Networked Community, Professional Development, Research, video, Virtual Communities

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: Thank you!


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:

PhD, Virtual Communities

Actor-Network Theory in Education

Give Me Some Theory... #LitReview

Actor-Network Theory has recently been referred to by Law (2007, p. 595) as  the ‘diaspora’ of

“tools sensibilities and methods of analysis that treat everything in the social and  natural worlds as a continuous generated effect of the webs of relations within which they are located. It assumes that nothing has reality or for outside the enactment of those relations.”

Further research in this theory helps scholars and researchers discover new approaches to a number of educational issues. In considering educational research, with regards to schools, universities/colleges, community agencies, corporate training organizations, and professional affiliations, ANT merges knowledge as situated, embodied and distributed.

Fenwick and Edward (2010) share how ANT challenges a number of assumptions that lie in educational conceptions of development, learning , agency, identity, knowledge and teaching. ANT identifies rich interconnections in both social and cognitive activity. As shared in the book, Neyland (2006, p. 45) has the ability to contribute to educational understanding of:

“mundane masses (the everyday and the humdrum that are frequently overlooked), assemblages (descriptions of things holding together), materiality (that which does or does not endure), heterogeneity (achieved diversity within assemblage), and flows/fluidity (movement without necessary stability).”

For those interested in reading the book in more detail, you will appreciate how Fenwick and Edward (2010) utilize ANT in education as a source of research practices, to consider:

  1. Concepts, approaches, and debates around ANT as a resource for educational research.
  2. Showcase studies in education that have employed ANT methods and comparing ANT approaches in other disciplines/fields.
  3. After ANT developments that challenges presumptions and limitations of ANT research.


Fenwick, T. & Edwards, R. (2010). Actor-network theory in education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Law, J. (2007). Making a mess with method, in W. Outhwaite & S.P. Turner (Eds.). The Sage Handbook of Social Science Methodology, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. pp. 595-606.

Neyland, D. (2006). Dismissed content and discontent: an analysis of the strategic aspects of actor-network theory, Science, Technology and Human Values, 31(1); 29-51.

EC&I831, eduMOOC, Higher Education, Learning Community, Learning Technologies, Open Education, PLN, Virtual Communities, Web Design

#mtmoot Opening Keynote: Digital Pedagogy to Engage

This morning I will be joining the Mountain MoodleMoot at Carroll College in Helena, MT to share some thoughts and ideas around engaged digital pedagogy. Our learners are connected; however  I think more educators and instructional designers need to support our students in developing effective learning skills to navigate this new culture of learning. For those of you interested in following along, be sure to tweet with hashtag  #mtmoot, check out my slides (below), and feel free to scope out the digital handout I compiled for this session.


Today’s learners operate in a world that is informal, networked, and filled with technology. Connectivity and digital access is an increasing need for our students and a vital requirement to excel beyond structured learning environments. Our learners are now able to interact with information, learning materials, and peers from around the globe. There is an increasing need to expand and enhance our learners’ involvement in learning technology to support engagement in online learning environments.

With the emergence of collaborative, online tools, educators can take advantage of multidimensional and engaged participation to reach their learning outcomes. Social media creates a space where “everybody and anybody can share anything anywhere anytime” (Joosten, 2012, p.6). Educational paradigms are shifting to include new modes of online and collaborative learning and student-centered, active learning to challenge our students to connect curriculum with real life issues (Johnson, Adams & Cummins, 2012). As a new generation of learners begin to create and share content, educators need to understand how to effectively utilize social web resources to impact in instructional practice create a culture of online participatory learning.

Emerging technology platforms and devices are beginning to disrupt education as we know it. To coevolve and positively impact learner success, it is critical that instructors and instructional designers consider how digital pedagogy can support learning outcomes. This keynote plenary will share ideas and suggested practices to develop a richer learning experience and thrive in the changing digital learning frontier.


Johnson, L., Adams, S. & Cummins, M. (2012). The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.

Joosten, T. (2012). Social Media for Educators. San Francisco, CA: Wiley/Jossey-Bass.

AcAdv, Collaboration, Higher Education, Learning Community, SAchat, StudentAffairs, Virtual Communities

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

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

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

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

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

#phdchat, PhD, Virtual Communities

Organizational Learning Constructs

The nature of learning at the organizational level is a challenge to measure. Huber (1991) defines  organizational learning as the development of new knowledge or insights that have the potential to influence behavior.

There are a number of human resource development articles that reflect the individual learning experience and objectives. In considering the organizational learning process, I began to look at the organization level for learning in online communities of practice for an organizational science perspective.

Image via Organizational Learning Software… <>

In researching and working on my final organizational theory paper, I began to assess how learning characteristics can be evaluated in online learning networks and communities of practice. There are a number of models and evaluation instruments to assess learning in organizations; however the constructs established by Yang, Watkins, and Marsick (2004) provide a solid framework for methodology and empirical assessment:

Systems Thinking – Senge (1990) identifies a learning organization as an organization that has the ability to creat alternative futures and possesses the following five disciplines: team learning, shared visions, mental models, personal mastery and system thinking. 

Learning Perspective – The learning organization is an “organization that facilitates the learning of all of its members and continuously transforms itself in order to meet its strategic goals” (Pedler, Burgoyne & Boydell, 1991). Eleven areas are identified through which this occurs: a learning approach to strategy, participative policymaking, informating, formative accounting and control,, internal exchange , reward flexibility, enabling structures, boundary workers as environmental scanners, inter-company learning, learning climate and self-development for all.

Strategic Perspective – a learning organization requires an understanding of the strategic internal drivers necessary for building learning capacity. Goh (1998) identifies five core strategics building blocks: clarity and support for mission and vision, shared leadership and involvement, a culture that encourages experimentation, the ability to transfer knowledge across organizational boundaries, and teamwork and cooperation.

Integrative Perspective – the concept of the learning organization is “on that learns continuously and transforms itself..Learning is continuous, strategically used process – integrated with and running parallel to work” (Watkins & Marsick, 1996).

These constructs will help define and lay the ground work to establishing a solid theoretical framework for assessment. I welcome any and other suggestions to reviewing online communities of practice with regards to organizational learning.


Huber, G.P. (1991). Organizational learning: The contributing processes and the literature. Organization Science, 2; 88-115.

Goh, S. C. (1998). Toward a learning organization: The strategic building blocks. S.A. M. Advanced Management Journal, 63(2); 15-20.

Peddler, M., Burgoyne, J., & Boydell, T. (1991). The learning company: A strategy for sustainable development. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Random House

Watkins, K.E. & Marsick, V. J. (1996). In action: Creating the learning organization. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development.

Yang, B., Watkins, K. E., & Marsick, V.J.(2004). The construct of the learning organization: Dimensionsmeasurement, and validation. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 15(1); 31-55.

BreakDrink, CTCX, Virtual Communities

Talking Social Justice with the @BreakDrink #CTCX Crew

The @BreakDrink Campus Tech Connection (#CTCX)podcast posse discussed our thoughts on social justice and technology today. If you missed the recent podcast you can take a listen HERE and/or read the show notes that have been Storify-ed. A few of the key themes we touched upon include:

I.  How Technology is Created & Used – the global impact & consumerism.

II.  BYOD & Social Economic Status for Students on Campus – no student left technologically behind.

III. How Technology Can Support Issues & Causes – how to engage our learners.

Listen to internet radio with BreakDrink on Blog Talk Radio

We had many questions about what others in higher education and student affairs thought about social justice and technology:

  • Does technology provide our students with tools for revolution or activism?
  • What does our technology & consumption mean for our students and educators?
  • Who has access to technology on campus?
  • Are we really contributing and engaging in the global community with a RT or Like?
  • How can we have better collaborative and collective modes of technology paired with social justice actions at our institutions?

We just touched the tip of the talks for what it means for technology & social justice. 

What got me thinking further was an interesting presentation by @maymaym (Meitar Moscovitz) at the 8th Public Anthropology Conference titled “Dreaming of Compassion”. This talk discusses how the internet now affords social changes and issues to come together and be valued beyond cultural, geographical, economic, and political boundaries to the entire human race in our connected realities.

“In the network economy, the more plentiful things become, the more valuable they become.” Kevin Kelly 

This principle of “the more, the merrier” brings into question of how we value of different relationship types in the social network and how our objectives can be intertwined with others social pursuits and needs in the world. Similar social networks provide both connections and shared intelligence. There is a great amount of power that can be influenced and perpetuated in a collective organization. A few examples we discussed include:

Open Ideas


And I also think there are a few good resources shared by Dr. @courosa for education & action for social justice+technology.

Since social networks and viral activity have the ability to spreads news and information at an accelerated rate, it is possible that online action can start an actual reaction. The question we put back out there is to find out how other educators engage learners to move their connections of goodness  beyond a  RTs or Like, and put it into action? 

eduMOOC, Learning Community, Open Education, PLN, Virtual Communities

Online Learning Today with #eduMOOC

Last week, the #eduMOOC course with over 2, 500 participants located in over 60 countries participated in the first session topic Online Learning Today for the Online Learning Today… and Tomorrow course.
I will be honest – the massive, open and online courses format will not be taking first year undergraduate courses by storm. Many of my incoming students are concerned with transition from high school to higher education, and often stay clear of online courses in their first semester. In contrast, as a graduate student and self-proclaimed life-long learner, I like the autonomy and independence a MOOC has to offer. I like to connect, share and learn informally with others, so this is probably why I signed up for the course.  The first week’s session (Thursday 1-2 pm CT) was recorded and the PDF slides were archived for those who could not attend the live session. Here are a few key questions and ideas discussed from the panel:

Who do we serve in online learning today?

Online learning has typically met the needs of our non-traditional learners; however with the impacts and growth in emerging technology for education online learning is becoming a staple at most higher education institutions. As we are encouraged to “do more with less,” online learning is now required to meet the continuum of learners and learning pedagogues are not quite developed for many campus learning environments. Although online learning is just another dimension of learning, more higher education technology leaders need to identify methods for effective design and high-quality curriculum delivery.

Is the nature of how we learn changing? How? Why?

Both the learners and learner environments have evolved over the past 30 years. The delivery, medium, and evaluation of learning has impacted today’s higher education classroom. Emerging methods of curriculum execution and faculty instruction are beginning to increase learner engagement beyond our campuses. Online learning allows for fluid participation and continuous experiences. Learning has always been social; however new mediums now increase our learning networks across the globe and enhanced how learning objectives are reached.  

In order to meet the needs of global learners in higher education, more institutions will have to move forward with technology or be left behind. Other questions that were discussed by the panel include: 

  • How do for-profit vs. not for profit higher education institutions impact online learning? 
  • We may have one the access war, but have we won the accessibility war with online learning?
  • Are we considering universal design for learning
  • Is there still cannibalization of online learning? Disrupting College via @amprog
  • How are faculty, instruction & evaluations designed to review impacts for online learning?
  • What are the challenges for online learning today in 2011?
Captain Obvious point: Online learning is growing and many institutions are behind in their development and support for this type of learning. This fact is apparent. Take a look at most higher education course offerings online and how these courses are designed. Online learning IS growing, in terms of, demand, quality, global reach, resources, and access. What I am more interested is HOW higher education institutions will meet the demand of online learning? Institutions are currently struggling with decreased budgets, low enrollment numbers and maintaining staffing needs to support our student populations – just to name a few challenges.
In reflecting about the session, I can not say that I came away from it learning a whole lot of new ideas – more these questions will shape what lies ahead in this course for the weeks to come. I was sort of disappointed that the panel did not represent any global educational leaders in the #edtech field as planned – but hopefully this will change in future sessions. And I did take note of the debates around the actual value of this #eduMOOC and other MOOCs for education and learning in a few blogs, Twitter and other online entities of the social web – which also has contributed to my learning. 

It’s this sort of discourse that most challenges me to think and really, a MOOC is similar to a personal learning network and what you decide to make of it. As a seasoned-learner, I find great value in on-going discourse that occurs on the #eduMOOC backchannel on Twitter, on the eduMOOC Fb group or just reading blog posts that share ideas and resources about the course topics. I encourage others to engage by following a few key hashtags [#onlinelearning #eduMOOC #elearning] and start a dialogue with your classmates. I still think the best types of learning from MOOCs comes from the community of learners and those participating in the learning network. As it was said best: