Engaging Your PLN

The scope of social media is what makes it a distinct tool—you can reach someone who lives in the same town as you, or someone who lives on the other side of the world. It must be studied because it affects our everyday life, and how we communicate with the people around us. I think this course has really highlighted that; in talking about PLNs and the course curriculum, I also started to consider this course, how it is delivered, and how we communicated throughout it. Not only is social media an avenue for us to communicate our personal lives, but institutions such as universities are using it to make education more accessible and, in many ways, more diverse. While Mattermost, or Zoom, are perhaps not social medias that we use in our personal lives, it is a part of the web that we are all now residents on because we used it for this course. Being introduced to new tools, specifically Mattermost for me, is so beneficially for individuals developing their PLN’s or just trying to network; understanding how these platforms work and how to reach people is so important for our careers now that world is becoming more and more tech based. Whether we will use Microsoft teams, Facebook, Instagram, Zoom, or any other avenue for communicating in our careers, the premise is the same; online connection is the way of the future. We will meet people online that we may never meet in person but could have a large impact in our lives. For example, we got to hear interviews with Brad Baker and Sophie Lui, people we will most likely never meet but through an avenue like Youtube, or if we searched them up on Twitter, we get to hear some of their discourse and potentially join in the conversation.

In our reading this week, this sentence stuck out to me “Certainly, the elements that have dramatically altered the way society and economy work are of a technological nature, in particular, the speedy development of information and communication technology” (Giudice, 2014). Social media is ever changing and developing, and if we look at the recent years of technological advancement, we can only imagine what will happen in the future with ICT. This is what makes this kind of communication so exciting; there are endless opportunities to expand and diversify your PLN, and for individuals entering their careers, it is a great way to network. Also explained the article, is the vast change between the mass media being a product of sender-receiver information, and now the communication is between the individuals (Giudice, 2014). Smaller, marginalized voices have a platform where they can share their opinions, beliefs, and thoughts. Brad Baker pointed out how useful Twitter is for Indigenous leaders to share their truth with the public, showing the complexities of Indigenous cultures (Miller, 2021). It gives everyone a platform; for themselves, and their career. Brad Baker can reach a wide audience, but also focus on the people who he needs to the most on platforms like Twitter; he advocates for Indigenous education, directing it toward people who can make change but also getting the public in on the discourse in order to make that change happen. Hashtags goes viral, as Markiel Simpson reminds us, that he uses to advocate for African American rights (Miller, 2021). There are so many ways to reach the public, and to network, on social media.

These are my main takeaways from this course. I felt as though in the group project, we were demonstrating all of these ideas and also working on our own PLN’s, which is exciting. Hope everyone has a great rest of their summer, and if they ever need a hand with projects, want to have discourse about the content, reach out! Would love to chat with you all.

Thanks again everyone!

— Sarah 😃

Miller. (2021). Brad Baker EDCI 338. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5z8iHxW2n4&feature=youtu.be

Miller, J. [MILLER]. (2021, June 1). EDCI – 338 Markiel Simpson [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsoDHGaXNNs

Manlio Del Giudice, 2014. “From Information Society to Network Society: The Challenge,” SpringerBriefs in Business, in: Social Media and Emerging Economies, edition 127, chapter 5, pages 71-88, Springer.

PLN & Education

“What we see on Social Media through our Indigenous Leaders is the authentic voice, and it allows the real story to be told.” – Brad Baker (Miller, 2021).

Brad Baker is an example of a long time educator who saw a need for Indigenous education and took action. He is has taken the newly created role of executive director Indigenous Education for SD44 in British Columbia as of Dec. 1st 2021, and his top priority is bringing an Indigenous perspective into the classroom (Seyd, 2021). It is evident that he sees social media as a helpful tool in spreading knowledge and perspective. In order to make strides towards reconciliation, and fully understand what that means, the Indigenous community and all other communities can use social media as a way of spreading that knowledge. Social media platforms, like Twitter, have a certain the strength of allowing several stories and perspectives to be put out there for the public to read. The complexity of Indigenous nations is spread this way, which is an important step towards reconciliation, as Baker mentions that people can see Indigenous people as “simple” when in reality, these stories bring to light the diverse culture and complexity that exists in Indigenous communities and cultures (Miller, 2021).

Being vulnerable, open and honest is necessary for change to happen, especially in the school districts. Baker mentions how social media has a big role in this, as online learning and networking is moving more on more online (Miller, 2021). It seems as though Twitter is a great place for this to happen; as threads of important conversations can happen on that platform, conversations can sometimes be uncomfortable but allows for many perspectives to be heard and shown.

Miller. (2021). Brad Baker EDCI 338. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5z8iHxW2n4&feature=youtu.be

Jane Seyd. (2021). North Van district principal to take on provincial role in Indigenous education. North Shore News. https://www.nsnews.com/local-news/north-van-district-principal-to-take-on-provincial-role-in-indigenous-education-4800556

Media Literacy

Any individual in the public eye is subject to scrutiny; take Sophie Lui for example, who has been a highly respected News Anchor at Global BC but received a comb in the mail from a hateful viewer because she had “spikey hair” that they didn’t like it (Miller, 2022). Public audiences will always be critical, whether it is about the subject matter, the way it’s presented, or who is presenting it. There are obvious risks for someone like Lui, who has witnessed and experienced many instances of judgement and harassment in her field, whether that be in person or online. However, her public platform has allowed for positive reinforcement in many ways; for example, she mentions how she has often stood up for others in her field who receive hateful messages or criticism that is just hateful judgement—particularly women, who’s voices are continually being amplified in the journalism industry (Miller, 2021).

Social media helps individuals like Sophie Lui in their careers; it provides yet another platform to share ideas, networks, and gain knowledge about the world around us (especially helpful when you’re a journalist). However, it also provides another avenue for harassment, which Lui mentions can be difficult, especially when you share some of your personal life online. Personal can be anything from what you’re eating for dinner, to what article you read and how you think about it, or maybe something about your political views. When an individual broadcasts their life online and has a large amount of people following them, they will always receive scrutiny, and when they are a working professional, how they deal with that is important for their success.

Lui mentions how she never blocks anyone because she “doesn’t want to give them the satisfaction,” but I also wonder if this is a strategic career move on her part. Alienating online users because they have said something hateful, while it ideally wouldn’t be tolerated, might not be beneficial to working professionals. Allowing for all points of view to be shared on your profile is important for success—why would you follow someone who in the public eye who does not receive any hate? You wouldn’t—because they don’t exist and their entire online presence would seem one-sided and unrealistic. It is much like an educator like Julie Smith reading both a conservative and liberal magazine to avoid bias. As an media literacy educator, Smith recognizes her responsibility to understand both opinions to better inform her own and relay her unbiased teachings to her students. As a public figure, Lui must allow for the opposing opinion (even though it is sometimes hateful) to be shared because she cannot appear to be one sided to her audience. Or perhaps it’s a stretch and Lui really doesn’t want to block users for their own satisfaction (or maybe a bit of both). Either way, dealing with online criticism can be a difficult thing to navigate, however, I believe Lui’s tactics are logical (and have worked for her so far).

Open dialogues about media literacy can be difficult because as constant media receivers, our society can accept almost anything as “true” and seek out the sources that tell us we are right. Smith talks about not wanting to appear “bamboozled” which I thought was an interesting and oddly articulate way to describe how media can often make us feel and appear (Miller, 2021). Without looking at both sides of an argument, like Smith does with her two magazine descriptions, we are only receiving one viewpoint, and often it is the one we want to hear. So having an open dialogue about media literacy is difficult because most people are illiterate when it comes to the media they don’t want to see or the one that opposes their own opinion. Factual information can be manipulated into information that is true to us because of how we receive it, but it does not mean it is inherently true. Being media literate and identifying where your information is coming from, who is making money off it, why it is appearing in your social media feed, is all important when it comes to finding “factual information” (Miller, 2021). I will be the first to admit that I am not very media literate when it comes to gaining factual information—I think I am media literate when it comes to Instagram and TikTok trends, but not about political events or news. Granted, I do not pay as much attention to politics as I should, and therefore my social media is not geared toward those kinds of posts. This is also a great example of an individual seeing what they want to see, which doesn’t necessarily have to mean two different opinions, it could just be not seeing the topic altogether—another interesting point. I am not media literate with politics because I do not seek it out.

Having a PLN that values media literacy is extremely important, especially on social media platforms like Twitter. Without it, fake news and one-sided conversations would flood your feed. I think this also ties back to my previous post about diversity and inclusion; having a diverse set of voices in your PLN can bring different media literate individuals together to create valuable conversations on these platforms. Filtering out untrustworthy sources and posts, or just identifying them, can be much easier if you’re PLN is media literate and can help you do so.

Miller, J. [MILLER]. (2021, June 6). EDCI 338 – MEDIA LITERACY with JULIE SMITH [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57r3-aEnci0

Miller, J. [MILLER].(2022, June 6).Sophie Lui – EDCI 338 [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57r3-aEnci0

Inclusion & Community Engagement

I grew up in a very small town in BC, one that was predominantly white. Inclusion was never stressed in my high school education; in fact, segregation was the norm. Students with disabilities were placed in different classrooms, or different schools altogether. Indigenous students had their own classroom, where the small group of them spent the majority of their time, which I never really understood. In this system, I didn’t think about inclusion because it was lacking altogether. Diversity was not embraced, and differences were not celebrated.

When I started studying at the University in Victoria, it obviously looked much different. I began to realize how important inclusion was as I talked with my peers, who were a much more diverse group of people than I had experienced in my hometown. People of colour, LGBTQ+ members, people with disabilities, all had something different to say than me—all had a drastically different life experience. Especially as a writing student, those differences were prominent and talked about a lot. They were interesting to listen to and learn about. In class, we celebrated those differences. The diversity even within one UVIC classroom was amazing to me, and it was even more amazing that those differences were celebrated.

Thinking about social media in terms of inclusion is interesting, especially as it pertains to our professional identity. We are all experts of our own experience; we may not be an expert in the field we are going into, but our own experience will always be the thing we know the most about. When asked, Markiel Simpson mentions how he didn’t use his post secondary education to do the work he is doing today; he mainly uses his own life experience to be a community advocate and dismantle racism (Miller, 2021). We represent ourselves, typically, on our social media, and when using it for professional purposes, we would presumably try to showcase our skills and expertise. But personal things, like our life experience, that is displayed on social media, is also showcasing our expertise. For example, Markiel mentions how he uses two hashtags prominently, #strongertogether and #togetherwerise. The hashtags represent Markiel’s professional career, but also his personal lived experience, in which he is an expert (Miller, 2021).

Social media is great tool for networking and reaching a large audience, and therefore a very diverse range of people. Sharing language, like hashtags Markiel uses, can carry a message across distances, and reach like minded people, but also people who can help make the change happen. Amplifying leaders voices and interacting with their content will carry the message even further; in Markiel’s case, Twitter helps him reach several politicians who can take action in office (Miller, 2021).

Social media also exposes a diverse range of people to different issues or individuals, in a professional or personal sense. Once I started interacting on social media with more diverse individuals from my classes at UVIC, my feed was flooded with human rights campaigns, students advocating for different causes, or just instances of different cultures as I scroll. Inclusion is much more prominent in my life ever since attending UVIC, and so is my social media as I have followed more diverse individuals. These differences should be celebrated as diversity is beautiful, and inclusion is important.

Miller, J. [MILLER]. (2021, June 1). EDCI – 338 Markiel Simpson [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsoDHGaXNNs

My Resident Map

I never gave much thought to what I put on social media and how exactly that is categorized in life. My personal email, for example is a gmail account that I get spam, emails from friends and other personal things sent to. Whereas my UVIC email, is strictly school and school-related things that are typically more urgent and more “important.” It would be odd to see a spam fashion email on my UVIC account, and odd to see my professor emailing me on my gmail. Something I had never thought before, it just how I have decided to organize my email; an institutional one and a resident one.

It seems as though we subconsciously organize certain aspects of our social media. For example, I post more content about my day to day life on instagram than I do on Facebook, because my grandma and the older generation on Facebook probably don’t care what coffee I am having in the morning, but they do care, however, to see graduation or vacation photos, life updates and more broad details about my life, rather than the day to day. At least this is how I organize my social media, and I know that a lot of people my age (my friends) do the same.

I am a resident on many social media platforms; for example, on Instagram I am connecting or being with other people when I post that picture of my coffee. Therefore I am a resident on this site, as I am engaging in my social presence and representing my self online (White, 2017). I am a visitor on the web when I do not leave any trace of my presence; for example, when I google something I am solely looking for a piece of knowledge, my presence on this part of the internet will not be seen and therefore I am a visitor (White, 2017). My V&R map represents this, and it is interesting to look at this idea of categorization visually because it made me think about how I use the Web and how the visitor and resident sides can blur. For example, I put Netflix on the personal and visitor side of my map because I mainly use Netflix just to watch shows by myself (therefore I’m a visitor) but the odd time I will go onto Netflix party, which is a third party app that allows you to watch a show with someone on a different computer, and watch with my long distance boyfriend. That is a way I can connect with him, so I technically do use it as both a resident and a visitor, because I am also using it to connect with someone.

Here is my resident map. It sums up all the social media avenues I use and how they are categorized into my life.

The Digital Visitor and Resident Continuum White. D. (2017).
V and R Mapping. Retrieved from http://daveowhite.com/vandr/vrmapping/

My Digital Identity & Networking

Social media connects me to the world; on Instagram I see my best friend Jaden living her student life on Vancouver Island, on Facebook I recently bought a sewing machine that is now my new favourite hobby, on Snapchat I receive photos of what my friends are doing in their day to day lives, on TikTok my long-distance boyfriend and I send funny videos to each other that helps keep us connected.

Moving from a student life into a professional one can pose many challenges: what will I do with my career? Where will I live? How much money will I make? How is my social media going to affect all of it? And more importantly—how can I use social media to help me in my career?

Networking is an amazing tool that can happen many ways on social media. I will be graduating from UVIC in December of 2022 with a BFA in Creative Writing and Digital Media. This past year, I was able to work on a short film set for a student film; this experience was amazing and after it, my dreams of pursuing a career in the industry seemed much more tangible than I previously thought. Especially after I posted some of the pictures from the weekend on my Instagram, and a couple of days later I had an interesting direct message.

It was from the great Aunt of one of the girls who worked on set with me—I had tagged her in a picture, and she had tagged me, obviously her Aunt had seen it and gave me a follow. At first, I was confused by the unfamiliar name, but after reading her message I came to discover that she worked for CBC—they had a program running called The Creator Network, which was meant to support emerging filmmakers and storytellers who had interesting stories to tell, with an opportunity to get funding and published. At the time I was swamped with the end of semester homework and the application process seemed daunting, so I didn’t take her up on the opportunity. Nonetheless, I thanked her for reaching out and asked her to continue letting me know about similar opportunities in the future (when I’m not drowning in academic papers).

A great example of how networking can work on social media; I managed to get the interest of someone I didn’t even know because I posted some film pictures of a set I was working on. Wild. Imagine the opportunity if I was intentionally using my social media to network, to create connections in my field of interest.

This is professional networking without the goal of a long-term tie—I didn’t pursue the CBC opportunity at the time, but now that I know more about it, and I have a point of contact within the company, it could really benefit me if I decide to pursue a career or job within that industry. I do not know this person well, it is merely a short texting conversation that was had, but now she might recognize my name, and I will recognize hers, so there is a connection there. Weak ties such as this can play a big role in advancing an individual in their career (Rajagopal et al., 2012).

I now also need to think about what I post on social media. Before this interaction I was using social media as a personal tool to document my life and share it with friends, and now the focus of my Instagram account has changed slightly. Since this conversation via Instagram, I have censored the content I am posting (not that I was posting anything inappropriate before but remaining more professional than I previously had). While it is a personal tool, it is now a professional tool for me as well.

My digital identity, or my presence online and how I interact with and other people on it, represents me on the web. If I showcase who I am on Instagram in a positive, professional light, that could be extremely beneficial to my career; as potential employers look at my profile, they could get a sense of who I am and what I do. And if the opposite were true, that might hurt me as I move into a professional career (Stroller, 2016).

Brinke D., Bruggen J., Rajagopal K., Sloep B., (2012, January 2). Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them. First Monday. https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3559/3131

Stroller, E. [University of Derby]. (2016, Nov 25). Eric Stroller -What is Digital Identity?. [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0RryRbJza0


Hi everyone! My name is Sarah Holman (she/her) and I am a 4th year BFA student at UVIC. I am majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Digital and Interactive Media. My specialization is in screenwriting and I hope to work in the film industry after graduating from UVIC!

A little bit about me: I am from the Okanagan, I live in a tiny little town called Armstrong about an hour away from Kelowna. In the summers, I come home and work at a Cidery, bartending and serving. I love my little hometown but also love spending the school year in Victoria. I spend my spare time sewing, reading, hiking and doing yoga, and also work part time as a caretaker for a seasonal house.

I got the opportunity to work on a short film set this past year, which really inspired me to pursue a career in the industry (and also made me want to graduate ASAP, which is why I am taking some summer courses, including this one). After graduating in December 2022, I plan to look for work in Victoria and Vancouver on film projects of any kind, or might go abroad and work for awhile.

I am really looking forward to spending the summer semester with all of you.


Sarah Holman