LinkedIn – A Limited Digital Network Visualization

A visualization map of my LinkedIn connections showing my work contacts  since 2002How am I connected digitally with others? What would a visual map of my connections look like? I’ve been online in resident capacity (White & LeCornu, 2011)  as long as online connection has been an option.  I chose to use LinkedIn for this visualization exercise as it was easy to download a .csv from, to import and modify the data for use with Kumu, and it looked primarily at professional connections. The exercise of creating the map proved to stretch my understanding of the network and my place in it in new ways, as well as allow me to work on my own digital competency skills.

Downloading the .csv was not difficult. Learning the Kumu software took time, allowing me to practice some of the digital learner profile proficiencies as described by Helen Beetham, specifically ICT proficiency, data literacy, and digital creation (Beetham 2015).

My LinkedIn network consists of connections that have been made primarily through face-to-face work or virtual work encounters, but also includes those made with promotional, strategic connection in mind (on my side, or on the other side of the connection). While modifying the data – especially to denote the ‘strength’ of connection – it came clear that assigning a connection the attribute of strong, mid, or weak, was arbitrary. I had to consider both how I would rate the connection as well as how the other person would rate it (without the benefit of the other’s input). LinkedIn is the only network that I accept connections from people I’ve not physically met – assigning a strength to those connections was particularly challenging, as there are people in my network that I’ve worked with for years without having ever met in person.

My network diagram can be viewed here. There are 206 contact nodes depicted, based on my ‘connections’ in LinkedIn. I added nodes to represent hubs: communities of practice, or goal-oriented communities of interest (Veletsianos, 2016). The hubs were companies that I’ve been part of as represented by those connections: Selkirk College, Shambhala Music Festival, Insightful Ink, School District 8, and Quilting (I used to own a business),  followed by the Personal and Family communities.

I made different visualizations. One based on the ‘strength’ of connections, one on the companies that I am connected to. I found that the way that I viewed the network changed the implication of the network. When viewed from a strength of connection point of view, the network was a map of the pathways into each of the groups, of my closest working colleagues. When viewed as connection to companies, the visualization was more of a map of my employment itself, resembling a visual resume. The one I’ve linked to this blog is the latter.

The process of mapping revealed two things in particular to me: hidden connections, and connections over time.

There are parts of the network that I can’t create an accurate visualization of, as many of the nodes within my network are connected with other nodes (outside of my connection with them). I attempted to begin putting in some of those cross-connections, but found it to be a futile exercise, as I don’t know all of those connections. The visualization and my understanding of the network is limited by my perception of it.

While modifying the data to fit Kumu and considering each of the connections (when I met or worked with them, how strong the connections were) it occurred to me that the strength of the connections had nothing to do with how long I’ve had them. It brought up these two questions over and over again: Is the connection still relevant? Is it useful? Surely these connections were all relevant at the time of connection. Whether the connections are still relevant or useful speaks to the flexible and ever changing nature of networks. I did not go through and prune nodes from the network, but it did occur to me that doing so would make the network more effective and streamlined.

While only a small piece of my online network is represented by the connections in LinkedIn, the exercise of mapping was useful and illuminating. Paired with the current readings, the mapping exercise allowed me to practice some of the competencies described by Helen Beetham in the Jisc model (Beetham, 2015), and better understand my part in creation and participation of groups, networks and communities (Veletsianos, 2016).

References:

Beetham, H. (2015, Nov 10). Building capability for new digital leadership, pedagogy and efficiency [blog post].

White, D. S., & LeCornu, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagementFirst Monday, 16(9).

Veletsianos, G. (2016). Digital learning environments. In N. Rushby & D. Surry (Eds), Handbook of Learning Technologies (pp. 242-260). UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Digital Identity and Presence Plan

Participating in the digital presence mapping exercise was valuable and illuminating. The experience has changed the way I view my own digital use and presence, and helped me see ways in which I can be more deliberate in my online interactions. It has given me a framework in which to reflect on privacy and access, and how I will allow my own work to be shared.

Through the process of both Visitor/Resident mapping (White, 2013) and the collaborative/individual, analogue/digital variation (Cormier, 2018) it became clear that what I’m doing for work online is done deliberately, collaboratively (for the most part) and publicly. These skills will be transferable and useful in my work as a MALAT student.

The surprising learning in these exercises was in how much time is lost in email and social media. I will be endeavoring to simplify and streamline my email queue, to have emails forwarded to two or three places, rather than have them all in different accounts.

I plan to spend my time on social media with more forethought, with a goal of posting content that’s relevant, be the entertainer, posting things that are relevant to what I’m promoting, not falling into the trap of becoming the entertained. With that in mind, I’ve developed a posting calendar that will cover my posts for the next two months. I’m also moving back towards the use of Hootsuite (Holmes, 2008) to post to multiple applications at one time.

As a MALAT student, I’m looking forward to the ongoing network building opportunities, to interact with this large, distributed public (boyd, 2011) of learners. In the spirit of this sharing and community building, I’ve elected to make the copyright attribution on my RRU blog a Creative Commons license. I am hopeful that this action will further the movement towards open resources, to open dialogue and information sharing. In this same vein, I have left my comments unmoderated.

I have mixed feelings about my current, student access to the library and other databases of copyright protected information. As someone who has earned money from publishing, I understand completely the need to make one’s work bear financial gain. As someone who aspires open access and community building within the academic arena, I’m interested in quality, open source information. At this time, I’ll endeavor to share my work openly in hopes of contributing to the free exchange of information, information exchange that won’t evaporate when my status changes from ‘student’ to ‘graduate’.

Forest of deciduous trees with luminescent green algae in rural Northern France
Moving from seeing the forest to seeing the trees.

All in all, the exercises were formative and informative. The resultant shifts will be for the better and help me stay aligned with both my time management goals, and my values around open source resources and learning.

References

boyd, D. (2011). Social network sites as networked publics: Affordances, dynamics, and implications. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self (pp. 39–58). New York, NY: Rutledge.

Cormier, Dave (2018, March 31). Digital Practices Mapping – Into activity for digital literacies course.[Blog post]  Retrieved from http://davecormier.com/edblog/2018/03/31/digital-practices-mapping-intro-activity-for-digital-literacies-course/

Holmes, Ryan (2008). Hootsuite [Computer Software]. Retrieved from https://hootsuite.com/

White, Dave (2013). Just the Mapping. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK1Iw1XtwQ  April 24, 2019.

Further thoughts about Digital Practices Mapping

Going through the Visitor/Resident (White, 2013) mapping process allowed me to see how much of my work happens online.Through ongoing planning and reasonably consistent effort, I’ve built a virtual workplace for myself. Looking at the same information in the context of different tension pairs – collaborative/individual, analogue/digital (Cormier, 2018) – shifted my understanding yet again.

The main areas in which my practices would fall are in analogue/individual, digital/individual and collaborative/digital.

The analogue/individual piece is not a big surprise, really. I work as an illustrator and graphic recorder, both of which generally are done solo, even when in a room full of people.

The digital/individual piece reflects most of my digital illustration, film making, writing work, personal business blog and website, and work that I do in my practice as an instructor.

The digital/collaborative space has the most in it, as this reflects most of my work with the college, music festival and other projects that I’m involved in. The beauty of digital collaborative space being that it can be asynchronous and is not dependent on geography. Having this as a possible place to work has opened up possibilities in my practice that would never have occurred any other way. The digital realm has allowed for work with people in different areas that I may not have had the opportunity to work with otherwise (for which I’m grateful), people in many different countries and time zones.

Both exercises were valuable in that they helped me understand better where I concentrate efforts in my work world. Both helped me create a framework of how I’d like to shift that digital use over the next two years.

References

Cormier, Dave (2018, March 31). Digital Practices Mapping – Into activity for digital literacies course.[Blog post]  Retrieved from http://davecormier.com/edblog/2018/03/31/digital-practices-mapping-intro-activity-for-digital-literacies-course/

White, Dave (2013, September 13). Just the Mapping [Video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK1Iw1XtwQ

Mapping my digital presence

This week was a deep dive into understanding my own digital presence as outlined by Dave White in his video (White, 2013) to shed some light on how much of my digital persona is ‘visitor’ (lurking, not effecting public space), and how much is ‘resident’ (deliberate content creation, contribution to the internet as a whole, leaving a trace). Beyond that, the second axis of ‘personal’ and ‘institutional’ helped to articulate the reasons for choosing the digital space in which I participate.

I elected to break down that digital presence into categories based on digital publics (boyd, 2011): personal, my business, volunteer work, other projects, and my current work as an instructor. I used Leonardo (version 0.15.21) to create layers and to draw the areas of use. In retrospect, there are pieces missing (Skype, Google Hangouts, and others), but my main usages are mapped.

I was surprised to the extent that I’m performing digitally in the resident/institutional realm – this was a much deeper set of layers than anticipated. The big ‘aha’ was around my servitude to email.

I may yet make this into a gif, but the images are as follows:

graphic of my digital personal use of the internet. Most pieces fall into what might be considered 'private' aside from my patterns, facebook and instagram accounts
Personal use
Digital use of the internet showing that much of my business use falls into the public for business area
My business, Insightful Ink
Addition of my volunteer work to the digital presence diagram showing that most of what I do here is on flickr and building websites
Addition of my volunteer work
Digital presence diagram illustrating that my Music Festival work involves a lot of collaborative tools, film making and Moodle building
Addition of my Music Festival work
My digital presence map adding my work as an instructor - Moodle, website management and work, and as always...more email.
The final layer of my work as an instructor

 

References

boyd, D. (2011). Social network sites as networked publics: Affordances, dynamics, and implications. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self (pp. 39–58). New York, NY: Rutledge.

Henning, Tegan. (2019). Leonardo [Computer Software]. Retrieved from https://www.getleonardo.com/

White, Dave (2013). Just the Mapping. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK1Iw1XtwQ  April 24, 2019.

Reflections on the Virtual Symposium

This first week of MALAT LRNT521 was an immersive step into the field our cohort will be learning about for the next two years. As students, we are bringing different skills, experiences, and resources. For myself, I come from a background in all levels of education locally (from early elementary to college level) and have been part of designing several online classes over the past 8 years. I was especially struck with the depth of information each of the presenters brought to their topic. Taking in each of the presentations allowed me to assess my own knowledge and experience – especially bringing awareness to where gaps are.

There are a few things that I’ve implemented in my classroom facilitation work over the years that were mentioned either in the video conversations (Liberating Structures in the Carolyn Levy talk (Levy, 2019, 54:28)) or in the text we are using for reference (how to write a reflective paper ‘what-so what-now what’ (Laurier University, 2019)). I found that there is a name for what I’m doing with one of the courses that I deliver: OPM or Online Program Manager; the difference being that I’m not paid 60% of tuition for course delivery (Carey, 2019).

Ongoing issues that come up in my own work were articulated, too, such as how do we, as course designers also build the framework for talking about the subject matter with our client-partners (Levy, 2019, 17:15), and how we find ourselves in change management-type roles (Levy, 2019, 20:11) . Seeing that others experience the tension between ‘will this course make money’ (generally from the point of view of the funder or institution) and ‘will this course engage learners to learn’ (from the point of view of teachers) (Bates 2019, 13:58) was validating of my experience of development and delivery.

I’m fully aware that, at this emergent state of comprehension, I’m not ready to draw any large conclusions from the symposium this week. I experienced many moments of resonance, rather than moments of synthesis. This will change once I’ve built a better internal framework in which to understand and synthesize the information being presented in the course. There are, however, pieces that I will add to my own practice such as: to create a term of reference list with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) (Levy, 2019, 25:44),

Carosel horse in the sky with bird flying over
Everyone can aspire to fly.

and to open a conversation with my students about skills vs. competencies in order to encourage life-long learning and critical thinking (Bates, 2019, 37:40). I’ll try incorporating more Liberating Structures into both my face-to-face and online learning environments. I’ll be tuning in to the CHEdR podcast out of Oregon State University to learn more about the work of the Ecampus Research Unit (Forssman, 2019, 36:06). My intention is that, through these actions and further reading, I can start to address some of the gaps identified this week in my own practice and, ultimately, be able to offer something fresh and new in reflection.

 

 

References

Bates, Tony (2019, April 16). Rethinking the Purpose of Online Learning (video file). Retrieved from https://ca.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback

Carey, K. (2019, April 1). The Creeping Capitalist Takeover of Higher Education. Huffpost, p. 2019. Retrieved April 17, 2019, from https://www.huffpost.com/highline/article/capitalist-takeover-college/?src=longreads

Forssman, Vivian (2019, April 17). National Survey Results – Online Education in Canada (video file). Retrieved from https://ca.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback

Levy, Carolyn (2019, April 15). Designing Learning Encironments for a Global Context (video file). Retrieved from https://ca.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback

McCandless, K. L. (2002). Libereating Structures. Retrieved April 16, 2019, from Liberating Structures: Including and Unleashing Everyone: http://www.liberatingstructures.com/

Oregon State University. (n.d.). Ecampus Research Unit: “Research in Action” podcast. Retrieved April 19, 2019, from Oregon State University: https://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/research/podcast/about/

Wilfrid Laurier University. (n.d.). Reflective Writing Section B: How Can I Reflect? Retrieved April 19, 2019, from Writeonline.ca: http://writeonline.ca/reflective-essay.php?content=section2