This week, PhD2Published had a post on using Google+ by Daniel Spielmann. In this post, Spielmann argues for the value of Google+ as a way of creating an online professional community (or what some call a ‘personal learning environment’). I haven’t (yet) found a role for Google+ in my life; in fact, a quick check of my Google+ page shows that I have three in my circles and that I am in six circles belonging to other people. And I probably said that wrong because I don’t really understand how circles work. Spielmann makes a strong case for using Google+ as a way of structuring a space for professional communication, a space that falls between blogging and microblogging. In particular, he suggests that Google+ has real advantages over Twitter: no restrictions on length; a greater ability to track conversations; the wherewithal to include media and not just links; and, finally, integration into the broader suite of Google products allowing easy video conferencing and file sharing. He also provides a helpful list of steps to getting started with Google+. These suggestions are tailored to Google+, but also act as a good road map for getting started with any form of social media.
The particular type of social media that we ought to be using is well outside my expertise. I’m on Twitter because a critical mass of people interested in writing studies and doctoral education are there, not because I can make a sustained argument for its superiority. I use Facebook for fun and Twitter for work (although ‘fun’ and ‘work’ dovetail beautifully on Twitter), and I don’t feel an immediate need for anything else. But Spielmann’s account of why Google+ is useful works as a statement of why any social media can be useful for academics: social media is a place to learn and share without geographical or scheduling constraints. By allowing the creation of organic networks—both broad and narrow—where people can come together without structural barriers, social media can form a valuable part of the professional support we all need. Spielmann’s post stresses the value of Google+ but, in doing so, also ends up describing the overall value of finding the right online communities for you.
I’ll be back next week with my post-AcWriMo reflections, including an unflinching assessment of my dismal performance!
Recent links from @explorstyle on Twitter
From @PhD2Published, a writing productivity app for academics: ‘It tracks your writing journey in a way that suits you.’
More from Inside Higher Ed on perfectionism: How we may be ‘over-functioning’ in some areas to the detriment of others such as writing.
@ThomsonPat adds some nuance to the ‘just write’ advice.
From @thesiswhisperer, a fun post on how to practice academic writing.
From @ACW, the first post in a new series from @readywriting sharing her experience with the academic writing process.
From @ThomsonPat, the sixth in her series on literature reviews—a rare and valuable glimpse into other people’s research processes.
From @PhD2Published, a delightful discussion of how to plan a writing retreat. I wish I could go on one right now!
From @thesiswhisperer (via @ThomsonPat), a great discussion of the inevitable ‘messiness’ of a work in progress.
From @MeganJMcPherson, a great Storify of an Anthony Pare talk at RMIT University in Melbourne.
From @ProfessorIsIn, a lovely post on creativity and confidence.
From @qui_oui, a great post on how little we know about the optimal training for doctoral students.
From Inside Higher Ed, the third in their series on perfectionism in academia: how to write more productively.
From @StanCarey, a renewed call to abandon the confusing that/which distinction.
@3monththesis disagrees with the conventional wisdom on academic perfectionism; I’m intrigued but still unconvinced.
From @ThomsonPat, the next entry in her great series on doing a lit review: ‘Stepping back to focus in’.
From @DocwritingSIG, a discussion of the thesis genre as a form of hospitality to the reader.
The only thing better than @AcaCoachTaylor is @AcaCoachTaylor getting iterative.
A cartoon to remind us that nothing gets people’s attention like making a mistake in your writing.
Could a project management approach help you with your thesis? @GradHacker has some ideas about using these techniques.
Are graduate students facing greater expectations today than in past? Interesting reflections from @fishhookopeneye.
I am also looking out for a role of g+ in my social life, haven’t found it yet.
Thanks for picking up on my post on phd2p.
As for the questions about circles, I put some links in my post that might help clear the fog. Personally, I started with just a few circles for individual interests I wanted to cater on G+. So I started out with a circle on Higher Education, one on Academic Writing, one on ePortfolio, one on Ecology. Later I added a circle for IT Literacy and some other. Now I even collaborate with a group of colleagues on ePortfolio research.
To increase the quality of the content you get to see in your stream, keep looking for people you find interesting. Let people know you are there: engage, not just by clicking the +1-button, but also by writing comments on other peoples’ posts.
I agree that a critical mass is always important when you consider your choices for a network. Unfortunately, my own community of practice – which would be university writing center people – are not that common on G+, but we’re making progress. Looking at a professional CoP in my native language, the outlook is even more bleak – for now. I believe the value of G+ increases with every person that comes to the platform with a professional passion. Share it and sooner or later you might be able to bring in the harvest. One thing you’ll get out of it no matter what as long as you use it is an overview on what has been important to you over time.
G+ may not yet have fallen into place in your Personal Learning Environment (PLE). But don’t give up on it until you’ve really given it an honest try. Start with your profile – Christiano Kwena: you’ve done that already, thumbs up, you’re good to go – and then share what’s important to you – share content and spice it up with your personal opinion. Ask questions, engage. If any of you are up for a G+ Newbies Hangout – let me know on G+ by +adding me in a post and we’ll check it out together.