The Profology
Story

Profology is a professional social network created exclusively for higher education faculty, staff and administrators.

A few years ago, with about three weeks before the semester was to begin, I was asked to teach a class I had never previously taught. I was slightly panicked. I was comfortable with the material but I didn't really have any idea how to structure the course, what textbook to use, how I was going to assess students on this material, and the list goes on and on. Working at a community college with a tiny political science department meant that I didn't really have anywhere to turn for advice. I remember thinking that it would be great if there was a place online that I could go to find others who were teaching similar courses where we could share syllabi, tests, textbook recommendations and teaching ideas. I got through that semester on my own somehow, but the idea of having an online meeting place for other faculty teaching similar courses never left.

This was about the same time that Facebook appeared. I decided to give it a whirl and use it with my students. That never quite worked out, but in social networking I saw an opportunity to create a place where faculty and other higher education professionals could meet, exchange ideas and work to improve pedagogy, research, classroom technology and assessment, and more.

Profology provides members with individualized discipline-specific content, all in one place.

I noted that following current developments in my discipline was time consuming and cumbersome, if I really wanted to follow all of what was coming down the pike. Many of us rarely go to our discipline specific websites. Some of us go to forums and listservs, that while useful, generally don't allow for much cross-disciplinary communication and may not always bring new ideas. I thought it would be beneficial if the latest and greatest in my discipline and my specific academic interests could be delivered to one place where I could view, evaluate and share with others inside and outside of my field.

Often our own departmental or institutional politics get in the way of communication with others inside or outside of our fields on issues like tenure and promotion. In this age of austerity, we go to fewer conferences and have less interaction with our peers. Profology will offer the ability to communicate with peers at other institutions without institutional politics interfering. Of course, you'll have the ability to communicate or commiserate privately or publicly with your colleagues.

Profology is free and there are no students allowed.

Another important element in my idea was to keep students out! Many people are afraid to use Facebook and other social networks because their privacy settings are a hassle and they don’t want certain audiences (like students) able to see everything they do. Having a place to go where students wouldn't be allowed creates freedom for academics to do what they wouldn't be comfortable doing on a network open to their students. Some examples of what you can do on Profology include, discussing the merits of textbooks, exchanging test questions, lecture outlines and syllabi. It will also allow free discussion of teaching best practices, classroom management and the use of instructional technology and much more. Now I don't propose a complete ban on students, graduate students are welcome in most fields as they are often teachers and researchers and vitally important to the academic landscape. But I think communication about classroom issues is freer if undergrads aren't able to eavesdrop.

We’ve already had hundreds of higher education professionals sign up from all over the world. I hope we’ll see you here.

Thanks,

Bob Ertischek