Week 2, 3, 4 and 5 Reflection: Online Presence and Public Scholarship Working Group

Working hardWell, it has been a few weeks since I’ve posted about our Online Presence and Public Scholarship Working Group.  From a meta perspective, have already learned some personal lessons about realistic expectations and time management. Time is always a struggle – which, we’re learning from the group. Dedicating the time alone to the group for 1 1/2 hours a week eats away at other things. While involved in helping/talking with others, that does not leave much additional time for me/us to reflect on the process! I am still going to do my best to blog on a weekly basis, but, will not beat myself up if I don’t achieve that goal as the primary objective of the process is to support and assist the faculty in the working group.

Initial feedback from participants has been very positive.  While attendance has dropped a bit due to fall conference season, we still have steady attendance and engagement.

Our discussions (as we had hoped) vary from philosophical to technical.  One hot topic of discussion has been the use of sites like Academica.edu or ResearchGate.  I had a chance to talk to Dean Long at the MSU Hub open house last week and he suggested these two pieces on Academia.edu which can provide insight into the complexities of using the site (something we have informally discussed):

On a technical standpoint, we’re digging into WordPress and discussing affordances and constraints of certain themes, the benefits of paying for cool ones, the use of tags & categories, how to integrate workflows with tools like IFTTT.

We are at a point (just past the half-way point) where we are recognizing a need to more thoughtfully work on enabling our participants to google the answers to some of their technical questions.  As an example – last week, one of the participants remarked that he watched a screencast that was created, but, he would prefer a hand out with step-by-step instructions on how to create a new blog post. I quickly pulled up WordPress.org support  and google and in about 1 minute had the step-by-step hand-out he was looking for.  As facilitators we’re trying to model how we solve problems and enable our participants to know where to seek help for the “easy” step-by-step type questions.  We don’t need to recreate wheels, SO much documentation exists online – however, I think the instinct to Google is a skill that is often taken for granted and needs to be coached.

On that point – we have had some requests for a curated list of helpful wordpress plug-ins, widgets & themes – any suggestions?!