Active Citizen course: recap

Notes from the Active Citizen course


Three spheres of democracy

Political sphere
  • encompasses government, elections, and participation in political life
  • political involvement is public information
  • political life is a combination of voluntary and required actions
  • buying things
  • investments
  • marketplace participation is unavoidable: marketplace activism (ie, boycotting companies) is voluntary and mostly private
Civil society
  • nonprofit organizations, sports clubs, neighborhood groups, protest organizations, & community, trade, or professional associations
  • civil society participation is private information

Why digital matters

  1. nature of digital data
    • two copies of it
    • non-rival and non-excludable good: many people can use an item at the same time AND it’s hard to restrict access to that item
  2. nature of the network
    • quantity of information that can be stored (infrastructure)
    • involvement of third parties
    • see for more info
    • civil society needs to function as an independent space, separate from markets and from government
    • where we are now: digital infrastructure built by private companies and controlled by government

Digital political engagement

  • TurboVote: online voter registration
  • MapLight: track donations to political campaigns
  • find like-minded folks to connect on various social issues
  • publishes and shares materials in the public domain in the US and around the world
  • OSET Foundation: open source election technology
  • signing petitions
  • using hashtags
  • online tools used for offline organizing
  • positive: helps groups to grow in size and gain momentum faster than not using digital tools; negative: alerts adversaries to your actions

One of my favorite videos from the course:


OER Hub Researcher Pack: reading notes




I recently finished reading the OER Hub Researcher Pack, written by the @OER_Hub team, and wanted to capture some notes and citations for future work.



  • focus on tools that researchers can use
  • adapt tools for our needs and share them back with the community
  • love that this book can be downloaded as a zip file!


Data (quant)

  • conduct your analysis and publish your work prior to releasing data with CC license
  • data is a publication!
  • how do you plan to anonymize it? use metadata in such a way that data set is useful to others and can be built upon for additional research?

Survey questions

  • OER hub released a set of 54 core survey questions that align with 11 hypotheses of research project
  • question bank is reusable and remixable
  • follow good practices for survey and research design

Interview questions

Evaluation framework

  • serves as a means to check on project while it’s in progress and to see if it accomplished what researcher intended it to do
  • build evaluation in from the onset
  • see example from OER Hub


Further reading

Digital scholar: Week 1 compliation

The Digital Scholar

I’m slowly working my way through the Digital Scholar course offered through the Open University.

One of the activities asked us to think about how digital, networked, and open technology has influenced one area of my practice, either in a small or large way.

On a micro level, watching and reading what others are doing has been my entry point into then taking the next step of reaching out to others, communicating, and interacting. I have met higher ed scholars and practitioners with similar interests online, and while I was not far enough along yet in my grad program to be able to have a solid research direction, at a minimum I now know how to connect with scholars who share my interests. From there, I can take the next step of building my networks and figuring out interesting ways to talk about my interests, research projects, etc.

Boyer’s (1990) Scholarship Reconsidered framework


I envision that researchers, members of the community/public, students, and others who have a stake in what universities create, will all be a part of figuring out how to share new knowledge in a digital format. Maybe that means using visual or interpretive forms. A clinical trial reimagined as a novel, or a play, for example. And yes, the components that are essential to include for peer-reviewed journal articles such as methods, might fade away in light of the results section. Or perhaps the research process is part of the new story. I think what this will come down to is creative ways to share research outputs.


How do we work together across disciplines on problems? This seems to be the driving question behind this section. Seems that writing on the open web about your work, and hoping that someone comes across it is a first step. Then how to actually connect with others? Say for example, if I am interested in studying how gender impacts the edtech tools and programs currently in use, how would I go about connecting with programmers, usability folks, etc who would be interested in such a project? I will need to put more thought into this.


Thinking about how this might look differently…and how faculty members – maybe grad students too? – might talk about this. It seems like there’s still a shroud of secrecy over what goes on in higher ed. Maybe faculty and grad students could find ways to talk about their service projects. is it enough to write about it on a blog? I have a feeling that a short post about spending 2 hours reviewing manuscripts may not be tremendously compelling reading, but maybe that’s part of the problem. Should we talk about it in ways that are accessible to our parents? Our siblings? Neighbors?


Recognize the value and importance. I am not close enough to the teaching side to know how much, if any, the T&P process may be changing to value teaching at a higher priority. And in some cases, should it? Some schools have separate categories for teaching-focused positions and research-focused positions. This seems like it may be a way to recognize that not all faculty are equally interested in teaching and research, and place equal value on both areas.

Creating knowledge with Thing 10: Wikipedia explorations

House of Knowledge Variation1 by Adrien Sifre CC-BY-NC-ND

House of Knowledge Variation1 by Adrien Sifre CC-BY-NC-ND

After a week-long break from the 23 Things course, I’m picking back up with Thing 10. Prior to heading to the AECT convention, I went through the Wikipedia Adventure and learned the basics of editing articles. It was quite fun to play and broke down the steps into smaller pieces. Participating in Wikipedia Edit-a-thons seems much more manageable now…

I’m listening to wikipedia while writing this post…it’s very calming. After Rainy Mood, could be my new favorite backdrop for work/study sessions.

Testing color and grayscale image hover options

bakelite switches by garycycles

bakelite switches by garycycles CC-BY

Testing out the image hover options with this post, and wondering if it works strictly with images via the media library, or embedded photos as well.

I was visiting a few sites recently (Michelle Pacansky-Brock‘s in particular) and noticed the neat image hover options. I’m fond of black and white photos, but also like to have some color interspersed throughout my site.

After some online searching, I came across this helpful article that talked about how to use CSS styling, and combined with some plugin advice, I am ready to test it out…


Take 2…downloaded image to media library instead. And success! Now to figure out about that gray rectangular box across the top of the post…

Hanging out online: Thing 9

2013 Esri International User Conference - San Diego, CA

Thing 9 presented us with a couple options for web-based connection tools, one of which was Google Hangouts. My institution is a Google Apps school, so we use Hangouts several times each week.  Hangouts in that context are fairly easy to setup and/or join.

When I have used Hangouts outside of work, sometimes they can be more difficult – especially when you start to bring in more than one or two people. Many months ago, I was part of a few Virtually Connecting sessions (1, 2, 3) and used Google Hangouts on Air.  Those sessions were a lot of fun, although they came with a few more responsibilities behind the scenes for setup. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about the ‘on air’ version of Hangouts – although with Google’s frequent changes to its offerings I may need to re-learn it.

Our 23 Things course facilitators are holding a Hangout live session at the end of this week. Due to the time difference I will need to sit this one out…see the rest of the group on Twitter instead?

Data visualizations for Facebook: Thing 8

Social network (Magazine Illustration)

Thing 8 asked us to look at Facebook. I have had an account for many years and have used groups, lists, pages, etc. When searching for Facebook photos on Flickr for this post’s header image, I came across a neat graph that showed friend networks. I started digging into it to see if I could make something similar with Netvizz and Gephi. Turns out that there were several tools that used to do this, but when Facebook rolled out its API changes in 2015, those tools no longer worked. The creator of Netvizz detailed the app’s updates and demise. It does not look like there is a way to visualize your friend network at this time.

An aspect of my Facebook account that was new to me: I can choose now if I want to have my account permanently deleted or memorialized. If I chose the latter, I can add someone as a ‘legacy contact’ to manage a limited number of aspects of my profile.

Twitter analytics with Thing 7


Thing 7 focused on one of my most-used connection tools. I’ve been on Twitter for several years and am familiar with the lists and various management tools. My chief reason for signing up back in 2009 was to connect with student affairs professionals. Oddly enough, it was through the use of Twitter and blogs that helped point me towards a different career path…anyways, my continuing reason for using the platform is to keep track of, find out about, follow conversations, and receive updates from folks in higher education, edtech, and related areas. I’m figuring out ways to grow my connections and contribute to conversations. I particularly like this idea about sharing what you are reading:

tweet over 20 bloggers' content everyday

How to Use Social Media for Academic Branding by Sidneyeve Matrix

Tweetdeck is my current platform of choice, and I use it to manage two other Twitter accounts in addition to my own. I have also used Hootsuite but its interface is not as pleasing to me. Or perhaps I’m just not overly accustomed to it.

Thing 7 also introduced us to Twitter’s analytics tools. This is a new-to-me topic. Clicking on the analytics gives a snapshot of activity over the past 28 days:

twitter analytics

From there, the activities from current month and past two months are broken down into more detail. The main area of analytics seem to be broken down into two areas: engagement and impressions.

For example, in October this tweet earned 330 impressions. Impressions are how many times my tweet appears in other people’s feeds.

This tweet yielded 10 engagements. Engagements are likes and/or retweets.

Lastly, there is a section devoted to audience. Audience refers to people who follow you. I think this section would be more helpful if it was reversed and the analytics showed the countries, regions, gender, and languages of the people that I follow. In this way the platform could provide an overview of whose voices are strong and whose voices I am not hearing. Something along the lines of the (now defunct) Twee-Q, which analyzed your recent retweets and assigned a score of where you fell in terms of broadcasting mens’ or womens’ voices.

I found this Buffer Social article to be helpful in learning more about what the analytical components mean. Overall, I am not really sure what to do with the data from Twitter analytics. Engagements and impressions seem to be more geared towards individuals and/or companies that are using the platform to reach out for business and marketing purposes, or who want to influence their followers.

Interesting side note: while reading over the 23 Things syndicated feed, I noticed that another participant is an #indieweb user (Hi, John), and that we share the same WP theme (go SemPress). I think I might be able to trigger a response/comment to his blog via this post. I see that comments are closed on his post, so perhaps this won’t work after all. I will insert his post URL ‘in response to’ and see what happens…

People, words, and images: Accessibility exploration through Thing 6


Rounding out the first block of 23 Things….next up: accessibility.

This is a topic that’s on my mind most days, as I’m working on content for courses in higher education. With that in mind, I wanted to go in a different direction and explore the features of a smartphone. They were fairly easy to locate on my phone, and divided into three main groups: vision, hearing, and dexterity & interaction. I was surprised at how many options are built into the phone. For those who are not familiar with various features and options, there is extra text that explains what they are and how to activate them. I thought that TTS option for reading articles might come in handy, so I activated it.

One last thought…since the topics align, I’m giving a shoutout to the new site, designed by some of my colleagues. It’s chock full of resources for instructors, course designers, and web developers. One of the helpful articles talks about planning for accessibility from the start (of a course, in this case) but could be applied to a project that you might be working on now.

Exploring diversity with Thing 5

2 spectrum

Diversity in online spaces is one component of the long-running debate about technology and neutrality. The resources for Thing 5 illustrated this idea in different ways.

Paige Tutt described the use of multicultural emojis as a new means for individuals to spread racist messages online:

The emoji are being used to make racist comments on social media and insert questions of race in texts and tweets where it may never have arisen before. Instead of correcting its mistake — excluding people of color from emoji — Apple has, in some ways, made the situation worse.


Technology can never be predictive, only descriptive. It reflects our human nature – all of our inherently marvelous and unfavorable qualities. As our societies around the world creep towards higher use of data to make decisions, it’s important that we take a step back and ask critical questions about how the data is gathered, analyzed, and displayed. Dr. Alvaro Bedoya illustrates how unexamined biases exist in data:

This video is part of a longer presentation in which he and Dr. Latanya Sweeney discuss big data, inequality, and discrimination.

Signing off with my newly created bitmoji:



Came across two articles recently that spoke to this topic.

h/t to FemTechNet for the link to The Guardian’s article about machine logic

h/t to D’Arcy Norman for posting this video that talks more about how our biases are written into code.