I know I should be working on those IRB modules but, can I pause for a minute and talk about curly hair?
It was my freshman year in high school when I started straightening my hair regularly. Panamanian societal standards had taught me that straight hair was better than curly hair (in a country in which the majority of the population has curly hair). That sounds crazy right? I can go on with a list of other features of my body and face that I was told were not adequate, but I will spare you the horror! Loving me just as I am took a lot of reflection, self-discovery, and just a huge “fuck you” to societal standards.
Back to this curly hair convo! Fast forward to July of 2020, the pandemic is ragging and we are in “stay at home” orders in Florida. I had stopped straightening my hair, I was barely just trying to survive. Taking a shower, honestly, felt like like going to luxury spa appointment. I remember having a crazy curly hair day and I was complaining out loud about this “major issue” in my life. Then all of a sudden my then 4 year old comes to me and says “I love my crazy curly hair.” He has beautiful curly hair! I don’t know why but his words encouraged me to fully embrace my curly hair. So in that moment I decided, enough is enough, I am going to do this. I didn’t want to indirectly pass on the ridiciulos societal standards that I had experienced to him. I wanted him to continue loving his curly hair.
The transition to curly hair after so many years using a straightening iron was not easy. My curls had loss their shape and it was a hot mess. I have gone through so many hair products, curly hair treatments, different kinds of shampoos, and YouTube videos teaching me different techniques to protect my curly hair (Yay, informal learning!). But throughout all of these trial and errors I learned that companies creating hair products do really take into consideration the needs of people with curly hair and that made me happy. I have also started cutting my own hair. I felt nervous at first but now I am not afraid at all.
Last year I had a photo session because I wanted to start using my curly hair in professional headshots instead of the previous headshots with straighten hair. It was liberating and I love how the photos turned. I also did some casual photos just cus!
Earlier this year, I made a radical decision to cut off all social media from my life. I am grateful for the detox. I eventually returned to Twitter and LinkedIn, quietly, over the summer but now I am bit more active (let’s see how long that last). But I am not going to lie, one of the most difficult parts of that decision was leaving the groups and social communities to which I belonged that kept me informed or in which I could ask questions. These groups and social communities have also served as inspiration for my research on networked learning and informal learning in online social communities. So having said all of that, I want to share some of my most recent publications on online social communities in this post.
This chapter is really a self reflection on the work that independent study students, interns, and I did while working at The University of Tampa connecting the current students, alumni, and public to IDT program using institutional social media accounts. But in all honestly, those practices were highly influences by the practices of other IDT programs who run their own institutional social media and research on networked learning. Here is a short blurb from the abstract: “In this paper, it is argued that social media represents a convivial technology in which individuals are engaging in networked learning. A review of the literature yielded examples of how institutional social media is been used in teaching and learning specifically in instructional design and technology programs. Insights from a case study about an instructional design and technology program that has been actively using different institutional social media to enhance the networked learning experience of the graduate students (and other stakeholders) in the program is shared as a way to connect research with practice.”
Gomez-Vasquez, L., Romero-Hall, E., Jaramillo Cherrez, N., Ghani, S., Rodriguez, A. & Ripine, C. (2022). Keeping Citizens Informed and Engaged During the COVID-19 Pandemic Using #YoMeInformoPMA: A Case from Latin America. Health Communication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2022.2035509
This paper is dedicated to my motherland, Panama! When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, I was on sabbatical in Panama. The days after a pandemic was declared were crazy. I have written a bit about it in this blog post. To keep myself informed of what was happening in Panama in response to the pandemic the Panamanian Health Ministry recommended that everyone use the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA (which literally translated to: “I stay informed Panama”) in social media. As a researcher, it immediately triggered my desire to know: “What are people learning, discussing, and sharing using this hashtag?”. So I quickly emailed my collaborator Dr. Lina Gomez-Vasquez so that we could start tracking tweets with this hashtag. Huge thanks to Lina for leading the write up of this paper and co-authors for assisting with the analysis. Here is a short blurb from our abstract: “Using quantitative content, social network, and thematic analysis, this study examined 2,500 tweets from April to August 2020 that included the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA. Panama’s Public Health Ministry created the #YoMeInformoPMA hashtag to keep citizens informed and engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research on social media use and implementation in Latin America during the COVID-19 pandemic, to inform and engage the public, is limited. Therefore, the aim of this investigation was to analyze strategies, themes, multimedia formats, key actors, and overall communications patterns of a Latin American health community hashtag. Our results determined that actors using the hashtag #YoMeInformoPMA mainly used an interactive strategy, a message that aims to promote casual conversations, advice, and problem-solving.“
Romero-Hall, E.J. (2021). Undergraduate students in online social communities: An exploratory investigation of deliberate informal learning practices. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 10(3). https://dx.doi.org/10.51869/103/erh
We often do not realize that there are many instances of informal learning practices: implicit learning, reactive learning, and deliberate learning. In this paper, I focus on “deliberate learning refers to informal learning that occurs when an individual takes time to think about how and where to gather information.” This paper further analyses data that was collected as part of an internal grant sponsored by the University of Tampa on the use and participation of undergraduate students in social media (with a specific focus on teaching and learning). Here is a blurb from the abstract: “A total of 573 undergraduate students consented to participate in this investigation about deliberate informal learning practices using social media. Data analysis consisted of parametric and non-parametric statistical procedures. An analysis of the rankings provided by undergraduate students for the different deliberate informal learning activities performed in their most used social media (MUSM) showed that listening to podcasts related to their area of study, following/connecting with professional organizations, and connecting with leaders in their field of study were ranked higher than the other activities. The results also showed evidence of statistically significant differences in the ranking provided to the informal learning activities performed by undergraduate students in their least used social media (LUSM). Listening to podcasts related to their area of study, viewing videos that can assist with coursework, and following/connecting with professional organizations were ranked higher than the other deliberate informal learning activities.” This journal article is open access.
I wrote my last post back in May after participating in OTESSA conference: The #OTESSA22 Recap and Resources and honestly I had no idea the craziness of a summer that I had ahead of me! It has been 1.5 months since we moved to Knoxville. The boxes are unpacked and we have settled. I think that has been the number one questioned I have received for the last month from friends and colleagues.
There is so much that has happened this summer, I really do not know if I can sum it up into a blog post but here are the highlights:
I completely deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts. Initially those were going to be temporary deactivations but every time I thought about reactivating my account, I hated the fact that I was going to fall into old habits or deal with the social media non-sense (one day I will write about this term “social media non-sense”). It has been challenging at times because there are connections that I really miss and some that I honestly cannot connect in any other ways (i.e., friends who live abroad). But, I am still undecided on whether I will rejoin again.
We no longer live in our Seminole Heights bungalow in Tampa. I can’t believe we sold our first house. The process of selling was difficult in so many ways. It was exhausting mentally. It took over our lives. I will miss our neighborhood. Seminole Heights will always have a special place in my heart (i.e., it is the house were I saw my son take his first steps and the neighborhood he learn to ride his bike) but I am happy that the house sold allowing us to move and fully focus on our new chapter in Knoxville.
I became a U.S. citizen. I remember arriving in the United States January 2004 and landing in Kansas City to attend school at Emporia State University. That was an absolutely crazy adventure. I took the Greyhound bus from KC to Emporia (a two hour ride) and when we arrived in Emporia I was dropped off at a gas station. I was like “What the hell? Where is the bus terminal?” I asked the gas station employee to please call a cab for me and he was like “Well there is only one cab in town so know that it will be a while” (Yes, this was life pre-UBER, imagine that!). I really should write more about my adventures as an international student. Anyways, glad I completed all the requirements and applied for citizenship. The best part is that I get to vote!
I did the bare minimum in terms of scholarship. Instead I focused on the relocation process and I am so happy I didn’t kill myself trying to do a million things. Early in May I was contacted about a project that “must be written over the summer because the institution was going to pay us $$ over the summer to write the paper”. My response was: “Well the institution can keep their $$ because I am not about to comprise my sanity over a paper I can write in the Fall”. Best decision ever!
I did teach a two-week course on “culturally competent design for online learning” as part of a grant funded project “Online Ready” by colleague Dr. Lucy Green and colleagues. It was so much fun designing the course and launching it. It was an online asynchronous course for K-12 school librarians. This was the first iteration of the course now we get to address the feedback and launch it again next year with a different cohort.
There was minimum travel this summer but in the road trip to Knoxville we did get to explore two other major Tennessee cities: Chattanooga and Nashville. Definitely visiting again!