Happy Birthday Sophie!

This lucky girl gets to go to Disneyland with her dad on her birthday, so we had her party a couple of days early. It was all about Monster High and candy and YouTube and candy and a jumping balloon and candy and a pinata and candy…. you get the idea!

I love her to pieces and am so grateful that she was able to come celebrate her special day with us.

Giving Thanks

This year for Thanksgiving we kept everything pretty low key because it was all about the day AFTER Thanksgiving! Black Friday? Oh no, we skipped the whole shopping fiasco and decided to butcher a pig instead. I think it is important for my kids to know where meat comes from and to understand and respect the process of how a pig turns into pork. I like knowing that this pig was happy and healthy. Now our family has a month or two of meat in the freezer. It’s a good thing.

one of the twelve pigs we have left
selfie time
boiling water to scrape the hair off the pig

See more pictures on flickr!


Social Media Book Reflection


Engaging Students through Social Media explores the use of social media in education from the point of view of student affairs professionals. It uses data to address the many assumptions that people make about social media. There are a couple of major themes throughout the book, but the ones that spoke the most to me include the importance of keeping an open mind, choosing platforms that are appropriate and meeting students where they are.

It is tempting to incorporate social media into education, whether through campus wide outreach or in the classroom, for the sake of using it. However, the latest and greatest new app may not be appropriate for the intended outcome. “Temper your excitement about new technologies, and don’t let it get in the way of appropriate evaluations – it is important to learn both about what works and what doesn’t” (Junco 2014, p. 296). Different technologies have different affordances and choosing the best tool is critical.

Whether we like it or not, students are using social media. It is a big part of their lives and we need to acknowledge that. Using tools and platforms that they already engage with outside of the classroom can encourage student  engagement. Junco notes that “social media can be leveraged to meet students where they are and to bring them along to where we want them to be” (p 297). I look forward to finding new and innovative ways to utilize social media when designing online courses.

Junco, R. (2014). Engaging students through social media. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. ISBN-13: 978-1118647455  ISBN-10: 1118647459.

open ds106

The open ds106 course is an experiment in participatory learning focusing on digital storytelling. I’ve been looking into the open course option as there is no start/end dates. It gives participants the freedom to do as much or as little as they want while still being part of an online learning community. There are daily prompts on Twitter as well as assignments posted on the website.  Here is my response to the prompt

#tdc1781 Make a panorama photo of two photos from different places


The road to Deming + White Sands

Pokemon GO VOTE!

I voted!
I voted!

One of the projects that Echo and I have been (slowly) working on is a Findery map of pokestops for Pokemon Go. Whenever we are out and about, if he finds one I take his picture in front of it and we add it to our map. Today, he was very happy to vote since Branigan Library is also a pokestop.

Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain!

Social Media Book Reflection #3

The third portion of Engaging Students through Social Media (Junco 2014) deals with the use of social media in both informal and formal learning.

Informal learning is “learning that happens through processes and in context not related to teaching, training, or research in educational institutions” (p. 129). The benefits of social media usage include formation of a social identity, learning cultural norms, participating in social interactions and building networking skills. Students use social media to interact with each other and navigate their new environments. Student affairs professionals can utilize these platforms to support positive interactions between students and model appropriate online behavior. One example of the use of social media is for universities to use Twitter to post information about job postings or volunteer opportunities. Another example was the inclusion of a hashtag in acceptance letters from Elizabethtown College to encourage new students to post photos of themselves on social media. This ‘Share Your Acceptance’ campaign was very successful, with 7% of the incoming class participating. Incoming students were able to build a sense of community and reinforce school pride before starting school.

Formal learning, on the other hand, is learning that takes place in the classroom or as part of course requirements. As more and more classes are including online components, it makes sense to use social media as a supplement to course discussions. Many students form study groups outside of the formal class setting to discuss course content or share resources. Incorporating this affordance into course design increases student engagement. However, it is important to note that (as pointed out in previous reflections) how the social media tool is used is more important that the fact that it is available. For example, Junco (2014) found that Twitter was only a significant factor in increasing engagement and performance when its use was required by instructors and it was an integral part of the course.

It is clear that social media can be useful in increasing student engagement and academic performance, but educators must be deliberate about how they incorporate it into their classes. Rather than just including social media for the sake of being ‘cool’, we should map out expectations in a concrete plan, matching learning objectives to appropriate tools. After implementation, we should assess the outcomes and adjust accordingly.


Junco, R. (2014). Engaging students through social media. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. ISBN-13: 978-1118647455  ISBN-10: 1118647459.

like mother, like daughter

Butterfly is her father’s daughter. She looks like him, walks like him. She got his athletic ability and outgoing personality. She is a leader, just like her dad. I have to admit, sometimes I feel a little left out. I was so happy when, this semester, she decided to take photography. I rarely have the time to take pictures like I used to, but I still love it. It makes me happy to see my kids with a camera in their hands.


Selfies: Butterfly, 2016 and me, 2012


Bleu, with light at night: by Butterfly, 2016 and by me, 2008


Social Media Book Reflection #2

The second portion of Engaging Students through Social Media (Junco 2014) covers the current research on social media in education and its role in establishing student identity.

There have been numerous studies linking social media (Facebook) to lower grades, but Junco cautions that this research needs to be analyzed critically. It is easy for the media to misrepresent findings based on faulty research design or comments/conclusions made by researchers. One of the most common mistakes is to assume a causal relationship based on positive correlations between social media use and grades.  It is impossible to tell direction of causation (if it exists) or if the correlation is due to another variable not included in the study.

What has been shown, through multiple studies, is that how social media sites are used is much more predictive of student engagement and/or academic performance than whether or not students use them.  This makes it even more important that educators use evidence based strategies when implementing the use of social media to ensure that they are incorporating these tools effectively.

One key benefit of the use of social media involves identity development. Students, especially incoming freshmen, use social media to maintain high school relationships and develop new relationships on campus. This helps them to build social capital – “the psychological and physical benefits gained through connections with friends” (p. 108). Social media also provides a safe place for young people to explore various facets of their identity that they may not be able to express offline, such as gender, sexual orientation, race or culture.

One of the most important takeaways from this portion of the book was Junco’s distinction between the adult normative perspective and the youth normative perspective.  The adult normative perspective is based on adult experience with a somewhat narrow and negative view of social media The youth normative perspective is based on the youth experience and is more inquisitive and balanced (p. 96). When dealing with students, it is critical that we meet them where they are and be empathetic to their experience and point of view.


Junco, R. (2014). Engaging students through social media. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. ISBN-13: 978-1118647455  ISBN-10: 1118647459.