Sue Waters Blog

October 4, 2009
by Sue Waters
19 Comments

A Year Later And Are We Using Different Tools To Connect To Our PLNs?

One year ago I asked my network to complete a survey on Personal Learning Network.

The survey was used in a series of presentations and to build my PLN Yourself website.

Being a year later I’m wondering how much has changes?  Are we using different tools to connect?  Are the tools we would recommend to new people different?

Can you help in the following ways:

  1. Can you please complete my new Personal Learning Networks Survey?
    • There are only 2 questions
  2. Can you promote my Personal Learning Networks Survey to your network using a range of tools?
    • For example blog post, twitter, plurk, Facebook so responses aren’t biased by promotion by one tool or one individual

If you do promote this survey can you please link to this post by creating a pingback and/or leaving a comment?  So I have a record of all the different ways in which this latest survey has been promoted?

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September 13, 2009
by Sue Waters
14 Comments

Twitter (and Humans) Don’t Always Get It Correct!

Credit where credit is due is important.

Yes the “Twitter Handbook for Teachers” is an excellent resource.

While it is lovely for people on twitter to regularly thank me for the resources I create (and to get all the retweets of thanks) — I DID NOT write Twitter Handbook for Teachers.  But I can understand why people think I did.

It was written by Tomaz Lasic (@lasic) who used the quote from my PLN Yourself wiki on the front page of his handbook and then made the very human mistake of not adding his own details as author on the front page.   So now everyone sees my name (and website) and automatically assumes I created it.

But it is also important that I give Alan Levine credit also — as he pointed out in the comments I should have attributed him.  I’ve always felt that the following words were inspired by his audio he provided for a podcast I was asked to proved for the Knowledge Tree (here is the PDF version of the podcast).

“Watching from the outside, Twitter like the the dumbest thing you’ve heard of “Why would anyone want to tell others what they are doing in 140 characters.” And yet to dismiss Twitter is a mistake because it’s an incredibly powerful tool for your personal learning and connecting with others”

However they could have come from his Being There presentation that I attended twice in 2007 and wrote about on my other wiki.

Image of Twitter handbook for teachers

Please thank Tomaz Lasic (@lasic) for his great resource – he deserves full credit for his excellent work.  And Alan Levine (@cogdog) deserves full credit for his work.

And if you want to thank me here are the resources I created on twitter for my PLN Yourself wiki:

  1. Set up your own Twitter Account – helpful information for building your PLN using twitter
  2. Step 2: Set Up Twitter Account - designed as a step by step guide for f2f workshops

PS for those that know me I can’t believe you thought the handbook was my work — not one single step-by-step screenshots that is characteristic of my work!

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June 21, 2009
by Sue Waters
14 Comments

Baiting the Digital Hook to Build A Professional Learning Community!

Last week I was invited to present on PLNs (personal learning networks) as part of Getting Connected 09 for The Australian Flexible Learning Frameworks.

As the conference targeted the VET sector I decided to take a different PLN approach and share how social networking tools can create communities of professionals, and students, that help each other.

Skills level of participants

Participants were surveyed near the start of the session to help guide how little/much information on each aspect need to be explained. The results are shown in the table below (Yes= has their own or uses with their students; No = doesn’t have own or use with students; No response = they didn’t respond to the question).

Value of Creating Communities

The message for creating professional learning communities using social networking tools was similar to PLNs. Our daily face-to-face interactions offer limited opportunities for:

  • Asking our work colleagues/students questions
  • Reflecting on ideas with each other
  • Effectively sharing information

Social networking tools provide the ability to easily connect ourselves, our students, with educators in the same/similar fields, and people from industry to form a global community. This greatly increases opportunities to receive assistance and provide assistance.

The main difference to a PLN is technology skills of individuals you may want as part of your professional learning community are often (very) low. This means you need to use a range of tools including ones they are more likely to feel comfortable using.

To stay sane remember:

  • Not everyone will share your excitement (and it is unrealistic to think they will)
  • Let them choose whether or not they join
  • Don’t be offended if you can’t encourage everyone to participate
  • Be grateful for those that do participate
  • It takes time!

During the session I discussed the main tools I use for aquaculture industry to highlight their benefits and how it can be done.

Facebook

In terms of aquaculture Facebook is used mainly with my students (but I do have some work colleagues in my account). My students are given the option to add me to their Facebook account knowing that they can email me, use the chat or leave comments on my wall.

Years ago I used to give students my email address and never get got any emails. With Facebook student regularly contact me to help with both my work and other courses. Many continue to remain in contact when they leave.

Ning

Our AquaEd Ning community to connect educators, industry and my students together (consists of members from within Australia and oversees).

Benefits of Ning are ability to have forums, upload photos, upload/share videos and easily email all members etc.

For me this Ning community meant I was about to source training material and images to use for an aquaculture elearning unit. I couldn’t have sourced this material as well (or as quickly) using traditional methods.

My students, and other community members, are using this Ning to share what they are doing and ask others questions.

Ning challenges are you need to be prepared to facilitate and encourage conversation. The more people you can encourage to help you facilitate the more likely it will grow. As a Ning owner you need to closely monitor all new members (using RSS) due to spammers.

Twitter

Never thought it would happen but have people from aquaculture joining my twitter account. Which has been excellent because they also then join AquaEd Ning.

As these people are already into social networking they add value to your community because they aren’t reluctant users.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This session was recorded and you can watch it here!

My advice for building a community remains the same as for a PLN — your first step is to start using these tools for your own learning then start thinking how you can connect with members from your industry. Check out my PLN Yourself website to get started!

Meanwhile for those that have created professional learning communities — please share your stories. What has worked well? What aspects have caused problems?

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November 27, 2008
by Sue Waters
4 Comments

Have Added Your Voice To My Personal Learning Network Survey?

Next week I will be in Melbourne (from 3-7th December) for Converge 08 and will be doing two presentations:

  1. How Tweet IT is! PD in the 21st Century
  2. The Connected Trainer – presenting with Simon Brown

Image of a stickyEmphasis of both will be on different aspects of personal learning networks (PLNs). I will also be sharing the results of my PLN survey (which I created in October) to demonstrate how my PLN extended my ideas beyond what’s achievable by me working individually.

So far there’s been 149 responses and if you haven’t taken the survey here’s your chance to add your voice! Here’s the link to my Personal Learning Networks (PLN) survey – there are 5 questions and it takes a max. of 10 minutes to complete.

Looking forward to catching up f2f with people in my personal learning network:

  1. Please come up and say hi if you see me at the conference.
  2. Sue Tapp’s organizing a blogger’s meet up for lunch on Saturday — if you want to join us please leave a comment on her blog.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Please leave a comment if you would like a copy of the survey responses (in Excel format) and I will send it to you via email.

Image was created using Superstickies.

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October 7, 2008
by Sue Waters
19 Comments

Twitter and Building Your Personal Learning Network

Image of twitterIt’s well known that I’m a self confessed Twitteraholic and twitter is an important part of my personal learning network. I’ve even written a Quick Start Tips for New Twitters.

Yet I’ve never been comfortable with recommending twitter as a starting point to build a personal learning network.

Maybe I’m too conservative?

Twitter is currently ranking the highest from 128 response in my Personal Learning Networks survey question “Which five (5) tools would you recommend as a starting point to build a personal learning network?”

My thoughts are twitter must be freaky and intimidating to people new to using Web 2.0 — especially given the etiquette involved in using twitter. Let’s not forget there are numerous very experienced elearning professional who aren’t comfortable using it.

So I’m interested to know:

  1. I started as a podcaster — where did you start?
  2. What was the first tool you used to build your personal learning network?
  3. Is twitter a good starting point to build a personal learning network?

Also there’s still time to add your responses to my Personal Learning Network survey!

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October 2, 2008
by Sue Waters
32 Comments

Building Personal Learning Networks!

Image of Personal Learning NetworkI’m going to be doing a series of presentation on Personal Learning Networks (PLN) over the next few months. With these types of presentation I like to to demonstrate the importance of PLNs by asking my network to help me.

For my previous presentation I asked my readers a series of questions on PLN. The answers were an essential part of the presentation. They showed how using a range of free web tools we are able to build our own networks that extends our learning beyond what achieved during traditional professional development and enables us to share it with a global audience.

This time I want to fine tune, increase the number of people who respond, and increase the information I share on building your own Personal Learning network.

I’m hoping you can help me in the following ways:

#1 – Please complete my survey on Personal Learning Networks (PLN)

There are 5 questions which take a max. of 10 minutes.

#2 – Please ask your Personal Learning Network to complete the survey

Would really love it if you are able to promote the survey in a blog post otherwise there is a risk the responses will be biased by responses of people who use twitter. Please link back to this post so I can thank you.

#3 – Share useful links for building a personal learning network.

My aim of these links is to use them as a basis for building a site that helps new people with setting up their own personal learning network.

#4 – Four Questions to Use In The Workshop

I really loved how Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach in her Hale School Workshop broke the participants into four groups and got them to move around the room answering the four questions on butcher’s paper. Would be a great way for them to physically feel a personal learning network in action.

Trouble is I’m struggling for ideas for the questions. Sheryl’s were:

  1. How has world changed?
  2. How have students changed?
  3. What should we doing to instill curiosity & creativity?
  4. What will Classroom 2.0 look like?

Any thoughts on what questions I could use? Or can you suggest any different activities?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Would appreciate any assistance you are able to provide and I’ll be sharing the information as I collect it.

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July 19, 2008
by Sue Waters
29 Comments

Listen To The Wisdom Of Your Network

Thanks to everyone who helped me demonstrate the power of personal learning networks for my presentation yesterday. Your comments, tips and advice were THE essential part of my presentation because I wanted to demonstrate a personal learning network in action to show how it extends our learning and reflection beyond what is normally achieved during traditional professional development and enables us to share our learning with global educators.

The aim of this post is to show how I used your comments in my presentation, explain the main points covered plus to provide links to help others get started setting up their own personal learning network.

Background

Many of the educators at the Educational Computing Association of Western Australia (ECAWA) State Conference had never heard of the term Personal Learning Network (PLN) or Personal Learning Environment (PLE). Sarah Stewart provides an excellent overview on Personal Learning Environment and the tools that she uses in her PLE.

As Graham Wegner highlights “it is hard to explain and sell what an online PLN is to educators without diving and experiencing it themselves”. This is why I felt my best chance was demonstrating a PLN in action by using the network to help create the presentation.

My presentation involved a Keynote presentation composed of information collected from 27 reader’s comments to questions on Personal Learning networks blended with visiting web sites to show a range of different online tools. The title for my presentation and this post is from Ines concluding comment ” As I’ve been told myself in my first days: “You must listen to the wisdom of the network””. Thanks Ines!

I only had 30 minutes so the main points I tried to emphasize were:

  1. Face to face interactions within workplaces provides limited opportunities to exchange ideas and thoughts.
  2. Your Personal learning networks increases opportunities to help each other and is available anytime, anywhere, whenever connecting you to a global network.
  3. If you are planning to integrate online tools into your classroom it is important that you use these tools first for your personal learning to gain greater understanding of how to use them effectively and to realize their importance for empowering personal learning.
  4. It does take time “to get” the value of some online tools and it is important to engage with using them using an open mind. “Not getting” the benefits of a tool often relate to not using it effectively.

Global Nature of PLNs

I started by demonstrating the global nature of PLNs by showing a World map with the names and locations of readers who left comments.

Location of people who wrote comments

A quicker method would have been to use a Frappr map but didn’t want people just to add their names and not answer the questions on PLNs.

Importance of PLNs

Next I showed a Wordle of commenters’ responses to “Why is your personal learning network important to you?” to emphasize the key reasons why educators use PLNs. Thanks Jane Lowe for providing me with the idea to use a Wordle.

Image of Wordle on PLNs

Tools Used in PLNs

I then discussed tools people use to create their PLN by showing a diagram I had created using commenters responses to “Which tools are the most important part of your personal learning network?.” It was created by counting the number of readers who recommended a tool; the size and number indicates the relative popularity of each online tool.

Online tools written in white text were sites mentioned by one reader only. RSS aggregator refers to use of RSS readers like Google Reader and Bloglines.

Diagram of visualsing PLNs

Which tools people use in their PLN are very individual that is why they are personal :) . The benefit of the diagram was it meant I was able to discuss and show a wide range of web sites that they could consider including in their PLN.

Features I noted from this diagram:

  1. Twitter was the most popular tool – as expected
  2. Most readers included online bookmarking sites as an important tool in their PLN however some readers included both del.icio.us and diigo in their list – I’m assuming because they use each differently?
  3. I was surprised to see Facebook included and would love to hear more from readers as to why they value Facebook so highly in their PLNs.

Setting Up Your PLN

Finally I talked about the tools for getting starting with setting up a PLN. I did this by counting the number of readers “tips on how to get started setting up their own Personal learning network” and listed them in order of popularity.

Their advice for getting started was:

  1. Join Twitter – read this post on setting up and using twitter
  2. Start reading blogs – You could use this list of top Edubloggers to find some blogs you would like to subscribe to.  Alternatively check through this list to find blogs.
  3. Subscribe to RSS feeds using Feed Readers – understanding RSS and using it’s power to make your life easier is an essential part of using these tools. Read this post to learn more about RSS and setting up a feed reader.
  4. Start own blog – If you are interested in setting up an Edublogs blog here is where all the how to information is located.
  5. Comment on other people’s blog – read Dean Shareski excellent post on Student and Teacher Blogging that Succeeds
  6. Join Classroom 2.0 – Classroom 2.0 is the largest Ning network for educators. Read this information on how to get more out of using a Ning site.
  7. Join diigo - Watch Liz Davis screencast on using Diigo. Personally though I’m sure my network meant join del.icio.us so here are my instructions for using del.icio.us.

During my presentation I also showed my twitter network and asked my twitter network provide links to help educators get your PLN started. Here are the links:

  1. Knowledge Bank Conference 2008 – free online conference for educators on 22 & 23 July – link supplied by Janning.
  2. Top 100 Tools for Learning 2008 – list created from top 10 tools recommended by learning professionals. Link supplied by Michael Chalk.
  3. John Pearce’s tutorials.
  4. Contribute to Rodd’s survey on what tools you use in your PLN – Scroll down the page to read other people’s responses. Link supplied by Rodd Lucier.
  5. 23 Things Program – There is a 23 Things program starting on 21 July. This type of program is really good for learning about a range of online tools. Link supplied by Katherine Greenhill.

FINAL THOUGHT

It isn’t possible to capture all the information contained in readers responses to my question so I strongly recommend you read:

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July 9, 2008
by Sue Waters
41 Comments

Help Me Demonstrate The Importance Of Personal Learning Networks!

Image of helping each otherI’d really love your help to demonstrate the importance of personal learning networks so I’m hoping you will help me with my presentation by sharing your thoughts.

The Background

I’m doing a presentation for Educational Computing Association of Western Australia (ECAWA) State Conference next Friday to overview the ways educators can use online tools to forge personal learning networks related to our areas of interest. Time is limited and I’ve only 30 minutes to talk on the topic.

During the presentation I’m planning to share this post to show how web tools can extend our learning and reflection beyond what is normally achieved during traditional professional development and enables us to share our learning with global educators.

The Questions

So can you please leave a comment or write your own blog post to let me know:

  1. Your name, what you do, what part of the World you are based (to demonstrate the global aspect) and, if applicable, your main web site
  2. What do you think are the 3 most important aspects on personal learning networks I should cover?
  3. Why is your personal learning network important to you? Which tools are the most important part of your personal learning network, and why?
  4. Can you provide examples of how your personal learning network has enhanced student learning within your classroom?
  5. Your tips for educators on how to get started setting up their own Personal learning network.

If you are based in Western Australia and interested in networking with other educators interested in ICT in the classrooms – please join us at the ECAWA conference next Thursday July 17 and Friday July 18, 2008.

Image by lumaxart licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

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