Book Review – Social Media for Educators: Strategies and Best Practices by Tanya Joosten

By Jennifer Keegin

I was drawn to this book based on the title and was interested to see what strategies and best practices would be listed.

The author, Tanya Joosten, studies communication technology and has held numerous editorial and advisory council positions. She has taught online courses and as well as “blended” courses while managing campus emerging technology projects.

The first chapters are “Why Social Media?” and “Preparing to Use Social Media?” and are pretty much what you imagine they would be about – trying to convince educators that connecting via social media is important with some stats to back up the concept.

“Social Media can have a positive impact on education professionals through the development of a network of colleagues, building of community, and engagement of its membership.”

It explains Twitter and hashtags, and the need for authenticity.

Pedagogical Needs:
1. Increasing communication and contact
2. Engaging students through rich, current media
3. Gathering and providing feedback
4. Creating cooperative and collaborative learning opportunities
5. Providing experiential learning opportunities

Part Two is called “Social Media: What Do We Do With It?” and the answers are Increased communication and contact with students, developing a richer learning environment, and building cooperation and feedback.

I myself did not gain much from this book because it was basically preaching to the choir, but it was a handy reference for anyone who is trying to justify just how important social media is in order to communicate better with students – meeting them where there are if you will – and how it takes time and money to do it properly.

Book Review – Social Media for Educators: Strategies and Best Practices by Tanya Joosten

Tech Reading

by Kristen Abell

One of the types of posts we’ve been doing lately are internal blog prompts – prompts we come up with for ourselves just to keep things fresh and interesting. My prompt for today is all about books – a stretch for me, as I’m sure you can imagine. But it’s a wee bit more focused than that – I’ll be discussing books on technology for y’all today. So get your GoodReads profile up (or whatever mechanism you use to make lists of books), because I’m getting ready to drop some good suggestions on you.

First up, it should come as no shock to anyone that I’m going to suggest a book about blogging: Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters by Scott Rosenberg. Though I’d been blogging for a little while already by the time I read this book, I had no real understanding of the history of blogging and the impact it had made at that point. This book does a great job explaining the hows and whys of blogging, and pretty much every time I present on blogging, I recommend it to my participants. I can think of no better book to give you a comprehensive overview of the history, as well as the many reasons someone might blog, and how we can continue to use blogs in the future. Of all these books, this one is probably the only one I would absolutely, postively call a “must read.”

For those of us in student affairs, another great tech-related read is The iConnected Parent by Barbara K. Hofer and Abigail Sullivan Moore. Okay, it’s not strictly about technology, but it does discuss the impact of recent technological developments on the relationship between students and their parents, as well as parents and their student’s university. Well worth a read if you work with parents…I mean students.

If you’re at all curious about how certain things began and became what they are, especially those with big names behind them, I have three book recommendations for you: The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick (also known as Zuckerberg’s Whipping Boy), The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture and Coolness by Steven Levy, and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Let me break it down for you:

The Facebook Effect, while written by someone who has obviously had more than a little taste of the Zuckerberg Kool-Aid, is still a dang good read if you want to find out more about how Facebook became, well, Facebook. And despite the fact that he’s such a fan – or maybe because of it – Kirkpatrick does a great job explaining what the original intentions of Facebook’s creators were, which, if you’re like me, makes you appreciate why they seem so anti-privacy at times.

Fun fact about The Perfect Thing – each chapter was written as an individual piece so that you could start on any chapter and not need to have read the chapter before it. Also, there are several different versions of the book – each with the chapters in a different order, much like the iPod Shuffle. That’s how cool this book is. If you’re looking for history about the Walkman-to-iPod transition, this is your book. Also, it’s funny to read the author’s story of meeting with Steve Jobs when he had a case covering up the beautiful design of the iPod (the author, of course, not Jobs).

Speaking of Steve (yeah, I’m on a first-name basis with him…in my head), if you haven’t had a chance to read it, his biography is a fascinating look at how Apple was born…and then re-born. To tell the truth, the first half or so of the book is a hard read. The man was just a downright asshole (sorry, there’s no nice way to say that). But if you skim that part or at least stick through it, the second half has some fascinating history on how Apple became the company it is today.

I’ve got a few more I could share, but I think that’s enough for one post. What tech-related books have you read lately? I’m always adding books to my list, so please share!

Tech Reading

Feminism for Real: Must-Read for “Academic Feminists”

by Anitra Cottledge

Recently, one of our former interns sent me an email asking for feminist book recommendations. Ever the #nerdland resident, I sent her a list of 35 books. One of the most recent additions to my list of feminist must-reads is Jessica Yee’s Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism.

If you keep up with the feminist intrawebz, you probably caught some of the commentary about the book. I have had notes in my Moleskine about this book since September 2011. I’ve used some of the material in the book in our staff training, and since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about some of my major takeaways.

I think the book has a particular kind of significance for those of us in student affairs. We are part of academia, and many of us would also consider ourselves activists. In fact, many of us who are student affairs professionals also teach in some capacity, and as such, don’t subscribe to a false split between “academic” and “activist.”

For a book under 200 pages, it packs quite an unapologetic punch (Yee breaks down “Western notions of polite discourse,” which is thrilling.). As a woman of color in higher ed, I have to admit, I can’t give an unbiased review of the book. I had too many giddy chuckles and conversations (yes, out loud) with the book where I said something like, “Yes! This is what I’m talking about!” or “I know that’s right!” Reading it was like coming home, and many of the pieces validated those moments when something in the feminist arena chafes against my social justice sensibilities to the point where I’m ready to say, “I can’t with you/this today.”

Hopefully, you will read this book for yourself, and draw your own conclusions. In the meantime, here are a few points to consider for student affairs professionals.

Continue reading “Feminism for Real: Must-Read for “Academic Feminists””

Feminism for Real: Must-Read for “Academic Feminists”

A Few Good Books

By Kristen Abell

Today’s blog prompt asks what book you’re reading right now – I obviously knew this was going to be an easy one to answer when I assigned it to myself – especially since I assigned it to myself the week before move-in. I’m always reading something, and if you follo me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll frequently see me give updates on whatever I’m reading from, or you can friend me on GoodReads – hey, when a girl reads this much, she needs some way to track it, right?

So what am I reading right now? Well, actually, I’m reading a book that’s been on my list for awhile now – The Help. If you haven’t heard of it, I suspect you’ve been under a rock somewhere, as it’s been all the rage, especially now that the movie just started showing. I’m about halfway through, and I’m liking it so far. Recently I found myself saying to my partner, “You know, there are a LOT of books written about slavery and civil rights.” His response? “No, babe, YOU just read a lot of those books.” He’s right – I am drawn to these books – well, these and about every other kind of book ever written.

So, The Help, if you have been under a rock, is about the life of black maids in Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement. And one white woman who decides she’s going to write about their lives. At least, that’s what it’s about so far. It’s fairly well-written, and rich in detail. I won’t give my full stamp of approval yet, since I haven’t finished it, but I’m sure you can get a stamp of approval on it from at least a half-dozen other people you know.

I’m also reading Empowering Women in Higher Education and Student Affairs, which I’ve found to be a fantastic read so far, and likely my next favorite student affairs book (although I’m not sure I have another “favorite,” now that I think of it). There is some incredibly interesting and relevant research in this book, and I’d highly recommend you consider reading it if you’re currently working in student affairs or thinking about it. Not only is this a good background book for women going into or currently working in student affairs/higher education, but I think many men would benefit from reading this to gain a better understanding of what women experience. Again, still reading, so no full stamp of approval, but I’d definitely give my stamp on the chapters I’ve read (roughly the first half of the book).

And finally, because, you know, two books just isn’t enough, I’m also reading The Arabian Nights – which is really, really LONG. But a classic, and one I’m determined to finish…at some point. Luckily, it’s easy to break at various points, as it’s a collection of tales.

As for my favorite tech book, I’m not sure I can choose one. About every one I read I find somewhat fascinating. I particularly liked The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness for its discussion of the evolution of MP3 players, and specifically the iPod. Oh, and of course, the second coming of Apple Fandom. I also loved loved loved Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters. Even though I’d been blogging for a couple years by the time I picked up this book, it taught me so much about the evolution of blogging and also why it is such an important form of social media, writing, and technology. If you are at all interested in blogging, I can’t recommend this book enough.

So what are you reading? We’d love to hear what’s on your reading list – and feel free to friend me on GoodReads – I’m always looking for good new suggestions.

A Few Good Books

The iConnected Parent – Book Review

By Kristen Abell

I recently read the book The iConnected Parent: Staying Close to Your Kid in College (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up, and though I read a lot of books, I felt this one in particular deserved its own review on at least one of the blogs I write – because it’s mildly tech related, this blog wins. When I started reading this book, I have to admit that I was completely unsurprised – of course students are talking to their parents more than ever these days – thank you, cell phones. In fact, the average number of times students had contact with their parents – around 13 – actually seemed a little low to me. At the same time, I found the fact that the trend that I was observing wasn’t just me being oversensitive (hey, I am in res life, and we probably end up having to deal with the student-parent relationship more than anyone).

But as I continued to read, I found I couldn’t put this book down. Not only did it affirm what I was already seeing on my campus, but it explained the trend – people becoming parents later in life and having different/more involved relationships with their kids, parents with more education than previous generations, and of course, technology – only one of which I had considered as a culprit. When you start to hear the stories of some of the parents and students in this book, you can actually almost start to understand the relationships we’re seeing on campus (hey, I said almost).

In addition, I loved loved loved the data in this book. Sure, we have a pretty good idea that these tight connections between parents and students can be harmful, but how? Well, according to the research presented in here, students with particularly close relationships with their parents can have difficulty with their emotional development, take longer to discover their own interests and passions, have poorer academic performance, and tend to frustrate/anger faculty and staff on their campus rather than develop mentoring relationships with them. As I read this, I thought of all the ways we could be incorporating this information into our orientation presentations to parents – what parent isn’t going to be concerned about causing their student to have poorer academic performance? (Alright, to be fair, I know there will be parents who don’t believe this, but if it got even a couple of parents to think twice about how they interact with their students, it would be worth it).

I wish that we could require all of our parents to read this before sending their students to college. It has some fantastic tips for them to maintain their relationship with their students without overstepping their bounds and causing harm to their students’ development and academic success. I also wish we could require all of our student affairs professionals to read this book – if for no other reason that it might remind them that the parents we work with on sometimes an almost daily basis really do have their student’s best interests at heart – even if they don’t know the best way to go about it. But it also gives us some constructive information and advice to share with parents and students, as well as providing the basis for some great programming.

So go pick up your own copy and read it today – and then tell me what you think!

The iConnected Parent – Book Review