Reflection on Blogging

In reviewing my classmates’ blogs, I could see that many of us actually share the same thoughts and have had the same struggles in regards to meeting all the requirements and assignments of this course. Coming into this class, I figured I would be really behind everyone else since I was not in the Ed Tech program and not too familiar with a lot of the social media tools. However, after working in our groups and reading through the blogs during this short span of our condensed course, I feel more comfortable knowing that I am not as far behind as I thought and others had the same concerns as I did.

Anyway, a concept that Rheingold had discussed previously and has always been on my mind throughout this course, is maintaining an awareness or focus of the world around you while balancing the urge or need to be online. Both Lindsey (http://gradacctlkd.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/week-two-is-technology-rewiring-our-brains/) and Dana (http://dishii.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/addictions-and-such/) wrote about this “addiction” that we sometimes are so wired to check our phones for text messages, play games on our iPads, or look at random things and news online, that we lose sight of the fact social media may be running our lives. Dana mentions how she has taken to Lumosity for her gaming fix and it limits her amount of time to play, which definitely helps in maintaining priorities and minimizes the distraction of online gaming, as I know you could end up playing for hours without even knowing it. Lindsey also talks about having a sense of “social consciousness” especially with the rise of mobile devices evident at work, home, social events, and at play; we need to be aware of how and when the appropriate times to use social media.

The more we actually pay attention to our use and of others’ of online technology, the better understanding and awareness we will have in making sure that we use them responsibly and appropriately. Social media can easily enhance our lives through connectivity, knowledge, and convenience, but at the same time it could also damage our interpersonal communication and efficiency to get things done, as well as cause stress (having to filter through all the information that is out there!). 

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Final Project-Part 2: Personal Learning Networks

A personal learning network (PLN) is a brand new concept for me and something I never would have thought of creating for myself. However, after doing some research into the subject, there is so much value and potential into establishing a PLN for personal and professional growth that goes beyond what only participating in social networks can provide. Alison Seaman (2013) states the “currency of the PLN is learning in the form of feedback, insights, documentation, new contacts, or new business opportunities. It is based on reciprocity and a level of trust that each party is actively seeking value-added information for the other.” A PLN allows an educator to access a global learning community of peers to discuss, exchange, and share resources and ideas, which can be utilized towards professional development. Whereas a social network is mainly a tool for communicating with family and friends, joining interest groups, posting photos and videos, and sharing discussions and resources. Social networks are just a small component of personal learning networks, which can include other platforms such as microblogs, professional profiles, wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, and online conferences or webinars (Patnoudes, 2012). The two personal learning networks I discovered and felt had a high potential for professional development for myself were The Student Affairs Collaborative blog and Twitter.

The Student Affairs Collaborative blog is a site for student affairs professionals in higher education to come together to share and pool together their ideas or thoughts. There are numerous blog posts sharing stories, insights, and new concepts in student affairs issues, as well as academic advising, which fits right into my specific field. The site also features the top five (most read) blogs from the previous month right on the home page, a Google doc directory of all participating student affairs professionals/advisors and interest areas, and it hosts a weekly chat via Twitter that enables all participants to simultaneously converse with one another and build upon their PLN within student affairs. This PLN provides me a large archive of blogs written by my peers to learn of their experiences and lessons, which I could apply in my work. The weekly chat forum is also another way I could actively interact to connect with others and develop my knowledge and skills.

The other personal learning network that would be an invaluable asset for me in regards to professional development is Twitter. It represents a collective database of knowledge by creating conversations in an “open space” for anyone to participate, listen, observe, and learn (Lalonde, 2012). Eric Stoller (2009), the Student Affairs and Technology consultant/blogger for Inside Higher Ed, simply states the follower/following aspect of Twitter creates a connection with other student affairs administrators, academic advisors, professional associations, librarians, teaching faculty, higher education web personnel, and more by simply posting a question and within minutes, receiving several reliable answers. I can connect with several other professionals in the student affairs or academic advising field, and learn how they integrate technology into their services, maximize resources with a limited budget, and even learn about new advising programs that may fit our own office goals/mission. The hashtag feature will also enable me to follow certain topics like #acadv and #advising (for conversations on academic advising), #sachat and #satech (interests on student affairs and technology), and #highered (to stay up-to-date with current issues in higher education). The personal learning network of Twitter increases my opportunities for collaboration, connections, learning opportunities, access to the collective knowledge of peers, engage in discussions, debates, conversations, and participate in collaborative projects whenever and wherever I like. At the same time it pushes me out of my comfort zone a bit by having to go beyond the traditional means of professional development and experiment with new ways of learning/communicating through the social media networks.

Web 2.0 presentation:

http://prezi.com/przn6z3h2vm0/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

References

E Patnoudes. (2012, October 1). Why (and how) you should create a personal learning network. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/2012/10/build-personal-learning-network/ (Rating: 4)

E Stoller. (2009, August 16). Student affairs practitioners and Twitter. Retrieved from http://ericstoller.com/blog/2009/08/16/student-affairs-practitioners-and-twitter/ (Rating: 3)

Lalonde, C. (2012). How important is Twitter in your personal learning network? eLearn Magazine. Retrieved from http://elearnmag.acm.org/archive.cfm?aid=2379624 (Rating: 5)

Seaman, A. (2013). Personal learning networks: Knowledge sharing as democracy. Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal of Learning, Teaching, and Technology. Retrieved from http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/Personal_Learning_Networks.html (Rating: 5)

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Teamwork

The four components of Himmelman’s taxonomy are networking, coordination, cooperation, and collaboration. Networking is simply meeting and touching base with new people. While coordination involves sharing information and modifying each other’s actions for a mutual goal. Cooperation is working towards a common purpose. Lastly, collaboration involves the integration of the first three components in sharing the responsibility, resources, and rewards to achieve that common purpose (Rheingold, 153-154).

Everyone in the class had the opportunity to work with three different groups for our assignments, and I actually had the chance to work with a different number of people in my groups with two of us in the first assignment, four in the second, and three in the last one. This made my experience different every time as not only did I have new group members, but the number of people also changed the approach taken in communicating with everyone. Networking with other group members was never an issue as we were always assigned to specific teams without knowing who we would be grouped with. I felt the coordination was a fairly easy task to accomplish as everyone understood the assignment and what we needed to do in order to complete it, thus establishing our mutual goal. Even working with a different number of people in each of the three assignments I still felt the cooperation level was really good. We all agreed to take certain portions of assignment and then bring them together for the final product. I could see that collaboration would be the most difficult component to achieve but I felt that each time all the group members had enough trust in one another to complete their part of the project and were open to edits or changes suggested by others.

The dynamics of the group naturally always changed, so it took some adjustment based on people’s varying experiences with social media, communication preferences, and interests to develop our assignment idea and the final product. The initial contact was usually through Collaborate after class, then continuous communication/collaboration via email or uploading our portions of the project using Google doc or another social media platform to achieve our “common goal.”

It would have been nice to continue onto each assignment with the same group members as you end up feeling comfortable and understand each person’s abilities, interests, and personality. However, having to change groups every time gave us the chance to work with different group dynamics and put Himmelman’s taxonomy into effect. The change up also enabled me to learn various social media tools as we used a different one each time to communicate and for the final web 2.0 presentation.

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Social Media Use Among College Student Services Faculty & Staff

I conducted a survey of ten peers, who work in the field of student services in higher education, on their use of social media. The results were as suspected in regards to the infrequent use of social media in a work related setting compared to the higher personal usage, however, there does appear to be an understanding of the importance of social media platforms. Referring to the survey results, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube seemed to be the most used for personal reasons, although, for work reasons, only Facebook and LinkedIn show weekly use. The other social media applications like Twitter, Google+, Instagram, wikis, and social bookmarking are barely utilized if at all. The most common reasons for using social media appeared to be tied to personal reasons like staying in touch with family and friends, and checking the news, but six people did indicate using social media to network with professionals. An interesting fact from the survey results is seven out of ten considered social media as “very important” to “somewhat important” in their work and professional lives, yet they appear to hardly use any of the applications. This goes to show that although my peers view social media technology as an important tool for the job, they still highly underutilize them. One could conclude it is based on a lack of training, too outside their comfort zones of normal platforms like email, or just not fully aware of the capabilities and potential that social media applications could present in student interaction.

College staff and faculty need to utilize social networking sites, “where students already are” and comfortable with the environment, which will enable them to open new avenues of communication (Roblyer, 2010). According to a survey and report by the Career Advisory Board in conjunction with the National Association of Colleges and Employers (2013), the use of social media technology by college career centers have increased by over ninety percent but yet a majority of career services professionals feel they do not have the knowledge to use these platforms effectively, as only twenty-five percent receive university-sponsored training. Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube are the most popular platforms to post information; however, the next step will be to create two-way communication from a monologue to develop the relationships with students (Career, 2013). Junco (2010) states that academic advisors and other staff can help students maintain a level of engagement to enhance the student experience and allow a more balanced distribution of communication by exploiting social media tools. He also adds they can post YouTube video introductions of advisors, maintain wikis to explain the advising process, and use Twitter and Facebook to broadcast important information, respond to student questions, and develop a real space-to-digital relationships with students.

In reviewing the results of this small sample size survey, one can gather student services staff and advisors understand the functions of certain social media platforms as they use them in their personal lives, but do not know how to apply those same platforms in the professional setting. It seems that they do need training on employing familiar tools, like Facebook and YouTube, more effectively into their daily work functions, on top of learning the potential uses of Twitter, wikis, and social bookmarking for both improved student communication and professional development.

Presentation Link: http://infogr.am/Survey-Results-on-Social-Media/

References

Career Advisory Board & National Association of College and Employers (NACE). (May 2013). Career services use of social media technologies. Retrieved from http://careeradvisoryboard.org/research/career-services-use-of-social-media-technologies-may-2013 (Rating: 5)

Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The Benefits of Facebook “friends:” Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4). (Rating: 4)

R Junco. (2010, September 27). Academic advising, social media, and student engagement. Retrieved from http://blog.reyjunco.com/academic-advising-social-media-and-student-engagement (Rating: 5)

Roblyer, M. D., McDaniel, M., Webb, M., Herman, J., & Witty, J. V. (2010). Findings on Facebook in higher education: A comparison of college faculty and student uses and perceptions of social networking sitesThe Internet and Higher Education13(3), 134-140. (Rating: 4)

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Participating in the world of social media: the good and ugly side to it

I admit that I’m not the biggest user of social media aside from sporadically updating my Facebook page. I have never participated on Twitter until this class, I’ve never used Instagram, my LinkedIn profile has been dormant for several years until recently, and I never really understood the use of wikis, blogs, and social bookmaking until now.  Yea, I know, I’m so out of it, right. I mainly use social media to check on the news and connect/communicate with friends and family, as I like to keep certain things private. After the class discussions on participating in social media networks, and reading about Rheingold’s listing of benefits and reasons for liking tools like Twitter, I can really see the value of being more connected and having an active role with social media both in a personal and professional setting.

Rheingold brings up a few reasons for liking Twitter: immediacy, openness, and reciprocity. From a professional standpoint, these are aspects that would highly benefit my work as well as that of my peers in communicating with college students, who are very in tune and regular users of social media. We could use Twitter to post immediate information for students to see, which has a higher potential to actually reach more of them as opposed to an email that we know many students don’t read or end up ignoring. It also opens up another communication line for us to reach students as well as for students to gain access to us. Even utilizing a tool like Google+ Hangouts seems to be a lot more effective than using the phone or Skype when conducting distance advising with students, as it has the capability of sharing/viewing files at the same time through Google docs. There are many possibilities to help make our services be more effective and open through the use of social media, we just need to take that step outside our comfort zone to become active participants and expand our knowledge in this area as the potential rewards are high.

So that’s the good or beneficial part of participating in social media, the ugly side to it refers to those who abuse that power. After reading Kuuipo’s week 3 blog, she mentions that social media also opens up the opportunity for people to bully others. This struck a chord with me, even though I thankfully never had to deal with this type of situation, and it reminded me about an article I read a few years back about cyber bullying in Japan. During my time in Japan, I was surprised to see how prevalent bullying was in both the physical and digital world there. Granted this was about 7 years ago, and social media had not yet taken off, but in Japan text messaging and emailing via cell phones were already a communicating norm. Kids as young as 10 years old could text freely with no real supervision and as a result led many to become victims of cyber bullying. The sad part is this also led to a large amount of suicides by kids not even in their teens! I would remember watching the news and see a report of a young boy or girl, who committed suicide as a result of being bullied too much, at least every other week (there were probably others not even reported on the news too). It was really disheartening, and was an issue I would talk about with my students at the high school and college level when I had the chance. As educators, parents, and adults, we all need to be aware of the threat of cyber bullying and make sure that our students and children are responsible with their power of participation in social media. The scale on how social media is used can easily tip either way, good or bad.

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