miscellaneous topics

Social media profiles: Best practices for mastering your digital footprint


At the Festival of Learning, I attended Dr. Greg Chan’s sessions:

This was a terrific opportunity to spend a day exploring web visibility in my professional life and planning for changes in my online portfolio. Below are a list of links and random ideas related to the workshop and my learning.

How do I show up?

To check what shows up when I Google myself, open up an incognito window in Chrome and search my name. Any surprises? I was happy to see that what appeared was: my isabeauiqbal.ca site, my CTLT affiliation (I expected this to be lower down), my LinkedIn, Twitter, and then some pictures (mostly me).

Sites: Must have/Good Idea/Maybe

  • According to Greg, the “must join” list is: Twitter, Facebook (just can’t do it), LinkedIn and Google+
    • for research specific: Academia.edu, ORCID and Research Gate (Consider Google Scholar). Greg said ORCiD was especially good for researchers wanting to collaborate and gain greater exposure. The site gives you something like a DOI and also a QR code (which you can make part of your conference presentation)
  • the “strongly consider” joining list is: Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube
  • the “think about” list is: Storify, Litsy

Twitter: Hashtags and Abbreviations to Know about

#Scholar Sunday

ICYMI – (in case you missed it)
FTW (for the win) – sometimes about yourself, but can be of someone else to celebrate their accomplishment
HT (hat tip) – give an accolade to
PRT – please retweet (If you want to make RT stronger, tag people)
TT – throwback Thursday
YOLO – you only live once (i.e. photo of you Skydiving or less dramatic)

Building your Site and Hosting


  • Consider Hootsuite or Buffer to manage posts on social media
  • Gravatar – changes your picture in all your social sites
  • Tweet deck  (visually helpful way to see what you want to see on Twitter)


  • PicMonkey: edit your pictures  
  • Medium.com: cross post from my blog to this site (Thanks for the suggestion @trent_g)
  • Fiverr: Hire people to help with WordPress, photo editing and tons more

For additional perspectives on Greg’s sessions, you can also see:
@fol_media            #socialmediaBCTLC         #FoL16

My Next steps for Social Media Presence

As a result of attending Greg’s workshops, here is what I have committed to:

  • Change the look of my existing isabeauiqbal.ca site to something that looks more like kathleenbortolic.com
  • Build my academia.edu profile (was dormant and I only vaguely remembered I had it)
  • I will further explore and consider ORCID, Vitae and Research Gate.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

Staff Appreciation Cupcakes

I recently read the book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-authored by Gary Chapman, who wrote the “The 5 Love languages” and Paul White). It is a quick read.

The authors of the book write about an approach they call “motivation by appreciation”. They propose that appreciation is a key element to a healthy, positive, and productive workshop. They also suggest that, individually, we have preferences for certain ways of being appreciated. The five categories Chapman and White write about are:

  1. Words of affirmation:  Using words to communicate a positive message to another person. Example: Verbal praise for an accomplishment and/or for character and/or personality.
  2. Quality time: Hiving a person your focussed attention. Example: Setting aside time to connect individually with co-worker to have a quality conversation about an aspect of their work.
  3. Acts of service: Providing assistance and helping out a co-worker. Example: Pitching-in to help a colleague finish a task.
  4. Tangible gifts: Offering a tangible gift/reward to an individual. Example: Giving tickets to a classical music concert to someone who loves classical music.
  5. Physical touch: Having appropriate physical contact with a colleague to show appreciation for their work. Example: High five, fist bump.

I think my preferred languages are: 3 and 1, but I also know #2 is something I value a lot. Perhaps I should  ‘take the test‘? I have asked my co-workers what they think their preferred languages are–I’d like to know to be able to act of it.

Want to know more, but don’t want to read the book? You can read over this slideshare video by Leonard Slutsky.

You may wish to visit the Appreciation at Work website (the “learn” section has short videos and articles).

Photo by Clever Cupcakes. Creative Commons on Flickr.


My “baby” is now a hairy young man


My son turned 14 yesterday. Whenever he has a birthday, I quietly celebrate my motherhood. I also think about Loïc ’s home birth and see him, small and lying on my chest, just moments after he exited the womb. Here he is, I thought. My son.

Yesterday, we celebrated joyfully with a family dinner. With the exception of his younger sister, the same family members were in our home: my spouse, my father, my father’s wife and me. It was a lovely, sunny end of day, just as it had been on June 10, 2001.

I went to bed early, as I always do. Lying on my bed, I looked out the window at the still-blue sky and the light coming through in much the same way it had on the evening of Loïc ’s birth. Fourteen years ago, I was here, my spouse fast asleep and my son a compact warmth touching me. Something about the light through the window and memories and a knowing how quickly childhood and teenage years go by prompted my tears.

I thought of my own mother, who lives in Montreal and how infrequently we see each other. I thought of Loïc and the intensity of the love I feel for both him and his sister. And, before falling asleep, I expressed gratitude for being a mother and all that it has brought me and taught me.


Photo by Motiqua. “Open heart. Catch sunshine”. Creative Commons license from Flickr.

Ways to structure a writing group

writing group
Photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver via Flickr

This week I met with folks who are interested in forming a writing group; many of us did not know each other and we were brought together by the lovely Sara Harris of UBC’s Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

The meeting has prompted me to write about two different writing group structures I have been a part of, in the hopes that the ideas below may help others who are starting a group and/or looking for peer support in their writing.

1. Face to Face Regular Writing Group with Feedback

For a period of approximately four and a half years starting early in my PhD, seven of us from the same cohort decided to support one another in our writing.  Once we agreed that we wanted to have weekly, face-to-face meetings (same day, time and location–for the most part) and that we wanted to get feedback on our written work, here is how we tackled some of the logistics:

Meeting coordinator: This position rotated and relied on one of us volunteering to set up a Google doc for a 2-month period.   The Google doc had weekly dates and a line for “writer/presenter” and another for “reviewer”.

Attendance: We knew that there was no way all of us could make it to all the meetings.  So, in the Google doc listed above, we indicated which meetings we could attend and whether we wanted to be “reviewer” or “writer/presenter” at the meeting.  If less than three people signed up as reviewers, it was up to the writer/presenter to decide whether she still wanted to have a face-to-face meeting or whether she would be happy to receive feedback via email.  She could also decide to sign up for another date when more reviewers would be present.

Writer/Presenter:  Each of us would decide to sign up as a presenter when we knew (or believed) we would have a piece of writing ready.  Writing could be a conference proposal, a section of a paper, an outline, or any other text that might benefit from a critical friend.  The presenter would send out her writing to the attendees a minimum of two days before the meeting. Normally, the presenter would include brief instructions about what she was hoping to get feedback on, specifically (i.e. organization, clarity, flow, argument etc).

Length of work: As a group, we agreed that the maximum length of the text to review was 5 pages.

Feedback: Each reviewer would provide feedback to the writer/presenter.  Some would note their feedback on a hardcopy, others would use track changes, and others would speak their feedback only.

Meeting structure: Our meetings were 1 1/2 hours long. We would do a very quick check-in, and then get right to feedback.  We would go around the table and individually give our feedback to the presenter.  We used “leftover” time to talk about life, including writing, studies, work, parenting etcetera.

Our group started to fizzle once most of us had completed our PhDs. However, while it lasted, it was terrific!

2. Occasional Face-to-Face Writing Group with “Calls for Feedback” Online

In another type of writing group I belonged to, five of us from the same department decided to support one another (three of us were completing PhDs and two were doing their Masters) in the following ways:

  • Meet monthly for approximately one hour to check in and get a sense of what writing projects were on the horizon and when people would want feedback.
  • Follow up the meeting with a quick email outlining who would be sending out writing and who would be reviewing that writing in the coming month.
  • On the agreed upon date, writer would send reviewers the writing with any special instructions for feedback.  Reviewers would provide feedback within required time frame (negotiated between writer and reviewers).
  • Between meetings, if one of us had a piece of writing that we hadn’t anticipated needing feedback on, we could email the group with “Can anyone help me?” Group members could individually decide whether they could take on additional reviews.

Due to a number of different circumstances (graduated from program, moved away etc), we have not been meeting monthly for the past two years or so. Nevertheless, we still occasionally  email each other with writing requests and someone always volunteers to review.