Year for Productivity Session 20: Following Our Digital Footprints

year_productivity_graphic_20So what is a digital footprint? According to Webopedia, “This [digital footprint] is information transmitted online, such as forum registration, e-mails and attachments, uploading videos or digital images and any other form of transmission of information — all of which leaves traces of personal information about yourself available to others online.”  Other popular terms for this is one’s “online identity” or the elements that can make or break your “personal brand.”

So, what is the big deal about developing a “personal brand”?  As long as I’m safe on my social networking sites and don’t post lewd pictures or talk carelessly about topics that job interviewers would find objectionable, I’m ok, right?  No, it’s really quite a bit more.  Montoya says, ” Personal branding is a strategic process – it is about intentionally taking control of how others perceive you and managing those perceptions strategically to help you achieve your goals.”  It is marketing Y.O.U. by putting your best foot forward.

By Lorenz kerscher at en.wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

“One of the most basic online tools for branding is that of researcher profiles, which can serve as a first point of contact and a convenient hub that connects scientific works.” (Scientific Marketplace)

Marketing sounds a battle-cry for scientists to communicate their body of research more effectively and competition in the academic arena demands scientists pay attention to promoting their public persona.  Having a researcher id which is current and complete is essential because institutions and funding agencies make their decisions based on the researcher’s CV and reputation can be won or lost depending on what the researcher’s online presence and profile reveal.

Marketing includes many activities that we already do as a regular part of our professional lives; the trick is leveraging those activities to reflect the best of us.  Sharing our presentations on Slideshare or Vivmeo, for example, is one aspect of our online identity, as is facilitating open access to versions of your academic articles. Marc Kuchner says that branding and relationship building are the two key ingredients for scientists marketing themselves.  Marketing oneself, Kuchner cautions, is not just self-promotion; it is “trying to figure out what other people want or need” and then go about showing how what you are doing can meet those wants and needs.

In a post on September 16, 2013, Kuchner talks about the growing role of Linked-In and Facebook Groups for Scientists.  These are groups of professionals often with varying amounts of “proof” as to the professional and scientific standing of anyone wishing to join.  The problem, Kuchner says, is that no index of these professional groups exist and professionals generally locate the groups through serendipitous networking with colleagues or by harvesting the group names off other professionals profiles.

Another avenue is scientific blogging.  Aggregators like Research Blogging () provide opportunities to have your thoughts about peer-reviewed research in your area to reach a larger audience.

Ideas on how to enhance your online identity:

  • Cross-link your profiles so that you present one united identity to the world.
  • Keep your profile current.  Make it a habit to update your experience, presentations, publications and honors on a regular basis.
  • Review your privacy settings. Social networking sites often update their policies and what you thought was private may no longer be.
  • Create a profile on, a social networking site focused on those in academia
  • Maintain your LinkedIn profile even if you aren’t looking for a job.  Because LinkedIn is so popular, your LinkedIn profiles will likely float close to the surface when you are searched on Google.
  • Blog or Tweet about your past research articles which you have made open access.  Melissa Terras found her article downloads sharply increasing when she followed this technique.
  • Participate constructively in online forums. Online is not the place to vent feelings or frustrations.  Sarcasm is often mistaken for something much more personal and hurtful.


For Further Exploration and Insight:

1. Google yourself and explore what your digital footprint is today.  Try the search in a few other search engines as well.  Do you have cleanup to do?

2.Explore one or more of the tools and/or sites mentioned in this article. Where would you fit in?  What about your users?  Would it be advantageous for them?


Selected Readings:

Eke, Helen Nneka. (2012). “Creating a digital footprint as a means of optimizing the personal branding of librarians in the digital society,” Webology; Dec2012, Vol. 9 Issue 2, pp1-12

Fenner, Martin(2012). “One-Click Science Marketing,” Nature Materials,11:5,pp261-263

How to Grow Your Twitter Following:  An infographic with lots of tips for increasing your impact.

Interview with Marc Kuchner, “The m word,” Nature Materials, 11(5) – pp264 – 265

Kuchner, Marc. Marketing for Scientists: How to Shine in Tough Times, Island Press, 2011.

Kuchner’s blog:

Melissa Terras’ Blog, Is Blogging and Tweeting about Research Papers Worth It? The Verdict, April 3, 2012

Montoya, P. (2002a). The brand called you. Part One – What is personal branding. Retrieved May 21, 2012, from

Montoya, P. (2002b). The personal branding phenomenon. London: Personal Branding Press.

“The Scientific Marketplace,”(2012) Nature Materials,11:5,p259






Have you chosen your top 10 tools for 2013 yet?

1924 photo of a voting booth

De Lux election building and voting booth, Lanham, Md., [11/4/24]
Library of Congress Photo Collection

What has been viewed over 550,000 times since its publication in 2012?

50 Shades of Grey might be one of your first thoughts, but think bigger! Twice as big, to be exact. Not the top 50, but the Top 100 Tools for Learning, compiled annually by Jane Hart has been viewed literally millions of times in the past seven years. And now, time is running out to post your vote for the Top 100 Tools for Learning, the 2013 edition.
If this wonderful resource sounds familiar, you might be remembering the post I did last year when the voting was open for the 2012 list. Hard to believe a full year has gone by already, but here we are, getting ready to vote again for our top 2013 tools. Last year Jane compiled the top 10 lists of over 500 learning professionals (just like you and me!) in order to create her Top 100 list. Now you can make your voice heard!

Voting closes for the 2013 list on September 27, 2013, and that is right around the corner, so don’t delay! VOTE HERE NOW !
While you are Jane’s Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, take a look at the winners from the past couple of years. You might find a new tool to explore, or leave feeling somewhat smug that you are in sync with some of the top learning professionals when it comes to the tools you use in your personal knowledge management.

Year for Productivity Session 19: Which Social Media Tool is Right for You?

year_productivity_graphic_19As an academic librarian, the number one thing I keep in mind in dealing with faculty and students is that they are Very Busy People.  So what I have to offer them should be solutions that save them time, or at best, contain a good reason as to why they should invest time in that solution.

Social media tools include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and, these days, a cast of thousands of other tools, with new ones popping up every day.    Collectively they are vast time sinks in which one can resolve to take a quick look only to come up for air hours later having accomplished nothing one intended to do.  Used well, however, they can be an essential part of a researcher’s academic workflow, both as it is now and as it is evolving.

Exactly what are we talking about when we discuss social media or social networking?  “Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.” (Wikipedia)

What do academic researchers do?  They research, they teach, and they write and publish.  Social media tools can help in all of these.  What are the needs of researchers that can be met with social networking tools?  The most important would be communication, whether it is one-to-one (email, for example), one-to-many (blog posts as an example), or many-to-many (conversations on listservs or Twitter).  In this way, researchers can find out what others are doing in related subjects and sometimes collaborate with them.  It is now easier than ever to discover that the person doing research most similar to one’s own lives in Cork, Ireland, while the researcher lives in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.  It is also easier to work on a project and/or publication with that person.

I don’t use Twitter myself, but many researchers find it a key tool to keep up with conversations about research.  Since the communciations are brief, they can be scanned quickly, the number of researchers and hashtags one follows can constantly be refined, and they often point to useful published research on a topic.   Researchers can also pose questions and get quick answers from their trusted network in the twitterverse.

Some of those in one’s Twitter network might write blogs, and the researcher might then add that person’s blog to their RSS news feed reader and follow the blog that way.  Or a tweet might point to a research center in a university, and one can like that center on Facebook in order to follow news out of that organization, or can follow their posts on LinkedIn.  The researcher might then turn to a social media aggregation tool such as HootSuite or Rebel Mouse so that all of these streams of information are available on a single page, rather like an electronic newspaper.  Such a workflow is seen, for example, in a recent GradHacker post from Ashley Sanders called Keeping Up with Trends.

Those are just a few examples of how an academic might use social media for research.  More information and case studies can be found in Social Media: A Guide for Rsearcherse from the Research Education Network (RIN).

So how might professors use social media in teaching?  Some social media tools such as blogs and forums are built into many Learning Managment Systems (LMS), so that professors and students have ways of communication about a class.  One current hot topic in teaching is the flipped classroom, in which students view a lecture video by their professor for the class session before coming into class, so that the class time is devoted to discussion or working through problems.  Some classes might create a YouTube channel and upload videos that they create as part of their assignments for the class.

Once a researcher has published, she might then disseminate information about the publication on LinkedIn, to her Twitter and Facebook networks, and so on.  Since tenure promotions are based in large part on how well a researcher’s publications have fared, measured in numbers of times cited and in the prestige of the journals in which the research is published, a researcher must pay as much attention to managing her reputation as any corporate manager on the rise.  Academic reputation may increasingly cover the impact of writing a well-regarded blog, or being an active part in a Twitter community around a particular topic.

So now that we have discussed why an academic researcher might want to use social media, how does one choose which tool?  The ones mentioned in this post so far are only the most common and well known tools.  If one includes apps as well as software programs for desktops/laptops, there are literally thousands with new ones added everyday.

Of course, one source is to listen to trusted colleagues, whether on one’s campus or at another.  One’s social media network will mention the tools they use most along with their recommendations.  Other trusted sources will hopefully include a librarian, and the knowledge network he takes part in.  For example, at our university we have a Teaching and Learning Resources research guide which has a page of Educational Technology resources.  The page includes links to useful sites/blogs, feeds from some blogs such as the Wired Campus blog, a slideshow of Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning, and a link to Bamboo DiRT, an extensive and unique directory of research tools for academics, organized into categories.  The readings below will also mention some useful social media tools and their uses.

So blog about us, like us on Facebook, and tweet about us (#academicpkm).  We double dare you.  ;-).

Selected Readings:

Scholarly Articles:
Gruzd, A., Staves, K., & Wilk, A. (2012). Connected scholars: Examining the role of social media in research practices of faculty using the UTAUT model. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(6), 2340-2350. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2012.07.004

Gu, F. F., & Widén-Wulff, G. G. (2011). Scholarly communication and possible changes in the context of social media: A Finnish case study. Electronic Library, 29(6), 762-776. doi:10.1108/02640471111187999

Rowlands, I.; Nicholas, D.; Russell, B.; Canty, N.; Watkinson, A..”Social media use in the research workflowLearned Publishing, July 2011, 24(3):183-195 DOI: 10.1087/2011030

Tenopir, C., Volentine, R., and King D., (2013) “Social media and scholarly reading”, Online Information Review, Vol. 37 Iss: 2, pp.193 – 216. DOI: 10.1108/OIR-04-2012-0062.


Social Media: A Guide for Researchers (2011). From the Research Information Network (RIN). Includes some lists of tools, but also case studies of how researchers are using them.

Blog posts and Web sites:

Alampi, A. (7/24/2012) “Social Media is More Than Simply a Marketing Tool for Academic Research“. Higher Education Network. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Cheok, A. D. (8/27/2012). Using Social Media Tools for Academic Research. Elsevier Biggerbrains. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Gill J. (1/2/2013). “Six Ways to Use Google+ Hangouts for Academic Productivity“. The Contemplative Mammoth. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Johnson, A (1/18/2013). “Using Twitter for Curated Academic Content”. Impact of the Social Sciences. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Jones, J. (11/23/2011). “Social Media for Research: Open Resource“. “What I can do, instead, is offer up the entire workshop as a resource and hope that perhaps others might find it more useful. Below are slides, links to resources and readings and some reflection about teaching social media for research”. Jennifer M. Jones. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Priego, E. (9/12/2011). “How Twitter will Revolutionize Academic Research and Teaching“. Higher Education Network. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Platt, J. (2/8/2013). “Being a Good Colleague with Social Media“. GradHacker. Accessed 9/16/2013.

For Further Exploration and Insight:

(1) If you are a librarian, what would you advise incoming grad students about using social media? Write down an outline of what you will say.
(2) If you are an academic researcher, what would you advise a new colleague about using social media? Write down an outline of what you will say.

Links Roundup #12

western saddle with a lasso on it


Meta Articles on Choosing the Right Tools:

How to Make Prudent Choices About Your Tools. EXCELLENT post from the ProfHacker blog that is not about specific tools for academic workflow (though it does mention a few), but how to go about choosing the tools you use. Very timely for new graduate students and faculty this fall.

Paradox of Powerful Tools – makes the excellent point that the more decisions a tool requires you to make, the longer it will take to be productive with that tool.

Play to Your Strengths:  Adapting Your Writing Software to Your Writing Style. GradHacker and ProfHacker are starting to publish again after their summer breaks and coming up with great posts for the new grad student and/or faculty member. This GradHacker post mentions a variety of different tools for writing and citing, as well as suggestions for choosing these tools, and gives the example of the author’s workflow and tools used.

Focus, Attention, and Time Management Updates:

Balancing Work at Home with PomodoroProfHacker post from a professor on using Pomodoro to keep on track with tasks while working at home.

What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate (And How it Benefits You) – Lifehacker post that discusses the parts of the brain affected by meditation and the beneficial effects of even short periods of meditation.

Start a New Habit with – ProfHacker post on a new web and iOS app that helps visualize Don’t Break the Chain idea for creating a habit.  Also mentions other ways of tracking adherence to a habit.

Ok, now I’m just amused.  When WebMD has a slideshow on Top Concentration Killers, you know that attention management has hit the mainstream.  And for a slideshow, it is well done, handles the material in concise blocks of text, and offers a concentration killer followed by a fix for that particular problem.

IFTTT Updates:

Several IFTTT updates (If you are new to IFTTT, please see this previous post.):

(1) The service now has a New York Times channel.  There are suggested recipes.  If someone plays around with adding their proxy server ID to a recipe, please note it in the comments.

(2) BIG announcement from IFTTT – they now have a way to embed recipes anywhere that you can place an embed code.  Since I’m betting a large number of you design and create web pages, LibGuides, or both, this could be big news and really increase the usefulness of IFTTT for librarians.

(3)  Twitter triggers are back.  Twitter had pulled them, but has apparently relented.

Evernote Updates:

(1)   8 Pro Tips for Evernote Power Users.  Post from Mashable on tips and tricks to use with Evernote.  I spotted one error, it says reminders haven’t rolled out to Android users, but they have.  Good post otherwise.  Mashable is one place for great updates on technology, especially mobile and social media, but it has so many posts it is hard to keep up.

(2)  Take a Minute to Collect Your Thoughts with Evernote.  This post is from 2010, and Evernote has many new features since, but there aren’t a lot of articles about how academic researchers use Evernote and this is a good one from ProfHacker.

(3)  Experiments with an Electronic Lab Notebook.  GradHacker post by a PhD student in Chemical Engineering who is using Evernote as his ELN.  We are always looking for posts about how Evernote is used by academics, and this is a nice addition to that “genre”.

(4)  How Students Use Technology Outside the Classroom.  Discusses mostly free apps like Evernote, Google Hangouts, Google Drive and social media tools to advance their classwork.  Includes graduate students using Google Hangouts to work collaboratively.

(5)  Going Paperless: 5 More Tips for Speeding Up Productivity with Evernote Using Third-Party Tools.  Whew, long title!  Good tips on increasing productiivity with Evernote.  I particularly want to try KustomNote.

There are, of course, a plethora of articles now about best apps for back to school, and all the ones I’ve seen include Evernote.  PC Mag has a good one, divided into apps for elementary, intermediate, high school, and college/university – though I thought even some of those for primary/secondary useful for collge students as well.  And of course my gripe with the article is the author doesn’t look hard enough for Android alternatives to iOS apps.

Miscellaneous Updates:

Eight Thoughts After Trying the Samsung Chromebook – first review I’ve seen of the Chromebook for academic work.  In sum, if you use the Chrome environment including Google Docs, this is very reasonably priced.

Twitter Update Makes it Easier to Follow Conversations. Would think this would be particularly useful for academic conversations.

464 Digital Learning Tools to Sift Through on a Rainy Day – given how much rain there has been in Atlanta this year, I might make it through this list at some point…

30+ Mind Mapping Tools – from Mashable, divides them into free and subscription/purchase.

Google Play Hits the Books in Time for Fall Semester.  Discusses the availability of college textbooks in Google Play, both for purchase and for rent.

SECURITY TIP:  Two Factor Authentication.  Another good post from Bob Rankin, this one an explanation of two factor authentication (2FA), and why it is useful.

Year for Productivity: Session 18: What is a Learning Network?


Happy Labor Day!  Hopefully most of you are busy firing up the grill and enjoying this fall holiday Monday away from work.  This day also marks the beginning of our third and last section of posts in the Year of Productivity program.  With this third section we leave somewhat the focus on the academic workflow to turn our attention to the idea of Learning Networks.

We are quite familiar with the concept of a Learning Commons, and chances are that your academic library has at least one of these productive areas for students.  Learning Networks, however, might be a little fuzzier for many of us; and, actually, this is one area where we can turn to our colleagues in the K-12 world because they have been actively talking about and developing Learning Networks for some time.

Many of us have been traveling through various stages of learning throughout our lives. Most have experienced formal classroom learning through elementary, middle and high school, followed by a varied number of years and degrees in higher education institutions.  At some point, that wonderful time of learning was supposedly complete and we joined the workforce, only to find that learning is a continual activity that merely has changed forms.  Some of us had formal training “workshops” where we were taught a particular skill or computer program, but employers began to find such training budgets were attractive places to obtain funds to cover shortfalls in decreasing budget times.

Learning, we also discovered, was a part of our annual performance evaluation, and we were encouraged to identify, with the assistance of our managers in some cases, specific areas of learning and development that we were to pursue over the coming year.  While formal training was sometimes a part of this objective, increasingly we were expected to develop our own plans of learning and discover ways to increase our knowledge and expertise outside the formal training arena.

Jane Hart of the Learning in the Social Workplace blog comments on this state of affairs:

“Being “proactive” or “taking charge” of your own learning isn’t just about engaging in formal professional development activities though, or even participating in a few MOOCs (massive open online courses) or watching some inspirational videos from time to time, it’s also about recognizing that most of your real learning takes place continuously  – and frequently unintentionally…by being active in the fast moving flow of ideas and new resources being exchanged in your professional networks.”

Employers began to see mentoring as a low-budget solution to their training budget woes while still being a personal way to develop employees.  As a result, formalized mentoring programs became increasingly popular within the workplace, and professional societies also created mentoring programs. The mentoring program of the New Member Roundtable of the American Library Association is one excellent example of a mentoring program that allowed an individual to reach outside their workplace and their local environment and establish a meaningful, sustained dialog with a professional in another city or state who has been identified as having similar professional interests and experience in areas that the mentee particularly desired to develop.-

One of the challenges for self-motivated learners has always been finding a group of people who shared their learning goals and interest.  While some large metropolitan areas might provide enough opportunities for developing local groups, many individuals face the challenge of connecting and desire a large pool of like-minded learners to share with and grow from.  The internet has greatly facilitated this process and today, people from many different countries, different time zones and different levels of expertise can all connect with one another sharing resources, advice, techniques and experience.

Personal Learning Networks are also sometimes referred to as Communities of Practice.  The Creating a PLN wiki defines PLNs:

“Personal Learning Networks are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to:

  • set their own learning goals
  • manage their learning; managing both content and process
  • communicate with others in the process of learning
  • and thereby achieve learning goals

Simply put: A PLN is a system for lifelong learning.”

This wiki goes on to explain the stages of creating a PLN:

Stage 1: Immersion:  This stage embodies the excitement and exploration of jumping into many networks, trying new social software and getting overwhelmed trying to keep up with everything and feeling like you can’t miss a thing because that might be the most important nugget of all.

Stage 2: Evaluation:  At this stage, you have begun to understand and become more comfortable with the different networks you have joined.  You are now able to pick and choose which network(s) fit your learning goals the best.

Stage 3: Know it all:  At this stage you deep dive into your chosen networks, trying to learn it all.  This stage reminds me of the avid video gamer who can’t leave the virtual world and its inhabitants behind in order to interact with the real world.

Stage 4: Perspective:  Perspective can occur when you finally surface from your virtual networks and gain some space from them and reconnect with the real world and people around you.

Stage 5: Balance:  Once reaching that perspective, you can then begin to understand that your network is there to support you, and the collective knowledge of the network means that you do not have to be expected to know everything, but that, instead, you and your network colleagues can each share your knowledge with each other when there is a need.

Do you recognize yourself in these PLN stages?  Where do you fall? And what might be the next step for you?


For Further Exploration and Insight:

1. Take a few minutes to explore this incredibly rich resource called a PLN Starter Kit.  The target audience is the K-12 educators population.  Brainstorm how you might create a similar tool for the academic arena.  What would be included?

2.  Steve Wheeler is an Associate Professor of Learning Technology at Plymouth University.  Watch this video of Steve describing his personal learning network.  How would you describe your own PLN after watching this?  What is necessary to succeed?
(My Personal Learning Network by Steve Wheeler:


Selected Resources:

Chatti, Mohamed Amine.(2012) Knowledge management: a personal knowledge network perspective. Journal of Knowledge Management Volume: 16 Issue: 5, 829-844.

Communities of Practice:  This is a detailed bibliography on building communities.

Cooke, N. A. (2012). Professional development 2.0 for librarians: Developing an online personal learning network (PLN). Library Hi Tech News, 29(3),1–9.

Creating a PLN wiki:

Developing Connectivity: a PKM path for higher education workplace learners
Blanca C. Garcia (pp. 276 – 297)

Hart, Jane. “The future belongs to those who take charge of their own learning,” Learin the Social Workplace blog, October 2012.

Tools for Building your Personal Learning Network, a LiveBinder compiled by Tim WIlhelmus

Waters, Sue.  PLN Yourself!,   The aim of this site is to help you gain the skills to build your own personal learning network (PLN)

Wenger, E., McDermott, R. and Snyder, W.M. (2002), Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.

Book Review: The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

book cover of FInding Your Element

We’ve heard about being “in the Zone” or more recently, experiencing “flow.” Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D, introduces us to “The Element.”  The Element, like experiencing Flow, or The Zone, is that magical place where your intrinsic talent is paired with the explosive power of following your passion.  This is where we experience the highest levels of our success and where we feel the most inspired.

I had the treat of listening to the audio version of this book, which was read by the author. Besides enjoying his distinctive English accent, I also was able to experience his delightful wry humor all the more because he was delivering it himself.  If you’d like to get a peak into both his skilled delivery and message, check out one of the TED videos that he has recorded:

The most inspiring part of the book to me was the fascinating mix of stories that Robinson told of how many familiar personalities found their Element.  He recounted stories of Paul McCartney, Arianna Huffington (of Huffington Post fame), Richard Feynman, Mike Fleetwood (of Fleetwood Mac), gymnast Bart Conner and Vidal Sassoon to name only a few.  It is one thing to discuss a theory and quite another to see how many diverse ways individuals discover their Element.  And don’t worry, Robinson assures, if you haven’t found your Element yet — it can happen at any age, and you might even discover more than one passion too!

I loved seeing how creativity and imagination fueled great discoveries and advancement in so many varied fields from physics to math to journalism to music and art.  The author makes an impassioned discourse on how modern school systems are moving in totally the wrong direction with their focus on standardized test scores and No Child Left Behind.  These movements resulted in the removal of arts programs and many of the more creative and organic ways of learning through discovery in order to make time for extra teaching targeted specifically on teaching the material on standardized tests so as to boost test scores.

Robinson also does a good job of explaining the importance of finding like-minded individuals to support and stretch you.  They don’t necessarily have to share your particular passion, though that is ideal.  Individuals in complementary fields can often offer a broadening of the applications of your Element.  Robinson calls this important group of people your Tribe.  I really liked this discussion because I could relate to my personal experiences of having Tribes in my life.  Not only is it more fun to talk to others who share your passion, your tribe offers support and inspiration.  It was, in part, looking for a PKM librarian ‘tribe’ that led us to creating this blog in the first place, so that concept is near and dear to my heart.

Robinson closes, as do I, with a wonderful quote from the great Michaelangelo:

     “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”