(Initial) Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali's blog has now moved to http://blog.mahabali.me


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Deep and Surface Approaches to Twitter

I got a tweet today from David Mathew who is new to Twitter:

I actually only had 496 followers at the time, but maybe he was reading the 518 I am following?

I could have pointed him to loads of links online about how to increase your twitter following, but many of them take “surface” approaches, and I think I’ve learned somewhere along the way to take a “deep” approach. I’ll explain as I go along.

But here is how it happened to me. Much of this was not intentional, mind you (except the surface approaches part)

Be “human”
Surface approach: make sure you have a human picture there, don’t follow a million people or you will look like a spammer, and try to follow back relevant people when it makes sense so you don’t look like a snob (this is common twitter strategy)

Deep approach: make sure you don’t always have automated things tweeting for you (like iftt or your automatic wordpress plugin or whatever; use those sometimes, too, but not exclusively). Interact with people as a person. It sounds obvious, of course, but this means making social gestures like saying hi, etc. it also means using things like sending things to particular people using’@’ when you think they’ll find them useful, it means when you forward someone else’s article or blog post that you try to say “via @theperson” to acknowledge them. I have an earlier blog post about social media etiquette that might help.

Be useful Be interactive, be generous
Surface approach: (can’t think of one hehe)
Deep approach: retweet useful things to useful people using the right hashtag (retweeting achieves two purposes: lets someone know u appreciate what they tweeted, and also lets your followers benefit from what you found useful). Answer questions that people pose. I got a large boost to my twitter following when I started interacting with other PhD students on twitter and asking and answering questions, i cannot remember HOW This all started (probably through a Guardian Higher Ed or Times Higher Ed article or event. The “be generous” part I learned from a Hybrid Pedagogy article. I had never thought of it before. People who use twitter to just self-promote will have others bored pretty fast. People who use Twitter to give and take with others create community, by giving credit to others and helping promote them (and people often reciprocate).

Join communities (MOOCs, hashtags, twitter chats)
Surface approach: tweet everything to a popular hashtag (looks like spamming?)
Deep approach: tweet relevant things to the relevant hashtag. Follow that hashtag yourself (e.g. Using tweetdeck or hootsuite) to see what people do there. Retweet stuff from there, reply to people who tweet there. Same for a MOOC that has a hashtag. Using it well gets followers. Same for twitter chat events.

Basically, a deep approach is to think of your followers as people and twitter as a place to build community (not numbers of followers) – you want to follow and be followed by people with similar interests

Will add more if I remember them!

I invite others to add in the comments

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Social media friends are my new books: re-flipping the flip

Today, my thoughts have been inspired by a combination of things that happened on social media. This is a terribly non-linear post (interestingly, a discussion on linearity of English-language writing vs others happened today at work; lots of comments will be in italics in this post because they will interrupt the linear flow, but my thinking just ain’t linear right now and am reserving the linearity for my more formal stuff). I find this very interesting because I had a pretty stimulating two days at work, face-to-face, but what I want to blog about, what excites me enough to stimulate the writing of the blog piece, is stuff that happened online. As Lenandlar commented on a previous blog, our new online friends are the new books we now read passionately every day. (I remembered a day early on in rhizo14 when i said i was enjoying the escape to rhizo14 on the weekend (a bad one for Egypt it was) better than reading a novel, and that was saying a lot coz I love reading novels). And I don’t just mean reading their blogs, but even shorter interactions like on twitter and comments on my blog, etc.

So… To keep this post relatively short (or not, I haven’t finished it yet): I was never happy with the whole “flipped classroom” thing because
A. I almost never lecture myself anyway, so flipping that is meaningless

And

B. i think people who do lecture intensively would not necessarily be creative enough to know what to do when they flip. Am sure some people will have things they want to try out and will find time when flipping happens. It can be liberating, I am sure, but it is not in itself a pedagogically sound idea unless you think about it pedagogically (and that is the topic of this post, which I will get to in a minute)

And

C. Good lecturing was never one-way. There are great lecturers who insert minimal questions to students in the middle of their lecture, but use those to help them pace themselves, modify their plan. Besides that, even in a lecture without questions, if a class is small enough, involves making eye contact, seeing whether students understand or not. It is interruptible. A video-taped one is not. I have seen some great MOOC videos, however, by experienced teachers, who did a good job of asking themselves questions a student would typically ask, and proceeding to answer them (reminds me of some really good teachers who used to do the Egyptian barameg ta3leemeyya, i.e. educational programming on TV for school kids). It is doable but not everyone can do it.

(Btw, I a, writing this post in such a non-linear manner it is ridiculous, reminding me of my feeling about my PhD – apparently Barry Dyck from rhizo14 also had trouble making his thesis into a linear one; just discovered that in his autoethnography today; commented on the google doc to tell him so, and realized that those comments I am making on the doc are de-linearizing the text, de-autoing the ethnographies and… Messing it all up really nicely, thank you rhizo14)

ANYWAY: the ideas of today were inspired by Kris Shaffer, who posted a Stanford study (which I came across via Sean Michael Morris’ google plus) and when I tweeted it, Kris, who teaches music, pointed me to another post of his on his approach to pedagogical re-flipping in which he cites a guy called Ramzey Musallam who teaches chemistry and writes about the same topic.

In a matter of 5 or so minutes, I had accumulated a wealth of information on

1. A Stanford study that showed that it is better to start with inquiry-based learning, not lecture/video of theory/concepts – this is the chronological opposite of flipping. It is also very Deweyan, isn’t it? Discovery-based learning, problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and all that; as Musallam states, it is the way of scientific discovery

2. I had learned how a music teacher tries this in his (university level) class

3. I had learned how a chemistry teacher does it in his (high school level) class

(And those three articles can make up a module in a class about re-flipping the flip, or inquiry-based learning, giving the study that supports the theory, and the experience of two teachers from different disciplines and contexts; showing the value of educational case studies told by teachers. I could go on but I think you get the idea).

I skimmed the articles and will come back to them, but also interesting was the discussion I had with Kris about why I never flip coz I never lecture, and he said he often gives his students text not video. Which made me realize how I was already doing that. I was basically pointing my students to blog posts or articles I had written in lieu of a lecture video. It made me realize two things. Well three:
1. Much of my writing is pedagogical, not always consciously in that way, but I guess it is just who I am, somehow?

2. It is more sustainable and useful to the world that I write it publicly, rather than in a closed LMS/VLE or email – it benefits more people for a longer time

3. I only ever recognized the pedagogical value of some of my blog posts because Bonnie Stewart kept tweeting some of it to her students and I thought, hmm, maybe I can tweet those to her students as well..

And another thing I learned from Bonnie, though I “flipped” it, is about connecting our network of online friends to our students – and the beautiful people of rhizo14 have been interacting with my students’ blogs (well one lucky student in particular because she said something relevant to a discussion, but now I will try to find ways to engage all the others as well) – but what a way to show people the power of social media! Full list of my students’ blogs here

(orphan side note: I was telling my student-teacher the other day, who teaches kindergarten that it was ridiculous to even think about it with reference to KG. Who the heck lectures to 4-year-olds anyway? (But apparently there is stuff online about flipping KG classrooms, too!)

I will stop here before I give someone a headache!

Oops, back about an hour later to add this great post critiquing the generic flip much better than I ever could!


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Why @HybridPed is my Favorite Journal

On the upcoming two-year anniversary of the journal Hybrid Pedagogy, I thought I’d share why this has been my favorite journal for the past few months (and probably for many more years to come).

There are many reasons I love the journal, but foremost among them is its digital agnostic approach (is that a term they made up?) – unlike a lot of other writing about educational technology, that tends to be  overly positive or overly negative (utopian/dystopian, as we discussed in #edcmooc), this journal provides a balanced and critical approach: in their words, they “avoid valorizing educational technology”. The journal is a reflective hybrid of “critical pedagogy” and “digital pedagogy” (though digital pedagogy is not their only focus). I think it is wonderful to find a journal that has an underlying social justice approach, that offers dissenting viewpoints, while also being critical in the most beautiful sense: where the end of the criticism is constructive (don’t take my word for it – check out the journal itself). They do all of this in accessible language – whereas much critical pedagogy work is not written in ways accessible to your average practitioner. It is a journal with an alternative perspective, a radical approach, but through it all, it does all of this in an accessible manner.

It is also not just a journal. The two individuals whom I often connect with it (Jesse & Sean) also lead other creative online pedagogical experiments, some of which I have participated in, such as ReadMake (I made this video reflecting on the creative chaos of it). They also lead monthly discussions on topics of interest to a variety of people, via the Twitter hashtag #digped, and have done lots of other creative experiments that you can read about in the journal.

Insight into their supportive/collaborative peer-review process made me wonder why most peer-reviewed journals take on an antagonistic double-blind peer review process, when it is pedagogically much more constructive to do open and supportive peer review! Jesse recently tweeted “I’ve a staunch no mean reviewers policy @HybridPed. Ironically, it’s the thing I’m ruthless about.” [which reminded me that I was recently tempted to tell someone “by the way, I was one of your peer reviewers for that article you just published – the nice, supportive reviewer, not the mean one!”]

I also love this recent post on promoting open access publications that also reflects on their process, which concludes with “The work of scholarship should ultimately be about generosity” and that we should champion the work of others as well as our own (and, I just realized, I am currently doing just that in this blog post)

Hybrid Pedagogy recently published a list of lists, a great way to navigate the treasure of articles in the journal. However, my favorite article of all-time was not mentioned in that list. That article, Beyond Rigor was the first journal article I read (and shared) after successfully defending my thesis. That might be why I have such a strong emotional affinity for/with it. But there is more to it than that. The article does a great job of articulating an idea I’d been trying to convince my colleagues of for a long time: that outcomes-based approaches to designing curricula are problematic. For some reason, when my colleagues read this article, all of them agreed with it. I am continually amazed by the power of well-articulated discourse and rhetoric. I will expand on this article later in a separate post.

I was recently introduced to the idea of “intellectual love“, and I recognized immediately that I am in deep intellectual love with this journal. It may be that this love stems from a compatibility in world views, but the journal still manages to challenge and stimulate me and push me beyond my comfort zone, which is, I believe, even more important.

A mentor once told me to try to publish in journals I liked to read, and @HybridPed is it right now! I look forward to one day soon being able to make a contribution to scholarship similar to the great quality reflective and provocative work this journal already does.

Join the fan club 😉 and enjoy