Please note: This blog post is a course related assessment for the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology program at Royal Roads University.
Activity 2 of LRNT 521 required learners to create a visual of their digital networks to identify where and how we are situated within their network. As I continue to reflect on my social media practices, this exercise allowed me to gain a holistic view of my social media presence on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as learn about the benefits and limitations of the different applications that allow social media users to gain analytical information of their social media identities. I use LinkedIn and Twitter as a digital learning environment, which Veletsianos (2016) states is built upon the organizational structure of groups, networks, and communities. By being a part of separate groups and communities within the social networks, I am able to learn about different subject matters that I am interested in. Examples may include my interest in hybrid and online learning, to the use of applications such as Google Suite and Lynda.com. Different individual members and groups, I am a part of on LinkedIn and Twitter allow me to learn about the different subject matters I am passionate about and also guide me into other topics I may be interested in. While I use both LinkedIn and Twitter, I tend to use Twitter more to stay up-to-date in my field, as it is a commonly used tool to learn and participate in online discussion (Veletsianos, 2016).
Boyd (2011) states that Social Network Sites must have the ability to create a list of shared connections between users. In order to provide the visual representation of my digital network, an application must be used that can use LinkedIn’s API to dissect and categorize each connection I have in my network. I chose to use Socilab, as it was a tool that we were introduced to during residency and through the Virtual Symposium. After connecting my LinkedIn account to the Socilab application, I was able to create the following graphic.
I believe that the visual does not provide an accurate depiction of my social network on LinkedIn. Limitations that I have noticed in the tool are that it is only able to bring data back for 500 contacts, which is less than half of my connections on LinkedIn and it also does not depict between primary and secondary jobs listed on an individuals LinkedIn account. For example, I have connections with several part-time faculty in the higher education industry, yet the graphic will show that many individuals are working in a completely separate industry than me. Although I am unable to find verified evidence of what is causing this to occur, I am under the assumption that it could be caused by part-time instructors listing their full-time job as their primary job on LinkedIn. This, in turn, provides the indication that I am connected with several people outside of the field of education.
In addition to the Socilab graphic, I have started to test out reporting tools from other social media analytics websites such as Sprout Social and Hootsuite. Although Sprout Social was able to provide more robust information, HootSuite is able to provide an adequate amount of information at no cost. Going forward, I will use these types of reports to reflect on my social media usage each month and look for areas that I can improve with building a larger, meaningful network and gaining more two-way communication on my posts through the use of tagging and hashtags. Aspects I intend on research first are the number of new followers gained by using specific hashtags, and the amount of interactions that occur on my post, based on the times of day that I post my content.
Boyd, D. (2011). Social network sites as networked publics: Affordances, dynamics, and implications. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self (pp. 39–58). New York, NY: Rutledge.
Veletsianos, G. (2016). Digital learning environments. In N. Rushby & D. Surry (Eds), Handbook of Learning Technologies (pp. 242-260). UK: John Wiley & Sons.