Easy week?

Posted: January 29, 2011 in Food for thought, Useful advice for students

So, if you’re a TECH 621 student, you may be thinking the coming couple of weeks are easy. No required readings, all you have to do is read and review one article each week. Piece of cake!

This is a bit misleading, so let me give you a couple of tips about what you should be doing for class right now:

Explore literature related to your research topic

The purpose of asking you to select 5 articles is also to get you to browse and explore the literature. Look at several articles. Save the ones that may look interesting, for this class project, or some future work. Get the Zotero plugin for Firefox, get yourself a Zotero account, and save all potentially useful references. Spend some time exploring the territory. Get the lay of the land. Try to figure out what kind of research is being done in the areas related to social media & your own research interest(s). Challenge: Can you collect at least 40 references in your Zotero account?

I’m asking you to use Zotero, because you can share your bibliography, and this will facilitate collaborative work later. So, get to it. Figure out how to use Zotero. Go hunting for references.

As you explore literature and see what’s out there, your research interest will become more focused. That’s a good thing, another purpose of exploring the literature in the first place. Which brings me to my second point:

Take your Twitter experience to the next level

So, you’ve grasped the basics of Twitter use. You have set up your profile with a customized avatar, a bio, and a link. You’re ready to start creating your personal learning network. Search Twitter for keywords, browse through the list of people I follow. When you identify an interesting person, browse through the list of people they follow, and the lists they’re listed on. Identify 5-10 interesting people and follow them. These should be people you can learn from, people you want to connect with and/or people who have the types of jobs you sometime wish to have.

Here’s an example of how this could work. I mentioned in class Stowe Boyd, @stoweboyd. If he’s an interesting person, then the people he’s interested in could also be interesting. Check out the list of people he follows, and identifying interesting ones that you’d like to follow. Then, look at the lists where Stowe is listed. They will help you discover people who are similar to him. Do a little research & discovery. Don’t follow 500 people all at once, or your account will look like that of a spammer. Give people time to follow you back, so that your following-to-follower ratio stays somewhat close to 1. But do it. Blog about it. Which brings me to my third point:

Keep blogging and Tweeting.

If you’re having a hard time figuring what about, take another look at the syllabus. Run your ideas by me, on Twitter. Set up your blog categories to reflect those in the syllabus. Figure out how categories and tags work on your blog.

At the end of the following two weeks, I’d like for you to have a much better orientation, a much better understanding of both the research and social media landscape we’re operating in. Right now, many of you are newbies – a bit disoriented, not sure which way to go, both research-wise and on social media. Take this time to research, explore, orient yourself and find a place for yourself in this landscape.

I’m here to help you, just let me know what you need. Please ask questions about this topic in the comments below.


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