Academia, Educational Technology, Higher Education, Instructional Design, Research, Social Media, Teaching

Making #SocialMedia Work to Your Educational Advantage | Enilda Romero-Hall | #TEDxUTampa [video]

Almost exactly two-months ago I gave this talk at the TEDxUTampa event hosted and organized by undergraduate University of Tampa students. The video is now uploaded to the TEDx Talks YouTube channel. I am excited to share this in my blog and I welcome constructive feedback (keyword: “constructive”). Also, please feel free to share it with others if you believe in my message:

“Instead of solely focusing on the ‘bad’ or ‘thinking of social media as a waste of time’  it is imperative that we find innovative ways to use and repurpose this online social environments in a manner that is safe, ethical, and beneficial to us.”

If you have 13 minutes to spare, here is the video:

 

Social Media

Thoughts on Facebook.

Last week we all learned about Facebook breach of data. It sucked. But to be honest, it was not surprising to me at all as a user. I never really had expectations that Facebook would keep our data safe, protected, that they would use it ethically, or that they were really thinking about providing us healthy ways to use the platform. I wish they did. But they are greedy. 

Many friends, family, and colleagues have discussed their discontent and are considering doing without a Facebook account. I am not here to encourage you to continue using Facebook. I think it is a personal decision. I have quit Facebook in the past (I do not mean deactivated my account. I mean, that I took the time to delete every single post and photo, unfriend every single person, wipe my account clean, and made the request to Facebook to completely delete my account) and it was hard. Three years of “social connections from my undergraduate years” gone! However, at the same time it was exactly what I needed to do then.

I returned to Facebook two and half years after my hiatus with a completely different mindset. That time apart (from Facebook) really made me realize the benefits and disadvantages it has. I should also say that the context of my situation made it very unique: during the time I quit Facebook I ended a five year romantic relationship, moved from my little college town in Kansas to a city where I knew no one, and started a doctoral program (I talk a bit about this in my TEDxUTampa talk). Last, I should add, this all happened before “smartphones” and apps like WhatsApp, FaceTime, and others where a thing.

Again, I am really not here to convince anyone to keep their Facebook account or to delete it. I am here to say that for me it would be difficult to quit again. I was born and raised in Panama. I did all of my elementary, middle, and secondary school there. Unlike most people who attend different school during the K-12 years, I spend most of my years (since grade 4th) in the same institution with the same classmates (yes, there are people that I know since I was in 4th grade). I am connected with most of them through Facebook, which in Panama is almost the equivalent of text messaging (the only App that is more popular in Panama is probably WhatsApp). No one really writes emails there anymore. Seriously, I cannot even remember the last time anyone from Panama wrote me an email (now that I think about it).

I have lived in three different countries: Panama, Canada, and the United States (six different cities total). Ain’t nobody got time to be emailing to keep up with people (I already have enough with all the emails I get and have to send for work). 

Another reason it would be difficult to quit, is my constant connection to professional organizations and support groups. Connections to the groups that are created as part of my professional organizations, truly helps me stay connect to colleagues throughout the year. It helps me know what they are up to professionally. Also, sometimes there are beneficial conversations that occur (in professional circles and support groups). I may not be a participant in the conversation (just a lurker) but the resources that are shared help me in one way or another. Sometimes I participate, if I know something about a topic or have resources to share. This is something I learned during my time away from Facebook: use the platform to your advantage.  

I know some people are thinking: it is an echo chamber, people just use it to post their perfect pictures, others are just nosy about your business, all those political post are annoying, etc. Maybe it is because I am at different point in my life, but I enjoy seeing updates from my FB friends (no I do not get offended because I did not get a personalized text message from them letting me know about something special that happened to them). Also, I am very intentional about who I connect with. If I cannot be “me” with you, then I will not accept your request OR I will simply delete you as a friend. If I feel that what you post is toxic, then “delete.” BTW, I am also like this offline. This is who I am, you can take it or leave.  

During my time away from Facebook, I learned that it is really hard to keep up with people. Relationships require time and it is easy to neglect them. Again, this was all before smartphones and the development of all those other social platforms. I know what you are thinking: a centralized friendship “hub” is evil. Yes, it sucks that in order to keep up we have use this evil thing call Facebook but I personally do not have time to do it differently. 

That is all I have for now. BTW, I am human. I may have a different opinion tomorrow. I also want to leave you with three personal quotes:

“So to some extend it is true. Social media can be harmful (and affect our mental well being), difficult to manage and overwhelming, too public, distracting, and influence and miss inform us.” 

“Instead of solely focusing on the “bad” or “thinking of social media as a waste of time”  it is imperative that we find innovative ways to use and repurpose this online social environments in a manner that is safe, ethical, and beneficial to us.”

“I am also not saying that we need to overlook the challenges that social media present for our social, mental, and physical well-being. We absolutely need to find ways to deal with this challenges.”

 

 

Academia, Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education, Instructional Design, Research, scholarship, Teaching, Writing

Latest Publication: #SocialMedia Use by #InstructionalDesign Departments

Our publication titled “Social Media Use by Instructional Design Departments” was recently published under ‘early release’ by the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology #openaccess

Romero-Hall, E., Kimmons, R., & Veletsianos, G. (2018). Social media use by instructional design departments. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 34(5), 86-98. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.3817

Academia, Higher Education, Professional Development, Research

TEDxUTampa Talk [Full-Text] #InformalLearning #SocialMedia

I am sharing the full-text of my recent talk at the #TEDxUTampa event on February 3rd, 2018 at The University of Tampa campus:

Making Social Media Work for your Educational Advantage

Enilda Romero-Hall, Ph.D.

In the year 2005, I was an undergraduate student living in a small college town in Kansas. My classmates and friends had recently started using this website called Facebook. It was: “ a better version of MySpace,” which I had never used. Of course I started using Facebook, friending others, and posting picture of my social life. It took three years but eventually, I became overwhelmed with Facebook. So, I proceeded to delete my Facebook account.

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Dr. Enilda Romero-Hall, TEDxUTampa

A year later, I had moved to a different state and city, started a doctoral degree, and was volunteering as a graduate student at an international conference. I noticed in my interactions with other graduate students that I felt out of the loop. For example: many of my colleagues had participated in a MOOC (massive open online course) about statistical analysis taught by a well known scholar in our field that they found out about through a Facebook group posting. I had never heard of it. At the end of that conference, I really started to wonder if I needed to reconsider my decision and re-join facebook.

It took me about six more months but eventually, I started to use social media AGAIN and made a conscious decision to use it for both personal and professional reasons. Not only did I join Facebook, I also joined other social media platforms with online communities that allow me to exchange information with others, connect with people who have similar interest, and informally learn about the topics that interest me.

Now, let’s fastword to 2018:

Today social media is ingrained in the way our society communicates, for good or bad. There is evidence that the use of social media will continue to grow as applications expand and new ones enter the market in the near future. Users are eager to try applications that offer engaging and unique ways to communicate with others.

I bet many of you are Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook users?

Well, if you are a Snapchat user, you are one of 166 million daily active users. According to the Pew Research Center, social media adoption in the United States has grown from 5% in 2005 to 69% percent in 2016. This adoption rates are a global trend.

Slide07

The great majority of social media users access this platforms for informal, social interactions with friends, family, and acquaintances.

However, is not uncommon to see “concerning” headlines and research about social media in the news. For example:

  • Meghan Markle just quit social media. Here’s why you might want to as well!
  • Facebook admits that social media can be bad for you!
  • Social media is changing how we think, and not necessarily for better
  • Stop over-posting your vacation photos

Slide12

Because we have all seen pictures of our friends and family in their amazing vacations! Everything just looks so picture perfect. The kind of vacation that you dream of. Just recently I also had a picture perfect vacation. My husband, my two-year old, and I embarked on an adventure to our sunny destination: Cartagena, Colombia. The pictures did not disappoint. But let’s be honest my husband and I were traveling with a two-year old. His behavior was not always picture perfect.

Yes, he had temper tantrums.
Yes, he cried.
Yes,  he was loud when asked to be quiet.
He is a two-year old after all!

So to some extend it is true. Social media can be harmful (and affect our mental well being), difficult to manage and overwhelming, too public, distracting, and influence and miss inform us. So I am not here to tell you that it is all rainbows and unicorns, Nor it is doom and gloom. But what I want to share with you is that we have to find ways to positively use this mediums that are not going anywhere, anytime soon. There are a large number of research efforts that hope to better understand and analyze the use of social media for teaching and learning purposes. As an educator and researcher myself, I have experienced and investigated how social media can be used for informal learning purposes.

Since 2013 the graduate students in the program in which I teach have been actively using social media online communities to informally learn more about our field, instructional design. We have both public and private online social communities. In this social media communities students exchange articles, post jobs and internship opportunities, ask questions and seek recommendations, and simply stay connected. Through my research, I found out that this online social media communities have helped keep the conversation going outside of the classroom and as one graduate students mentioned: “Some posts have triggered the students curiosity and in turn has led to exploring different topics and developing skills.”

Slide16

But this informal learning experiences are not unique to the graduates students in the instructional design and technology program at the University of Tampa. As a knowledge seeker, I wanted to know if graduate students in other institutions of higher education are also using social media online communities to post, share, network, and connect. Here is what I found:

  • Students in other institutions perceive social media online communities as a quick method to help support social and knowledge communication
  • This communities help “break the ice” because it provides a relax way to communicate with others since conversations happen in a far more spontaneous and candid way
  • For students in fully online programs social media groups provided a sense of community… a sense of belonging…
  • To me what was really striking was that not only did students in this social media online communities appreciate sharing with others who have similar interest but most importantly they participated and valued the interactions with others who shared a different perspective because it challenged their views and allowed them to reflect, rethink, and in some instances re-shape their of own knowledge.
  • Of course, not all students are quick to post and share their thoughts with the world or their online communities. What I found is that some students enjoy lurking around and quietly participating while reading and consuming information provided by others.

Slide18

So you may be wondering, why is this important? Why is it important for me to invest my time to listen to this lady talk about informal learning in social media communities?

Because, instead of solely focusing on the “bad” or “thinking of social media as a waste of time”  it is imperative that we find innovative ways to use and repurpose this online social environments in a manner that is safe, ethical, and beneficial to us.

And how can you do that?

  • Become a self-directed learner. Use social media to gather information about trends related to your field or area of interest:
    • What are new and emergent topics in your field?
    • Who are leaders in your field that you should follow?
    • Where can you find rigours research related to your field of study?
  • Use social media to connect with individuals outside your network
    • It is good to connect with others who have the same ideas as you
    • But it is also good to breakout of your network because this interaction can lead to innovation
  • What it boils down to: using social media to engage in transformational learning opportunities in which you:
    • Engage in critical reflection
    • Engage in discourse
    • Take action to transform your frame of reference

Don’t get me wrong! I am not saying “stop posting your favorite funny cat videos and memes” or “stop sharing selfies of yourself.” I am also not saying that we need to overlook the challenges that social media present for our social, mental, and physical well-being. We absolutely need to find ways to deal with this challenges.

What I am saying is that there are other ways in which we can enrich social media environments. There are educational aspects that we should consider. We, as users, have the power to control: what we post, when we post, who we interact with, and how we interact with others.  You cannot rely on social media developers to provide healthy ways to use this platforms. It is our responsibility to make it work for us!

Academia, Grant, Higher Education, Instructional Design, Professional Development, Research, scholarship

Graduate & Undergraduate Mentee Contract

Hello! Happy New Year (sorry it is that awkward time of the year in which I am not sure if I should or should not say “Happy New Year”)!

I recently started a small research group with graduate and undergraduate students at my institution. Early in the Fall semester, a few students reached out to me (looking for research experience, mentorship, and collaboration) and I thought it would be a good idea. All of this students want to further their education and go on to doctoral programs. We are currently working on three to four projects together. Last semester was sort of my first time giving this “research group” thing a trial. I learned so much from the experience!

  • Consistent meetings are good
  • Have a meeting agenda
  • Set realistic deadlines
  • Understand each other’s skills
  • Understand each other’s expectations

Yesterday was our first meeting after the Winter Break. We talked about the upcoming data collections, IRB applications, conference proposals, conference presentations, and manuscripts we are planning to work on this semester (we are busy!). I also took time during our meeting to talk about this mentoring experience and what we should all expect. I shared the “Graduate Mentee Contract” to guide the discussion. It was passed on to me by an academic mama who works at a different institution. So I am paying it forward and sharing it in my blog just in case anyone else is looking for something similar.

 

Academia, Distance Education, Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education, Instructional Design, Research, scholarship, Teaching

Latest publication: “Examining Distance Learners in #Hybrid #Synchronous #Instruction: Successes and Challenges” #OpenAccess

Our latest publication titled “Examining Distance Learners in Hybrid Synchronous Instruction: Successes and Challenges” in now available #openaccess as part of the latest issues of Online Learning Journal (Special Issues of the AERA SIG Online Teaching and Learning):

Romero-Hall, E. & Vicentini, C. (2017). Examining distance learners in hybrid synchronous instruction: Successes and challenges. Online Learning, 21(4). doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v21i4.1258.

Academia, AECT, Conference, Educational Technology, Higher Education, Instructional Design, Professional Development, Research

#AECTRTD is seeking nominations

Association of Educational Communications and Technology (AECT)
ELECTIONS 2018


We are looking for candidates to serve in the AECT Research & Theory Division Board (2018 – 2019), in the positions listed below:

President-Elect [Three-Year Term]
Shall be responsible for chairing the division convention planning activities (first year). Shall conduct all business, meetings, and other tasks relating to division activity within AECT (second year). Shall be responsible for elections of officers and R&T division awards (third year).

Professional Development Coordinator Elect [Three-Year Term]
Commits to serving a 3-year term through the cycle of Coordinator-Elect, Coordinator and Past Coordinator. The Professional Development Coordinator Elect assists the Coordinator with professional development event planning and Early Career Symposium funding application.

Featured Research Coordinator [One-Year Term]
Responsible for reviewing, selecting and arranging featured research sessions for the AECT convention.

Secretary [One-Year Term]
Shall document meetings, prepare minutes and complete other tasks as assigned by the division president. The Secretary is elected from the division membership annually to a one-year term.

Member-at-Large [One-Year Term]
The Member-at-large may serve any number of consecutive terms, but must run for the office each year. Serves as the voice of RTD membership. Provides assistance, as needed, with professional development.

RTD Graduate Student Representative [One-Year Term]
Must be a current graduate student.  The Graduate Student Representative acts as the liaison to the Graduate Student Assembly and provides a voice for graduate students to R&T leadership.

Communications Officer [One-Year Term]
Shall act as R&T Webmaster and run the division’s social media channels. The Communications Officer is elected from the division membership annually to a one-year term.

Self-nominations are welcomed. If interested, please send:
– Nominee’s full name and title
– Institutional affiliation
– Email address
– Short bio (300 words)
– Photo of nominee

The RTD Immediate Past President, Enilda Romero-Hall, will coordinate the nomination process. To submit a nomination, of yourself or a colleague, email the requested information to eromerohall@ut.edu by December 1, 2017.