The SoTL Advocate

Supporting efforts to make public the reflection and study of teaching and learning at Illinois State University and beyond…


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Advocacy & Outreach Sessions at ISSoTL in Calgary

Compiled by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL at Illinois State University and co-chair of ISSoTL’s Advocacy & Outreach committee

Next week, SoTL folks from all over the world will gather in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for the 14th annual conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL). For this conference, ISSoTL’s Advocacy & Outreach (A&O) committee has developed three panels to discuss needs and opportunities to support SoTL locally and globally. Please join our committee as we facilitate the following panels:

Addressing Issues of Our Times

  • Thursday, 10/12/17 from 8:30-10am – Glen 201
  • Panelists: Lauren Scharff (U.S. Air Force Academy), Jennifer Friberg (Illinois State University), Allison Meder (University of Kansas), Clair Hamshire (Manchester Metropolitan University), and Arshad Ahmad (McMaster University)
  • This panel will share perspectives and lead discussion centered on how we (individual ISSoTL members, the A&O committee, and/or ISSoTL at large) might engage in and support appropriate responses to local, state, national, and international issues that relate to or affect SoTL.

Teaching Stream Positions: Mapping and Advocating for SoTL in Diverse Landscapes

  • Thursday, 10/12/18 from 4-5:30pm – Glen 209
  • Panelists: Diana Gregory (Kennesaw State University), Arshad, Ahmad (McMaster University), Mary Huber (Carnegie Foundation), Trent Maurer (Georgia Southern University), Nicola Simmons (Brock University)
  • The panel will explore the diverse landscapes of teaching stream positions from various institutional perspectives while examining the role of SoTL in how various teaching positions are defined, supported, and evaluated.

Social Media Strategies for SoTL

  • Saturday, 10/14/18 from 8-9:30am – Glen 203
  • Workshop Facilitators: Raj Chaudhury (University of South Alabama), Sophia Abbot (Trinity University), Phillip Edwards (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), John Draeger (Buffalo State University), Jennifer Friberg (Illinois State University)
  • This panel will provide a guided, practical approach to assist either individuals or institutional units that aim to be more intentional in their social media outreach to champion SoTL. This workshop will focus on four specific social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and YouTube.
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Sometimes, there is more than the road…

Written by Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL and Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Illinois State University

Last fall, my son was struggling to complete a two-mile run in the required time frame to qualify for his high school’s varsity soccer team. Despite having met all other requirements, a nagging injury was making this last sksponge bobill particularly difficult.  On his third try, he was able to cross the finish line under the required time period…thankfully! Evidently, as he ran, my son channeled Sponge Bob*, chanting “focus on the road…there is nothing but the road” to concentrate on each step he took until his task was accomplished. In this case, a singular focus was appropriate and successful.

Why do I share this story about my son? Last week, I had a long conversation with a former colleague about SoTL advocacy. This colleague suggested that the only necessary advocacy for SoTL on a college campus involved provision of financial support for faculty SoTL research and associated travel. She went on to say that it was the role of individual faculty members to advocate for their SoTL research and to choose to involve (or not involve) students in these endeavors. Her assertion was that my role as a campus advocate for SoTL was so one-dimensional immediately reminded me of my son’s Sponge Bob quote. My colleague clearly believed that for SoTL advocacy, the focus should be only on the road (research support). I would argue there is much more to attend to!

In my view, SoTL advocacy is complex and is necessarily deep and broad, involving a variety of stakeholders across a host of contexts. In July, I questioned whether the 4M framework could support SoTL advocacy. As I prepared my internal FY17 report for my institution’s administration, I’ve listed the accomplishments of my office as aligned with the major objectives that were set a year ago. Additionally, I’ve assessed successes in advocating for SoTL in at the micro, meso, macro, and mega levels. Though this was not a requirement of my institutional review, I felt there might be benefit in understanding which levels might need more support, moving forward. A few strategies that I’ve employed this year in each area of the 4M framework are described below:

       
Micro

(individual level)

Meso

(departmental level)

Macro

(institutional level)

Mega

(beyond institution)

·   Designed leveled SoTL workshops for faculty (Intro series and “master” classes for those with SoTL experience.

·   Co-created a certificate program for graduate students to learn about SoTL and plan a SoTL project with a disciplinary mentor.

·   Developed a mechanism to provide annual reports to college Deans and department/school directors to outline SoTL involvement and productivity for faculty and students. ·   Provided travel funds for 14 faculty to attend twelve different national/international research conferences to present their SoTL research.

·   Provided support for two new disciplinary SoTL journals.

·   Provided consultations to two departments, detailing efforts to increase visibility of SoTL on campus and acceptance of SoTL for promotion and tenure. ·   Utilized ISU’s SoTL Resource group to aid in strategic planning, workshop topic identification, and advocacy priorities.

Looking at my activities since July, I can now fully appreciate the perspective slotting each into micro, meso, macro, or mega categories allows. I feel as though I have been most effective at providing support for SoTL on the micro, macro, and mega levels; however, I noted that there is likely more for my office to do at the meso level. This information is important and has aided in setting goals for my office for FY18 — and would have been missed in the planning process without this extra analysis. Overall, this process helped me answer my question from July – yes, the 4M framework can be helpful in considering many aspects of SoTL advocacy. I would now argue that it can help plan AND assess advocacy efforts with an eye towards identification of opportunities for improvement.

Reflecting on needs and accomplishments has helped me draft major FY18 objectives for my office. While I may tinker a bit before these are finalized, I envision the following as the focus of the coming fiscal year:

  1. Harness social media and other web-based platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, SoTL Advocate blog, Cross Chair website) to promote SoTL and provide resources for ISU faculty, staff, students, and administration.
  2. Support the design, completion, and dissemination of SoTL work by ISU faculty, staff, and students.
  3. Engage in internal and external collaborations to increase the visibility of and acceptance for SoTL at ISU and beyond.
  4. Increase involvement in SoTL nationally and internationally by members of the ISU community.

This process had led me to wonder how others how others engage in assessment of their SoTL advocacy efforts. Are there other models or frameworks being used? What are the metrics you use to determine successful advocacy or to anticipate needs for the future?

*Screen shot taken from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0fORGwg45M. While I am not a fan of Sponge Bob, I was happy to see that my son’s television viewing when he was younger was actually useful to him at a later age!


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Might the 4M Framework Support SoTL Advocacy?

Written by: Jennifer Friberg, Cross Endowed Chair in SoTL at Illinois State University

Within SoTL, there are as many similarities as differences. As SoTL scholars, we are alternately inter- and intra-disciplinary in our focus. We operate within different areas of our big tent. We disseminate our work locally, but often seek national and global audiences. SoTL is diverse and different and context-specific but also uniformly focused on improving teaching and learning.

This dynamic orientation for SoTL impacts how we share and advocate for SoTL. With the work I have been doing the last several years, I have found that I advocate differently for SoTL based on my immediate audience: individual researchers, students, department chairs, university administration, disciplinary leaders and organizations. This is likely true for many of us, as we seek support for the important work we do with SoTL. I have often wished for a more organized – or perhaps more efficient – way to conceptualize my SoTL advocacy strategy. In my readings today, I may have found one.

Wuetherick and Yu (2016) recently shared their study exploring the state of SoTL in Canada, reporting input on practices and trends from the perspective of 140 respondents, each SoTL scholars in Canada.  Input from these individuals (gathered via survey) was organized across a four-level framework, which I will term the 4Ms for efficiency: mega, macro, meso, and micro. Use of this 4M framework allowed interpretation of data important to understanding SoTL from a variety of viewpoints, representing individuals and groups. Each of these levels is defined below:

Capture

Data from the Wuetherick and Yu (2016) study provided focused perspectives on each of these levels of influence, alerting readers of interesting trends such as these:

  • While SoTL research influenced 99% of respondents to change the design and implementation of their course, only 52% worked in institutions where SoTL is encouraged via promotion and tenure policies.
  • Different academic/disciplinary departments/units valued SoTL inconsistently, with 50% of respondents indicating that their departmental culture encouraged participation in SoTL.
  • Two-thirds of respondents felt as though there have been increases in the quality and quantity of venues for sharing SoTL work, but only 35% reported adequate campus-level funding for SoTL work.

While these data (and the rest contained within the study) help to inform the state of SoTL in Canada, they also provide a very solid foundation for SoTL advocacy in that country. There is a clear starting point in terms of where attention could be drawn to benefit the micro level (increase funding for SoTL work), the meso level (encourage meaningful changes in departmental culture for greater support of SoTL), the macro level (adapt promotion and tenure policies to support the work of SoTL scholars), and the mega level (continue to increase the profile of dissemination outlets for SoTL work).

Others could use a similar model. Single institutions could survey faculty or others could band together in a more collaborative effort (as was seen in Canada) to outline regional or national priorities for advocacy based on available data. All in all, it would seem as though the 4M framework might give an important starting place for purposeful and strategic advocacy across shareholders to advance and grow SoTL.

Blog Reference:

Wuetherick, B. & Yu, S. (2016). The Canadian teaching commons: The scholarship of teaching and learning in Canadian higher education. New Directions in Teaching &


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SoTL Advocacy Via Social Media: Reflections and Suggestions

Written by: Jen Friberg, SoTL Scholar-Mentor at Illinois State University

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Over the last two years, I have (sometimes grudgingly) endeavored to use social media to learn about SoTL and share my thoughts and interests related to SoTL with others. As a SoTL Scholar-Mentor at Illinois State, I have regularly used Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress to share the SoTL work happening at ISU and beyond. That said, I initially resisted the siren’s song of social media for professional use, preferring to use social media for personal communications and connections. Over time, my thoughts on this topic evolved as it became evident that others were harnessing social media effectively, sharing their professional work and ideas more widely with social media than without. Further, I realized that SoTL, a movement that is growing, global, and appealing to people of many ages, has natural synergy with social media as users can capture current research, ideas, applications, and events central to SoTL and publicly share them with large (and varied) networks of users. I am now a happy convert, and access social media often to learn about and to promote SoTL.

At the SoTL Commons conference in March, I attended a presentation by Josephine Csete and Janice Chia of Hong Kong Polytechnic University titled: Using social media to build your SoTL research & profile: The “what,”why,” and “how.” This presentation underscored  the vast influence social media has in society with billions of people using social media in a variety of ways to share thoughts and ideas with others. Csete and Chia did an excellent job of citing data to support the use of social media in SoTL, sharing the following:

  • There is evidence to suggest that an active online presence may directly impact a researcher’s credentials as measured though traditional metrics (Bik & Goldstein, 2013).
  • Sharing publications on Twitter is statistically correlated with increases in downloads and early citations of work (Shuai, Pepe, & Bollen, 2012).
  • Articles that are “highly tweeted” were 11 times more likely to be cited in subsequent publications than those were not shared via social media (Eysenbach, 2011).

I mentioned above that I am a social media convert. That said, having prior experience using social media for personal use didn’t make me an expert in using social media to advocate for SoTL. I learned a few lessons (some more easily than others!) along the way:

  1. Harness social media to the extent of your comfort. There is no reason to put yourself in a position where you are doing something that you are uncomfortable with or overwhelmed by. Start slowly with using social media and build your involvement over time to create a sustainable routine and purpose.
  2. Select social media platforms purposefully. There are numerous social media platforms — I won’t list them all here. Wikipedia provides a list of the top 15 social media apps with links to explain each, which provides a good start to understanding the diversity of options available to those interested in using social media. Select the platform most aligned with the reason you’re choosing to use social media. I started a blog to share SoTL resources and feature the work of a variety of SoTL contributors and researchers. That would have been more difficult to accomplish via a different type of social media.
  3. Don’t be afraid to share. Use social media to share your SoTL work, your favorite SoTL articles, and the SoTL work (properly cited) of others. Share images that reflect SoTL. Contribute to the Commons. We acknowledge that SoTL represents a big tent, with many diverse ideas and disciplines represented within — and having diversity in contributions focused on SoTL via social media is essential.
  4. Be patient. It may take a while to develop a following on social media, but keep contributing. A lack of followers does not mean that you don’t have thoughts worth sharing…it may simply mean that you haven’t yet been “found” by like-minded SoTL folks. Alternately, a lack of followers over time could mean that you have selected a platform that is incongruous to your goals for using social media.
  5. Develop a personality via social media that promotes authenticity. There is no “one way” to use social media to advocate for SoTL. Represent yourself on social media in a way that is unique to you. Develop a voice, a style, and a manner that is personal, authentic, and genuine. Anything else will be hard to sustain!

 

Blog References:

Bik, H. M. & Goldstein, M. C. (2013). An introduction to social media for scientists. PLoS Biology, 11(4): e1001535.

Csete, J. M. & Chia, J. (2016). Using social media to build your SoTL research & profile: The what, why, and how. Presentation at the SoTL Commons conference in Savannah, GA. Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2091&context=sotlcommons

Eysenbach, G. (2011). Can tweets predict citations? Metrics pf social impact based on twitter and correclation with traditional metrics of scientific impact. Journal of Medical Internet Resources, 12: e123.

Shuai, X., Pepe, A., & Bollen, J. (2012). How the scientific community reacts to newly submitted pre-prints: Article downloads, Twitter mentions, and citations. PLoS ONE, 7: e47523.