The Millionaire-Billionaire Rule

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I honestly have no idea whether that meme above is accurate, but truthfully I don’t really care. The reality is that economic inequality in this country is at an all-time high, and that is not a good thing!

I realize many are still coming to terms with the idea or reality of a Trump Presidency but I would actually be pleased if he follows through on his promise NOT to take the $400,000 Presidential salary.  Trump will join only two other Presidents who have NOT taken a salary while in office, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover, if he keeps his promise. This got me thinking about income inequality and the salaries of our elected officials. According to a brief report from the Congressional Research Service, the average salary for elected representatives is around $170,000 a year, and we know they all get some pretty amazing benefits…like a members-only gym and amazing health insurance. But what I think is more important is, what is the net worth of these individuals when they take office. Trump, for example, is reported to be a Billionaire, and by some estimates more than half of Congress are millionaires!!!

Do millionaires and billionaires working for the public good really need to take a government salary or could that money be spent elsewhere?

I personally think it could be used more effectively somewhere else!

To that end I created a petition on We The People, the government website for petitions, to see if we might make a change in regards to the ultra wealthy elected officials. Specifically, I think that anyone who is an elected official or appointed to a Cabinet position AND is worth more than a million dollars should not take the government salary. Instead, that money should be diverted to Education, Health and Human Services, or the Veteran’s Administration. These are critical areas that always seem to be the first on the budget chopping block and perhaps we could help save by spending money where it matters the most. If you think this is a valuable idea then I encourage you to sign and share the petition. Share it with your networks on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever you hang out online. Let’s see what kind of change we can make.

Here’s the link to the petition: https://wh.gov/ieMAH

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Civility (or the lack thereof) and New Media Literacies in the 21st Century

I often write on this blog about New Media Literacies, Social Media, Education, and a pretty wide array of other topics related to my interests. Today, post-2016 Election, I am struggling with the results.

Honestscreen-shot-2016-11-09-at-11-19-32-amly, I never believed that this great country I live in could elect a person so clearly unfit to be President! To be fair, I was not super interested in the prospect of another Clinton Presidency either after learning what happened to Bernie Sanders by the DNC. I think the whole thing is indicative of a larger problem that impacts both parties. A problem that is now getting glossed over by the “Let’s get behind our President” talk. This talk is fine to have and it is important for civil society but we have to at least acknowledge how corrupt the system is and that it needs changing. Before one goes on to assume or think that, Yes the system needs change and that is precisely why Trump needed to be elected, let’s examine some of how we got here, or at least follow along and see what I think has contributed to this outcome. It doesn’t matter what side of the political continuum you are on because this really isn’t meant to be a political post. I have decided to move on.

Regular readers and those that know my work understand my deep interests and belief in social media, but they also know that it is more than that. It is about new media literacies and participatory culture. You can search my blog for more on these concepts but suffice it to say that Participatory Culture has dramatically expanded because of the Internet. Some may say Social Media is to blame for the election results…They are not wrong. Some will say the mainstream media is to blame…They are not wrong. But what I am interested in understanding at this point in time is that we had very high hopes for the Internet and how it might contribute to new ways of learning, connection, and opportunity. In large part, we have seen those positive outcomes and we have also seen examples of the dark side. I posted a Quote from Media & Communications scholar Marshall McLuhan up above where he stated, “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.”

There is some disagreement about what this phrase actually means but I feel it is particularly important in the current context of today’s results. To say social media has not played a major role in the election is simply wrong. Even looking back to 2008 we can see how it has transformed the electoral process. But my point is that social media is not necessarily to blame because it is simply a tool. A tool that we have collectively shaped, which now shapes us. We as a nation may have succumbed to the effects of too much reliance on social media, alternative news, or other information sources rather than sitting back and thinking critically about what we are consuming. Henry Jenkins explains that Participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, where strong support exists for sharing one’s creations, there is some type of informal mentorship taking place where knowledge is being passed along from experienced to novices. A Participatory Culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another. Participatory Culture is a culture that shifts the focus of literacy from one of individual expression to one of community involvement.

I think we have missed a few things in our current election cycle based on this definition of Participatory Culture that could contribute to increasing our own Media Literacies or our ability to think critically about the media content we consume and share. We missed opportunities for making a deeper connection, for dialoguing in a civil manner, for keeping our minds open to learning new things, for the possibility of more. We need to do better at learning critical thinking skills, analyzing information online and judging its credibility or usefulness, and we need to be kind when we disagree.

It is interesting because about 7 years ago an anthropologist named Mike Wesch from Kansas State University gave a talk at the Personal Democracy Forum on some of these ideas. What struck me the most back then and also rings true today is his idea of Connection without Constraint and the cultural tension that I see happening online, primarily on Facebook. Dr. Wesch describes this cultural tension as being the fact that we as a culture express individualism but want community, express independence but seek out relationships, and express commercialization but value authenticity. So in the middle of all this is that idea of connection and we all want connection, clearly, if this was not the case then social media would cease to exist. However, we see connection as inherently constraining. It takes time to have meaningful conversations, so why not just tweet? It is discomforting when I disagree with someone in person, but online the anonymity of the internet prevents one from facing that emotion.  Wesch goes on to explain, much like McLuhan, that media mediate relationships and when media changes, relationships also change.  You can see Dr. Wesch discuss this more with some great and humorous examples in the video below.

Do not misunderstand that I am simply blaming social media for the outcome of the election and a woefully misinformed electorate. I mean I guess I am, but hopefully I am putting some of it into context with the aforementioned discussion of Participatory Culture and Cultural Inversion because this leads me into thinking about the question,

where do we go from here?

I wish the answer were simple but that would be disingenuous. I do think the answer still involves social media, because what kind of social media researcher would I be if it didn’t, right? We can still rely on social media for our news but we really owe it to ourselves to do better in developing media literacy and knowing that just because we have discussions through screens that we should not be so narcissistic to believe that we MUST be right or that the other person is simply an idiot. We don’t have enough information to fully understand their logic nor do they have enough to understand ours. It’s kind of like fighting with your partner via text message. You have to know that it doesn’t matter what kind of emoji you use, the other person is likely not going to understand your implied sarcasm or other messages you are trying to convey. Instead, give them a call or better yet try to have a meaningful discussion in person.

We need to understand the difference between opinion and journalism.

We need to be comfortable in agreeing to disagree.

We need to better understand the issues and possible outcomes as they apply to our lives but more importantly to our communities. You have to live in the community after all.

We need to become comfortable in rooting out social and economic injustices online and off.

All of this, at least to me, relates to the idea of increasing our media literacies. We can contribute to the Participatory Culture of social media and we can do it in a fun, meaningful, and civil way. We can encourage young people to learn from others that have the kind of knowledge that will help us become more than what we are now. We can learn from our mistakes and know when it is time to turn off and re-center ourselves in a way that allows us to contribute to a culture of hope rather than fear. We already have the tools, but we as the public need to take them back and use them in positive ways. Civility in the 21st century still requires authenticity, accountability, and in some sense transparency. We should not let algorithms and monied interests dictate the narrative or co-opt it in a way that only benefits them. I am re-committing myself to work harder with educating my students about media literacies and how they impact all facets of life and I hope many others will do the same.

 

#APM16 Council on Social Work Education Annual Conference

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-2-51-53-pmLater this week I am headed to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in the 2016 Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education.  I have attended this meeting every year for the past 6 years and I still get excited to go, mainly to see old friends and meet new colleagues. This year I am continuing my work by presenting the ideas of Student Engagement in Online Education and Digital Literacies. I have previously participated in a panel at other APM’s and I have written about Student Engagement on this blog here. I am also presenting on Digital Literacies, a project I created an entire course around when I worked at my previous institution and I am still analyzing data from. I presented a variant of what I am doing at APM this year at another conference and also wrote about that here.  I will be tweeting lots from the conference so feel free to connect with me via Twitter, but I hope to see you there in Atlanta. Travel safe!

Social Media & Nonprofit Human Service Organizations

imgresIf any of you have followed this blog for a number of years you may recall that I completed my dissertation on this topic. You can read those posts here and here. That study was really focused on human service organizations in the Richmond, Virginia metro area and I had a good response rate. Now I am looking to get more of a national sample to along with looking at some of those similar organizations in RVA in a follow up study that has been approved by the IRB at CSUSM. If you are/work in a nonprofit human service organization and are involved in the use of social media, I invite you to take this survey. I will report out some of the results here, which of course will be anonymous. I am hoping for some good participation once again so feel free to pass along my link and thank you in advance.

http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3128725/Nonprofit-Human-Service-Organization-s-use-of-Social-Media-nw

 

Special Issue Journal of Nonprofit Education & Leadership

imgresHello everyone,

Just a really quick post to talk about the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership. This peer reviewed journal focuses on the latest knowledge related to nonprofit education and leadership to help develop theory and practice. Last year at the ARNOVA Conference I gave a presentation on my work around digital literacies and was asked by the journal editor if I would be interested in guest editing a special issue on the topic of technology (broadly speaking) in nonprofit education. I was absolutely interested and I am now excited to share the call for papers is going out. See below:
A special issue of the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership planned for the fall of 2017 that will explore the changing role of digital media and technology in nonprofit education. The main question this issue seeks to answer is how are scholars and educators using digital media to train and prepare the next generation of nonprofit professionals? We are interested in a broad array of articles; for example, articles that examine the use of online, hybrid, or distance education methods. We are also interested in articles that have evaluated those formats and seek to provide new strategies for the changing landscape of higher education. We are interested in ways that educators are incorporating innovative techniques in their courses to ethically and effectively impact nonprofit education.

Please review the Author Guidelines below. Manuscript submissions can be performed online at http://js.sagamorepub.com/index.php/jnel/about/submissions#authorGuidelines.

Submissions should take place on or before March 28th, 2017 to help facilitate a timely peer review and publication process.

The link below should also open a PDF copy of the Special Call along with some Author Guidelines. Feel free to contact me with any questions as well.

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Please distribute this Call among your networks and share with any colleagues who are working in this area. I am hoping for a good response🙂

To be certain that we or I am open to many different types of manuscripts, I hope people understand that there are many different disciplines involved in educating nonprofit professionals. Human services like social work, public administration, nonprofit studies, business, and others often have some sort of involvement in the nonprofit sector or provide some education to students who will likely end up working in a nonprofit. If you are teaching a course or conducting research in relation to technology and preparing students for nonprofit work, please consider submitting a manuscript.

Thanks,

Jimmy A. Young, PhD, MSW, MPA

My Philosophy of Teaching… I think?!?

Media LiteracyIt’s a new semester and new academic year. I can’t believe this is now my second semester at CSUSM and that I have effectively been teaching for over 5 years. I like to think I have learned a lot about teaching, learning, and education in that time but I think the more I have learned the more I understand how much i DON’T know or just when I think I have an assignment figured out, something changes requiring me to adapt and change with it. Some of my friends think that as a professor I spend most of my time sitting around doing nothing. HA! Little do they know about the hours of planning and adjusting assignments and policies to ensure that I am meeting certain learning outcomes. I get it, that sometimes it seems like things I do (or educators in general) don’t make sense. In reality, you have to remember the big picture and understand that much of learning is a process and that things do build upon each other.

To that end I have been thinking about my own philosophy of teaching. I actually wrote a blog post about this as a doc student many years ago if you are interested you can read it here. Essentially, my philosophy of teaching tends to be student-centered. I realize that students bring a lot of knowledge and experience into the classroom. The challenge I have is getting students to recognize that they have something to bring and they can make such a meaningful contribution to our learning if they share. Along with knowledge and skills the students bring, I have realized they also bring anxiety or trepidation about sharing and being shut down. I understand that students need to feel comfortable (something that the University of Chicago just negated so to speak) before they can share. I try to empathize with students and let them know that my classroom is a safe space and I try to make it so that they can share. But I realize that the message does not always come through. I hope to keep on trying to communicate this as I move forward.

Being student-centered to me is about making students comfortable but also understanding that it can be challenging to wrestle with tough topics like racism and oppression or statistics. What I try to do is set students up to feel empowered to take on those challenges in a way that they know they can try, even if they fail or get a B-…But at least they can understand they are learning. For me it is about thinking critically and valuing the process of learning, respecting one’s peers, and keeping an open mind. I tend to use digital media in my classes because of my research interests but lately I question the use of those mediums as students appear to be overly distracted. I know that my teaching philosophy is going to change and it will continually change over the course of my career but I hope students will always know they can come to me if they have questions. That connection is important and feeling empowered is critically important to the learning process.

So for this new semester I do plan to try a couple of new things both using and not using technology. If I have any students reading this blog I hope they will understand that I may not have all the answers but at least I can help them find what they are looking for and to do so in a way that helps to transform the way they look at education and interacting with people. Best of luck to everyone with the new semester and if you have any good ideas, tips or tricks. Please consider sharing.

Thanks!

End of the Semester Reflections, Spring 2016

My students sometimes give me the roll-eyed look when I talk about our profession being one of self-reflection. I know it’s true and I am confident that you can find many programs across the country that also have some sort of reflection-based assignment in one of their courses. Self-reflection is critical to the learning process. There is even a great journal focused solely on this subject called Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping. Full disclosure, I have a recent publication in this journal🙂  To this end I thought I would reflect a bit on the second semester of my first year at Cal State San Marcos.

This semester has been full of working with students on their culminating experience, which is either a capstone project or Thesis. I had the opportunity to chair several projects and be part of others. These projects focused on veterans, homelessness, and social media in clinical social work practice. I’m sure the students might share a different perspective, but I enjoyed the opportunity to work with them. It was challenging at times and yes I am exhausted but that could be due to the fact that I haven’t read that much paper since my dissertation phase.  These projects turned out rather well and gave me a renewed sense to pursue some avenues of research I was becoming dis-interested in. For example, one group focused on developing an advocacy campaign around homelessness. See the trailer below. I was truly amazed at how well this project turned out and extremely pleased with the learning demonstrated by these, and all students.

 

 

Another example of some great student learning through reflection happened in my macro practice course. I employ a critical thinking presentation assignment and pretty much leave it open to the students to create a presentation that demonstrates their learning as it applies to one or more of the course learning objectives. These objectives are also tied to the learning competencies set forth by CSWE. Students did an amazing job this semester thinking critically and reflecting on their learning. I use twitter in this class and I had students create presentations that used some of the twitter assignment that they completed in class.  One particularly creative use of this was developing a word cloud of the course hashtag from the semester’s tweets and talking about how it related to their learning.

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If you are interested in creating word clouds you can use a number of different web-based platforms such as http://www.wordle.net/ or applications like TweetRoot. I really like the word clouds because they also represent a form of data visualization where the larger words represent the number of times those words were used. It is reassuring to see my students tweeting messages, links, and other content related to community, awareness, and change. These are things that definitely make up Macro Social Work practice.

I can honestly say this semester has been fun and challenging. I thoroughly enjoy teaching students about macro social work and positive social change. I am looking forward to teaching research this summer and to my other class in the fall. But I’m wondering what you do to help students reflect, be mindful, and engage in otherwise formative learning activities?  Maybe you, as a student, have participated in a learning activity that was especially meaningful. I hope that you will leave a comment and let me know so I can think about using my class the next time🙂

Remember the Good in Social Media!

Anyone who knows me, my work, or frequents this blog will recognize that I enjoy social media. Well, most of the time anyways. There are days, weeks, and sometimes even months where I want to close all my many accounts and throw away my iPad or turn of my iPhone. Then something great happens. Something amazing goes viral or comes to me through those very social media channels that I sometimes loathe. November 13th, 2013 was actually one of those days. A day like most others where I opened up Twitter to get some of my daily news and discovered my feed was being overrun with the hashtag #SFBatkid. If you are a regular Twitter user than you know exactly what I’m talking about, how could you not, as that day Batkid was everything.

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The Make A Wish Foundation of the Greater Bay worked with some amazing volunteers to make the wish of one 5-year old boy come true as San Francisco was turned into Gotham City for a day. This event TOOK OVER social media for the day and reminded me then, as it does now, to remember the good in social media. Often times I think social media gets a bad rap and yes there is some complete garbage online, but I like to look to the positive aspects of this participatory culture and be hopeful that these tools can change the world for good. Batkid is one example of just how that happens. Now, there is a documentary available on Netflix (at least that’s where I watched it) that chronicles this story. Check out the trailer below and then go watch the movie. You will not be dissapointed.

 

I took so much away from the movie and it did remind me of that day back in 2013. I was fortunate enough to be teaching a class on the use of social media and I pretty much scrapped the lesson for that day so we could join in on social media. Students were amazed at the magnitude of the event and how many people got involved not only on social media but in person on the day of the event. It was something truly special. I actually liked that people joined in and created signs that read we love batkid or save us batkid. The end of the documentary shared a very important point. That although people may have thought it was fun to join in on this viral moment, the reality is that Batkid really did save us. He saved us by remembering what it’s like want to be a superhero, to let go and have fun, and to just be a kid. he saved us by helping the world to gather together in San Francisco and through social media. For one day everyone was a little nicer, more polite, friendly, and giving. This to me, is the power of social media. The power to bring people together, to rally around a cause, and to ultimately change the world.199zvq8v6wpdkjpg

#BPDTX16 Annual Conference for Baccalaureate Program Directors

The annual conference for the Baccalaureate Program Directors is taking place this week in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately I am not able to attend because I maxed out on my allotment of conferences for this academic year but I wanted to call your attention to the conference hashtag #BPDTX16 on Twitter because you can follow the conference and get some great updates from various social work educators, students, and practitioners who are in attendance.
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 This conference is really geared towards social work education at the undergraduate level but still features some great research presentations and teaching workshops. One such workshop I was meant to be apart of was put on by Stephen Baldridge of Abilene Christian University and Laurel Hitchcock of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The workshop was titled “Social Media Technology Basics for the Social Work Educator” and featured some great content related to using social media in social work education. Dr. Hitchcock wrote a great blog post about the presentation, which also included the presentation abstract. The three of us regularly use social media in our classes and have found it to be useful to students. Be sure to go check out that blog post and if you have questions, you can always leave me a comment or reply to me on Twitter.

Motivation

-motivationI have to admit, sometimes I don’t love what I do and recently I have been thinking about how to change my perspective. I have looked at many different motivational quotes, ideas, etc. and I decided to post this image of the late Steve Jobs because I both disagree and agree with it at the same time. I think it’s easy to disagree with when you don’t love what you do and to agree when you do love what you do. The challenge is managing the in between and getting yourself back to loving what you do. It’s in that spirit that I am going to be pushing myself to do something different and to share that process here. It’s a process that I hope to be successful with but time will tell. The first of several goals I have is to update this blog regularly. I am going to start with once a month posts related to the topics I generally have written on in the past but also hope to integrate a few other things as I try to increase my level of writing activity. I have tried this once before, writing that I will update more regularly, only to fail! What is changing this time? I don’t really know, other than I want to love writing again. So I hope you, whomever you are, don’t mind as I start on this journey. If you feel so inclined. Please comment or share your own insights as well.

Thanks,

Jimmy

 

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