Personal Learning Networks

As was mentioned in a previous post, one of my classes this quarter is on Social Media. More specifically, it is about social media usage in K-12 schools. Since I do not work in a school system, I approach the topic more as someone who collaborates with schools and that is kinda how I approach my Personal Learning Network (PLN). The people in your PLN should extend beyond your current field or friends. But I am getting ahead of myself…

So what is a PLN? Let’s start first with the PLE- Personal Learning Environment

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Everyone’s PLE is going to look a little different.

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This is what mine looks like:

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I have it broken down into five sections: Resources, Curation, Networks, Communication, and Locations. Your PLE is always in flux and could change depending on what resources are available to you, your current interests, or even your current career. For example, in my course, we are using Wikispaces, but the platform has just announced that they will shutter the site this summer. This reminds me a lot of the Digital Media Concepts and Production course I took as part of my graduate degree. I was introduced to a lot of great resources, but many of them don’t exist now because they merged with other products, the company was sold or went bankrupt, or there just is no more interest in it. Then there are some that we think are gone, but still exist…did you know MySpace is still up and running?

Now to focus on the network part of the PLE, we have the PLN:

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There are three types of PLNs: Synchronous- meaning real-time, Asynchronous- meaning not in real-time, and Semi-synchronous which is a blend of the two. This blog is an example of asynchronous.  If you visited my social media links, those would be semi-synchronous because we could connect in real-time or play a virtual version of phone-tag. *hint* I am usually always online with either a tablet, a phone, or a computer somewhere close by. So there is a good chance you will catch me via one of the social networks.

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Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook make up a big part of my PLN. I try to keep everything separate depending on the platform. For example, Facebook is for friends and family, though I have been branching out to include some private FB groups related to blogging. Next is LinkedIn which I keep strictly professional. I will connect with librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, and many others related to my scope of professional interest like educators, STEM, training, etc. I find people through conferences, trainings I have attended, and even follow several authors. Twitter is a mish-mash of the two. My Twitter contains people I know in real life, but also many others that I have never met. Some I follow for entertainment…my current Twitter obsession is following David Harbour’s adventures with his Twitter ReTweet challenges.

I am waiting for those “dad dance” pics with the penguins…

Then there are others that I follow for professional reasons such as the current Kid Lit controversy about notable male children’s authors sexually harassing other authors.

While I don’t attend the conferences mentioned in the articles, it is important that as a librarian, I am aware of stuff like this. This is why it is important to have people in your network from outside of your silo.

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I admit that I am not very active on the socializing part when it comes to using my Social Networks to their best advantages. I am working on that. In the meantime…

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Sometimes just observing can be okay while you figure out what is okay and what is not for a particular platform or group.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ITSE) has developed standards when it comes to technology usage in education. As a student, I think I am rocking it as far as the standards are concerned. This blog has gone a long way towards helping that along with sharing information and trying towards being a global collaborator. I teach at the graduate and professional levels rather than K-12, so the teacher standards also look pretty good to me, but that is because I have a lot of resources available to me. I teach via virtual classrooms and learning management platforms on a regular basis, so technology and my teaching are pretty integrated. Many of my students are current or future media specialists, so we try to also include resources that they can use in the schools (which is why I am taking a school focused Social Media course).

One thing I have learned is that when you plan on using a particular social media tool, plan on a backup as well. Last time I taught my grad course, we planned on using VoiceThread which allows you to narrate slides via a cloud upload. It only worked for half the students. So I quickly came up with an alternate submission platform using the course’s discussion boards. Now when I teach the course again, I will have that backup already available as an option.

I used to be a member of the Association for Library Service to Children‘s Children and Technology Committee, so teaching best practices, or media mentorship, when it comes to technology use and children is something that is very important to me. Technology is not going away, so it is important that we teach our children how to be responsible technology users. If we shelter them from it, then they are going to make mistakes because they haven’t been taught what responsible usage looks like. If we want them to learn, we are going to need to show them that we are willing to learn as well. So the question is, where can we go to learn?

As a librarian, the archive of resources from Little eLit has been a valuable tool that I still use with my grad students. ITSE has great educator resources. The perfect blend for me of librarian and educator is following the Daring Librarian who is a middle school librarian. She posts great tips and resources for her PLN. Pinterest also has great resources like app reviews and how-to manuals. Twitter has Tweet Chats on various topics. Your library may also have resources like Lynda.com for learning how to navigate the various tools and platforms. I currently have learning about Instagram on my to-do-list.

The closing down of Wikispaces does bring one question to mind…we are posting all this great content. So how can we make sure that we are archiving or preserving it for the future if the place we posted it will no longer exist? Where do we go from here?

 

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Of zombies, ghosts, and death gods…

Tomorrow may be the Rapture, or then again maybe not…

I love the fact that right now #zombieApocalypse is now trending on Twitter. Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is jumping on the social media bandwagon and adopting the zombie trend to promote disaster preparedness. There is something just so cool about a government agency that is willing to be, well, weird. But, you know, weird in a good way…

BTW Is there any coincidence that the end of the world is coinciding with Zombie Awareness Month?

Well, I have a new app to try out, Comic Life, and I have to say I am in love with it. I found it very easy to use and once I figured out how to get it from the iPad to Flickr so I could upload it to Blogsy to upload to Blogger (did you follow all that?), I see some awesome future blogging potential.

In honor of the potential Zombie uprising I have a death inspired book review comic uploaded for your enjoyment. Enjoy!

Internet Civility

The Internet certainly connects the world more than we were twenty years ago. We get instant news, instant entertainment, and instant feedback. In many cases this instant gratification can be just as much a bad thing as it can be a good thing.

One of the problems with the Internet is the online disinhibition effect. The online disinhibition effect happens when the inhibitions one would normally demonstrate in the real world are loosened. This loss of inhibitions often causes people to say and do things on the Internet that may be embarrassing, hurtful, or just completely out of character; stuff that they wouldn’t do or say in public.

There are many reason that this effect can happen and many degrees, but what is important is that you remember that at the other side of the screen is a real person with real feelings. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and their beliefs, but when you choose to voice yours in a public forum like Twitter, Facebook (Yes, Facebook. Even though you choose who sees your comments it is still a social network.), or blogs, be prepared for others to have a difference of opinion. If you are not up to someone challenging you, then simply don’t post. The purpose of these types of social media is in fact to be social, to start a conversation.

I am a librarian which means I fully support freedom of speech and a person’s right to information. However, I draw the line at talk that is discriminatory and hateful. Thankfully many social media outlets agree and have policies in place for just such a thing. So remember before you post have a little civility and think before you type or you just might find yourself booted from the network.

Twitter Twit

Follow me on Twitter! @woofer_kyyiv by Slava Baranskyi
Follow me on Twitter! @woofer_kyyiv, a photo by Slava Baranskyi on Flickr.

Okay, so around this time last year I was very anti-twitter. I just couldn’t see a need for it when Facebook did everything that Twitter did. That was until I seriously started blogging and writing and, well, you get the picture. 

It helped that I spent a lot of time on my smartphone and was seriously bored. Yes, there is an app for that. It made me realize how many of my favorite authors, agents, and publishers were using twitter. The great thing is that they will even reply back to your comments when you @mention them. There are even Q & A events using hashtags like #YALit and #AskAgent. Very helpful.

I even won a box of books from an @YALSA twitter #whyYALSA contest. Coolness!

Twitter is a great resource for me. I am connected to other writers and bloggers. I am able to keep up on new technology and other trending topics. I can even find out the latest Dr Who and Marvel news.

BTW last night because the wonderful @KierstenWhite and @WolfsonLiterary retweeted the link to my book review for White’s Supernaturally, the blog has seen 100 hits in two hours. That is a record. Now how can you not love that?

Come follow me on Twitter @JHopwood80

Update on Twitter book reviews

Okay, the first Twitter book review is up. Remember that first does not always mean best (in other words, my example might suck a bit). Feel free to try your hand at the mayhem. Rules? Well, of course there are rules!
1. Give book title
2. Include hashtag #bktweetlet
3. Include hashtag #awesomeness, #sucks, etc to express your feelings on the book.
4. Remember you only have 140 characters to express this all, be creative!
5. Have fun!

I will try to collect some of the reviews to post on this blog as they start coming in.