#AcWri, BreakDrink, Conference, Podcast, publication, Research

The Scholar-Practitioner Paradox for Academic Writing [@BreakDrink Episode No. 8]

I have been thinking about the needs and challenges higher education and student affairs professionals have with regards to evidence-based practices. In higher education, there is no shortage of topics and ideas to explore. I have been fortunate to collaborate with both scholars and practitioners in education to study a number of issues, including scaled-open learning, digital learning strategies, social media policies/guidance, mentoring programs, and networked experiences, just to name a few.  Beyond this short list, there are a number of practitioners who have reached out and we’re in the process of establishing research plans for professional development, mapping competencies to training, and leveraging technology in networked communities. My work partnering and collaborating with scholar-practitioner better informs my research methods and in explaining the findings/implications.

Scholar-practitioners generate new knowledge to improve practice, yet how they prioritize and go about their work varies with where they are on this scholar-practitioner continuum (Wasserman & Kram, 2009). The challenge with this work is there is VERY LITTLE TIME professionals in higher ed have to do scholarly work. When you are working in an educational service role for a 12-month contract, it is a challenge to move through the research process. Wasserman and Kram (2009) observed how competencies, needs, and values align with the competing roles of the scholar-practitioner to match either the work or research interests. Scholarly habits and the writing process requires deep concentration and focus on thinking critically to endure through a research project — from the study design, methodological planning, recruitment of participants, to publication and dissemination of findings.

Although higher education administrators and staff are in the best position to analyze programs, student populations, and services — there is not enough scholarship produced from professionals IN the field.

In their book, A Guide to Becoming a Scholarly Practitioner in Student Affairs, I think Hatfield and Wise (2015, p. 6-8) touch on a few reasons why practitioners do not often contribute to academic writing and publications:

  • Not enough reading – that is, not as knowledgeable of current research in (and out of) the field, theories, and evidence-based practices from academic outlets
  • Not expected of positions and not valued – undervalued and underutilized research skills; some of these skills may have been minimal based on training, education, experience, etc. as it is not required in administrative positions
  • Second-class citizen syndrome – some might not have a terminal degree (Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.) or if they do, little academic scholarship has been completed beyond their dissertation work; also feel on a different level of the faculty at their institution (and often treated that way).
  • Inadequate academic preparation – research, evaluation and assessment training from each graduate program varies and many question skills and competency for research and publishing
  • Silos on campus – little interaction between departments, divisions, functions, and academic departments exist although we are trying to support the whole student.
  • Lack of motivation – when was the last time you saw “scholarship and research” in a practitioner’s job description or expectation to participate in scholarly conferences and publishing?

 

Many of the above items, I think, are describing student service/affairs professionals in the United States — as I have a number of higher ed colleagues who are required to produce research in their staff role. There is no shortage of op-ed pieces often shared among higher education social networks, blogs, podcasts, videos, and more. The issue is we rarely see published conference proceedings, journal articles, or academic outlets producing PEER-REVIEWED pieces from and about practice contributing evidence and understanding from the field.

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking with Jeff Jackson (via our @BreakDrink podcast) about this challenge and what we are witnessing among practitioner peers. The first installment “on academic writing and scholarship” Jeff and I dig into academic writing/scholarship for BreakDrink Episode No. 8, where we discuss the differences of Academic vs. Practitioner Conferences. From the book by Hatfield and Wise (2015), chapter three talks about presenting at professional conferences; however, none of the associations shared offer any published conference proceeding for presentations shared and are not the same as submitting a paper or academic poster for another association that is more scholarly in nature. I think Hatfield and Wise (205) offer a decent introduction to scholarly writing for the novice student affairs professional  — but I think it is lacking in a few areas (as detailed in the podcast and notes below). If you are interested, feel free to read this book review (Delgado & McGill, 2016) and listen to our thoughts via the podcast here:

@BreakDrink Episode No. 8 – Academic vs. Practitioner Conferences [SHOW NOTES]:

Episode No. 8,  might be part 1 of a few series on this topic about “being an academic” or “scholarly work.” Jeff and I have recorded a few meanderings as we think/share on this topic. If you have questions or want to know more about the following items, let us know: mentoring for #AcWri, how to put together a manuscript, proposing a conference paper, data management, or starting a peer-review journal OR being part of an editorial board. Let us know! 

Conferences Run Down in 2017: Scholar vs. Academic Conference

American Educational Research Association (AERA) hosts a research/scholarly conference annually and this year #aera17 conference was in San Antonio, TX with Jeff in attendance. This professional association is HUGE, but thankfully it is broken down into Divisions and  Special Interest Groups (a.k.a. SIGs). Division I is Jeff’s Jam: Education in the Professions as he also attends the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and perhaps Division J may be were some of the doctoral/graduate scholars hang out. Related to this association you will find THE journal, Educational Researcher, that is well-regarded by scholars; however AERA also has AERA Open and other publication outlets.

We just wish we saw more of this at practitioner conferences. Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) also held their annual conference at the same convention center in San Antonio, TX back in March. Both Jeff and I were there, and we attended a session on publishing in the NASPA journals from this association [Sadly the new Technology in Higher Education: Emerging Practice was not represented in this session this year.] It’s not as though sessions at Student Affairs or Practitioner conferences do have a poster session, and I have seen “Research Papers” presented at ACPA Convention and NACADA has offered Research Symposiums at regional conferences.  The conferences mentioned in Chapter 3 of Hatfield and Wise’s (2015) book: ACPA, NACA, NACADA, NASPA, ACUHO-I, NODA, & NIRSA

Academic Conferences We Have Also Attended to Note:

 

Conference Proceedings 101

Conference proceedings are scholarly papers a number of academics/researchers include on their vitae for the tenure and promotion. This is the “carrot” as to why faculty or scholars would attend a conference and allow doctoral researchers grants to travel, beyond the value of networking and discussions with peers. A proceeding could be a short (or long) paper presented at a conference, and sometimes there are even print proceedings published for your conference abstracts/papers (e.g. #SMsociety15 proceedings). All papers typically have a specific format (e.g. AECT’s manuscript requirements) and are submitted for a formal (typically blinded) peer-review process before they are accepted. Typically these are shorter papers or a conference abstract (not a beginning of a journal article abstract format), where you present your completed research projects. A number of social sciences and education conferences have specific formats beyond the APA Style 6th Edition, but that is a good start. If accepted, you will typically present your paper at the conference in a condensed format, such as 10-25 minutes, with a set of other papers in a single session. Each presentation is directed to showcase research by describing a brief literature overview, research methods (data collection, analysis) and findings/implications. This might be moderated by a discussant, moderator, or not at all with a brief (2-5 minutes) for Q&A at the end of your presentation/session time slot.

Other formats typically at scholarly conferences we have seen — but this is not an inclusive list:

  • Conference abstract (1000-2500 words) – how to guide and killer abstract writing
  • Full Papers (up to 8000-10.000 words)
  • Notes  or Work/Research In Progress
  • Poster Sessions (also via a device, e.g. laptop, tablet, etc.)
  • Workshops/Hands-on Sessions (e.g. how to use R-Studio for text mining)
  • Competitions or Expos — challenge/solution program feature to showcase work
  • Plenary/Keynotes
  • Doctoral Colloquium
  • Mentoring Programs

Episode F.A.Q.

  • Q: Is it considered a self-plagiarism to reuse (published) abstracts for talks? A: Yes. You want to avoid text recycling and should NOT but publishing the same work to different publication outlets.
  • Q: Is presenting about my program or an assessment of an initiative at my campus research? Does this count? A: Maybe. Did you get IRB approval from your institution before collecting data? Are you following the scholarly practice of your educational/social science peers? If not — this might be an assessment. Still great — but it could not be submitted as peer-reviewed conference proceeding or journal article.
  • Q: What is this Yellowbook that Jeff referred to during the podcast? A: It was known as a “phone book” and it’s directory of names of people and businesses for you to locate their contact information. You might use the Google or another search engine these days for said things. Apparently, Yellowbook as rebranded to “yb” and now has a website: https://www.yellowpages.com/
  • Q: Why is Tony Parker out for the rest of the NBA season? A: He injured his quadriceps tendon on Wednesday, May 2nd. {tear!}
  • Q: What is Fiesta? A: A 10-day annual party celebrating culture, food, fun, and parades in San Antonio, TX that typically falls at the end of April. More about Fiesta. Best tagline: “A party with a purpose” https://www.fiesta-sa.org/

Our Pro-Tips for Attending Academic Conference:

  1. Prepare for the Conference: Review the conference website to see what research is being presented, who will be attending, and who you should meet (new & friends) while you are both at this event. Are you a fan girl/boy of a particular researcher and you want to chat about their work/your work? Are you hoping to collaborate with other scholars? Do your homework and figure out who will be there. Maybe you want to set up a meeting over a meal/coffee/drinks OR find a particular session where you can be introduced to new peers.
  2. Attend the First Time Attendee Session (if they have one): Get the lay of the conference land and get a good overview/guide to what is going on during the event. Is there a mixer with food and/or drinks? Attend and meet a few people. Prepare to be social and have your own “elevator pitch” about what you are currently studying or working on right now. Think about this before you show up to the conference.

Overall, we think higher education professionals could do better with sharing MORE research-based information at our conferences. Many of these sessions are often hidden within the general program sessions and/or found in a poster session — that is often not well-attended. Hatfield and Wise (2015, p. 8) challenge practitioners to research by asking:

If you could give voice to those who were marginalized, if you could change the field of student affairs through your voice, if you could create better collaborations across campus with our academic colleagues, and if you could share your insights with parents, students, and other invested stakeholders so that they will know what we contribute to student learning and development, why wouldn’t you?”

Why are we not encouraging more scholar-practitioner collaborations? And what incentives could you offer early career researchers and senior scholars to attend these conferences? These are ponderings we are thinking about from reading this book (Hatfield & Wise, 2015) on SA scholarship. We think it’s a decent starting guide to getting into academic writing. Sharing evidence-based initiatives are required to be relevant in higher education. This value needs to be showcased more by and with student affairs, student services, and those not on an academic track to offer others insight to the work we are doing.

@BreakDrink Podcast ShoutOuts

 

If you have a thought or two, please share it with us via one of these channels. We’d love to hear from you on any one or all of following the “BreakDrink” podcast channels:

We welcome comments, questions, and more! If you happen to listen to Apple Podcasts a.k.a. iTunes, please consider leaving us a rating and review. Thanks!

References:

Delgado, A., & McGill, C. M. (2016). A Guide to Becoming a Scholarly Practitioner in Student Affairs by Lisa J. Hatfield and Vicki L. Wise (review). Journal of College Student Development57(7), 898-900.

Hatfield, L. J., & Wise, V. L. (2015). A guide to becoming a scholarly practitioner in student affairs. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Wasserman, I. C., & Kram, K. E. (2009). Enacting the scholar—practitioner role: An exploration of narrativesThe Journal of Applied Behavioral Science45(1), 12-38.

#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. (2016). Sociotechnical stewardship in higher education: A field study of social media policy documents. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 1-22. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s12528-016-9130-0 Published Online November 21, 2016.

#3Wedu, Higher Education, wine, women

The #3Wedu Podcast No 16: #OLCinnovate 2017 Re-Cap

Hey squad [replacing “hey guys” one phrase at a timeThanks @alexpickett}. Listen up.

heysquad

The #3Wedu posse is hosting a happy hour podcast THIS Wednesday (4/26) at 5 pm CDT. Join us to for a chat with your cup of cheer and ideas here:

The #3Wedu Podcast

On April 5, the women of #3Wedu traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana to facilitate roundtable discussions on ways to re-define education to support women in innovative contexts. If you haven’t heard about this, check out our last blog post about the #3Wedu Conversation at #OLCinnovate:

News, blogs, and panels are filled with horror stories from Silicon Valley, reflecting pay gaps, gender bias, and more. In our roundtable, we first asked, “what does it mean to be a woman in innovative education environments?” Next, we thought about how we might re-imagine the organizational structures of universities to be more supportive of women. Read and contribute to the #OLCinnovate discussion here: http://bit.ly/3weduinnovate17 

In the next episode of the #3Wedu podcast No. 16, we’ll reflect on the roundtable conversations further, to share who we met, what we heard, and ways we might move the conversation forward into action. Join us…

View original post 57 more words

BreakDrink, Podcast

A Throwback to the Campus Tech Connection (#CTCX) on @BreakDrink Episode No. 7

Do you miss the Campus Tech Connection (#CTCX) podcast from the ol’ skool BreakDrink? [Or perhaps just the rants?] Then @BreakDrink episode no. 7, lovingly called, The Technology Curmudgeons, is for you! Jeff Lail
joins Jeff and me to chat about how technology AND our own perspectives on technology have changed. 

If you have not read the article, Tech Bigwigs Know How Addictive Their Products Are. Why Don’t the Rest of Us?, or seen the Brain Hacking episode from a recent 60 minutes – you should. What is technology doing to our brains? How are technologies social engineering us? Are we questioning the issues around technology on campus enough? Have we even thought about Privacy, Data Survivalism, and New Tech Ethics [via Note To Self episode with Anil Dash & Julia Angwin] and where we are going as a society?

Listen and catch the rest of the show notes/links directly on the BreakDrink.com site, including the following recommended reads & listens.

@BreakDrink Reads Mentioned:

@BreakDrink Podcast ShoutOuts

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

We welcome banter & comments there. If y’all listen to the podcast via iTunes, please consider leaving us a rating and review.

Library

School Librarians’ Impact to Student Learning: CLASS II Research Call for Field Studies

For just over a year, I have been part of a project with the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to dig into the empirical research proposed by the Causality: School Libraries and Student Success (CLASS) white paper For this second phase, the CLASS II researcher teams (from Old Dominion University, Florida State University, and the University of North Texas) are investigating possible causal relationships between the work of effective school librarians and student learning outcomes the K-12 education. Learn more about the call and upcoming webinar (4/24) we’re hosting to discuss the call for research proposals.

Much of our work has been reviewing, aggregating, and synthesizing empirical literature from 1965-present that includes school-based malleable factors that impact learning. Unlike other aggregations, the multi-team approach is examining causal relationships beyond the domain of school library research to identify interventions that may already be or could potentially be used by school librarians. To synthesize the combined corpus, we directed our evaluation of the literature to uncover evidence-based strategies, activities, and interventions identified by the U.S. Department of Education non-regulatory guidance document released in September 2016: “Using Evidence to Strengthen Educational Investments.”

The NEXT phase of this project is the opportunity to contribute to the CLASS II Research via the OPEN-Request for Proposals (RFP) for CLASS II: Field Studies. We hope to fund/support proposals that seek to understand how school libraries make a difference to student learning outcomes in practice, specifically by examining evidence-based strategies, activities, and interventions for school librarians in K-12 education. Deadline to Submit: June 15, 2017

Successful applicants should advance our understanding of how school librarians contribute to one or more of the following issues and findings from the empirical literature based on our synthesis findings:

Learners Benefit From:

  • Direct, explicit, and systematic instruction on new material blended with strategically timed small group reinforcement activities.
  • Hands-on experiences in science and mathematics that connect learning with real-world or familiar content and experiences.
  • Contextual instruction in questioning, problem-solving strategies, and other metacognitive skills.
  • Formative, corrective feedback, including quizzes, that promotes and reinforces learning.
  • Exposure to vocabulary through reading and listening as well as explicit vocabulary instruction and acquisition strategies.
  • The frequency of instruction may be as or more important than the concentration of time particularly in mathematics.
  • The amount and type of intervention or teaching are personalized to meet individual needs.
  • Modifying the learning environment to decrease problem behavior, although a positive learning environment alone may not be sufficient.
  • Teachers with 2-5 years of teaching experience, especially compared with first-year teachers who are generally less effective.
  • Visual representations.
  • Intensive and individualized interventions for struggling readers.

Please join us for a FREE informational webinar for further details about the RFP requirements, answer questions about potential proposal topics, or respond to any research methods or approaches:

CLASS II Research: RFP Information Session

Monday, April 24, 2017 from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM CDT

Webinar Archive  |  Webinar Slides  | Webinar Notes

If you have any questions about the CLASS II RFP for Field Studies and are unable to attend the LIVE, synchronous webinar, please do not hesitate to email us with further inquiries: class@ala.org

Higher Education

On Expertise in Higher Ed

I have been thinking a lot about expertise in higher education — especially as more institutions look to a growing number of “experts” to help solve their institutional challenges and issues. No thanks to Martin‘s book suggestion on expertise, my blog rant on this topic will be informed and directed as this text unpacks the challenges that knowledge and expertise holds. In thinking about expertise, Nicols (2017) shares how “…experience helps to separate the credentialed from the incompetent ” (p. 33) and it “distinguish[es] between people who have a passing acquaintance with a subject and people whose knowledge is definitive” (p. 39). This idea of expertise, of course, can be applied to a number of situations or issues in society — but for now, I will stick with the domain I work in, higher education (also, Chapter #3 of this book).

Nicols’ (2017) central premise asserts that our post-secondary institutions are failing to provide students basic knowledge and skills that form expertise, that is, “critical thinking: the ability to examine new information and completing ideas dispassionately, logically, and without emotional or personal preconceptions” (p. 72). He continues to also identify issues in Ameican higher education around the topic of expertise, including the abundance of students and faculty (and institutions), the manufacturing of Ph.D.’s that surpasses the academic job market demands, over-reliance and over credentialing of masters degrees, the influence of the ‘helicopter parent’ on education clientele, social media as a communication equalizer that removes respectful interactions, and over promising what a 4-year degree can offer for today’s employment market — just to name a few ‘highlights’ from the chapter.

I do agree with Nicols that our learners need to be more involved in the learning process. Our students need to be part of their education and doing more than just observing or absorbing information. Where is the debate? How are we engaging inquiry? When do we challenge our students to solve problems or apply learning beyond a course? I would much rather encourage a flock of critical thinkers rather than choosy consumers or relentless criticizers. I think enlightenment and growth should come from the learners, rather than being directed by the instructor. How are we encouraging this type of self-directed learning, higher ed?

That being said solid research on any given topic takes TIME and EFFORT. I agree with Nicols’ (2017) that “…the Internet is actually changing the way we read the way we reason, and even the way we think, and all for the worse” (p. 111). A simple Google Search on a topic is not as it seems, and the accuracy of information is rarely analyzed as we seek the quick response [More about this in @BreakDrink Episode No. 5 with Chris Gilliard]. Digital fluency and information literacy are skills we could ALL tool-up on (including myself) to improve upon our knowledge and move beyond the #FakeNews fallacies. If a research board calls on your expertise to “learn about the current higher ed trends” or a survey has a number of research limitations, then you might not want to put so much emphasis on a whitepaper report or generalizability of these findings [I have experienced both recently]. For those of us who seek to build on empirical work, how often do we cite or refer to a source without taking into consideration the sample size, context, or research methods? Why are we not applying more of these evidence-based methods into our practice? Are we suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect in higher ed, where ignorance is for dummies?

A recent Chronicle article identifies public intellectuals as “experts, often academics, who are well versed and well trained enough to comment on a wide range of issues [that is] professional secondhand dealers in ideas” (Drezner, 2017). Unlike these public intellectuals, we have also have thought leaders who “develop their own singular lens to explain the world, and then proselytize to anyone within earshot.” [This is perhaps why I cringe at being called a thought leader…]  One individual argues about everything that is right about their own idea (thought leaders) or wrong about others’ ideas (public intellectuals). It is easy to see why the thought leader has eclipsed the ideas owned by public intellectuals (Drezner, 2017) — as many of us do not want to hear criticism and would much rather learn about the optimism and great future that lies ahead. Right?

Sigh. It is the best and worst of times to have any expertise or knowledge in a given area. Based on Nichols’ (2017) view, the “public intellectual, that is, people who hold the middle ground” on issues to have their knowledge and ideas put forward. In practice, I think this might be true — take this recent conference session example: I was sharing some of the initial findings of what we are learning from the Networked Communities of Practice study and a couple of the attendees wanted specific answers and guidance on social and digital platforms for professional development for student affairs practitioners.  At the time, I could offer a few insights into uses of platforms and preliminary experiences; however, with this sort of research and SO MUCH DATA TO REVIEW — I could not tell them all they wanted to know.

Maybe this professional has only heard one (positive) perspective or has only heard similar ideas in a small echo chamber from the field on this topic. I was not surprised to learn practitioners and scholars are rarely found saying: “I don’t know” and “I want to know more before I give a definitive statement.”  No one wants to look incompetent or uninformed, right? Just maybe this assumption of expertise or authoritative knowledge, by title, role, or credential in higher ed, actually limits how much we ACTUALLY know and understand on any given topic. Perhaps it’s time for a few more of us from the knowledge working field to claim less expertise and continue to ask more questions. It might bring us somewhere interesting…

References:

Drezner, D. W. (2017, April 6). Triumph of the thought leader… and the eclipse of the public intellectual. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/article/Triumph-of-the-Thought-Leader/239691

Nichols, T. (2017). The death of expertise: The campaign against established knowledge and why it matters. Oxford University Press.