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:

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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.

Learning Technologies

Happy Digital Learning Day! #DLDay – Top 10 Learning Web Tools of 2012

Happy Digital Learning Day (#DLDay)!

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To celebrate digital learning day today, I thought it would be a good idea to share my belated Top 10 Learning Web Tools list from 2012. As I have read other lists (here and here), I have been meaning to share useful tools that have helped me learn this last year. You may have heard me say “it’s not the tool” but rather how you use the tool – so I thought I would share my top tools that I have put to use for my own productivity and learning.

  1. Twitter – This is my active stream of information that allows me to track on conversations either via search, hashtags or through my Twitter lists. I value Twitter to find information, learn about news/trends, collect articles, read blog posts, and, most importantly, engage with peers on a daily basis. My evolving personal learning network (PLN) is definitely at the top of my learning list.
  2. Google Docs/Drive I have found Google Drive EXTREMELY useful in 2012, as I am often seen with my Chromebook in tow. Daily I can be found using Google Drive, as I typically take notes during a lecture/meeting, brainstorm storm agenda items, crowdsource ideas, collect information (via a Google forms), or store resources i.e. PDFs, presentations, and database files.
  3. Dropbox – Not all of my collaborators of research, work and writing use Google Docs, so I tend use Dropbox as my “go to” cloud storage and sharing with MS Word. I often move in between spaces and devices (mobile, PC, Chromebook, & Mac) both on campus and at home, so Dropbox is easy enough to save and return to any working projects or assignments. As a frequent flyer for with an edu account, I have accrued 23.22 GB of space through referrals, use, and a Dropbox quest. My Dropbox allows for easy work flow, specifically for storing conference presentations, collecting articles for a literature review, archiving tweets through IFTTT, downloading my mobile photos, holding my lesson plans, and editing manuscripts with co-authors.
  4. Google Search – When in doubt…Let Me Google That For You. I would say that Google is typically used as my initial search for information, news, and quick finds probably because I am often working in Google Drive (see #2) and using Google Chrome (see #7). I have learned benefits of refining my power searching skills, and also not having this as my only outlet for knowledge acquisition.
  5. Google Scholar Although I increasingly use the UNT Libraries – Find Online Articles Search more often these days, I can say that Google Scholar has been a helpful tool for finding data, collecting statistics, locating peer-reviewed journal articles, collecting my literature review materials, and retrieving other scholarly resources.
  6. Google + Hangouts The reason I value Google Plus is for the Hangouts. Both for a meeting space or “On Air” live recording, this forum has proven well for meetings, conference calls, presentations, demonstrations, peer-review process, and general catch up with colleagues. I do still use Skype; I have a greater preference for using a video conference space that has live notes, free group (up to 10) calls, connection to my Google Drive, and, of course, the ability to infuse ridiculous Google Effects when meetings run on too long. Side note: I  am curious to see what happens with the Google Plus Communities. I have recently been invited to a few, and I can see some potential with this feature in Google Plus.
  7. Google Chrome As a mobile learner and avid Chromebook-er, I would say that Google Chrome is a user-friendly web browser for productivity and workflow. I appreciate the streamline interface, search ability, extensions  and applications from the Chrome Web Store {which compliments my Android phone apps as well}. Also, it is quite compatible with Google Drive, Google + Hangouts, and easily transferable from my office to home computing life.
  8. WordPress I may have been exhausted from reflecting during my Masters’ program; however I think that having my own space and place for reflection has helped me in 2012. For a fellow researcher, I candidly explained why I blog and more about my blogging history; however I used my blog more this year to document my doctoral progress and process my own educational experiences. Thanks for being an easy space to draft, publish, and share these thoughts, WordPress.
  9. Delicious Although I use Scoopit, Storify, and Paper.li a great deal, I can say that Delicious is still my top curation tool. Since 2007, I have been collecting and organizing resource into my delicious account. When I share a URL on Twitter it automatically archive the link to my delicious account via packrati.us. This is great to return back to my tags and stacks to find notes, information, statistics, or articles that I can use for presentations and publications. Also I appreciate others in my Delicious network who stayed loyal to this tool (even after a few changes) and socially bookmark useful resources.
  10. Flickr This social photo sharing site has provided me with a lot of inspiration and ideas. Whether I have used creative common-licensed images for presentations and blog posts, or just as a tool to document my own PhD adventures, I appreciate being a member of the Flickr community. I often capture a photo of a presentation slide, make a note from class, or document an image on the go to house them on Flickr for future reference and referral.

For 2013, I plan on taking Jane Hart’s (@C4LPT10 Tools Challenge to find out how to use new tools to help for my own professional learning, research, and development as an educator/trainer. For those of you who want to join in the fun, check out the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2012 for inspiration to explore. Happy learning!