

Reach multiple audiences

In sharing in open social networks, scholars enter into interdisciplinary territory and often break down barriers between academic disciplines. Not only are the traditional walls of the academy thinner online, but academic work could reach broader audiences, such as practitioners and journalists.

Cultivate your identity as a scholar

Social media and online networks allow scholars to manage their online identity, track their citations, identify their spheres of influence and connect with colleagues. These tools support different ways in which knowledge can be produced, shared, negotiated and acknowledged. Learn more about a few of these tools here and here.

Become more open

Using social media and online social networks means being a tad more open, and that’s good for all of us. Openness is the practice of sharing resources and materials (e.g., syllabi, lectures, research papers) in a way that allows others to retain, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute them. Social media and online social networks often support an ethos of openness, enabling academics to share their work more frequently. A more open approach to scholarship allows knowledge and education to flow more freely and to be used more widely.

What advice do you give early career researchers and academics who are just getting started with social media?

I am not naive to say that being a networked, social scholars does not have any issues. What challenges do you see in being part of the “open” and involved in networked scholarship? Let me know. A follow-up blog post on this particular question and  issue to come…

References:

Pasquini, L., Wakefield, J., Reed, A. & Allen, J. (2014). Digital Scholarship and Impact Factors: Methods and Tools to Connect Your Research. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2014 (pp. 1564-1569). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.editlib.org/p/148918.

Veletsianos, G. (2013). Open Practices and Identity: Evidence from Researchers and Educators’ Social Media Participation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(3), 639-651.

A version of this blog post is cross-posted on the Royal Roads University website.

Time to Drop the Mic Instructors: Learning Gone Wild {#Rhizo15 Week 4}

Thanks for your#Rhizo15 hack in week 4, Viplav. Your questions really got me thinking:

  • How do we really learn online?
  • How much of control and direction do we need?
  • How much of control do we want when we teach?
  • How do we expect others to learn in such environments?
  • What do we expect of them as co-learners?

For #Rhizo15, a strong and involved learning community, the answers are easier to navigate when we remove the instructor or when “DAVE’S NOT HERE.” With a number of educators who are passionate about learning and entrenched in thinking in #rhizo15, you are bound to keep the conversation going and the learners engaged. For most of us, we have experienced traditional pedagogical models and like the ideas of this sort of free-form learning and ability to dip into the curriculum as we like. Also, it won’t take much for someone to create a video, post a cartoon, record a sound cloud, or throw up a blog post on the topic of getting rid of the instructor. As co-learners, we thrive among the course banter and expect one another to contribute. So getting rid of Dave (metaphorically, of course) in #rhizo15, would not impact this course as much as we think (no offense, Dave).

Now, what would happen if we removed an instructor from a course? This could be online or face-to-face class. How would the learners react? When control is given to the course participants, will it be “Learners Gone Wild” or will our students take up the charge to contribute? My thought: it really depends on the course design.

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These questions made me think back to my undergraduate days at the University of Guelph (Go Gryphons!), where most of my 4th-year history seminar courses were just that. As per the typical course syllabi, we were assigned weekly readings; however instead of coming to a “sage on a stage” lecture we were required to do the teaching. Each week 1-2 students volunteered  to offer a micro lesson, develop questions, and  facilitate the discussion on a topic. The professor often sat back in the class, and let us drive the critical analysis, synthesize the material, and debate about issues. It was GREAT! I thought – THIS is what learning is all about at university. I want more!

StudentCenteredTheories

Student-centered learning theories & methods for flipped learning (Bishop & Verleger, 2013).

Student-centered learning is the key to deep learning, and although not described as “flipped learning” (Bishop & Verleger, 2013) back then, this is what most of my history faculty did at U of G. If you set up your curriculum to purposefully ALLOW for peer-to-peer learning, then removing the facilitator/instructor from the course may be just what you need. By creating intentional spaces (online or in-class) and opportunities for your students to co-learn, you might just be surprised on how they can bring more life to the course subject. During the course, instructors become facilitators of learning to support students with active learning strategies, such as individual problem-solving and team-based projects.Empowering your learners to take the reigns requires them to be embedded in the discipline of study. When you teach someone else about a concept, it requires a deep understanding of the material before you have to explain or critique it.

This does take some intention and planning in how you set up your course structure. It will be important for you to think about where, how, and when you want to infuse peer instruction and the support required for your learners. Think about how you want learners to contribute, lead, evaluate, and understand. When done well, this type of learning has huge benefits for both the instructor and leaders. There are so many possibilities to create dynamic interactions, meaningful conversations and critical thinking about your subject without your lead. Embrace the idea of “letting go of teaching” to see what might happen in part or all of your class. You might be pleasantly surprised at what YOU will learn from your students. Be sure to answer the following questions before you “drop the mic” as an instructor (adopted from Hoffman, 2014):

  • What positive opportunities can student-lead instruction offer your students?
  • How can instructors benefit from creating a cooperative learning experience?
  • What are the possible challenges students and instructors might with peer-assisted learning, and how might they be avoided?
  • What are evidence-based practices for learning environment without an instructor?

Interested in joining the #Rhizo15 world late or want to be part of the conversation and not just a lurker? Dave’s got a guide for that:

  1. This is a list of all rhizo15 blog posts
  2. Pick a title that resonates – click on it.
  3. Leave a comment
  4. Approach mirror, give the person in the mirror a high five
  5. Return contentedly to previous activity
Check out the course website http://rhizomatic.net or go to the hashtag on twitter #rhizo15
Also, you can write late blog posts (like me!) on any of the weekly topics.

For those #Rhizo15 slackers like Kevin & me (well, myself more so), we’re working on said things. The Slackers #Rhizo15 Guide will be available… when we get around to it. :)

Slacker's #Rhizo15 Guide... to comeCartoon via @dogtrax (Thanks, Kevin!)

 References:

Bishop, J. L., & Verleger, M. A. (2013). The flipped classroom: A survey of the research. In Proceedings from the 120th ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, GA.

Hoffman, J. G. (2014). The functionality and feasibility of flipping. Proceedings from the 25th International Conference on College Teaching and Learning, (pp. 112-126). Jacksonville, FL

Being Content Without Content {#Rhizo15 Week 3 Catch Up}

The irony from my last #Rhizo15 post = having to grade multiple assignments for the end of the semester. I should have seen that one coming. I set it up that way. Lesson learned. That being said, I have put a great more thought on my curriculum, with regards to evaluation, assessment, and, #Rhizo15 week three’s topic, CONTENT.

Dave’s prompt for Week 3: The Myth of Content and “Content is People” first made me think of Soylent Green is People, and then how most educators (myself included) tend to drive our students to learn based on the content over any other approach.

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We create learning modules, assign specific readings, designate topics for lectures, and require discussion posts with specific content in mind. If a course was just a textbook or a course pack to read, then why teach? What would it be like to focus a class on a general topic? How can you offer a structure of learning for participation, inclusion, and knowledge sharing?

“We are all so much bigger than the content we teach. Perhaps that would go on our subjective portfolios and resumes – the place where all the really important things are listed and never realized.”  {Well said, Ron!}

It’s great to see how content can come “from the people” and present itself in a democratic way. I like the resources, references, and ideas shared from the #rhizo15 community. This is how we are modeling content by the learners. I suppose #Rhizo15 is a solid example of this, but can we do this within our disciplines and for our own courses? I would like to think so… and this summer, I might just have to test out the #rhizo15 waters with a new course I am picking up to teach:

LTEC 4000: Principles of Training and Development:. This course investigates the design, delivery and evaluation of training and development programs, specifically with regards to the relationship of modern technology and training theories.

In considering this strategy, I know I’ll need to create a framework for sharing, outline the purpose of the course, consider effective evaluation strategies, and offer a type of learning structure for my online students. My program typically has a wide-range of adult learners who share fantastic experiences and get to apply strategies from class to the workplace. Every semester, I learn a great deal when my learners to talk in discussion threads, blog posts, journal entries and on Twitter. I really am looking for my learners to embrace continuous learning in the workforce through discovery, curiosity, and inquiry.

I do have the same sentiments/questions shared by Mr. Misterovich:

  • Is critical thinking truly cognitive development or is it more socially guided?
  • In other words, should we not expect certain age groups to easily think critically because their brain development is not ready for it?
  • Or is critical thinking more of a cultural/social development?
  • If we choose to do so, could we introduce critical thinking earlier and start students stepping up the developmental stages earlier?

I look forward to the contributions my students will provide for training and development, and my own challenges/developments as I work on a “content-less” course. To be blogged about…