Live Blog: Online Identity Workshop

Meagan Kittle Autry here: I’m live-blogging the second professional development workshop of the fall semester for CRDM, “Maintaining Your Online Identity.” Special thanks to CRDM faculty member David Rieder and CRDM-affiliated faculty member Brad Mehlenbacher for sharing their insights and websites with us today.

David starts by indicating he has a static website for a reason: that maintaining a dynamic site requiring constant updating can be quite time consuming. Message: use your time wisely.

Brad features a new page he created his website about online identity management for academics. He offers that the website has come to serve as his vita and/or portfolio. It’s a fairly comprehensive record of his work as an academic.

Dave shows his website and offers several ideas: 1) He maintains a simple, static site to keep it manageable; 2) He used an open-source template; 3) He codes by hand (hey, another old schooler like me!). He emphasizes that for those in the humanities, “flashy” isn’t a standard, and that sites should be usable on a variety of platforms and possibly printable. He also recommends using a hit tracker to identify your audience (he has used Reinvigorate; Brad, ClustrMap) and to better tailor your materials based on where your hits are and the heat map information that is generated.

Brad emphasizes not having a personal section on a website when you’re on the job market – and Dave heartily agrees – to avoid inviting unwanted biases about you as a candidate. Post-job market, Dave offers that the amount of personal information you include on a website depends on how comfortable you are with doing so, but that it’s certainly not necessary.

Brad also uses his site as a resource for teaching, giving talks, etc. He aggregates information as he comes across it and can easily use for his own preparation or to give to students.

Dave remarks that our websites should be a key marketing tool for us on the job market, and we should see it as an opportunity to self-market and become more visible. Search committee members may not all be on Twitter or Academia.edu, but they will certainly Google you – so control the material that appears when they find your site.

Wendi asks a question: “To what extent should your website replicate your CV?” Dave warns: the more information you put out there, the more you offer yourself to be critiqued on, so select the information you put online carefully. Put out enough to support the ethos you present for yourself in your job applications.

Dave and Brad both recommend including brief descriptions of the teaching experience you’ve had: titles of courses, semester taught, and a brief blurb (potentially the catalog description, if it’s not too clunky).

We end with a discussion of really putting yourself out there vs. displaying limited information about yourself, such as only your most recent work. Some academics have earned great recognition based on their open web presence (Cheryl Ball, for instance) and that this is something that each of us will have to negotiate individually as we decide what kinds of jobs we’ll be applying for.

Of course, the workshop was further reaching and with more of the nitty-gritty details than I’ve offered here. We had a great time with lively discussion – come to the next workshops in the spring to be a part of the conversation!

~ Meagan

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