What to Share… Digital Professionalism Part 2

In my last piece I wrote about digital professionalism in terms of what not to share. This was based on the premise that, as an Early Career Researchers (ECRs), at some point we will have entered into a contract with our institution as either a student or employer that will require us to behave in a certain way. That may sound strange and whilst I know we are not our institutions and they are not us we work together in partnership as either a student or a member of staff and thus our professional behaviour has to meet certain standards. What I wrote raised a number of comments, many disagreeing with the perceived negative tone. Thus in this post I am considering what you should share.

When I discussed creating a digital identity I looked at the strategies you should develop to create and manage your online presence but that can only occur if you have content to post. So what type of content should be shared in tweets and on your blog etc?

Findings from your research:

I believe that blogging has a specific place and role within academic publishing. It extends the reach of our academic research work beyond the academy and increases the levels of ‘impact’ we can achieve. Public participation and engagement have become an increasingly central part of Research Councils requirements for dissemination. This is a good move; it is important that our research connects with our participants and is used by them and ultimately makes a difference. Blogging creates a different audience for our research, introduces us to the wider community and new contacts. Networking in this way means that in general people meet the writing prior to meeting the person.

Engage in discussions about your subject:

An academic department has a limited number of people in it researching the same subject you can and should use social media to engage with those who approach your subject from a different perspective. You never know what opportunities may come your way.

Wider discussions around HE:

Following on from that, we are all part of a larger HE community and as such can make contributions to wider debates on learning and teaching and the general environment in which we work and study. Believe me going from student to staff has been extremely enlightening.

These are just three areas in which you can engage with your peers online in a professional context. They are similar in type to those I discussed in the previous post, but for the way in which we present them. I know a number of people who separate out their professional and personal lives to the extent that they appear to have dual personalities. This is something I could never do as I would never be able to remember! I’d also be concerned that others would find out and the potential consequences. In the social media training I deliver I refer to my online personality as the ‘social professional’. I tweet and blog about things that are interesting to me whether they are academic or otherwise but I do so under the same identity or personality. I believe that my research comes from my interests and my views, opinions etc on specific subjects and as such I choose not to separate the two, the social and the professional when online. This does not mean that I share everything; Facebook for example is a space for close friends and family. In considering how we use social media it is essential that we understand the nature of the spaces we create online and act accordingly. The nature of social media, i.e. communication through relatively short statements, i.e. status updates etc. means that we require different social skills with which to interact with people as the non-verbal skills we use without thinking about them are no longer visible. Context becomes key and sometimes this can be misled.

Next month’s final post on digital professionalism looks at the issue from the employer’s perspective…

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Sarah-Louise Quinnell

Dr. Sarah-Louise Quinnell is the E-Learning Lead Technologist for Floream Partnerships she works on a portfolio of e-learning projects in partnership with Google, International Olympic Committee and the Institute of Digital Marketing.

She is also a researcher affiliated to the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities.

All views are her own and do not necessarily represent her employer's views or policies.

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