This past Friday (10/18/2013) I had the pleasure of attending an intimate conference sponsored by Pearson Publishing. Here is the agenda http://www.pearsonlearningsolutions.com/events/smtl-2013/agenda.html
What I really enjoy about these micro-conferences is being able to interact with thought-leaders as they describe their projects. The conference was supported by Pearson who shared results on a social media survey they conducted (http://www.pearsonlearningsolutions.com/higher-education/social-media-survey.php) that shows how this technology has grown in recent years, particularly blogs and wikis. The survey results also reflected on some of the major concerns may education technology professionals face, namely, integrity and privacy.
The survey helped frame the conversations and questions brought up during the day’s presentations. For instance, discussions around online presence and identity kept arising. Most technology professionals already know that it is important to keep an online professional identify, but we also need to communicate this to faculty and students. It is okay to have distinct professional and personal identities. After all, we are all humans with needs that expand well beyond a professional life. This can be a challenge for faculty who want to use a social media service such as Facebook, but do not want their students to be their “friends”. Over the years, services such Facebook and Google+ have made their tools more sophisticated to meet these needs with ability to create different circles, closed groups, and other control mechanisms. However, using these settings takes some technical agility. Its not difficult, just something that has to be played with.
To maintain privacy, many educators create a “teacher account” to use for classroom purposes and still maintain their private one. Nevertheless, all of our identities are online, and besides, is multiple online personas really practical? Teaching is a way of life and so much of what we do as educators intertwines with our personal and professional lives. Lines do need to be drawn and privacy concerns alleviated, but the first step is to experiment and see what happens.
Related to this conversation is one of the presentations that stuck me during the day. It was the panel discussion of Larry Domine, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Tony Stanislawski, Milwaukee Area Technical College, (who teach a social media course there) and Eric Winegardner, Monster. These guys are social media experts that have experimented and developed some excellent ideas on using social media tools such as Twitter and Blogs. The main take-a-way from their message had to do with the fact that if someone is working in technology (and this means education technology too) they should have some type of online social presence. It doesn’t have to be in-depth academic essays, but retweets, short blog postings, or lists of “what I’ve read” demonstrate to potential employers, as well as other colleagues a certain level, a passion and commitment to their careers and even just their life. In other words our online presence demonstrates who we are and what we contribute to the world whether its loving movies, comic books, sports, education technology, teaching, music, our family, etc.
Here is the link to their presentation notes https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-wkCoXgZ725eS1URHZWdGotU1k&usp=sharing
Thanks again to Pearson for organizing the day in such a fantastic location at the Boston Museum of Science!