Workshop: Designing a Scholarly Digital Presence (for Graduate Students)

(English version below)

J’ai eu le plaisir de présenter un atelier sur la conceptualisation d’une présence numérique à plusieurs étudiants aux études supérieures à la Faculté d’Éducation hier. En bas je partage les diapos qui ont encadré nos discussions.

Questions que les participants ont posées

Q: La sécurité: Comment me protéger en ligne?
R: Quelques conseils — ne mettez jamais votre adresse, votre numéro de téléphone sur votre site web. Moi, personnellement, je ne mets même pas de courriel sur mon site web. Les gens peuvent me trouver à l’Université, mais je ne veux pas inviter les courriels non-solicités non plus. Il faut aussi considérer les images que tu utilises — à quel point est-ce que tu veux être identifié sur ton site web en images? Et pour ceux et celles qui travaillent dans les écoles ou dans les contextes avec les populations vulnérables, il faut aussi considérer comment les protéger. Les élèves peuvent être identifés par ton lien avec eux par exemple — alors, ne dit pas à quelle école tu travailles, même sur ton CV en ligne. Décris tes expériences et le contexte en termes généraux…mais évite de partager les informations personnelles.

Q: Où commencer?
R: Avec les affiches sur ton blogue liées à tes études. Même les analyses des articles, les commentaires et réflexions sur les idées majeures dans ton domaine — c’est un bon point de départ. Et écrivant, tu vas trouver ta voix, et tu va commencer à voir ce que tu peux faire sur ton site web professionnel. Même si éventuellement tu va écrire pour un public cible, commence en écrivant pour toi-même.

Q: Comment respecter et protéger la propriété intellectuelle?
Creative Commons. C’est la meilleure ressource que je connais. Tu peux mettre une license sur tes travaux et au site, tu peux aussi chercher les images, sons, de la musique créés avec une license ouverte.


I was pleased to offer a workshop to our Faculty of Education graduate students yesterday on the design and creation of a scholarly online presence. Here are the slides that framed our discussions. Participants asked several questions. Here they are with my responses:

Q: How do I keep myself safe online?
R: Obviously, you want to keep your identity safe. So, follow basic rules like never putting up your home address, telephone number or even your email. You might include this information on a CV that you would send with a specific job application, but online, provide a different CV. Focus only on your work and don’t give the personal info. If someone wants to find my email, they can always do so at the University website. I don’t want to make it too easy for people to gather up all of that information from one place. In addition to protecting your own identity, you also need to protect the identities of your students and research participants because they can be identified through you if you give out too much info — like the school where you work or conduct research.

Q: Where should I start?
R: Start by writing about what you’re thinking about in your PhD or M.A. classes. Are you analyzing an article or trying to make connections between a body of literature and your own professional practice? Write about that. There is inherent value in this work TO YOU — and even though you will eventually want to create something that is of value to others, as you get started, I recommend writing for yourself. Synthesize your ideas. Find your online writing voice and then scale up your work.

Q: What about intellectual property? How can I protect it?
R: Start at the Creative Commons website. This is the best resource I know that can help you to think about the way you want to license the creative work that you share online. Also, you can search through the CC website for free-to-use images, sounds,  music tracks etc. It’s a wonderful and valuable resource and set of licenses that are designed to help you control your own intellectual property and respect the intellectual property of others.

Créer une présence professionnelle numérique | Creating a digital professional presence

Atelier interactif portant sur la création d'une présence professionnelle numérique

Tomorrow, I’m leading an interactive workshop for graduate students in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa on the creation of a digital professional presence. Cet atelier interactif et bilingue donnera aux participants l’occasion d’aborder la création d’une présence professionnelle numérique qui communique, à leurs réseaux professionnels, leurs contributions à la recherche, à l’enseignement et qui résume les services qu’ils rendent à la profession.

Thursday, October 6, 2016 | jeudi le 6 octobre 2016
10h00 à 11h30 Pavillon Louis-Pasteur 127-129

Curating a Digital Identity: Follow Up

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 6.20.54 PMTL;DR Version

[HT to for his example on the TL;DR convention. I love this idea for making longer posts more quickly accessible.]

Big ideas from our talk with graduate students and faculty on digital identity included:

  • Everyone worries about sharing their work as a graduate student. Don’t let perfectionism stop you from creating a presence online. Evidence of you and your ideas is better than no evidence of you and your ideas.
  • Start small (e.g., with a Twitter account?) and embrace the evolution of your identity and the ideas that will emerge from your presence and engagement in digital spaces.
  • Twitter opens infinite possibilities for professional learning and community building around your scholarship. You never know who is in the room when you present at a conference — and these colleagues might backchannel you, Tweet out an endorsement of your work, or message you to talk about your work later. Exciting professional opportunities can happen because you are on Twitter.
  • A digital hub is a great idea. Create a portfolio space that includes a blog, and links to all of your other work online (e.g.,,,,,
  • Plan the look, feel, content, structure, and approach to your own digital identity by exploring a range of digital mentors. Find scholars whose digital identities you admire and do what they do! This digital commonspace document links to some of our most admired digital identities.

Long Version

This week, I had the pleasure to present with my colleague, Jon Wargo, to an audience of doctoral students and faculty colleagues on the issue of constructing and curating a digital identity. The session was video recorded so that we would have an archive of the talk that could be shared with others. Unfortunately, an electrical problem interfered with the audio recording and despite the best efforts of our colleagues in the TIES office in the College of Education, the terrible buzzing could not be removed from the audio track. As a result, the recording was unusable. I’ve decided to provide a summary of the main points here so that, at the very least, the big ideas and questions addressed during the session are available. You can also download Jon’s slides — we used these as the framework for our talk.

Big Ideas

Jon and I talked about why it’s essential to develop a digital identity as an emerging scholar. Reasons include:

  • The divide between the “digital world” and the “real world” isn’t really a divide anymore. There is just “the world” and it includes digital contexts for information gathering, sharing and creating. As a scholar, if you’re not actively creating and sharing your ideas in digital spaces, then how will people find your ideas?
  • Actively curating your digital presence means that you can craft your identity. If you have more of a free-range existence online, then people have to come to their own conclusions about what makes you unique as a scholar. Why not bring it all together so that people have easy access to all of the great work you’re doing?
  • As an educational researcher, we think it’s essential to think about your role as a public intellectual while in graduate school. Professors have a responsibility to inform public discourse — the digital space is the perfect space to start communicating and refining ideas that will, eventually, influence policy. Blog. Tweet. Revise. Repeat.
  • If you study digital ANYTHING, then you absolutely must have a digital presence as a scholar. As Jon’s (super wise and critical) student participants said to him one day, “How are you going to study what you don’t know?”
  • Google. Have you Googled yourself lately? What do people see when they Google you? If you don’t like what you see, you should do something about it. You can be absolutely guaranteed that anyone (i.e., students, colleagues, future employers) who wants to know more about you will Google you. Will they be impressed? Nonplussed? Disappointed that there is nothing there to learn?
  • Have a plan. Do what you can maintain now, but have a long-term vision for what you would like your digital presence to be in the year you go on the job market, or in 5 or 10 years.

We also summarized a list of tools, networks and strategies that grad students can use to construct their digital identity.

  • Create a digital portfolio/hub. Tools for doing this include: Weebly, WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Google Sites.
    • Be sure to include your CV, evidence of your teaching awesomeness, a blog, and access to your other digital channels like Twitter, YouTube, ResearchGate etc.
    • You might also consider a page that features something cool that makes you, you. For instance, my colleague Mete Akcaoglu includes a page that features his photography.
  • and ResearchGate are great places for you to share your scholarship openly.
    • Publish drafts of your work if copyright permissions prevent you from sharing .pdfs of published work.
    • Lots of scholars share .pdfs of their published work on their websites. Be sure to negotiate this issue clearly with publishers so that you know what you can or cannot share. Ideally, though, you can retain rights that enable you to share your work openly on the web. Paywalls really limit the mobility of your ideas!
  • As you learn to use Twitter, start by watching and listening. Follow hashtags of conferences, or communities that you like. Examples might include #literacies #edchat #michED
  • LinkedIn is another place for you to present yourself professionally. There is a debate about how useful it is for the traditional academic job search, but more broadly, this is the space that HR professionals use to find out about you. Plus, you can sign up for alerts of jobs that align with your skills and credentials. You never know where you will find out about the ideal position for you!


Colleagues asked several fantastic questions during the session. Here’s a list with our answers.

1. Do you differentiate who you are in different social networks? If so, what is your strategy?

My response to this was both yes, and no. Facebook, for instance, is a place where I connect with people who are both personal friends and colleagues, so in that space, I think about my personal/professional identity. This means that I allow myself to share information about myself personally, but always keep it dignified 😉 On Twitter, I’m just my professional self. On my blog, it’s mostly professional with the odd post about parenting and baking.

Jon’s response was similar. Basically, we agreed that we have to be strategic and think about what parts of our personal/professional selves we choose to share.

2. What are the pros/cons of a locked vs. open Twitter account?

One colleague noted that he prefers a locked Twitter account so that he can control who follows his ideas. He brings a healthy skepticism to account permissions that keeps his interactions on Twitter more connected to his circle of professional acquaintances in real life (IRL). Others keep their accounts open so that anyone can follow them and they can expand their networks and influence.

3. How much did you spend to get your website up and running?

Jon and Michelle both spent less than $100 to set up their websites. Costs include the purchase of a domain name (via a service such as and “pro” templates/themes for your site. Jon noted that MSU grad students can avail themselves of a substantial subscription discount (40% ish?) at

4. How do you use Twitter at conferences?

Many colleagues noted that they use Twitter to livetweet conference sessions. This serves many purposes. First, it helps us, as attendees, to process and synthesize big ideas from the session. Second, it gives people in our networks access to the ideas at the session. It feels great to give access to those who aren’t actually in the room but who would like to know what is happening! Thirdly, it enables us to participate in the conference backchannel which can lead to many live conversations at the conference.

The session was attended by several colleagues who also added their Twitter handles to the digital common space. As a result, everyone expanded their professional learning networks. Everyone left the session having done one small thing that brought them closer to reaching their goals for their digital presence.



Making Connections and Presentations

michelle alumniI’ve been away from my blog for what seems like an eternity — over a month — but it has been rather busy chez nous. On December 2, I successfully defended my dissertation [insert the feelings you may have felt on that day yourself, or the feelings you expect you would feel about that kind of thing…and that’s probably what I felt too…all of it].

Here’s a link to a .pdf version of the presentation that I shared with my committee (and with the very kind colleagues who attended the defense). Also,  here’s a link to a write-up about the technical side of my defense prepared by my friend and colleague, William Cain of the MSU Design Studio. William helped me to think through my approach so that a committee member who joined in virtually was fully part of all conversations in the room.

The next day, I was the guest presenter for the “soft launch” of a new webinar series that we’re rolling out in the Master’s of Educational Technology Program called The Bridge. We learned a lot from this session and have revised the format for future sessions based on this one. We learned, for instance, that a conversation seemed way more engaging than me presenting from a stack of slides.

The day after that, I flew to the Literacy Research Association Conference in Dallas where I was to present this paper (don’t ask me when I finished writing it…you’ll notice the title includes the words “working draft”) based on a single case study from my dissertation. I can’t wait to dig back into this paper and revise it for publication. I think Sarah’s case is important for teachers to consider.

The week after that, I attended graduation. [Photo credit to my awesome colleague, Angelica Kim, for the image included above.]

The week after that we went to Disney World. We needed time together as a family to just play.

The week after that,  it was Christmas, which always involves travel to see family.

The week after that it was back to work getting all things ready for the new semester in CEP 810, CEP 811 and CEP 812.

The week after that it was the Polar Vortex and two feet of snow in the driveway — which I loved (odd, I know), but somehow, it also meant that I just wanted to curl up in a ball with a cup of tea on the couch.

Which brings me to this week — a week for building connections back to the three things that started off this post — the dissertation defense, the webinar and the conference presentation. As I thought about my last month, I realized that I had prepared these three very different types of academic presentations in ways that will inform this week’s highlight: a trip back to Queen’s University, my undergraduate Alma Mater!

This Thursday, I’m presenting at Queen’s with my dear colleague, Leigh Graves Wolf. The day of workshops, hosted by the Faculty of Education this Thursday, January 16, is designed to support graduate students generally, but one particular theme of focus will be the academic presentation. Leigh and I have decided to focus on online presentations for one of our talks because online presentations of one format or another have become an expectation of the academic skill set. And yet, it’s hard to know how to prepare for an online talk, interview, webinar, video… I’ll share the presentation itself in my next post but we will address three big topics:

1) Questions to Ask when You’re Invited to an Online Presentation

2) Technical Considerations

3) Delivery Tips

More to follow!

A real first…

This email goes on the list of best emails ever. Here’s what it said:

Good Evening!

I attended your presentation at MRA, and was so excited to take your thinking back to the team in our district that is redefining our former Summer School program.  We would love to try out the pst2ic3 this summer with our struggling students.  I was wondering if you had any additional pieces of your work that you would be willing to share that we could use with teachers to help them to be more successful with implementing something like this with a group of kids.

Thanks for any help and guidance you can give!

This is the first time someone I don’t know has attended a conference presentation and (a) emailed me after for more information and (b) has told me that they would like to use ideas that I’ve been working on to frame their own practice with students.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I read this this morning!

And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Anyone who has worked on a dissertation knows about the self-questioning that so often leads one to wonder if it’s all worth it. I have wondered whether all of this effort will make any real, positive impact for students in schools. Will anyone care about these ideas? Will there be value in any of this for anyone? Is this a line of research I really want to spend my professional life pursuing? Will anyone ever hire me to teach this stuff…and the list goes on.

One has to believe, of course, that the effort is worth the sacrifice; that the work is good and valuable. I do believe these things. But I also think anyone who has written a dissertation will admit that having faith in the work is hard. The “limitations” of one’s own research are always easier to see than the strengths. N’est-ce pas?

So, thank you kind emailer. A message like yours is also a voice telling me to stay the course and to keep on…

Taking Delight in Graduate Students’ Successes


As a graduate student, I have thought a good deal about the nature of student-professor dynamics, and about the investment one makes or feels in students when, like, you, they are already grown up. It’s easy to feel invested in children because, well, they’re children. But what is it that graduate student advisors and instructors feel toward their students when they succeed? Pride seems a little paternalistic or even a little presumptive — can professors really take credit for students’ achievement at this level? Last week, I found myself thinking about these questions when one of my students earned some much-deserved recognition for work she did with colleagues in a class I lead last summer.

A Master’s student whom I taught in the MAET Overseas cohort in Ireland contacted me via email. She is currently taking a literacy methods course and as an art teacher, she was unsure about her approach to a literacy-focused research project. We chatted for about 45 minutes, got caught up on recent goings on, and had a very constructive conversation about how she might proceed with her assignment. During our discussion, she also told me that she had decided to present a research poster, developed with colleagues during our summer courses in Dublin, at a graduate student conference at MSU. I was absolutely delighted by her initiative and wished her the best. The poster, which reviewed extant literature on parent-teacher miscommunication also offered practical solutions for building better home-school partnerships by using digital tools. As their instructor — I was totally impressed by the work for its intellectual rigor and its applicability to classroom practice. During our open poster review session in Ireland, other members of the overseas MAET community reviewed it, and loved it, too. The students’ work generated quite a buzz of discussion around this very important issue.

And so, I was simply delighted to learn that judges at the graduate student conference also saw great value in this work. My student and her colleagues who co-authored the work were honored with one of five poster session awards for research excellence! Hooray! Hooray!

And then, I started to wonder why I was taking such delight in their success. I didn’t create the poster. I didn’t write a single word that went on it. I certainly didn’t present it — in Dublin, or in E. Lansing. So why was I feeling so pleased? Why, even now, as a teacher of teachers, do I derive such joy from their achievements? In thinking about this, I have come to realize that the best I can do as a graduate student instructor is to create opportunities and learning structures that enable excellence to flourish. Come to think of it, this has always been what I have tried to do, whether teaching young children, adolescents or adults. Although there is always content that needs to be communicated from me to students, the truth is, that in most cases, I mostly try to frame the learning activity and get out of the way so that students can create things.

And so, I guess the delight I took in this poster session award  was deeply connected to a feeling that the activity itself had some value and that the learning ecology in which it was developed allowed these students to show the world their best. In some way, I guess there is delight to be taken in the knowledge that work I have done behind the scenes created a stage on which others could succeed.IMG_2500

I offer my sincere congratulations to Blair, Pilar, Jillian and Laura — and also my thanks, because their successes have prompted me to reflect on my work as a teacher educator. Always learning…

Michigan Reading Association Conference

I am looking forward to presenting with my esteemed colleagues, Amber White, Anne Sherrieb and Cindy Lewis from Ruth Fox Elementary School at the Michigan Reading Association Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this coming Saturday. The focus of our talk will be on instructional implications of the [(PST)2 + iC3] framework that I developed to support online inquiry and multiple internet text integration. My colleagues at Ruth Fox piloted the framework last summer with at-risk 5th and 6th grade readers during an intensive four-week summer institute. Our talk will give a little context for the strategic framework, but then mostly focus on what the kids did and how the framework supported their online inquiry processes as they researched and then wrote their own “Wonders” inspired by the popular website.

I have created a website for [(PST)2 + iC3] with pages dedicated to the framework, MRA presentation, and to research that has supported the development of my work.

And, in case you would like to quickly preview Saturday’s presentation, here are the slides.

[slideshare id=16981535&doc=pst2ic3-mra-130306114211-phpapp02]

On attrition, and new possibilities

This week as I was collecting data for my dissertation research study, I had (another) one of those moments that made me stop and think about why it is that I’m doing this work. In the end, I would like this research to inform teaching practice. In the end, I want this work to help teachers know how to help students. In the end, I want students to benefit from it.

Let me back up to say that although I started with 30 participants in these two first schools, five participants have since opted out. This has meant a little bit of re-jiggering to the dyads — but in some cases, it has been impossible. For one student, Sarah (a pseudonym), it was impossible to match her up with another participant and so, she has been reading alone. Sarah was randomly assigned to the control group — which means that although she is practicing online reading skills and receiving recommended websites as a start for her own reading — she is not receiving the strategies instruction or guided questioning that the treatment group is receiving. During her pre-test and first intervention sessions, I noticed that Sarah struggled to maintain her focus. She started off well, but often perseverated on small facts that would not, ultimately, allow her to construct a persuasive argument on the topic. As I watched Sarah read this week, I realized that even with additional practice, she would not likely benefit very much from the research experience. And so, I’ve decided to take another approach with her. Ultimately, I cannot ethically justify Sarah continuing in the study if she doesn’t receive more guided support for her online reading processes — and I think there will be an upside for both of us.

First, by working one-on-one with Sarah I will be able to guide her reading processes and do what I can to help her develop more sophisticated online reading strategies. For the field of online literacies, more generally, I think Sarah’s case will be a unique contribution. I will be able to see, for an online reader with her profile, how or to what extent the intervention supports her growth. I have seen what she can do independently with only the prompt and a short video with “starter websites” to guide her. Now, I will see what she can do when she is taught a set of strategies.

Attrition isn’t the ideal scenario for my experimental design. However, had Sarah’s partner not opted out, I may not have recognized her unique learning needs or been able to respond in a way that, I hope, will offer her more. Ultimately, I believe that this new direction will offer important perspectives on what does or does not work for online readers who match Sarah’s reading profile.

Making Jam

When I was a child, the women in my family canned fruits and vegetables and made jam. I grew up on a farm. We always had a garden and what we didn’t grow ourselves, we bought from our neighbours. In August, my mom would buy bushels of peaches from Mr. and Mrs. Birch. Peaches were their specialty — and they always piled those bushels beyond full, because that’s just who they were.

Once hauled into the house, Mom and I would lay out the peaches on newspaper in the basement — a cool place for them to ripen. Dad and I were the peach testers — when the juice ran down our chins, they were ready for canning. Mom would soak the fruit in hot water to loosen the skins, peel each one and cut them in two. With the pit removed, she placed each peach half carefully in the large mason jars, covered them with simple syrup and turned the lids on tight. She boiled those jars until they were sealed and ready to store. In winter, jars of canned peaches brought the heat of summer back to our minds; sunny orange, syrup sweet.

My mom still cans peaches, actually. Now, she does it for my girls — which I appreciate a lot. And yet, the act of canning is something that as a mother myself, I can’t not do. There’s something about it, the saving of summer, that I can’t pass up, no matter what. It’s just in my bones, I think.

And so, because it takes a little less time than canning, I made peach jam one August evening. My dissertation proposal was staring at me — angrily — but the simple act of making jam cleared my mind and helped me to delight in the world. I should be saving the jars for winter, but admittedly, I opened one soon after the skimmings were devoured…and have enjoyed those jammy peaches on my toast each morning since. With each bite, I smile. Sweet, yummy, and a reminder of all that is lovely.