In response to your replies to “The Asynchronous Task” with its focus on using technology to support research, I’ll offer these two “headlines” to capture what I’ve learned from colleagues as we choose how to make use of social media tools for networking as researchers:
1. Establish a tone that helps you build a public profile that is Personalized but not Personal, Social but not Socializing.
2. Build an open access practice of Disseminating Research Findings and Curating/Sharing Research Resources, if you prefer not to build an open access profile as you Compose and Generate New Research Projects.
I’ve been making use of technology for learning and teaching since I was the first graduate student at my uni to submit as masters thesis composed entirely at a computer (an Apple IIc, the portable of the mid-1980s) and the first doctoral student at a later uni to have students contribute (in 1990) to what was essentially a blog while teaching in the first computer classroom on the campus. I like trying out and breaking things before anyone else. And yet…
I resisted PowerPoint until 2001. More importantly for your discussion thread it noting that I resisted making use of Facebook (beyond family) as well as Twitter and blogging until 2010. What changed? I lived in the UK for a sabbatical semester where I learned:
- Networking with my US colleagues required something other than email, which didn’t make for easily finding out what was going on over coffee, nor for timely swapping slides and handouts and drafts of articles in the hallway. Facebook became its own somewhat crowded and noisy coffeeshop, and Twitter the much longer hallway. I could socialize with colleagues via Facebook. And I could set up a personalized network via Twitter where we could share links that provided access to projects at various stages. Even better – I can now network with my EU, UK and US colleagues and former students now colleagues wherever I am.
- As a researcher I could make choices about how to share my research: I could use Twitter as do so many others to disseminate findings (sometimes written for general audiences, sometimes for academic audiences, both in my Twitter stream of colleagues, which is how I choose and limit who I follow). I could use that platform also to ask questions as I was seeking both sources and others to brainstorm with as I developed a piece of research. And in return in each case, I posted links to articles that colleagues had completed and responded to their queries as they developed research. In this way, I could both disseminate and curate in an active network of colleagues – some personally known, some not; some people, some public faces of disciplinary organizations or publications; some public agencies linked to my research area. Open access without opening my early research, for whatever reasons – proprietary agreements with funders, personal decisions about safeguarding novel research early in a career, choosing when to share writing beyond a small circle of friends in a peer feedback group (which I do conduct via email, google suite, skype and closed blogs).
- As a teacher I could make use of a more robust set of platforms to support learning by sharing resources with students while they were in the class, after they’d left the class to advance learning or enter professional roles, and while I was engaged in networking with colleagues as we explored what might be next practices for teaching and learning in higher education, whether in our own classrooms of beyond. This is a place where I already felt at ease sharing things openly and without worry about what others might do with what I’d created. Here’s where I learned that Slideshare.net could be my friend and that I could use a blog to share ideas (morelearning4morestudents) as well as shape a public conversation (uminntilt) and to support student learning (new blog that will be my version of Moodle meets Course Portal). Were I entering a job market, this would be where I’d be starting out – I’d want to make it possible for people to find my teaching self even as they were busy reading the materials I’d provided in a job dossier about my researching self. This is where I could – as a now “senior scholar” – both compose a teaching and learning presence for my undergraduate and graduate students while also generating a record of and a response to learning and teaching practices in higher education.
In the end, the thing I’d say is this: Think less about protecting your ideas and more about what discussions you want to engage as a scholar, teacher and researcher, then make a study of social media platforms to determine which ones you can use – and use in what ways – to support student learning both in and outside of the classroom, and to interact with peers in that wonderfully long hallway of conversations that social media can allow you to travel.
That said, here are some follow up consideration:
(a) What platforms will you use for your scholarly presences, and which ones for your personal presence? And which people will fall into that middle ground? Twitter and WordPress and Slideshare are my academic places, with a few members of my family who are also educators showing up in those places. Facebook is where my family finds me – and some colleagues and former students who are also friends, and we do talk about teaching as part of life there.
(b) What sort of time do you want to invest given the purpose driving your use of social/participatory media platforms? In my case, I use Twitter for quick scanning of resources and networks that would not otherwise be able to collect in one place – at least not without a great deal of effort. For that, I allocate 30 minutes a day to perusing and following up on Twitter across my own and the Center’s accounts, and I often use most of that time to review one new resource I can use in my work. I use WordPress and Slideshare as needed to make resources public – I store papers, presentations, resources at these places and have a URL to Tweet so that others can peruse. Facebook and Flickr – those are for life, and for where that lovely work-life integration happens.
Finally, do protect your ideas and signal how you want others to cite, incorporate, adapt them. For this, go to CreativeCommons.org to learn about how to make use of licensing in posting materials you create to social media platforms.
Two Resources to Consult Along the Way
This London School of Economics and Political Science collaborative supports scholars in learning practices for reporting research in a public voice, researchers the impact of such shared research and sharing processes/platforms, and maintains a blogging as well as open-access presence to share ideas and finding, expertise and experience for academics of all sorts venturing into using social / participatory media as part of their professional presence practices.
In short, they have learned a great deal and brilliantly share what they have learned. These are five of their best blog posts:
- Creating a Presence: “I’m an academic and desperately need an online presence, where do I start?”
- Twitter How To: “Using Twitter in university research, teaching, and impact activities”
- Blogging – why to: “Blogging is quite simply, one of the most important things that an academic should be doing right now”
- Blog and dissemination of research: “Academic blogs are proven to increase dissemination of economic research and improve impact”
- More on dissemination of research: “Scholars are quickly moving toward a universe of web-native communication”
As part of working to curate key resources in this area, I’ve recently moved my social bookmarking account to the Diigo platform and am working to annotate the segments tagged SocialMedia, E-Resources and MOOCs. In their un-annotated state, each list is still useful in that it’s a select listing to bookmark only sites I’ve vetted – either by using them myself to figure something out, or by asking colleagues to tell me why/how this site was useful in their own teaching or consulting work. This will always be a work in progress – dynamic and agile according to questions raised in 8101, depending on platforms I need to learn for work, and responding to what colleagues focusing on this aspect of academic life send my way.
So, what decisions will you make about sharing what you create via technology / social media platforms as a scholar – researcher and teacher?
And there’s that related question you’ve been considering in class: What decisions will you make about using technology to support learning and teaching in your classroom – and what your uses of social media will you need to think about as you make these decision?