#AcDigID, #EdDigID, networkedscholar, Training & Development

Being “Professional” Online… Whatever That Means. #EdDigID #AcDigID

I just started reading the new book, The Digital Academic (Lupton, Mewburn, & Thomson, 2018), and I was reminded of the debate in The Guardian on being or not being a “serious academic.”  These two articles argue the merit of how scholars participate (or should not) on social media and digital networks. The two sides see involvement on social networks as either public discourse and knowledge sharing or as a complete waste of time only used for personal reputation management. Not surprising, this how networked practice is mirrored among the administrative staff I have been interviewing. Often postsecondary educators express the need to “be professional online.” Depending on the campus culture, professionals are either encouraged or discouraged from actively engaging online on social media. Most staff expressed uncertainty of any policies, expectations, politics, and implications of their own social media use. And commonly, social media and digital technologies are not often guided by academic institutions or via the professional organizations/associations. What is exciting about this edited collection (that I’ve read so far), is it unpacks these binary perceptions and dichotomous narratives. There is so much more to discuss than just good vs. bad for these social, online contexts. Just like our social identities, our online selves are so much more complex and things get complicated when we interact on certain platforms, connect with particular communities, and experience “being” within social networks. Just like our social identities, our online selves are so much more complex and vary in certain contexts. Things tend to get complicated when we interact on certain platforms, connect with specific communities, and experience “being” within particular professional online networks. Online identity is more fluid and less compartmentalized than ever before. Sure we share our practices and offer praise; however, there seem to be escalating issues and challenges we need to talk about in these online environments.

Sure, I can reflect back to the early days of participating in open, digital channels to ask for advice, share resources, support one another, and really have a bit of a chat (and banter) with loads of colleagues in #highered. I have definitely benefited from the offering of professional development via Twitter, open sharing of learning on blogs, and wealth of knowledge being shared by videos, open documents, and curated resources via my personal learning network. Although I still experience benefits to “working out loud” and participating in these online social networks, I believe “being online” in higher ed looks today looks different from when I first started, plus I recognize my own points of social privilege I have in these spaces. Our networks have grown up and with this scaled new look comes concerns about privacy, data collection, and reputation management. Additionally, there are a number of unwritten rules and informal sanctions facing higher ed faculty and staff in these social, digital places. “Academic work and academic selfhood in the increasingly digitised realm of higher education are fraught with complexities and ambivalences” (Lupton et al., 2018, pp. 15-16). So much is left unanswered:

  • What happens when our personal and professional online networks intersect and come to campus?
  • What behaviours and use of social media are acceptable for your role, discipline, and institution?
  • How do we work online and offline, when the boundaries are poorly defined and perhaps even seamless?
  • What implications are there for being online and connected in 2017?
  • How does being active on social media or in networked spaces impact career development and advancement?
  • What are we not learning about networked practice in higher ed we should know more about?

These are the questions I am asking (in my research and for my practice), and they are why I developed an OLC online workshop:#EdDigID: Developing Your Social & Digital Presence in Higher Ed (#AcDigID)

Next week (September 25-October 1, 2017) is the last offering of this workshop for 2017. [Update: I’m teaching the #AcDigID version January 8-14, 2018 for academic faculty and researchers.] This 7-day short course is like an expanded, self-pace webinar to understand and identify what it means to be networked as a higher education professional. This course was created 1st targeted only at networked scholars (#AcDigID), and it has evolved to discuss the affordances and challenges faced by both academic and administrative staff in higher ed who are digitally engaged. Although this workshop was pitched to me as a “how to” develop your online presence on social media, I think it would be a disservice to postsecondary practitioners if we did not discuss the blurred lines of our occupational selves, including private vs. public, online vs. offline, and context collapse between our personal and professional networks.

Here are the learning goals for the workshop:

  1. Evaluate social media and digital platforms for professional development and connected learning in the field;
  2. Establish effective strategies for developing/creating/improving your  digital identity for open, networked practice; and
  3. 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.

For those who join this course, we will dig deeper into to help YOU consider HOW and WHERE you want to present (or not present) online.  SIGN UP HERE! If you are not able to formally join the #EdDigID workshop next week, no need to fear! I have created a few ways YOU can get involved, perhaps contribute, and potentially drop into this learning party/conversation:

  • TWITTER:
    • TWEET: Share resources around digital identity, networked experiences, and how you learn online and on social media using the workshop hashtag: #EdDigID
    • SHARE HASHTAGS: What hashtags do you track on or who do you follow on Twitter? What hashtags are YOU interested for colleagues in higher ed? #EdDigID
    • TW-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).
    • JOIN the#EdDigID TWITTER CHAT: Join us for the live, synchronous Twitter chat on Friday, September 29th from 2-3 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 closed/private groups and networks on social media platforms? Are you forming communities to share in digitally closed spaces, e.g. Private/Secret Facebook Groups, Slack, Mastodon, etc.? Let me know! I will be hosting a synchronous meeting online next Wednesday (9/27) from 1-2 pm CST and I would LOVE if you could JOIN THE CONVERSATION if you’re interested/available.

Reference:

Lupton, D., Mewburn, I., & Thomson, P. (2018). The digital academic: Critical perspectives on digital technology in higher education. New York, NY: Routledge

 

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Learning and Performance, Networked Community, Professional Development, Virtual Communities, Workplace

VOTE for our PanelPicker: #NSFWatSXSW

Employees in today’s workforce have either grown-up balancing their “screen time” or have embraced the power of digital tools to enhance communication, collaboration, and workflow. Social and digital technologies have been at our fingertips for just over a decade in our occupational lives. Exposure to social media or mobile applications does not mean new professionals or veteran employees are digitally savvy at simultaneously negotiating their online and offline self. Our social networks have expanded beyond a collection of family/friends and now branch into industry groups, professional networks, and online communities connected to our career.  The expression “in real life” or “IRL” no longer applies, and what we do inside the screen does impact our working lives. What happens when these digital networks witness behaviors or interactions that are unwanted, inappropriate, hateful, and not suitable for work (NSFW)?

#NSFWatSXSW: Your “Professional” netWORKed Community:

http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/77084 

Our digital communities and online networks are witnessing unwanted behaviors and reactions.

“Online communities form for personal enrichment, professional networking, and social learning. How do they help or hurt individuals, organizations, and industry? What challenges and barriers arise for community organizers? When it comes to the workplace, what happens when our online and offline life converge? Implications for both individuals and employers will be discussed.”

Being exposed to these virtual spaces and places does not mean employees or employers know how to simultaneously negotiate what happens when these online interactions impact the offline work environment and potentially impact their career advancement. The WEF Future of Jobs report (Leopold, Ratcheva, & Zahidi, 2016) listed complex problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity at the top of the essential skills list for work in 2020; however, digital literacy training and preparation in post-secondary has not fully prepared learners to contribute (Alexander et al., 2017) and meet the technology needs of industry.  As we think about the future of jobs and job training needs (Rainie & Anderson, 2017), it is critical we address these networked behaviors and consider the skills required to cultivate a productive digital ecosystem that is able to go to work with our employees.

In our PanelPicker session, we want to share implications and strategies for supporting professionals in a networked space for the INTERACTIVE: Workplace track. We want to discuss how these networked spaces and, perhaps not NSFW online interactions, impact the future of work, by discussing:

  1. Why do networked communities matter for professional practice and industry?
  2. What are the benefits and challenges in these professional networked communities?
  3. How do we (employer’s, employees, or industry) deal with these digital communities or networked professionals in the workplace?

Please join the online community opportunity to VOTE and COMMENT on our idea, and others! The opportunity to source the most creative, innovative and appropriate for the South by Southwest (SXSW) 2018 event is yours for deciding. The community voting will close on Friday, August 25 (11:59 PM CT). Please take a minute to VOTE for OUR PanelPicker!!

#NSFWatSXSW

Your “Professional” netWORKed Community

 http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/77084 

References:

Alexander, B., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., & Hall Giesinger, C. (2017). Digital Literacy in Higher Education, Part II: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief. Volume 3.4, August 2017. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Leopold, T. A., Ratcheva, V., & Zahidi, S. (2016, January). The future of jobs: Employment, skills and workforce strategy for the fourth industrial revolution. World Economic Forum.

Rainie, L., & Anderson, J. (2017, May 3). The future of jobs and jobs training. Pew Research Center.

Learning and Performance, PLN, Professional Development

Q: What is #SAcdn Chat? A: A conversation across Canada with #HigherEd colleagues.

The #SAcdn hashtag has been embraced by student affairs (SA), student services, and professionals who support students in Canadian higher education. The goal (and tagline) for the #SAcdn community is “connecting our country,” specifically to share what the world of SA and higher ed is like in my home and native land.

The#SAcdn Chat is a type of “digital water cooler” conversation that I am personally a fan of for my own personal and professional learning network on Twitter. As an ex-pat Canadian working in US higher ed, the #SAcdn hashtag helps keep me in the loop and I have enjoyed listening/learning from the #SAcdn twitter chat archives as the conversation offers insights into issues into Canadian post-secondary education, offers support for staff/professionals, and expands my point of view to how I’m thinking about learning and campus life.  As of August 2016, the #SAcdn community began hosting a monthly 60-minute chat (now the 2nd Tuesday of each month from 12-1 pm CT) on Twitter with higher ed professionals to gather to discuss Canadian issues, ideas, and experiences in context to the Canadian higher ed.  Are you a professional, practitioner, and/or academic in Canada higher education who wants to engage with peers and the conversation on Twitter? Join in! p.s. Friends & colleagues outside Canada are also welcome to join in as well!

HOW TO: Participate in the #SAcdn Chat

Here’s a quick overview of how to participate in #SAcdn Twitter Chat:

  1. Set up your Twitter Account (HOW TO: Set Up The Twitters).
  2. Follow the in #SAcdn hashtag on Twitter for the latest tweets.
  3. Follow @LauraPasquini who will moderate the Q & A for the Twitter Chat THIS MONTH ONLY. You should also follow @CACUSStweets, who will typically host the#SAcdn. chat each month.
  4. Get ready and excited for Tuesday’s (6/13) chat by checking out what’s being shared and discussed on the #SAcdn hashtag NOW! BONUS: You might learn what’s happening & being shared on the backchannel at the #CACUSS17 conference. 🙂
  5. JOIN US Tuesday, June 13th from 10-11 am PT/12-1 pm CT/2 pm AT as I am fortunate enough to be hosting the LIVE, synchronous #SAcdn  Twitter conversation on Twitter during the CACUSS 2017 Conference (Learn more about the professional association, here: About CACUSS). We will “talk” about TOPIC: Show & Tell: What Does #SAcdn Mean to You? [Meta chat: Talking about this Twitter Chat & being part of the #SAcdn Community]

Be sure to contribute to the LIVE #SAcdn Twitter Chat by:

  • Logging into your Twitter account as the#SAcdn  chat will happen ON THE TWITTER platform.
  • Follow along in real time during the #SAcdn Twitter chat by following along on the  Twitter hashtag: #SAcdn or this Tweet Chat Room: http://tweetchat.com/room/SAcdn
  • The MOD (moderator) @LauraPasquini will ask 4-6 questions during the 60-minute chat; please respond with the Q# in your update, e.g. “Q1: Your Answer”
  • Invite your higher education faculty/staff peers to join the conversation – all our welcome to join!
  • Include the#SAcdn hashtag in your tweets and responses (“@”) to others.

To help you prepare, here are a few of the #SAcdn chat questions to ponder IN ADVANCE of our conversation:

  1. What brought you to Twitter and/or to the #SAcdn Twitter chat? Why do you TWEET?
  2. MOD: Q2: What tips or suggestions do you have for newbies to Twitter or a Twitter Chat to help them follow/contribute to the convo?
  3. What have you learned from either participating in a #SAcdn Chat, reading the #SAcdn hashtag, or following #highered folks on Twitter?
  4. What TOPICS would YOU like to see added to the #SAcdn conversations? What is relevant for your work in Canadian #highered? #cdnpse
  5. What barriers or challenges might there be for you or others to participate in the monthly #SAcdn chat?
  6. What impact has the #SAcdn Chat community had on your professional development and practice in higher ed?

UPDATE June 13, 2017: Tweets archived from the Twitter Chat via Storify

Higher Education, Networked Community, Podcast, Professional Development, Research, StudentAffairs, Training & Development

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.

to-be-in-a-profession-being-social-is-really-important-and-vital-for-our-practices-to-advance-and-you-dont-do-that-without-learning-from-one-another

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.

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: 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

Academia, AcAdv, Learning Community, Professional Development, Reflections, SAchat

Your Digital Self & Online Community: Let’s Twitter Chat About It #SAchat & #AcAdv

In my last blog post, I asked if you have thought about your digital self and what it means to be a “resident” in various spaces and places online.  This is a common question I pose and ponder with higher ed colleagues and friends I work with, connect with online, meet face-to-face, and now as I collaborate on research looking at Networked Communities of Practice. When it comes to digital participation there is no right or wrong. That being said, sometimes I think of this quote from the Sydney MCA as our lives continue to evolve online:

19500948685_f2386f3e10_o

Last year, the TED Radio Hour podcast featured TED speakers who dug into what it means to be digital and connected in its two-part episode, Screen Time, Part I and Part 2The segments dive into how the digital version of ourselves are impacting who we are. There is one quote, in particular, that resonated with me from Jon Ronson’s segment in Part 2:

“The way we are defined on social media, on the Internet, and on Google has become more important than who we actually are as people.”

Ronson’s TED talk presents ideas he writes about in his book So You’ve Been Publically Shamed. His segment “How can our real lives be ruined by our digital ones?” discusses how the online self is impacting our offline self. With the recent US election, there are no shortages of examples of tasteless social media shares and volatile toned posts displayed online. The election is not the cause of this behavior; however, these type of actions and interactions within the higher ed community online are disheartening. If you are presenting your actual self online (and not an anonymous profile/account) the expression “in real life” or “IRL” no longer applies. What we do inside the screen does impact our life beyond the screen. What happens digitally and on the Internet IS IN REAL LIFE (exit distance worker soapbox rant for now).

As Inger puts it very well, there are some “academic assholes in the circles of niceness.” If you are on the social web and in higher ed, there is no doubt that you have witnessed more cruelty than kindness from your colleagues and far less empathy or compassion from your fellow practitioners in online communities.  For many of us who live our working life online, I think “our second selves” are impacting who we are.

Maybe it is also time for some reflection and perhaps a candid discussion about our digital self and our online communities. Thanks to two online communities — #SAchat and #AcAdv — we’re going to get real and talk these issues in higher ed in these upcoming Twitter Chats:

#SAchat TOPIC:

Personal and Professional Identity on Social Media & Online

sachat_logo

Thursday, December 1, 2016 for the DAYTIME #SAchat from 12-1 pm CDT; Follow @The_SA_Blog on Twitter

Let’s discuss what it means to “grow up” professionally online and offline in higher education. What motivates you to interact, engage, and share? What social networks and hashtags do you connect with for your work in student affairs and higher ed? Has being online impacted what you do professionally or personally? Share with us about your own digital identity development, specifically how it influences who you are and your work on campus. 

  • MOD for the DAYTIME #SAchat (12/1/6); TOPIC: Personal and Professional Identity on #SocialMedia & Online [Chat Transcript ARCHIVE]

#AcAdv Chat TOPIC:

Learning Online With And From A Community of Peers

acadv_chat

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 for the #AcAdv Chat from 12-1 pm CDT; Follow @AcAdvChat on Twitter

Let’s have a conversation about how online networks and digital spaces support your professional and personal well-being. Where do you learn online? What communities contribute to your work and success in #higher ed? Tell us how these networked communities offer resources, share ideas, and offer care for you, your professional role, and your personal growth.

  • MOD for the #AcAdv Chat (12/6/16); TOPIC: Learning Online With & From A Community of Peers [Chat Transcript ARCHIVE]

If you work in higher education and care about these issues, please join in on one or both discussions on Thursday (12/1) and next Tuesday (12/6). We look forward to hearing what you have to say on the topics…Twitter Chat soon!

Do you have questions about this or our research team, please feel free to contact us or suggest a way you would like to collaborate!

Learning Community, Rhizo15

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?

echochamber123

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).