Someone recently asked me where I find the articles that I share internally and in trying to respond, I realised my approach to current awareness is too complex to explain in a Discord chat. Instead, I thought I’d share the strategies I use to (attempt to) stay on top of the latest news and research related to higher education, educational technology, and online learning.
I maintain a Twitter list of key people and organisations in the field. I have this list in a column on TweetDeck, just to the right of my mentions, so that I can keep a close eye on what these accounts are sharing. This helps me to see the relevant stuff because my main Twitter feed moves fast and is full of a diverse range of people from a diverse range of fields. You can check out my list (and follow it if you’d like to). I add to it regularly as I find more people and organisations to follow.
During the week, I keep an eye on Twitter across the work day. I have it open on my laptop screen, behind my calendar app, and I check in as I’m task switching. I used to be much, much better at being present on Twitter and keeping up to date with what’s happening in my network. I’ve been thinking about why that’s changed over the years. I think it has become more difficult with time pressures in recent years. Also, now that I’m not actively using Twitter as one of my main communications channels with students (because I’m no longer in a teaching role), there isn’t the pull to be there as much. I’m also trying to be more focused and to reduce distraction, something I’ve been working on for a number of years. And, I also connect on a social level with a large portion of my professional network on Instagram today, which is really my happiest little corner of the internet. I do try to make an effort to scroll through my higher ed list once a day at least, and I do a deep dive on the weekend.
One other thing I do on Twitter that I think is really helpful: I have another (private) Twitter list of the higher ups at my institution so I see all of their tweets, too.
I subscribe to a range of blogs related to higher education, educational technology, teaching and learning, online learning, training and workplace learning, and K-12 education. I find I pick up a lot of useful content from training and workplace learning blogs like The eLearning Coach. I find out about new tools and new applications of old tools via K-12 education blogs. I also skim EdTech Update Daily (that’s the feed for the daily edition) for info on what’s happening in the K-12 blog world and more tips on tools and their application.
Besides those I mentioned above, some of my favourite blogs are:
- EdTech Magazine
- Hybrid Pedagogy
- Jesse Stommel’s blog
- Learning with ‘e’s
- The Thesis Whisperer
- Advance HE News + Views
- Inside HigherEd
- Bryan Alexander
- The Education section of The Conversation
- The Chronicle of Higher Education (I subscribe to a feed of articles tagged ‘technology’)
If you’re interested in the full list of my subscriptions, you can download an OPML file.
I use Feedly as my RSS reader (though I am still mourning Google Reader) and my favourite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon is get comfy on the couch and clear out my feed reader, tweeting things I find interesting or share-worthy as I go.
I listen to arrange of podcasts to inform the teaching and learning work I do, including podcasts about teaching and learning, podcasts about technology, and podcasts about productivity.
Here’s my favourites across those categories.
Teaching and learning / higher ed
- House of EdTech
- Teaching in Higher Ed
- The Higher Ed Geek
- Leading Lines
- Flipped Learning Worldwide
- Campus Technology Insider
You’ll notice there’s a mix of higher ed and K-12 content in this list. While not always directly relevant to a higher ed content, I do pick up a lot from listening to the K-12 content.
For the next two categories, I have been extremely restrained. Technology and productivity, and particularly the space where they intersect, are my jam in terms of podcasts. The ones I’ve listed here are ones where can remember having picked up something practical that is directly relevant to me as a teacher or a curriculum and pedagogy professional, but in reality, I listen to a whole lot more of these podcasts and many of my all time favourites are missing from these lists. Feels a bit like choosing my favourite child!
- Automators (for tips on automation that help me work smarter – very, very geeky!)
- Mac Power Users (all Mac users should listen to this podcast. I pick up so many tips about things that help me work smarter)
- Connected (for Mac news… What can I say? Mac nerd)
- On the reg (new podcast from the Inger Mewburn of The Thesis Whisperer and Dr Jason Downes. I can already see this will be a firm fave)
- Cortex (great discussions about ways of working)
- Focused (because we all need more focus!)
- Nested Folders
I listen to podcasts in the car on my ‘commute’ each day (for the last five-ish months, that’s meant my drive to pick up coffee in the morning), when I go anywhere else in the car, while I get ready in the morning, while I get ready for bed at night, while I’m cooking, and in lieu of reading books in bed at night (I’m currently having a fiction reading slump). I listen at between 1.5 and 1.75 times normal speed, using the app Overcast, which has a Smart Speed adjustment that reduces the length of silence. Apparently that’s saved me over 103 hours of listening time.
There’s lots of ways to be informed about the latest articles in relevant journals, including email subscriptions via databases or direct from publisher websites, and RSS feeds. In the past, I’ve tended to use email subscriptions, but my inbox is generally very fast moving and I’ve had to start thinking seriously about getting stuff out of my inbox. I use SaneBox to help manage my email and I have to confess… I’ve sent a few of those subscriptions to the Sane BlackHole recently to get them out of my inbox.
At the moment, watching for the latest research published in journals is probably the weakest link in my strategy. I follow journals that have Twitter accounts on Twitter, and I rely on my network to surface new articles that are of interest to me. What I’d like to do one Saturday afternoon soon is grab the RSS feeds for the main journals in the field and add those to Feedly, too.
How do you keep up to date with all things teaching and learning in higher ed? Is there anyone you think should be on my Twitter list, or any podcasts you’d recommend?