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Staff Gigs, Intellectual Life, and Social Media
December 8, 2011 - 8:10pm

Raise your hand if you are not on the tenure track, but long for the space and time to think, write, reflect, and create? I know that faculty do many many things beyond research and writing, (teaching, advising, service, etc.),  but it is almost exclusively faculty who get to conduct research and publish results. And to be honest, I'm a little bit jealous.

The desire for an intellectual life outside of the tenure track is one of the reasons why I'm such a believer in the power of social media.  

The drive to create and share, to make connections and build community, can be somewhat satisfied by social media platforms.  

A blog post, or comment or tweet, is not a substitute or replacement for a journal article or book chapter. Peer review remains an essential component of knowledge creation. But an article submission to a peer reviewed journal requires an enormous undertaking in energy and time. And our work as staff members is not analogous to the faculty research that underlies the creation of knowledge and the sharing of findings and ideas. 

Social media provide an outlet and a community for scholarly thinking, if not scholarly methods.  We might not be creating new knowledge in an academic sense, but we are creating.

Fellow staff members, we want to hear about your academic life! We want to hear about your work, your challenges, and your opinions on the future of higher ed.

A question for the untenured amongst us: 

Do you feel encouraged and supported to participate in social media? 

  • Do you worry that you will say something that will make powerful people at your institution upset, and perhaps threaten your job status?  
  • Does not having the protections of tenure alter how you participate in online discussions and debates?  
  • Have you received any training about best practices participating in social media?  
  • Do you think that participating in social media communities improves your productivity and satisfaction?

My hope is that my staff colleagues find online communities in their disciplines and specialties that they can join and make contributions. Find your network to share with in tweets, comments, and blog posts. Connecting with people outside of your institution via social media will pay dividends for both your institution and your career.  

Creating, sharing and critiquing ideas should not be limited to our tenure track faculty colleagues.  The world of ideas should be one that all of us can participate.  Social media lowers the barriers and costs for this participation.   

Where can we find your academic voice online?


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