BreakDrink, Higher Education, Social Media

Have You Read the _____ Privacy (Data) Policy Lately? [@BreakDrink Episode No. 10]

In a past @BreakDrink episode [no. 5], we thank/blame Chris Gilliard (@hypervisible) for bringing awareness to how some higher education institutions are digital redlining learners with technology. For a repeat visit to the podcast, we asked Chris to join Jeff & I to dig into the issues of privacy, access, data, etc. by reviewing the “Privacy Policies” and Terms of Service for the three main hitters for social media we see used in the US: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Here are some links and notes from our conversations and review of said policies from Monday (6/19). Take a listen and be sure to REVIEW+ADJUST YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SETTINGS NOW! Or, just delete your account. 🙂

Privacy Apps and Search Engines to install to protect your privacy & browsing/tracking online:

Go on. Search one of the above search engines and compare your results for yourself. We DARE you!

Privacy image c/o Flickr User g4ll4is

Net Neutrality & Digital Rights

TOS & Policy 101 on the Social Web

When was the last time you considered reviewing a policy OR the terms of service (TOS) from your favorite social network? With the recent changes to “privacy” on a few of our favorite platforms, we thought it was an apt time to read and review the TOS for all of you. You’re very welcome. As a number of colleagues, learners, and friends in higher ed use (and repurpose) these social spaces for teaching, learning, and research — we wanted to really understand how these technology (not media) companies are thinking about  “Privacy” (or now called “Data” for certain platforms) and the policies around this issue. Here are SOME of the notes from our chat — please visit @BreakDrink Episode no.10 for more at BreakDrink.com

Facebook

Twitter  

LinkedIn  

We might be paranoid, but perhaps we need to consider the data we are sharing and what “true” privacy is when we are online. We thought we’d leave you with a few “light” reads (enjoy):

  1. The Thin Line Between Commercial and Government Surveillance 
  2. How an obscure rule lets law enforcement search any compute
  3. Intel agencies want to make the most controversial foreign surveillance rule permanent

@BreakDrink Podcast ShoutOuts

  • The Show About Race now archived, but a relevant conversation we need to have about race. Always.
  • Missing Richards Simmons – what happens when the fitness guru from the 80’s disappears from teaching his Slimmon’s class
  • Mystery Show (archive): “A podcast where Starlee Kine solves mysteries.”
  • Twice Removed (archive): “A new family history podcast hosted by A.J. Jacobs. They say we’re one big family: this is the show that proves it. You will be filled with delight… or abject horror. You never know. It’s family.”

@BreakDrink Reads & Watches

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

We welcome feedback, comments, suggestions, and snark in any of the above digital spaces. If the podcast via iTunes (we still prefer this to the rebranded “Apple Podcasts“), please consider leaving us a rating and review. Thanks!

Learning and Performance, Learning Community, PLE, PLN, Professional Development, Virtual Communities

Learning and Development on a Backchannel

Lately,  I have been thinking a lot more about backchannels for learning and development (L&D) as I chat with folks involved with networked communitiesIn education, there is no doubt you have heard about a backchannel for learning, whether it was during a conference or at a professional meeting. You’ve most likely even participated in some sort of backchannel — even BEFORE technology crept into your educational practice. Let’s return to the original meaning of the word, shall we:

Backchannel learning is a “covert” way we are sharing our educational experiences online. It’s like we’re in the back of the classroom passing notes — except now it is digital and openly shared, and (probably) more productive than it was when we were younger. Maybe.

Our digital and connected backchannels allow this note-passing to augment what is happening at a specific moment in time. Today’s backchannels offer a way to showcase professional development opportunities, disseminate scholarly research, distribute resources for practice, curate knowledge from an event, and archive the learning so that it “lives” beyond a geographic location, calendar date, etc.

Et Voila: Pull To Open image c/o Flickr user kpwerker

One popular way to participate in a backchannel during a conference is by using the designated Twitter hashtag when posting tweets [Hashtag: A symbol used in Twitter messages, the # symbol, used to identify keywords or topics in a tweet. The hashtag was an organic creation by Twitter users as a way to categorize Twitter messages and link keywords posted on Twitter.] Here is an example of a study comparing #AERA15 & #AERA16 hashtag usage (Kimmons & Veletsianos, 2016).

Increasingly, I see peers tweet quotes from keynotes, articles from scholars, ideas for practice, and I am often entertained by interactions between colleagues I know — all from the comforts of my home office. With a small travel budget and too much data to collect this summer, I appreciate the ability to jump into this type of backchannel to learn about the conversation as these are rich threads that dig into issues and upcoming trends we see in the field. Additionally, if you’re keen you dip into other types of meetings from other organizations to learn more about how their discipline/functional area could influence your own professional work.

Beyond the typical conference or professional meetings, we also see similar traces of L&D happening on a backchannel to be paired with a webinar, business meeting, streaming keynote, and campus program/initiative.

With new technological affordances, there are many other ways we can create backchannels for learning and ways to develop talent. For example, here is how I use Twitter and WordPress as a backchannel with  first-year seminar class, #ugstSTORY [ARCHIVED CLASS]:

I am impressed to see a number of my colleagues use a number of OTHER technologies that are social and connected to create backchannels for L&D online — here are just a few examples– but there are LOADS to search and discover:

  • #phdchat wiki: This is a PBworks archive is from the initiative of the all the Twitter sharing and discussions hosted with the #phdchat hashtag. This community supported me during much of my doctoral research. There is a wealth of information shared and curated on this wiki site. Although this space has not been edited in over 3-years the #phdchat community lives on. Thanks for moderating and cultivating this community, @NSRiazat.
  • Digital Storytelling 106 (#ds106): is an open, online community/course from the University of Mary Washington by instigator(s) of the domain web (ahem… @jimgroom & @cogdog). Course Requirements: a real computer, a hardy internet connection, preferably a domain of your own and some commodity web hosting, and creativity. TUNE into #ds106 radio streaming: http://ds106.us/ds106-radio/
  • Teaching In Higher Ed PodcastSlack Channel: The wealth of information shared in this podcast since June 2014 is amazing and I’m thankful for how Bonni (@bonni208) brings in various guests to support my own professional development for pedagogical planning and to support my own teaching in higher ed. Beyond this regular audio podcast, she also has a community of listeners who she connects to and with via her Slack backchannel and via Twitter.
  • Virtually Connecting (@VConnecting): The virtual buddies bring a small group of on-site and virtual folks together at professional and academic meetings via YouTube Live (formerly Google+ Hangouts) to have a “hallway conversation” about the relevant issues, conference experiences, and to host a conversation at different conference events. They welcome new virtual friends and typically have a Google form for you to complete in advance to sign-up OR you can watch the wealth of archives from previous V-Connecting sessions on their YouTube Channel. Kudos to, and for starting this initiative.

Thinking About Finding a Backchannel for L&D? Here are a few suggestions for hashtag backchannel communities on Twitter:

OR maybe you want to START your own L&D backchannel? Think about your PURPOSE/GOAL first, and then browse these digital spaces and places for initiating a learning backchannel for your professional interests and development:

What digital spaces do you use for your own learning backchannels? How do you engage in professional development via online backchannels? Let me know!

References

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.

Muñoz, C. L., & Towner, T. (2011). Back to the “wall”: How to use Facebook in the college classroom. First Monday, 16(12).

 

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

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 and Performance, Professional Development, Training & Development

Twitter to Enhance Learning & Performance

Twitter provides the opportunity to have micro-conversations in 140 characters or less. This social media platform has been repurposed by a number of educators for workplace learning. Twitter is not the only form of professional development available and you do not have to tweet to learn.  That being said, an increasing number of educators have repurposed and remixed Twitter for work learning and performance. You would be surprised what 140 characters can do to create community and interaction online. A number of grassroots initiatives have developed for educators to consider Twitter as part of their professional development plans for informal learning, scholarly development, and shared practices. For me, the last seven years spent on Twitter has been invaluable. This platform continues to provide an open, informal learning space to collaborate and banter with a community of educators. Thanks for that, Larry.

Twitter Bird in the Lattice

Flickr photo c/o Brian Kopp

Twitter is really the “water-cooler” for educators to share news, post reports/trends, read the news, review research, ask questions, gather information, and curate knowledge. Educators are increasingly expressing ideas and linking to relevant websites, videos, articles, images, etc. related the workforce.  This commentary and resources were shared for my own learners and other training participants who want to “get started” with workplace learning and performance – so I welcome your shared suggestions for helpful Twitter resources and tips in the comments below.

The Twitter Basics:

Hashtags & Backchannels

GotHashtag

Hashtag: A symbol used in Twitter messages, the # symbol, used to identify keywords or topics in a Tweet. The hashtag was an organic creation by Twitter users as a way to categorize Twitter messages and link keywords posted on Twitter. Besides a current event or pop culture reference, Twitter has been an essential part of the conference tool kit to support sharing on the backchannel. You no longer have to be in-person to engage in the workshops, presented talks, or round table discussions via the live experience. There’s now a full stream of activity created around single hashtags for professional development and workplace learning events.

Here are just a few Hashtags to SEARCH and Follow:  

  • #AcWri (academic writing)
  • #highered
  • #digped
  • #edtech and #onlinelearning
  • #phdchat and #gradchat and #SAdoc
  • #Open and #OER and #openaccess
  • #acadv (academic advising)
  • #StudentAffairs and #sachat
  • And MORE!
  • P.D. hashtags related to your field and conferences, e.g. 2015 Education and Ed Tech Conferences [Psssst… you can add to it if  I’m missing any!]

What Is a Twitter Chat and How to Make the Most of ItTwitter chats are threaded discussions using a hashtag to dialogue about a specific subject.Twitter chats are linked conversations via a single hashtag that participants can search, follow, and include in their own Tweet as they respond during the Twitter chat time. Twitter chats are similar to online chats, forums, or discussion boards; however, they are often synchronous and active during a designated date and time. The hashtag for many chats continues past the “live” event on Twitter for others who want to share and engage. Some Twitter chats guide the discussion or have open topics central theme, while others Twitter chats are moderated in a structured question-response format. E.g. Edu Chat Calendar http://bit.ly/educhatcalendar and the Twitter Directory from IHE. 

Other Twitter Tips & Resources:

Professional Development, SAchat, Training

Twitter for Professional Development… Make it Part of Your PD Plan. #SAchallenge

In the field of learning and performance, there are a number of ways to train and develop employees. A number of professional organizations and educational institutions are interested in supporting online learning communities to enhance learning and development for “the workforce of tomorrow.” This often results in going to where the communities are already active online, i.e. social media. A number of social spaces, including blogs, videos, microblogs, and photo sharing websites, have been repurposed for training and development by the community. One of the largest areas for professional development has been on Twitter with users aggregating around a hashtag to form a community. In higher education, a number of Twitter-based communities of practice are emerging as the “combination of improved facility and user flexibility has created an environment in which networks and communities, albeit of a restricted kind, can flourish (Lewis & Rush, 2013).

sachallenge

It is no wonder why we see The #SAChat January Twitter Challenge #SAchallenge appear with the start of the new year. Although I’ve been loosely off the social grid for the holidays, I tuned back in to find January #SAChallenge prompts posted to get connected and involved on Twitter:

During the month of January, we will be tweeting out various challenges and ideas of ways you can engage on Twitter – starting with basic how-tos and moving towards looking at different ways to engage through the medium. Each weekday will bring at least one “challenge” – something you can do to either learn more about using Twitter or to refresh yourself and make you think about using it differently, especially within the #SAChat community. We’ll be posting the challenges here if you miss one and want to catch up.

I applaud the @The_ SA_Blog community managers for facilitating the #sachallenge.  To best support learning and development, The SA Collective L-Team are actively supporting their online subscribers and cultivating the #SAchat hashtag, by utilizing these key community management skills:

  • Listen. It might be a great space to broadcast and disseminate content – but that’s not how you hold a conversation. What do people what to talk about, not just receive? What is the online community engaged in? What are the conversations about online? Take a minute to read and learn from others online.
  • Participate. You need to be a community member, too. Try to join conversations as a peer contributor, not a facilitator. Contribute useful ideas, articles, research, and more. Your online community will want you to be actively sharing online like others in their learning community.
  • Include. Let others help find and create content, guide conversation, start new discussions. It’s a change for many of us in the field who what to “lead” the professional development experience but will pay off in a more vibrant, sustainable community. Encourage members of the community to be the active voice.

I think Twitter is a key component of my own learning and development, and I often encourage others (i.e. students, professionals, faculty, etc) to set up their own Twitter handle [HOW TO: Set Up a Twitter Account], and/or follow along with the community hashtag. I am also more than happy to connect and chat with those of you who reach out to me on Twitter (a.k.a. @laurapasquini), or by any other means if you want to to talk about Twitter or professional development. Although the #SAchat hashtag focusses on the Student Affairs arena there are a number of other higher education and discipline-based Twitter communities to follow.   

Dubbed the Twitter Queen by @hglez9

Photo mashup credit goes out to @hglez9

That being said, I also caution using Twitter as the only means for learning and development. As an avid Twitter user, who has learned a great deal from tweeting over the past few years, I have a healthy skepticism that Twitter is the “best” platform for delivering professional development. Apparently, I am not alone. Audrey Watters recently asked this question in her blog post “Is Twitter the Best Option for Online Professional Development?” and identified both its benefits and challenges. Twitter has created opportunities for conversation, research, collaboration, and support; however I have also witnessed spam bots, self-promoting followers, bullying, disciplinary implications in academia, and other not-so-nice things.  I was reminded by Audrey that “there is a fragility to our ability to connect and share online. Some of that fragility comes when we opt to rely on for-profit companies to run the infrastructure. We do not own the conversations on Twitter. We have limited control over our data and the content we create and share there.” That is not to say you should not participate and engage – but don’t let Twitter be the ONLY only means for your PD.

In my opinion, I think Twitter can augment, not replace, learning and development. Let Twitter be one part of your professional development plan for 2015, and then ask yourself what do you want to learn? Think about what goals you are setting for yourself first, and then consider the spaces you want to engage in this year. Always put your PD goals ahead of the platform, and then go searching for where you want to engage this year. You might also consider searching out training and development opportunities at your institution, at your professional associations, with trade/professional journals, by reading new literature & books, through research projects, signing up for a course/seminar/webinar, by conducting an informational interview, by reaching out to others in your network, and always by discussing your goals with mentors and peers from the field. Perhaps you might even take the time to reflect on these training experiences when you return to/start some bloggery (Thanks for the term, Bryan) to process your learning and development. Good luck with your PD goals for 2015! Let me know if or how I can help.

References:

Lewis, B., & Rush, D.  (2013). Experience of developing Twitter-based communities of practice in higher education. Research in Learning Technology, 21. Retrieved from http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/18598 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v21i0.18598.

Watters, A. (2014, December 17). Is Twitter the best option for online professional development? Hack Education. Retrieved from http://hackeducation.com/2014/12/17/twitter-professional-development/.