Friendly Treehouses (AHEA)

Thanks to "Monk of the TrueSchool" for making this image available on wikimedia.

Thanks to "Monk of the TrueSchool" for making this image available on wikimedia.

In this  post are several links to resources and examples related to the presentation that Harriet Schwartz (who writes The Encouragement Lounge, a blog for her adult learners) and I gave at this year’s AHEA conference.

First, a must read is Harriet’s article that was published in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled Facebook: The New Classroom Commons? Congratulations Harriet!

And, if you are new to these tools and would like to learn about a variety of them and their uses in general, feel free to browse Marylhurst 2.0, the course blog that I created to support the Introduction to Social Media course I taught this past summer. Topics and resources include Twitter, YouTube, social bookmarking, LinkedIn, RSS, and many more.



Finally, I recommend watching this video of Howard Rheingold, a professor at UC Berkeley and Stanford University and a scholar and leader in social media uses in education (and beyond).  In the video, Rheingold talks about the “coming world of collaboration, participatory media and collective action — and how Wikipedia is really an outgrowth of our natural human instinct to work as a group.”

Introduction to Social Media Communications

Here’s more information about the course that Art and I are teaching this summer – you do not need to be a Marylhurst student to take or audit this course. Registration opens Monday May 18th.

Introduction to Social Media Communications: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, & More

CCM 366-1E (1 credit) or CCM 066-1E (1 CEU)


This is a 3 week-long online course; it runs from 8/3/09 – 8/21/09.


In this online workshop, learners will be introduced to social media tools and concepts, focusing on how social media technologies can affect their work, learning, and life. Through hands-on demonstration and use of a variety of social media tools such as blogs, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, RSS, wikis, podcasting, and social bookmarking, participants will learn how these tools are shaping modern communication and how to incorporate them into everyday business, educational, and personal communications. We will also address topics such as digital etiquette, privacy, digital trails, and developing community.


Upon completion of this workshop, participants will:

  • Understand different kinds of social media applications and their uses.
  • Practice using some of the social media tools for specific educational, personal, and/or professional purposes.
  • Consider how social media applications affect modern communication in a variety of settings and for a variety of purposes.
  • Assess the benefits and challenges associated with social media in order to make informed choices about participation in social media spaces.

Course Structure

Week 1 Points of Inquiry – Introduction to Social Media

  • Who are you and what do you know about social media?
  • What is social media?
  • Why are people using it?
  • How people are using it?

Week 2 Points of Inquiry – Social Media Tools

  • What are some of the various social media tools?
  • What do they do?
  • How do they do it?
  • What might you want to do with them, and why?

Week 3 Points of Inquiry – Implications of Social Media

  • What are the implications of social media on the following:
    • Etiquette
    • Privacy
    • Digital trails
    • Developing community
    • Power and control
    • Attention
    • Digital literacy
    • Communications
  • What are some of the benefits and challenges of using social media?
  • What are the possible applications of Social Media on you:
    • Professionally
    • Personally
    • Educationally

Learning Activities & Assignments

In addition to completing the course readings and participating in the course discussions, all of which will contribute to our learning as community, students will engage in a variety of weekly activities in order to meet the learning outcomes of the course. Specific details about these activities will be provided during the course.

Students will also plan and implement their own “Social Media Project,” which may include one of the following:

  • Plan and create a blog for a specific purpose
  • Plan and create a Facebook page or group for a specific purpose
  • Plan and create a LinkedIn page or group for a specific purpose
  • Plan and create a YouTube channel for a specific purpose
  • Plan and create a Twitter account for a specific purpose
  • Combination of some or all of the above
  • Or propose something else to the instructors that will best meet your needs for learning and using social media.

The project may be for personal, professional, and/or educational purposes. Specific guidelines and tools for planning and implementation will be provided in the course.

For registration information to go the Marylhurst Registration website.

The Kingdom Can Become Yours

bg-headerI read Chris Brogan’s blog. He writes about community and social media, and by reading his posts I can usually keep myself fairly well-informed about how folks are thinking about and using various social media tools to build and foster relationships.

Today, he wrote a post called How Not to Learn, in which he makes this point:

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, but where you run into a potential risk is by letting your opinions get in the way of learning something new. I learn best by paying attention to how others do things, especially when I’m learning how not to do things.

If we don’t look for models, if we don’t separate our feelings from our efforts to learn, we miss many opportunities. That last bit bears repeating slightly differently: If you can break out the concepts from the content, the entire kingdom becomes yours.

I think he makes a few good points:

  1. We can learn by observing others.
  2. We can learn if we pay attention to our own and others’ mistakes.
  3. We can learn more effectively if we focus on what we can learn, instead of on what we believe to be true or how we feel about something. What we believe to be true may very well be assumptions clouding our thinking. (As I wrote about previously, I think Pam Houston’s character said it best: “In every assumption is contained the possibility of its opposite.”).

It’s also quite difficult to separate our feelings from our efforts to learn — there is often a lot of emotionality involved in learning, there just is! — but then again, who said getting the keys to the kingdom was going to be easy?

Silos, Falling Down

I’ve been experiencing an interesting phenomenon in the past few years: the separate aspects of my life have become much less separate and much more integrated. I no longer have a work life, a personal life, an educational life – they are much more connected, in time, organization, and approach.

We hear a lot about balance these days, and when students return to college, especially as adults who must juggle the multiple responsibilities of being a parent/student/worker/grandparent/caretaker/volunteer/etc., the “balance” word gets tossed about a lot. We talk with students about making sure they balance their educational studies with their work responsibilities, their family engagements, and their community commitments, that they balance their time, as if balance will make it all happen. As if balance is what will help them learn. As if!

The idea of balance is often used in reference to being a parent too, and I’d venture to say that it’s used as much with new moms as it is with new college students. When I had my kid, there was a lot of conversation around me about balance – making sure I balanced my priorities, my diet, my time, my energy, my activities. Again, the idea was that if I could only achieve this enigmatic condition called balance, I would be a good mom. (But seriously, who can balance well at all when sleep deprived? For me, there was nothing in balance, no matter how hard I tried, until I started getting sleep again!)

When I hear the term “balance,” however, I always feel a sense of teetering, even though in some cases balance also can be equated with strength (yoga comes to mind). Images that more often come to my mind, though, are of people falling off bicycles, balance beams, buildings. Look at the woman’s knee in this picture, for goodness sake. She has a big bandage on it!

(Thank you Google Images.)

(Thank you Google Images.)

When I feel like I am balancing, I also feel like it would only take a gentle breeze to knock me over, off course, off track.

What I have been experiencing lately is distinctly not balance – and the only two words I can use to say what it is are integration and coordination. The silos that used to be in my life have fallen down, and I am grateful.

One possible reason for this is that technology is enabling me to exist in multiple spaces and places at once. I can check my work email and teach my online courses from home, and I frequently do. My home phone is now my cell phone and always on my person, even at work. And let’s not even talk about Facebook! (Yes, I am friends with students and many of my colleagues at my university and other universities on Facebook, and I do a lot of “work” there.)

Also, I try not to let amount of time equate to quality of experience. I think I am a good mom, but I try to achieve that by making the most of the time I have with my kid. I think I do a good job professionally, but that’s not because I am in my office for a particular number of hours per day or per week.

Finally, I try to make connections between the work I do, the things I study, and the life I live. After all, I am a whole person, not a person who lives in parts. So I ask: Where are there similarities? Where are there differences? Where are there conflicts? How do I resolve them? These are the kinds of questions rattling around in my head. I honestly do not know how to consider or achieve “balance” without also feeling the opposite sense of teetering, so perhaps these things help me achieve what I think is probably meant by balance instead – a feeling of integration, connectedness, and agency. (Well, on most days.)

So what do I hope to convey with this prattle? For my students, I encourage you to seek integration and connections. Find ways to apply what you are learning to your work, to connect it to your family, your friends, your life. Ask your colleagues for support for your educational activities; share with your supervisors and coworkers your ideas for implementing your learning at your workplace; tell your family what you are learning and ask for their input about how it might apply to your relationships; discuss with your instructors questions you have about how the theory relates to practice; ask your classmates how they’re relating to and applying what they’re learning.

Go there.

It will really make a difference. It will really help you learn, much more so than any notion about balance ever will.