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.

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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.

What Communities and Hashtags Connect You On Twitter?

Twitter is commonly used for learning & development. We know that hashtags are great ways to link conversations, trends, news, and happenings on this social network. In real time, you can follow a story, participate in a conversation, and contribute to a community by including a hashtag in your tweet. A hashtag community might be formed by an instructor for a specific educational course or program. Or maybe there is a hashtag you are following for a professional learning event or for a specific conference backchannel (I’ve been known to inquire about these before). Hashtags have the power to share learning/knowledge from a conference for participants who are on-site or at a distance.

GotHashtagFor example, Kimmons and Veletsianos (2016) examined the tweets shared during the 2014 and 2015 American Educational Research Associations (AERA) annual conferences by reviewing the #aera14 and #aera15 hashtag. They found that backchannels are a venue for both scholarly and non-scholarly communications. It’s used for more than just promotion — the conference backchannel offers a way to share work, engage in scholarly conversations, and discussion current events or issues relevant to education.  Want to learn more? Watch the Research Shorts video below:


Conference participants gave a nod to other educational communities online, such as #edchat or #edreform, who regularly dialog, share, and interact with one another on Twitter using their group hashtag.

Like a number of educators, I have an affinity to a few Twitter communities online based on the hashtags they share and use. Some of these groups have regular  Twitter chats, and a number of Twitter communities offer support, advice, and guidance within a field or discipline. I’ll give a hat-tip to (one of many) a hashtag that supported my own work as a doctoral researcher active on Twitter => #PhDchat. This informal, online network has been known to support many graduate students work through dissertation/thesis development, swap research methods, and learn about effective academic writing practices (to name a few). emergent, online community is an informal network. Learn more about the #phdchat community from Ford,  Veletsianos, and Resta’s (2014) as they share their examination of this emerging, online network:

As some of you might know, I am working with some stellar researchers to learn more about how these online, informal Twitter communities/hashtags impact professional development.  We are currently gathering hashtags that you connect to for conversation and community on Twitter. If you participate in a regular/semi-regular Twitter chat with other educations — tell us about it! Or is there just a hashtag you follow and use frequently in your tweets? Let us know! Share your hashtags & Twitter chats you have in your discipline, field, or occupation by ADDING  to this OPEN Google doc — SHARE your Twitter Community and/or Hashtag here: http://bit.ly/hashtagcommunity Thank you!

References:

Ford, K., Veletsianos, G., & Resta, P. (2014). The structure and characteristics of #phdchat, an emergent online social network. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 18(1).

Kimmons, R. & Veletsianos, G. (2016). Education Scholars’ Evolving Uses of Twitter as a Conference Backchannel and Social Commentary Platform. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(3), 445—464.

Want to see more visual research? I suggest you go take a look at Research Shorts on YouTube => Subscribe & Watch NOW: http://bit.ly/researchshorts

Visualizing Research and Work

Do you ever doodle to figure out an idea? Do you sketch out a concept to make sense of it? Have you every created a Post-It Note wall montage on a wall to map out a project? Is there a whiteboard where you have a series of equations or problems you are working through? If so, then visualizing research and related works might be for you!

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For the last workshop I facilitated, I opted to go low-tech to in order allow for reflection and discussion about our digital spaces and places. Sometimes analog processing with markers provides instigates creativity or creates an opportunity for deeper thinking. Drawing or concept mapping is a process I often use to plan programs/events, design websites, draft course curriculum, and more. I find these visualizations helpful for gathering thoughts, linking concepts ,and facilitating group/team processes.

emo_draw  course_design_posts  concept_maps_for_uunderstanding

Much to my surprise, my research role with The Digital Learning and Social Media Research Group has moved beyond your typical scholarly practice, such as literature review, data collection, data analysis, and academic writing, to include a visual design to share research. I thank/blame George for the opportunity to dig into valuable research to identify findings and implications by creating a short script and putting these audio narrations to animated format on the Research Shorts YouTube Channel [If you’re not subscribed, you should!].

storyboarding_research   research_shorts_video

In a recent Research Shorts video, we scripted and produced Hilton’s (2016) recent article review of OER and college textbooks choices (highlighted in George’s post). Although this is an open access publication, we hope this video visualization extends beyond the typical scholarly audience and reaches other campus stakeholders in higher education who are thinking about these learning resources. You can view this video here:

For the Research Shorts video creation process, I have been scripting and storyboarding academic articles (of mine and others) to explain the implications and applications of these studies in a few short minutes. This work has made me think more about how I include visuals in my own scholarly practice, specifically to identify the “so what” or key points for my own initiatives. I typically map out works-in-progress, lesson plans, course designs, and meetings I will be facilitating or hosting by using a visual map or plan. From my experiences, visualizations for research and work projects have helped myself and my research collaborators:

  • Ideate and brainstorm for developments/project planning
  • Filter and itemize relevant results for literature reviews
  • Map out concept for a research plan and work initiatives
  • Connect the dots between theories and relevant published research
  • Organize a research pipeline and project workflows for effective project management
  • Provide “in plain English” about your research findings
  • Highlight key implications based on research results
  • Develop better images or visuals for conference presentations and/or posters
  • Showcase information through a new communication method or medium
  • Can lead to new insights for yourself and your audience/stakeholders — offer access to publications or complex work designs
  • Capture the “what’s the point” for organizational leaders for published reports
  • Pitch research implications/findings as an executive summary in meetings

Beyond creating a video to share visual research on YouTube, I am also considering what images or graphs I put into my own academic publications. Our written text can tell the story of our research; however, diagrams, images, or graphs can create meaning to our academic manuscripts, reports, and planning documents. What does the aesthetics of science look for you?  Have you put much thought into how you visualize traditional research publications, like conference proceedings or journal articles? What support your academic writing beyond the text? Do you give much consideration to these in your writing? If so, please share.

Reference:

Hilton, J. (2016). Open educational resources and college textbook choices: a review of research on efficacy and perceptions. Educational Technology Research and Development, 1-18.

How Do Online Learners Overcome Challenges in MOOCs? [New Publication]

In analyzing recent MOOC research, a number of studies explore the vast amount of data collected by digital learning platforms to understand learning behaviors in these scaled classes. What we don’t know much about is:

  • How online learners resolve the problems
  • How students online persist in a course
  • The strategies MOOC students use to overcome challenges

In a new publication, The Life Between Big Data Log Events: Learners’ Strategies to Overcome Challenges in MOOCs, George Veletsianos, Justin Reich, and I share what we learned from talking to 92 MOOC students ages 21 to 81 enrolled in 4 different courses from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The whole paper is free and available for your reading pleasure at the new open access education journal, AERA Open, and check out the research findings presented in this short video summary created by moi:

During these interviews, we learned that there is so much more going on beyond the screen, tracking logs, and platform learning analytics. Learners shared how they engaging in the online course and activities in three domains:

  1. Describing their designated workstations and study methods for learning
  2. Utilizing online and outside resources beyond the learning platform
  3. Engaging with social networks both inside and outside the online course

Read more here:

Veletsianos, G., Reich, J., & Pasquini, L. A. (2016). The life between big data log events: Learners’ strategies to overcome challenges in MOOCs. AERA Open, 2(3); 1–10. doi: 10.1177/2332858416657002

Research Study: Exploring Mentoring Experiences

Mentoring is often a relationship between a less experienced individual, called a mentee or protégé, and a more experienced individual known as a mentor. Traditionally, mentoring is viewed as a face-to-face, long-term relationship and interactions between a supervisory adult and a novice student that fosters the mentee’s professional, academic, or personal development (Donaldson, Ensher, & Grant-Vallone, 2000). The typical examples of mentoring focus on a senior and junior configuration; however there are growing experiences and models that vary in mentoring experiences. Different structures of mentoring (e.g. formal, peer, group, network, and informal mentoring) support career goals, while other mentoring opportunities help contribute to a particular field or discipline.

mentoring

About the Research Study

A number of our professional organizations offer mentoring opportunities and structured mentoring programs as a form of learning and development. For this research study, our team would like to learn more about MENTORING EXPERIENCES; specifically, how these experiences impact the participants (i.e. mentors,protégé, and program coordinators) with regards to their personal and professional development. We are in the early days of learning the how mentoring has impacted individueals and what mentoring means for professionals.

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We seek to explore mentoring through the shared narrative of mentoring experiences to answer the following research questions:

  • What influence does mentoring have on personal, professional, academic, and career development?
  • How does mentoring impact contributions to a professional association and/or learning organizations?
  • How does mentoring contribute to a professional field or industry?

Support our Mentoring Research!

Phase 1: Survey http://bit.ly/ExploringMentoring

This survey asks both open- and close-ended questions, and it will take 15-20 minutes to complete. Respondents will be asked about personal perspectives on mentoring based on their own experiences and demographic information:

If you have had more than one formal mentoring role and/or formal mentoring experience – please feel free to submit another survey response. This survey will remain open for several weeks if you decide to complete this survey or if you wish to pass this along to other colleagues who can share their mentoring experience.

Phase 2: Research Interviews

 http://bit.ly/MentoringInterviews 

We want to learn more about mentoring programs and its impact on personal and professional development, to its influence on the field/discipline, and to understand how mentoring supports professional associations who create these programs.The interview is expected to take 45-60 minutes and no sensitive questions will be asked during it. Your participation in this study is completely voluntary and optional.If you are willing to talk with a researcher via phone or Skype about your experiences, please click on this link to complete the informed consent formhttp://bit.ly/MentoringInterviews

Thanks to the members of the Exploring Mentoring Research Team who are supporting to this study:

  • Mariya Gavrilova Aguilar, University of North Texas
  • Laura Lambeth, Oregon State University
  • Sara Ackerson, Washington State University Vancouver
  • Ed Cabellon, Bridgewater State University

With thanks for support and development also from:

  • Craig McGill, Florida International University
  • Erin Justyna, Texas Tech University
  • Brandan Lowden, Pikes Peak Community College

For further questions or inquiries about this study, please contact Dr. Laura Pasquini (Laura.Pasquini@unt.edu), as we would be more than happy to follow up with questions, additional support, recruitment, and/or collaboration.

Reference:

Donaldson, S. I., Ensher, E. A., & Grant-Vallone, E. J. (2000). Longitudinal examination of mentoring relationships on organizational commitment and citizenship behavior. Journal of Career Development, 26, 233-249.

Innovation for Learning: Submit Your Ideas for the #OLCInnovate Solution Design Summit

I have been thinking about innovation for a while. What does innovation mean to you? How does “innovation” play into your world of work and learning? The word INNOVATE feels very much like a buzzword when it comes to learning. It may even be as a prime contender found on one of my #edtech bingo cards used for education meetings and conferences. Now the word, innovate, has been placed as a conference title and I agreed to support the planning for this event => Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Innovate. These facts only means I have been reading and reflecting even more about innovation and what this term means. Here are my current ponderings and ideas…

pondering_innovation

Flickr photo c/o Missy Scmidt

A number of organizations are increasingly being influenced or impacted the eagerness to “solve” problems with technology. Last year, George Steele suggested the book, The Innovators, in a conversation about the culture of change in higher education (a HUGE topic I will save for another blog post). This was a well-timed referral and read for me. Isaacson (2014) describes how groups of individuals ingeniously cooperated to innovate in the real world. Say what? Tell me more!

Thinking, designing, and employing innovation for learning is complicated. The story of the collective successes (and failures) of many innovators need to be shared, and continually drafted as there are “far fewer tales of collaborative creativity, which is actually more important in understanding…how today’s technology revolution was fashioned. It can also be more interesting” (Isaacson, 2014, p. 1)

Although The Innovators shares the history of computing, technology, and the Internet, and it really spoke to my inner collaborator and WHY I dabble in the applied inquiry to understand more about online/blended learning technologies and workplace L & D. The collaboration emphasis resonated throughout this text, and I do believe that “no one individual…has truly achieved anything alone.” I concur.

By definition, we always appear to be “innovating” in learning, right? With formal education institutions (K-12 and higher education), professional associations, and learning organizations there seems to be a tension of how to balance innovative ideas or approaches due to structural, pedagogical, and workforce challenges in the real world. We want to think innovatively, but sometimes our organizations or “the system” rarely allows this process to unfold with constrictions of our job portfolios/functions, institutional divides, or designated project timelines. As Martin Weller put aptly put it: “the rhetoric for the need for innovation is rarely backed up by practice that will encourage it.” Let’s change that narrative. Why don’t we try to play with a few innovative ideas and concepts together?

For OLC Innovate, there are a few new (I won’t say innovative, just yet) program features that are atypical of a traditional conference format. One of the goals the #OLCInnovate steering committee set out: Let’s have less “talking head” presentations (education sessions, lectures or plenary talks), and more conversations, fun social happenings, places to share, and opportunities to solve REAL problems for online/blended/F2F learning. <<Segue>> THAT being said, here’s a new feature of the #OLCInnovate program I hope you will consider:

The OLC Solution Design Summit (SDS)


Video trailer production credit to Kyle Johnson

The general call for program proposals is now closed (with the peer reviews completed, expect to see the full program online next week); however the call for TEAM Proposals is OPEN for the OLC SDS until February 10, 2016 [Deadline Updated to extend the call for proposals on 1/26/16]. Thanks to the 2015 #et4online unconference banter, the OLC SDS Team (Mike Goudzwaard, Patrice Torcivia, Kyle Johnson, Adam Croom, & Michael Atkisson) decided it was about time to offer a program feature that was less about product and more about process. Together we carved out space in the #OLCInnovate schedule to offer a space for design thinkers, tinkers, and leaders to assemble in order to propose and solve challenges we encounter in learning (in K-12, higher education, and industry-L & D), such as:

As we know innovation takes time and it is a team process. For this CFP we have a broader timeline for this program and we and different expectations for this call for submissions. We are not looking for an end solution. Our team is more interested in WHO is at your interdisciplinary team table and the potential problems you want to work on together. Solutions might appear, but regardless this will be shared opening before, during, and after the #OLCInnovate 2016 conference ends:

Before the Conference

  1. Prospective SDS participants submit a challenge proposal by February 10, 2016: Abstract about the problem, team, and potential solution.
  2. Acceptance notifications will be sent out to teams by February 16th. [Confirm acceptance of your team by 1/22]
  3. Those SDS teams with accepted challenges will submit a solution pitch video for public review on the OLC Innovate 2016 website, by March 11, 2016 (due March 4th).
  4. Experts and OLC Innovate attendees will be invited to view and comment online to provide feedback on the video pitches March 21 – April 1.
  5. SDS teams will meet via an online web conference for 30 minutes to debrief and plan before the with the SDS facilitators in early April, before the #OLCInnovate Conference.

During the Conference

  1. SDS teams participate in a two-part pre-conference workshop session the morning of April 20, 2016. This will involve sharing the challenge and potential solution.
  2. Building on the feedback from the pitch reviews before, the design-thinking workshop on day 1, and comments from the workshop (via educators, edtech experts, researchers, exhibitors, and other SDS teams), you will further develop your challenge statement and solution design “pitch” to present during a concurrent session.
  3. SDS teams will present their solution in a 15-minute (10-minute presentation & 5 minute Q & A) time slot during an OLC Innovate session for all conference attendees.

Post-Conference Winning Team Benefits

  1. The winning SDS team members will each receive a one-year OLC Professional Membership (limited to a maximum of 5 team members). Current OLC members would receive a 1-year extension to their existing OLC Professional Membership.
  2. The winning SDS team members will receive complimentary future OLC 2016 or 2017 conference registration (limited to a maximum of 5 team members, not applicable to OLC Innovate 2016).
  3. The OLC Team will engage the winning team in a conversation of how best to showcase their solution through OLC.  Examples may include a webinar, membership dashboard interaction, OLC social media promotion, etc.

Now that you know the details, I encourage and instigate ALL of you to REVIEW the Solution Design Summit CFP and SUBMIT your team application NOW! Please feel free to share with your colleagues, and instigate innovation among your peers as well. Do you have questions about the OLC SDS? Email our team: sds@onlinelearning-c.org or follow up with either Mike or me. Thanks!

References

Isaacson, W. (2014). The innovators: How a group of hackers, geniuses, and geeks created the digital revolution. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

What *IS* Innovation? Tell us. The CFP for OLC Innovate 2016 (#OLCinnovate) is OPEN!

What *IS* innovation?

This is the FIRST question the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) co-chairs, Karen VignarePaige McDonald and I, asked each other as we started to organize the *NEW* OLC Innovate Conference (#OLCinnovate). Innovation is a BIG word. It means so many different things, to so many different people. Before putting out the call and promoting the #OLCInnovate conference (happening April 20-22, 2016 in  New Orleans, LA), we thought carefully about who we wanted to join the planning team and how to design a conference experience to live up to the “hype” of the word INNOVATE. This conference was formed to merge the best ideas of blended learning (from #blend15) and emerging technologies for online learning (from #et4online); however we expect this meeting in NOLA — OLC Innovate 2016 — to be SO MUCH MORE! Thanks to our AMAZING #OLCInnovate Steering Committee (Tw-shout outs HERE and HERE) we support to hash out what innovation means for the program tracks, developed thoughtful session types for program delivery/format, and, we hope, this conference will model the learning design we all strive for at our institutions and organizations.

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So WHY should you attend #OLCinnovate 2016? [What’s in it for me? you ask.]

  • Advancing learning requires continuous visionary leadership from all disciplines
  • Connecting with multiple stakeholders (i.e. learners, educators, administrators, trainers, researchers, administrators, faculty, policy-makers, designers, and industry leaders) to strategize about the evolving needs at our institutions and organizations
  • Sharing learning and development ideas for all levels – K-12, higher education, & industry
  • Implementing solution-based approaches to learning design, support, and structure
  • Researching and developing evidence-based practices for learning is now more critical than ever.

Our #OLCinnovate planning team thinks this conference is a great opportunity to bring ideas, perspectives, research, and practices to the table to truly support innovation in education. The program tracks are structured around areas we all face with learning and development in K-12, higher education, and industry:

  • Workforce Innovation – connections from K-12 to higher ed to the workforce, curriculum to meet industry needs, partnerships for learning & work
  • Structural Innovation – systemic challenges, organization of education, learning spaces, partnerships between educators & technology solutions
  • Pedagogical Innovation – course & program approaches, methods, design, assessment models, etc.
  • Challenging Barriers to Innovation – digital divide, OER, Open Access, sharing evidence, ethical research collaborations, opportunities and areas for learning growth
  • Propose Your Own Topic – Tell us what YOU think innovation IS or what is missing!

Extend_OLCinnovate_Dec2

The call for proposals (CFP) is OPEN until November 9 December 2, 2015 

Program Format (Session Types) include:

  1. Conversations That Work – why have a panel, when you can facilitate a discussion on the topic with others in the room? Think of questions, discussion prompts, and ideas you want to chat about for this 45-minute session.
  2. Emerging Ideas – Forget the “traditional poster session” we want you to share your practice, research, and work-in-progress ideas in 10-15 minutes to get ideas, feedback, and suggestions during this networking event with both on-site & virtual attendees.
  3. Innovation Labs – 5-minute chat about the concept/idea; 20-minute demonstration; 20-minute applied skills for learning, technology, research, design, or other.
  4. Research Highlights & Trends – 15-minute presentation on your original research; abstract due in November; final, full paper due January 31, 2016 with the potential to be invited to a special issue of the Online Learning journal.
  5. Workshops – these are interactive 90-minute sessions with valuable take-away learning outcomes for participants (free to all conference participants).
  6. Education Sessions – a 45-minute lecture about an idea/concept with 5-10 minutes for Q & A at the end.

There are a number of helpful tips provided on the CFP page; however if you have questions or needs, I would be happy to support you with your proposal development/submission. It is getting the right PEOPLE and VOICES to the table that adds value to any learning and development experience. Please help us invite of institutional stakeholders from education (K-12 and higher ed), and industry (technology, design, L & D, and corporate training) to #OLCinnovate. Share this blog post with your peers, and tell me who the #OLCinnovate planning team should reach out to or invite. Thanks!

SUBMIT A PROPOSAL FOR OLC INNOVATE 2016!

Upcoming announcements of other #OLCinnovate program features, speakers, highlights, and are coming soon… stay tuned for more updates!