Educational Networking and Staying Out of My Face

36924662_5f7ea8ef37_m.jpgAllison Miller posts on Facebook and Social Networking (To Unblock Facebook or To Not Unblock Facebook? and Should Facebook be banned from Educational Institutes) and Michael Coghlan’s podcast on Should TAFE be Using Facebook has evoked really strong emotions. Photo by Bunch of Pants.

Lets Separate The Debate

My strongest belief is we must separate the debate on the educational use of social networking totally from whether Facebook should be used in an educational context. These are two totally separate issues.

Facebook is just one form of social networking; the educational benefits of social networking shouldn’t be devalued because managers and educators base their views on social networking solely on their own personal limited knowledge and/or experience of sites like Facebook and MySpace.

It’s about Educational Networking NOT Social Networking

I totally agree with Vicki Davis — It is about Educational Networking NOT Social Networking. There is huge difference between social networking and how we use these social platforms in an educational context; educational networking is a far more appropriate term for educators to use than social networking. Read Vicki’s excellent post for a better understanding of the difference!

The Personal Nature of Social Networks

We each have varying levels of personal connection to different social networking sites, and spaces that we want to keep private and personal, and this needs to be taken into account when considering the use of sites for educational networking. I’ve no personal connection to my own Facebook account; and happily connect to anyone, including my students, within Facebook. Yet my twitter network is extremely personal to me; it’s my personal space, I don’t want to interact with family or students in twitter.

My personal belief is that Facebook should be used only as a personal network; where educators and students can choose if they do/don’t connect with one another, and if learning occurs it is a result of informal networking and support. If we want to encourage educational networking then we should be using social platforms such as Ning community; where we can make the distinction between personal and education networks.

Banning of Web Sites

I believe it is far better to educate appropriate use than ban or block web sites. As educators, we should be treated as professional, and not have to justify reasons why we want to use a web application.

The shame of the Facebook debate in the TAFE sector actually has more to concerns that adminstration staff will waste time inappropriately; then concerns of how we might use it with students.


Allison Miller has asked the following questions to ponder from this discussion which I’m unable to respond back to in this post; however we would love it if you added your thoughts to the conversation.

  • What are the POSITIVES of Social Networking? and what are the NEGATIVES of Social Networking?
  • Why do Educational Institutes ‘shy away’ from embracing ‘Social Networking Sites’ – and ‘block’ them?
  • How do we entice Educational Institutes to ‘value’ Social Networking?
  • Do Educational Institutes have an ethical responsibility to be ‘guiding’ their students through ‘how to operate’ in SNS?
  • How do we ‘measure’ and ‘demonstrate’ the educational value of SNSs?
  • How can we gather the data to show the ‘ROI in terms of relationships’ and ‘ROI in terms of information and learning’?

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Four Lessons Learned: Social Media and NonProfits Meme

Beth Kanter has tagged me with the meme Four Lessons Learned: Social Media and Nonprofits which was really cool because as Katya points out “Beth is THE maestro on nonprofits and social media (and she could probably accompany Yo-Yo Ma on flute)”. MMMMmmmm shame a minor matter of me being an educator, not involved with non-profit, makes the meme just that bit harder — but not impossible. Fortunately I network with nonprofit bloggers/twitterers which helps.

For Beth’s meme I have to consider:

  • What if I could start all my social media and nonprofits work over from scratch?
  • What would I do differently?
  • What 4 lessons have I learned that will stick with me for 2008?

The most important lesson I learnt in 2007 was that when you are struck, if you have invested the time and effort into building strong social networks, one of your networks will help you out. After a few hours of trying to write this post I realised that help was urgently needed and luckily my twitter network came to the rescue. Thanks for rescuing me Corrie Bergeron, VeletSarah, Catherine Eibner and especially Judy O’Connell (whose words of wisdom were “Beth Kanter will have all the answers you could possibly want I think”)

Yes, I cheated on my meme, because it is a collective effort as opposed to my own personal lessons, but Social Media is not about working harder but working more effectively; using the power of social networking to connect, collaborate and innovate at a greater rate than working on your own.

So here is four five lessons from us:

#1. Use what works

Most of us don’t have the budget to be on the bleeding edge; focus on using social media that you know will work e.g. blog to advise of news/events and provide feedback on recent events or information, wikis for community resources.

#2. Have a *reason* to use it – it’s just a tool

Think very carefully about what you are trying to achieve and then choose the right tool for the job. Don’t just use a tool for the sake of it.

#3. Be fearless in learning

Really investigate the options out there – there are many free or very low cost ways to introduce social media into the business but take the time to learn about them first!

The biggest mistake I ever made was using blogging with others before I had a good understanding of what blogging was about myself. Always start by using a new Web 2.0 tool for your own personal learning. Explore your options; lurk a while and get a feel for the site you’re in, what its community is like etc. As you become effective with using the tool you will soon understand how you can use it for your work and are more likely to be successfully with implementing it.

#4. (which should really be #1) keep your mission in mind. Why are you here?

Check out Deborah’s post on the importance of the mission!

#5. Work Smarter not harder!

With so many new Web 2.0 tools appearing on a daily basis, you can waste a lot of time testing new tools. Instead sit back and listen to noises from your social networks to work out which ones are worth investigating. If enough people whose opinion I value are promoting a particular tool I take notice.


Any poor explanations of the lessons are entirely my fault, and are no reflection of the input of my network. They worked extremely hard, thanks everyone, under difficult circumstances (me not being able to express myself).

What advice would you give to either nonprofits or other educators – what are 4 lessons, relating to social media, that you have learned that will stick with you for 2008?

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Petrol Prices According To Twitter

302602610_6790b857c5_m.jpgFor those into twitter you will already know about the amazing conversations and sometimes it is just good plain fun to learn more about where other people live. Photo by phxpma.

So today when Kristin Hokanson twittered:

at almost $3 a gal cost almost $70 to fill tank…was REALLY running on fumes got me thinking tho…what’s gas cost these days where u r?

I just had to do some research — using Twitter off course!

Price of Petrol Here

We currently pay AUD142.50 cents per litre (US$4.73/gal) in Perth, Western Australia. Here petrol retailers are required to notify their next day’s retail price for each fuel type by 2pm to Fuel Watch. Price boards and bowser prices are changed by the retailer at 6am and remain unchanged for 24-hours. They incur large fines if they alter their fuel prices from what they submitted to Fuel Watch.

So here is what I have discovered for other parts of the World so far:

  • cpbw $4.76/gal for cheapest low-grade in Canada
  • Leah Jones I think it is over $3/gallon in Chicago, most expensive in country last I heard
  • dmcordell in upstate NY gas is $3.19 to $3.29 per gallon; cheaper in New England states because their taxes are lower
  • cogdog – national average in US is about $3.05/gal, quite variable– I paid last about $3.13.
  • pjhiggins paying $3.39 for diesel. Anyone know of biodiesel dealer in Northern NJ?
  • paulhami Petrol is $1.09 per litre where I live in Canada. That’s AUD$1.23/l, US$4.12/US gallon, AUD$4.66/gal
  • LittleLaura Hi Sue, would love to see your petrol results, are we the most expensive here in the UK? Our garage is £1.06 per litre! which equals US$8.14/gal
  • Skytrystsjoy Brisbane petrol AUD$1.18/l which equals US$3.93/gal
  • lenva NZ petrol is $1.70 per litre which equals US$5.01/gal

Please note I used US dollars and gallons because Kristin started the discussion and I just followed up with more research. This is the currency calculator I used for the conversions.

What It All Means

So far the UK is the most expensive for petrol but New Zealanders, Canadians and Western Australians are paying considerably more for their petrol than Americans. We also argued that most British don’t travel far by car — I travel 70 km (44.4 miles) return to work.


Okay not my normal sort of blog post but, like twitter, blogging doesn’t always have to be focused just on getting the work done. Also twitter conversations are lost if you don’t record them.

So what are petrol prices like where you live? Maybe we should compare prices of Big Mac meals next?

Information Overload! How Do We Rank The Value of It All?

twitterposterLast night I attended E-Show n Tell Online Unconference where one of the topics chosen by participants to discuss was “How do we aggregate or classify all the great resources.” Concerns were with so many resources, tools and information it is very easy to suffer from information overload leading to not knowing where to start, what to do which can lead to you doing nothing.

My answer was simple:
Social networking = great resources = your friends help you rank them

but for those that are not effective social networking it does require greater explanation.

I don’t need:

  • information put into one place with a tagging system so I can find what I want easier
  • be told this is all I need to know
  • this is what I need to focus on

Sure it might be nice? But unless it is constantly being updated accurately, by knowledgeable people, it will only reflect past resources and information, not the most current and certainly not is what is happening now! Past is good but now is better!

However I do understand it is very overwhelming for people new to the online world to decide which tools to use (e.g. blogs, wikis, bookmarking sites) and what resources will help them learn how to use the tools. And the solution is the MOST IMPORTANT resource — PEOPLE not resource aggregators!!

Build up a strong network of friends and they willingly help you:

  • With the answers
  • Help you choose what tools are worth using
  • Show/Explain why you should try using a tool
  • Provide you with links to the best resources for learning how to use the tool
  • If necessary, they will even help you learn how to use the tool

For example, my strong network of friend taught me how to use tools like Twitter, Second Life, Facebook and how to be a better blogger. Okay! Lets not blame my friends if I am not a better blogger — friends can only do so much!

Most of my friends who help me, I have not meet in person, I met and interact with them online = social networking. For new people starting out you need to realise that my networking with others did not happen overnight. It is the same as building relationships face-to-face — it takes time. You get out what you put in!

So how do you get involved with social networking and build up a network of people?

1. Online presence

People are more likely to want to network with you if you have an online presence. Reality is many of the people you might like to network with already have a large network of friends — online presence helps show why you are worth networking with. The stronger the value of your online presence the more reason they will have to network with you.

Start creating your online presence one step at a time by setting up a site such as a wiki, blog, podcast or ning community — whatever you feel comfortable with. If you are struggling for ideas on what to put on your site why not use the site for pulling together all the information you are learning — that is how I use my sites (I started with a podcast site then a wiki, then this blog and now a Ning community).

2. Start connecting with others

  • Locate and subscribe to blogs you would like to read – easiest way is to check out the blogroll (or in my case the Blogs I like to Read — please note like others I read a lot more blogs than in on my list and need to update my list) on blogs you do read and use these links to find blogs
  • Blogging is all about conversations – if you want to connect with bloggers you need to make the effort to write comments on their posts
  • Start connecting with people using different social networking sites e.g. I use sites like Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, Flickr, Ning.

Remember when you are making connections — that the value of a social network lies in the strength of your network. All social network sites look dull and lifeless without the right network e.g. without friends Second Life will feel very lonely.

As you become experienced you will realise which people provide you with the best information i.e. who you can trust. For many online tools, I wait until I hear enough of these people telling me something is worth checking out — then I check it out.

As you build your network I strongly recommend that you reflect on Stephen Downes words of advice on The Personal Network Effect. You do need to have enough knowledgeable friends with diverse backgrounds — too many = information overload — too few = poor information.

Ownership And Online Communities

James FarmerAnnelieske and I was fortunate enough to have dinner with James Farmer (Edublogs founder) and Cait when we visited Melbourne.

Since our dinner I have been reflecting on what James said about online communities like Ning. He said that a Ning community may initially start off well but in the long term will always struggle because for one simple reason — “ownership.”

Firstly I should explain why am I worried about about online communities floundering.

Well I do spend considerable time reflecting how to make online communities work because:

  1. If I want to effectively use social networking and online communities with my students, for educational purposes, I need to understand what will make it thrive and why it will flounder.
  2. I am working with the aquaculture industry in my State looking at ways to use these technologies to support their training needs.
  3. I set up etools and tips for educators Ning community to assist others become involved with using emerging technologies.
  4. We are planning to implement social networking tools within our College.

So what does James mean?

Well, people are more likely to participate if they feel a sense of ownership — which is what a blog give you. Communities set up by an individual lack this sense of ownership which means members are less likely to feel obligated to participate. They don’t own the space so there is less emotional reason for them to buy in to be involved.

Geek Squad Story

This reminds me of the story about the Geek Squad and how Robert Stephens spent considerable time and effort creating an internal wiki for his employees to use for communicating, collaborating and sharing resources — only to find slow uptake of it use. When he investigated the matter he found that they had formed their own community, for exactly this purpose, but were using the online game Battlefield 2.

The Geek Squad story is my favourite because it keeps me focused on the fact that you can spend a lot of time building what you think is a site that is “a goer to ensure community interaction” but that does not mean people will use it.


Would love to have all the answers but community interactions are really complex.

Think about how people interact in f2f situations like within a kids sport community — what makes individual donate so much of their time when others won’t (you know the individuals who coordinate the canteen, cook all the food while others sit on the sideline)? What drives people away from these communities?

So what are some strategies that might help Ning type communities? Well I have written some of my thoughts previously in my post on creating thriving online communities. I agree with James — ownership will always be an issue and will not be easy to overcome.

I am more willing to become involved if I feel a sense of obligation to the individual who set up the community or a very strong bond to the group involved. For example of the individual or group has willingly helped me, as I have helped them, off course I will go out of my way to participate. But if everything has felt like a one way street — where I am always expected to give with nothing in return — forget it – not interested.

Also don’t expect people who have not been involved in online social networking to suddenly understand or want to social network. This is not how it works.

And don’t use the whole digital natives/digital immigrants myth to justify why you should be using social networking tools with our youth. Or that because our youth already know how to social network they will help you out. Pleeeease they social network totally differently from how we need them to network. Most youth social network with mainly their f2f friends and are very good at using the tools they like to use. Whereas we need to learn to mass collaborate with a global audience with a wider range of tools.

So what are your tips? Have you found some online tools better than others for social networking? And if so, which ones? How have you managed to get encourage the development of an online community?

Why We Should Ensure Our Global Audience Can “Be There” At Conferences

simonYes I know Mlearn 2007 conference was sooooo last week (I’m now at WA E-Learning Conference) but I have to share the story of people like Simon Brown, from my network, who did not attend the conference, but felt a sense of “being there” through the blog posts, flickr photos, twitter, Skype, wiki sites and live Elluminate sessions.

People like Simon are the exact reason why we need to ensure, wherever practically possible, that conferences do provide:

  • services for people unable to attend to be able to participate virtually through live broadcasts of sessions using virtual classroom tools like Elluminate
  • free wireless access for participants so they can maintain contact with their networks and live blog if they choose
  • a site that brings together all the information about the conference that is being uploaded to the Internet as it is happening (such as the blog posts, twittering, photos).

If our desired goal of conferences is to inspire changes in work practices catering for our global virtual audience will ensure inspiration is spread beyond the walls of the conference. Through this live interaction with mLearn 2007 Simon now wants to incorporate mlearning into his program.

Simon teaches stonemasonry trade skills to apprentices at SkillsTech Australia in Brisbane (Queensland). He tapped into all the live Elluminate sessions and we skyped plus twittered to each other all day, every day.

While he enjoyed all the Elluminate session I was totally blown away by his response to Marcus Ragus, Sam Meredeth, Daniel Dacey and Ian Whitehouse presentation on Embedded technologies (in particular RFID technology). So while I was relaxing after a busy few days of attending the conference Simon was busy investigating RFID technology and trying to work out how he could get his hands on it.

Finally in frustration, after several hours, he skyped me to ask if I could give him more details. Fortunately I sitting on the lounge area at the conference (was tooooo tired to move) so I told him to ring me using Skype and I grabbed Daniel Dacey (New England Computer Solutions) who was able to answer all his questions.

When I asked him why RFID technologies was the one that inspired him the most he said “while I enjoyed the other sessions I could not see practical applications whereas I could see immediate application of RFID in my teaching area”. As a result Simon is interested in purchasing a single handheld unit, and tags & software for a pilot study in the Eagle Farm stonemasonry workshop for:

  • building-site induction
  • training workshop for triggering learning content on the subject of safe of tools, equipment & machinery operation , and assisting with demonstrating practical skills.

His idea is to use the RFID technology for blended delivery within his workshops, giving students choices about when and where they learn. Check out this post to learn what RFID technology is about and why Simon was excite. Contact Daniel Dacey to find out more about the RFID learning table.

Are You Using Twitter Effectively For Your Personal Learning?

twitterBack in August I wrote a post titled Is Twitter shifting blogging to a new phase? I have decided to take it back!!!! Not only is twitter totally shifting blogging into a new phase but it is also changing the nature of our conversations and is incredibly important for our personal learning.

If you are not using twitter and wondering why any one would like to know “What you are doing?” well while you are going this is a Web 2.0 tool I don’t need to know about there are amazing conversations happening in the twitter networks that are important!

So what astonishing events was I involved with today as a result of my twitter universe?

Well there was so many — here are a few just from this morning!

Social Software07 PD

Woke up early with my Thursday morning dose of Social Software in the Classroom Open PD session. Where I was transported into a classroom in Utah, USA which is being taught by Darren Draper and Robin Ellis (who is in Pennsylvania) and we were joined other educators around the World.

I have absolutely enjoyed attending these sessions — so many highlights but here are a few:

  • Technology wise — how loved seeing Skype and Yugma (free online virtual classroom) used for delivering these sessions. Worked so well!
  • Conversations — many of us are all in these sessions while doing our other commitments so we get an insight into each others lives. E.g. loved how Kristin was participating while braiding her daughter’s hair. While we were on a break her kids were asking me about my strange accents and if I see kangaroos in our city streets — answer yes! Although I did not mention that occasionally cars hit them on our freeway (might have been too much information for that age!)


While in Darren’s social software session I quickly jumped into Leigh Blackall’s keynote address for Navcon2K (NSW, Australia) thanks to Judy O’Connell providing us with twitter updates on the presentation.

Apparently Leigh said “that we ‘caught him out’ – he was surprised” but Judy said “it was cool to see his reaction.” And how did we catch him out — well he asked for questions so Judy twittered it and I responded. He was spun out that global learners were trying to ‘listen in’ – and we had asked a question to him that fit with the keynote!!

Message to all presenters and conferences — we are using twitter and are live blogging!!!

  • Organisers of Conferences — you must provide free wireless access or your attendees won’t be happy! And I would strongly recommend that you set up a conference twitter account to keep participants updated with latest news!
  • Presenters be warned! You are no longer just presenting to the audience in the room you are now presenting to a global audience — yesterday Rachael Boyd invited me through Twitter into Ewan McIntosh’s key note for Ulearn using Skype.

Off to the Pub!

Finally with all the hard work from Darren’s session it was time for a drink so where else should I go but to a pub somewhere in USA with Will Richardson, Steve Dembo and David Jakes being broadcast live via uStream.

Like everyone else I was totally blown away by the quality of the live feed considering they were in a pub on wireless. Incredible! Would love to tell you about the amazing conversations but oops I was paying attention to how powerful uStream could be as a tool!



Today I gained so much from Twitter — and all this happen from my house in Western Australia — great conversations, saw great tools in action and participated in conferences virtually. Thanks to everyone in my twitter network for helping me with my personal learning! If you are in twitter and not using it much — I suggest you rethink it! There is a massive party going on and you don’t even realise it!

So what are your thoughts on twitter? Are you using it? And if you are, how has it changed your life?

James Farmer on Identity, Ownership and Online Learning

Leigh Blackall (Learn Online) has been running fantastic 10 minute online lecture series in New Zealand for Learning communities Aotearoa and I was fortunate to be invited to join some of the sessions.

Unfortunately I missed James Farmer‘s session but I liked the recording so much that Leigh and James were nice enough to grant me permission to convert the audio into a video.

So here is the video version of James’s talk on Identity, Ownership and Online Learningmake time to check it out! Sorry, James, that I have taken so long to create it (work commitments) but definitely a fitting way to celebrate 100,000 edublogs! Congratulations James — must be chocolate party (no definitely chocolate) time!

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Thanks again Leigh and James for giving me permission.

I recommend that you make the time to check out Leigh’s 10 minute lecture sessions (there are links to both the Elluminate session and audio). Excellent work on the program you are involved with in New Zealand Leigh — great to see people like Sarah gaining so much from their involvement!

Getting The Ning Thing? Got It? Or Over It?

displayYesterday’s post Ninging? Blogging? How Do We Best Support Needs Of Educators When Doing Professional Development? added more thoughts and voices to blogging vs ning. Thanks everyone for your comments — I suggest you check out their feedback. And once again I would like to thank both Graham and Clay for inspiring this conversation! And I have decided to follow up this post with reflecting on reasons why we are getting, got it or are over Ning as a result of comments by my readers yesterday!

Never Got The Ning Thing?

Well I don’t know about everyone else but I am one of those people that can take a long time “to get” the benefit of a Web 2.0 tool — I really have to see the “what’s in it for me” to be engaged enough to want to use.

Here are examples of tools and how long it has taken me from being introduced to a tool and then actually start using them effectively:

  • Twitter- 2 months
  • Podcasting – 3 months
  • Wiki – 5 months
  • Ning – 5 months
  • Delicious – 7 months
  • FlickR – 8 months
  • Blogging – 12 months

Now considering most see me as innovative and a prolific user of Web 2.0 technologies — I think how long it taken someone like me to adopt new tools should be considered when introducing these tools to educators who have never been exposed to any of them!

If we look at the whole Ning thing — why did it take me so long “to get it?” Well considering I understood RSS I was not seeing the forest for the trees — I was not subscribing to the feeds from the Ning Forum, Blogs or Latest Activity. This meant there was no way I could effectively manage the information that was being generated by these sites nor was I able to effectively respond to discussions because I was totally unaware that these discussions were taking place.

Whatever online resources and tools we develop our first rule should always be to make it very clear how to:

  • participate
  • use
  • navigate

This is equally important to the experienced and inexperienced — we should not assume what is required is obvious!

What is required should be in your face! So there is no missing the obvious!

So I only “Got It” with Ning when Michele Martin set up Better Blog Community because she modeled how to participate in very simple and obvious terms which I adapted when I set up etools and tips for educators community. She continues to mentor me on how to facilitate these communities which I am grateful for and Simon Brown models for me how to use with students. I also spent considerable time checking out what was working/not working with other Ning communities — check out Steve Hargadon’s communities for good ideas on setting up Ning.

Got the Ning Thing?

My thoughts are those that have got the “Ning Thing” are probably managing the feeds from the sites using Feed Readers like Google Reader, Bloglines or dare I say it NetVibes (ROFL).

Or alternatively realise the benefit of this community such as:

  • Ease of use for the less tech savy
  • Ability to easy manage discussions, embed videos and create blog posts

Over It

What can I say–well there would be a number of reasons. And would love to hear those from my readers. One reason why I was Over Ning initially was I never got it to begin with. However I can understand the feeling of too much Ning because I belong to 7 Ning communities but am only managing 3 of them effectively (on my to-do-list to rectify this with the other communities. And I can totally relate to the whole time issue!

And as Web 2.0 savy people like Patrick point out “being connected to a network that you create based on your needs and passions is far greater than one that is created for you”

Final Thoughts

Well ultimately, at the end of the day, it is not about us techy savy ones but the individuals that we are trying to get started on their journey. So I would really love Graham to convert the comment on my post to be created into your own post, with pictures, because you have, as always, explained it so well especially your closing sentence “We just don’t want educators sitting on their hands in their classrooms saying, “Everything I and my students need for learning is in this room. No need to go anywhere.”

Doh moment! Really think that I have done a disservice to lecturers in my own organisation. I have been using wikis but now realise that a Ning community, based on what I have gained from etools and tips for educators community, would better service their needs in terms of empowering their learning outside of professional development sessions!

Ninging? Blogging? How Do We Best Support Needs Of Educators When Doing Professional Development?

communityWhat can I say? Whatever plans I had for last night were distracted by Graham’s BYO networks post. Why? Because he reflected on Ning communities vs blogging and highlighted that while Ning is a good starting point for new educators he worries that people may limit their online learning by staying within these Ning communities and failing to realise that building your own network from blogs, wikis etc provides greater potential for learning. [image by circulating]

Why the distraction?

Now at this stage you are may be pondering why Graham’s post would lead so much distraction. Well his section on Ning started with Clay Burell’s thoughts on “Is Ninging the same thing as Blogging – and other questions about 21st c staff development“. The distraction? Clay and I debated Ning while Graham sat back, probably chuckling, and went to bed (check out comments on Graham’s and Clay’s posts — plus follow up post by Clay)!

Without writing a really long post Clay is reflecting on how to run workshops for teachers. His “goals are to make them not need to learn from me, but to get out there and find their own pathways” and encourage their creativity. (You really need to check out comments on Graham’s and Clay’s posts — plus follow up post by Clay because it is not possible to summarise all the thoughts and ideas)!

My Ning Passion!

Well lets just say that I am a bit passionate about Ning at the moment! As Michele says, Ning is my shiny new Web 2.0 tool. Etools and tips for Educators at Ning was set up for my 1 hr online presentation on Video in Elearning for various reasons including:

  • Ning’s designed to appeal to users who want to create networks around specific interests or have limited technical skills
  • So members could interact with me before and after my presentation— and to ensure that their learning was much more than just an hour online session
  • So experienced members can share their tips
  • To demonstrate how an online community’s knowledge gain is greater than a person working individually. Collectively a community will always help each other more effectively than I will ever hope to achieve
  • To showcase why communities are important for personal learning

I love Clay’s analogy to a driving instructor because that is exactly what I tell participants in my f2f workshops. My challenge is most of my participants are starting their first driving lesson with their parents and need me ready to grab the steering wheel. Overwhelm them too much and they will crash into the tree.

Outcomes from using Ning

It has been almost 1 week since my Video in Elearning online session and benefit gained from using the Etools and tips for Educators Ning community include:

  • Members new to participating in the online world report the community makes them feel
  • Several have been inspired to go on and achieve personal first’s like blogging, embedding videos, replying to discussions and creating their own videos using Ning
  • Their questions and responses have given me a far greater understanding of who they are and their needs; far more even than my f2f workshops
  • Collectively we have all gained more than working as individuals

There is no way I would have achieved these outcomes if I only interacted with the participants on my blog or if I had played it safe, stuck with just a 1 hr session, and not gone out on a limb to use Ning for embedding video during a live session.

Final Thoughts

I think that Brian C. Smith’s advice for getting others to buy into elearning is good advice. Check out this video of an interview he did with me! This grasshopper needs to remember this Master’s advice more often.

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