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My department’s new media ecosystem

The text below is from an email I sent to the department faculty and to all of the doctoral students in the department (we have a Ph.D. program and an Ed.D. program. Combined, there are probably 100 or so active doctoral students across the two programs).

By copying that text here, I am hereby inviting you all into our ecosystem. That is, I hope you (my 4 loyal readers!) will choose to subscribe to various feeds and comment on various posts as you feel moved to do so.

I hope to see you in some of those spaces.


Greetings Ph.D. and Ed.D. students of the VCU Department of Educational Leadership,

I write to you today to update you on my efforts to create an online learning commons for the Department. My hopes are twofold: (1) That you will come to embrace the “participatory culture” of the modern Web, and (2) that we can start to break down some silos/walls/barriers to collaboration/communication and learn with each other without the constraints of a class, a classroom, class time, etc.

To that end, our online community has a few spaces and I’ve built in some purposeful redundancy¬† across them. So, here’s what we have: – is an “aggregate” blog for and by folks in Learning Community 2 (i.e. those who began coursework in 2011) of the Ed.D. program. That site/blog receives or aggregates feeds from the individual blogs of the 40+ Ed.D. students in LC2. (NOTE for Ph.D. students: those blogs are part of a larger ePortfolio that all Ed.D. students are expected to maintain. – is also an “aggregate” blog, but this site receives/aggregates feeds from the individual blogs of the Ed.D. students who began this past summer (2012) (Ed.D. Learning Community 3). There are 17 blogs feeding into that site.

Whenever any of the Ed.D. students posts to the blog page of their individual ePortfolio, a few things happen “automagically.” First, the post shows up on the master/aggregate blog (either or Second, the new post is announced/broadcasted via the Department’s Twitter account. Third, the posts are fed into the Department’s Facebook group page.

So, how can you engage in this multi-pronged “platform of participation?” Well, there are a number of ways:

1. You can subscribe to either of the master/aggregate blogs by RSS or, more likely, email. Towards the top of the front page of each of the blogs, you’ll see an envelope icon. If you click on that, you can subscribe to be notified of new posts via email. Since I suspect you’re more likely to check email than to regularly go “out” and check the blog(s), the email notification might prompt or move you to go to the blog post to add a comment.

2. You can follow the VCU_EDLP Twitter account with your Twitter account (or just go to the account page to see what’s new). Right now, the Twitter account is being used mostly as a broadcast media that anyone in the world can follow to find out about new blog posts (and maybe, eventually, department information).

3. You can request membership in the Facebook group page and then comment on the posts as they show up there (in addition or as well). I will also, from time to time, post links to ed. leadership-related stories on the Facebook group page. And, as a member, you can start conversations there, too.

I fully recognize that some discussions will get broken up between the blogs and Facebook, but so be it for now. Again, I’m just trying to create learning opportunities in non-traditional ways and spaces and we’ll see what materializes. I can always tweak the ecology to engineer it to the needs of our particular residents.

I really hope to see you all in these spaces.

Yours in online community gardening,


Jonathan D. Becker, J.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership
Virginia Commonwealth University


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