Personal Learning Network(s)

My task this week is to investigate a reputable organization and analyze a few followers, ultimately deciding whether or not to add them to my PLN. But first, a little background.

There is a lot of research pointing toward the benefits of a personal learning network to educators. Essentially, a personal learning network can be a group of fellow educators (or related field) who connect via social media to discuss and share information regarding the improvement of their practice. A teacher should determine their personal learning network, or PLN, based on not only their content area but also their interests in education. For me, many of the people I try to connect with on social media are not fellow social studies teachers. They are in the field of education technology in one way or another.

There are many ways to begin creating your PLN. Check out the article on the Innovative Educator blog!

Over the past few years, I have really developed an interest in implementing technology to improve teaching and learning. As part of this improvement, I signed up for several listservs and attending tech-related conferences like ISTE and Edmodo. With each PD opportunity came one or two more “connections” or additions made to my PLN. Recently, my interests have led me to focus on the use of mobile learning opportunities. One such organization focusing on implementing cutting edge pedagogy and tools is Edutopia, founded by The George Lucas Educational Foundation.

On a daily basis, I read Edutopia articles which mainly are communicated with me through their tweets. Often, these articles are the gems which I wrote of in the Aggregating vs. Curating post last week. They are chalk full of tools, links to sites, other edtech bloggers and the like.

The Great Edutopia Investigation

Because I generally receive articles from their listserv or twitter, I decided to branch out by examining their Google + page. Though Google + is relatively new to the social media realm, it is a great professional resource. Google + enables members to post articles, rather than solely their links, in addition to many of the same functions twitter allows for.

I had never been to Edutopia’s Google + page. At first glance, it was stocked with many of the same articles I had read while deciding what content to curate and share with my Twitter followers. But then, jackpot! When I began to examine who is posting on the page, it really got interesting…

By sorting the posts using the “best of…” feature, I was able to see the most popular (and hopefully best) posts first. Lisa Dabbs had commented on an article which I just sent to members of my school’s faculty discussing mLearning. I decided to check her out. Upon closer review, she struck me as someone worth following since she’s investigating both mobile and blended learning and seems to post frequently.

Juan Domingo Farnos was next on my list of frequent visitors to the Edutopia page. He too posted quite frequently, however, his topics seemed to not align as closely with my own. I decided not to follow him directly, but wait for him to post relevant items to Edutopia’s page.

I blew right by Woody Phillips and Shari Austin who had commented on an Edutopia blog about incorporating arts education. Not only was this topic not of interest to me, but also upon inspecting their pages, they appeared to use Google + way less frequently than those discussed above. Therefore, they aren’t worth adding to my PLN.

After seeing three more posts from Lisa Dabbs (she’s everywhere!), I landed on Audrey Watters. About half of her individual posts were relevant and could lead to a few gems. On the other hand, she seemed to be working for an edtech startup. After weighing whether it’s worth hearing about this company more frequently or not, I chose not to follow her, but to wait for her to post on edutopia as well.

So, 5 users socially stalked resulting in 1 follower and 2 on the “watch” list. Not bad. Honestly, when choosing to investigate Edutopia further, I expected to see a lot of EdTech non-profits posting and was shocked I hadn’t. Maybe Google + isn’t used as often as I thought by such companies…

In the end, I feel that finding a strong, legitimate organization in your content or interest is best. They’ll aggregate all the stories and curate them to those who follow.

Until next time…

 

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Aggregate or Curate? That is the question.

Social Media Today: Aggregation vs. Curation

When attempting to organize the plethora of information available to us on the web, a person has two options: aggregation and curation.  Simply put, to aggregate resources means to archive them, or syndicate them.  The most common aggregation comes in the form of RSS feeds (Real Simple Syndication).  Many popular news agencies, blogs and websites offer their material in the form of an RSS feed in which the user (you) would subscribe to the stream of information the agency puts out on the net.  Simple, right???

Curating, on the other hand, occurs when you share the valuable content you have found with your social networks.  In many ways, you must aggregate then curate just as when looking for gold you scoop a pile of sand, then sift through it for the valuable nuggets.  When curating, you are sharing the valuable nuggets you have found on the web with your social networks.

Here’s a recap

As I hinted above, there are many ways to both aggregate and curate.  Here are a few which I found most helpful.

Aggregation

Curation

My take

Over the past year, with my devices (and device use) increasing, I have really become interested on not only how to best aggregate but also how to best curate.  In other words, when I do find something of use, either in my personal or professional life, I want to share it.  So here is how.

Since I generally read the news via an iOS device, I am using one of a few main apps to get the news.  I mainly use Flipboard to search for stories relevant to my field and interest/expertise (Education: Technology).  Within Flipboard, I signed into my Twitter account (for professional use) to allow me to easily curate once I have found a gem.  This also means I get an aggregation of content from those I have chosen to follow (i.e. Adam Bellow, founder of EduTecher).  On the go, I tag those stories into another app (Pocket) so I can read them later.  This is my way of sifting through the sand, and saving the stories that may look like gold so I can properly inspect them.

Though I am a member of many social networks, I use only a select few for my professional life.  Twitter has proven a great resource as I can search for subjects using Hashtags (I aggregate a few topics using HootSuite.  With topics, followers and the like selected in HootSuite, I can send the real web gems out to many social networks with the click of a mouse.

Here’s where it gets tricky.  I have used If This Then That, an algorithm tool, to set recipes to send the aggregated content to places.  My tweets, and tweets from those users and topics I follow (#edtechchat) are archived to my Google Drive for storage.  My tweets also are sent to Diigo (a social bookmarking tool) where I can tag them according to subject and group for future use.  Lastly, when I mark a story as read in Pocket, that story is automatically sent to Diigo so it doesn’t dissappear into the great wide open.  

So there’s my convoluted method.  The choice is yours.  I recommend choosing a few tools which work for you to streamline your workflow.  And always remember, seperate your personal account from your professional one.

Oh…one more thing.

When I hit publish on this post, a tweet was sent (using IFTTT) triggering the chain reaction of curation.

 

When attempting to organize the plethora of information available to us on the web, a person has two options: aggregation and curation. Simply put, to aggregate resources means to archive them, or syndicate them. The most common aggregation comes in the form of RSS feeds (Real Simple Syndication). Many popular news agencies, blogs and websites offer their material in the form of an RSS feed in which the user (you) would subscribe to the stream of information the agency puts out on the net. Simple, right???

Curating, on the other hand, occurs when you share the valuable content you have found with your social networks. In many ways, you must aggregate then curate just as when looking for gold you scoop a pile of sand, then sift through it for the valuable nuggets. When curating, you are sharing the valuable nuggets you have found on the web with your social networks.

Here’s a recap

As I hinted above, there are many ways to both aggregate and curate. Here are a few which I found most helpful.

Aggregation

Curation

My take

Over the past year, with my devices (and device use) increasing, I have really become interested on not only how to best aggregate but also how to best curate. In other words, when I do find something of use, either in my personal or professional life, I want to share it. So here is how.

Since I generally read the news via an iOS device, I am using one of a few main apps to get the news. I mainly use Flipboard to search for stories relevant to my field and interest/expertise (Education: Technology). Within Flipboard, I signed into my Twitter account (for professional use) to allow me to easily curate once I have found a gem. This also means I get an aggregation of content from those I have chosen to follow (i.e. Adam Bellow, founder of EduTecher). On the go, I tag those stories into another app (Pocket) so I can read them later. This is my way of sifting through the sand, and saving the stories that may look like gold so I can properly inspect them.

Though I am a member of many social networks, I use only a select few for my professional life. Twitter has proven a great resource as I can search for subjects using Hashtags (I aggregate a few topics using HootSuite. With topics, followers and the like selected in HootSuite, I can send the real web gems out to many social networks with the click of a mouse.

Here’s where it gets tricky. I have used If This Then That, an algorithm tool, to set recipes to send the aggregated content to places. My tweets, and tweets from those users and topics I follow (#edtechchat) are archived to my Google Drive for storage. My tweets also are sent to Diigo (a social bookmarking tool) where I can tag them according to subject and group for future use. Lastly, when I mark a story as read in Pocket, that story is automatically sent to Diigo so it doesn’t dissappear into the great wide open.

So there’s my convoluted method. The choice is yours. I recommend choosing a few tools which work for you to streamline your workflow. And always remember, seperate your personal account from your professional one.

Oh…one more thing.

When I hit publish on this post, a tweet was sent (using IFTTT) triggering the chain reaction of curation.

Personal Productivity and Pitfalls in the socially digital age

Image

The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.
Bill Gates

Leaving a rousing discussion Tuesday night regarding the information overload many professionals are experiencing in our increasingly digital and social world, I felt satisfied. Alas, not only was I in a room full of people who understood not only the social media blanket, but also the compulsion to reply to an e-mail, status update, tweet, page like or comment. That night, returning home from a full day’s work and a three hour class I thought surely I would crash as soon as I walked in the door. I was wrong.

At 9:56pm, an e-mail from a parent of one of my students buzzed on my phone (because I of course cannot resist hooking my e-mail accounts to my phone). It was urgent, she was double-checking if her son had gym the following day or not. What would happen if I didn’t respond? I thought as I typed my reply. What would happen if I turned my phone off upon returning home. Would the world end?

Our whole lives can take place on the internet if we wanted. Societal pressures and saturation leave me feeling suffocated at times, inundated others and during the I-forgot-to-bring-it-home-oh-wait-it’s-in-my-DropBox-folder moment relieved that we are surrounded by such an immense and powerful tool.

There are many dangers existent in the digital world. In addition to the saturation of “news” together with the decline in meaning of what qualifies as news, each person needs to be aware of how they (and their social networking “friends”) are portraying them. The YouTube skit “Overexposed” does a great job spoofing a much too popular cautionary tale of an applicant being denied a job on the basis of their social media escapades.

Though there are many other dangers highlighted in countless news feature stories, viral YouTube videos and parenting blogs, they all seem to have one thing in common. Responsibility. Or lack thereof.

Avoiding the common pitfalls, like that highlighted above, the socio-digital realm offers great opportunities to those brave enough to venture out. In 2012, you can have one account for all over your news, work, personal information, calendar, and almost any other tool you can imagine through Google. Many cloud-based tools offer tech savvy users a chance to streamline their workload and stream their personal enjoyment to multiple devices. We have new opportunities to interact with users globally as well as locally at the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen. The possibilities do seem endless.

The internet (namely the social and mobile aspects) have changed the way we think). Therefore, we need to change how we think about it specifically.

There’s good news! Through the obsessiveness and inundation, you can be more effective at managing your time, space and online persona by following a few key rules:

  1. Be sure to seperate your personal and professional life. Yes they are the same person. But, much as you would leave work at work (as best you can) try to leave your work accounts seperate from your personal accounts. Ex. Use FaceBook for your personal account, Twitter for Professional
  2. Protect yourself. Whether protecting your accounts by using unique combinations for creating passwords, or making your social media profiles not publically searchable, protection is key.
  3. Respect the intelligence. The internet is powerful, the social tools are strong. Use them and don’t abuse them. Use RSS readers to aggregate news on subjects of interest. Use your Spam folder and e-mail preferences to slow the flow of unwanted messages. Set Google alerts for topics, reminders for tasks and use the cloud-based tools to your advantage. Implement HootSuite to manage your social preference.

If you follow these 3 rules, the headache will subside, the levees will hold and you will fully appreciate the intelligence that resides in social media.

Social Media Course Expectations

For the Fall semester, I am enrolled in EDUC 639-Social Media. I chose to take this elective for my program for a few reasons. First, with a specialization in Education Technology, I feel that I should know of and understand how to use the latest social tools and websites to better my practice. As a teacher to middle school boys, I believe it is necessary to implement social media in the courses I teach to further engage students by including as much of “their world” as possible.

As we begin signing up for and learning about the latest social tools and websites, I find myself paying close attention to which are iPad friendly. As a teacher in a 1:1 iPad initiative, knowing which web tools work synchronously with the iPad is critical. For example, upon signing up for about.me, I immediately checked the iOS app store and downloaded the app to my iPhone and iPad. As we continue to investigate the social aspects of the web, I would like to learn not only which tools are iPad friendly, but also how to best implement these tools into my study as a prospective education technology leader and practice as a middle school educator.

FERPA Statement

Personal FERPA statement


I, Michael C Reichert, understand and accept that some of my academic work for the fall 2012 semester will be published on the open web.

I also disclose that the work I will be putting up online is done as a part of the EDUC439/639 class at the University of Delaware. The home page of this open class is located at http://openteaching.ud-css.net/.

Unless content put up can potentially damage my online reputation, I also pledge to leave it online until at least December 21, 2012, the end of the fall semester.

Under those terms, I waive parts of my FERPA-granted rights for the purpose of exploring social media and web 2.0, excluding private conversations with colleagues and course grades.