My Personal Learning Network #edumooc

As our attention during Week 6 of EDUMOOC turns to the notion of personal learning networks (PLNs), while there have been many fantastic diagrams and descriptions shared of what PLNs can consist of, I thought I’d share a little of my journey to development my own personal learning network (PLN) as well as the particular tools that I leverage today in building my own PLN.

My interest in the notion of personal learning networks began over a decade ago when as a graduate student I was looking for ways to share what I was learning with others as well as to form a process by which I could continue to build upon my learning after I completed my coursework. My thoughts at the outset were to chronicle my learning and scholarly activities in preparation for the eventual comprehensive exams and dissertation that I new were lying ahead of me but I also saw the opportunity to leverage the newer online technologies that were emerging to expand my own learning beyond the “walls” of the courses that I was taking.

I setup a blog, a rather new tool at that time, and began posting my own insights as well as sharing resources that I came across throughout my studies. Over the years, I’ve continued to build my own personal learning network and while I’m using different technologies and approaches now than when I first began, my underlying purpose remains the same … to continually expand and enrich my network of colleagues whom I can learn from and with as well as share knowledge I’m personally constructing with others.

In my teaching today, I encourage my students to see themselves as lifelong learners and to continually be developing their own individual personal learning networks so that long after they finish my course, they have opportunity to continue to grow and learn while learning from one another. How one

From a professional development angle, the concept of personal learning networks is a powerful one for faculty to grasp as in academia we are continually making new discoveries and through sharing our constructed knowledge, learning from one another. As I work with faculty, my encouragement to them is to continually be looking for ways to expand their horizon and learning network using whatever technology tools are the best fit for them.

My Personal Learning Network – August 2011

Here’s a glimpse at what my PLN consists of currently and the technology tools that at present I’m using.

  • My Twitter Network. When Twitter first came on the scene in 2007, I was among the doubters who wondered how microblogging in such short bytes of information would ever be useful. I’ve since found Twitter to become my primary professional networking tool in building my PLN and keeping current on what is happening in my field. I tweet @jrhode for anyone who would like to connect with me there!
  • My Shared Online Bookmarks (Diigo Library). As I come across online resources that to bookmark for access later, I use the Diigo social bookmarking tool and have found it to be a fantastic tool for not only creating my own personal online library of resources but also in sharing those resources with others. While I initially used Delicious as my social bookmarking tool, I’ve migrated to Diigo and use it instead because of the many added features and specific features for education, like private groups. I have linked my Diigo and Delicious accounts, so that anything I bookmark in Diigo, Diigo will automatically add to my Delicious library for anyone who is still following my Delicious bookmarks. Also, using Packrati, any links I post to Twitter are also bookmarked should I wish to access later.
  • My Shared Academic Resources (CiteULike Library). As I find scholarly resources (ie: journal articles, books, etc.) that I may want to make use of in the future, I bookmark the item in my CiteULike library. CiteULike creates a unique URL for resources for each particular tag used in organizing the resources and users can share scholarly resources in a public or private group. I personally find CiteULike very useful when needing to share a list of scholarly sources I’ve bookmarked on a particular topic, such as social networking (click here).
  • My Facebook Page. While I’m not all that active on Facebook, I do have many students and colleagues who are and would like to connect with me there. Instead of adding acquaintances and students as “friends” in my personal Facebook profile, I’ve setup a separate page at facebook.com/jasonrhodephd where students and colleagues can connect with me. I use Selective Tweets to post select updates from Twitter automatically to my Facebook page.
  • My Google Reader. My RSS subscriptions to blogs and other news sites continues to be my other primary means for keeping current. The Reeder app on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad is currently my preferred way to read and share items from Google Reader. I star particular news items that I may want to come back to later and can easily search from within the app or the Google Reader directly.
  • My Podcast Subscriptions. As an auditory learner with a 40 min. daily commute, podcasts are another tool for me to learn and keep current. I subscribe to a number of podcasts and listen to them to/from work. I prefer audio podcasts since I can speed the playback on my iPhone 2X.
  • My Professional Association Listserv Subscriptions. I am subscribed to the listservs of several professional associations that I am a part of. Email still has a place in my PLN, even in 2011!
  • My Personal Connections (Hashable). With the rise in Twitter, as I’ve met individuals at conferences or other gatherings, I’ve begun using the Hashable app to keep track of who I’m meeting and where. It’s the most recent addition to my PLN and the jury is still out on whether the tool will be around long-term or how long it will be useful. But, for now, it’s been a fantastic tool for helping solidify the connections I’m making with others.

There are other social networking tools that I do use, but these are the ones that have become the primary means by which I am continuing to build my PLN. I’d love to hear what tools or approaches are working for you in building your PLN.

~ Jason @jrhode

Screencast Tours of EDUMOOC Google Group, Alerts & Reader

For those new to Google Reader, I’ve recorded this brief tour of the EDUMOOC Google Group with a few tips for keeping discussion threads organized.

Additionally, I’ve recorded this tutorial on how to setup Google Alerts for EDUMOOC and subscribe in a RSS feed reader, like Google Reader.

I personally plan to follow the #edumooc hashtag on Twitter as well as my Google Alerts in Google Reader as my primary means for following the EDUMOOC conversation. How do you plan to aggregate and filter contributions? Leave a comment with your steps!

Better yet…record a screencast demonstrating your process or workflow and share it with the rest of us!

~ Jason

Before Beginning #EDUMOOC: Tips for Participants

In just over 2 days, over 1,000 participants from three dozen countries have sign-up for participate in the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) devoted to exploring Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow! There has been a lot of buzz over this latest MOOC, hashtag #EDUMOOC. For those who have never participated in a MOOC before, you’re in for a treat as this will be an online learning experience unlike any other.

If you are new to MOOCs, take a few minutes to view these brief videos by Dave Cormier that answer the questions “What is a MOOC?” and “What is ‘success’ in a MOOC?

I can’t stress enough the importance, as Dave described in his video, of defining for yourself how you will define ‘success’ in the learning experience and in being proactive in adding your contributions to the conversation, as well as reading others’ contributions and commenting. Here are my top 5 tips for others preparing to embark on #EDUMOOC:

  1. Setup a blog (if you don’t already have one) and post to it. While we do have a Google Group for this MOOC, if you are looking to build your personal learning network beyond the scope of this course, it’s helpful to have your own online home where your conversations (ie: your initial posts and replies) can persist long after the MOOC is over. So, if you’ve not already done so, setup a blog using a free tool like Blogger, WordPress, Posterous, Tumblr, etc. This may sound obvious, but once you setup your blog, go ahead and post to it…at least once per week during the MOOC. I personally plan to spend more time on Twitter than the Google Group or blogging, but will post my reflections and more lengthy conversation contributions to my blog and then post the link on Twitter. On my WordPress blog, I use the free WordTwit plugin that automatically tweets each new blog post I make.
  2. Give Twitter a try. You’ll find during this MOOC that there will be a variety of different locations where conversations will be taking place and Twitter will no doubt be one of the most active. If you’ve never tried Twitter before, now is your chance to give it a try! Sign-up for a free account at twitter.com and include in any of your course-related tweets the hashtag #edumooc. You can then search Twitter, either at twitter.com or on any of the Twitter apps, the course hashtag #edumooc to see the entire flow of “tweets” related to the course.

    A great place to learn more about Twitter is to take a look at the archived presentations and links for the session, Using Twitter for Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development in Higher Education that David Wicks, Skip Via, and I offered this past January where explored best practices for using Twitter in teaching, learning and professional development.

  3. Let people know of your posts!. When you post to your blog, be sure to let the rest of the EDUMOOC community know that you’ve made your contribution to your blog. The easiest way is to share a link to your post on Twitter, using the hashtag for the MOOC, #edumooc. You also can reply to the thread for the week in the Google Group with your contribution.
  4. Bookmark online resources of interest. When you come across online resources that others are sharing that are of interest to you, bookmark the links using a social bookmarking service. I personally use Diigo and have found it to be a fantastic way to create my own digital online locker of resources that I can then access in the future. When you bookmark an online resource, use the course tag edumooc.
  5. Set boundaries for yourself. The larger the MOOC, the easier it is to easily become overwhelmed with the amount of resources shared and volume of conversations that take place. Don’t feel like to have to keep up on everything that’s happening in the course. Set goals for yourself and give yourself permission to get out of the course what you need from the course. I personally plan to set aside 30 mins. per day to check Twitter and read through the previous day’s contributions to the Google Group to stay up-to-date on the conversations and to participate. Remember that the more you contribute, the more you will in turn find others engage with you.

Those are just a few of my tips…what other tips do you have for individuals preparing to participate in a MOOC? Leave a comment with your tips, or better yet, post your own on your blog and leave a comment here with a link to your list!

If you’ve signed-up for #EDUMOOC and stumbled across this blog post, leave a comment and say hello! MOOCs are all about connections and networking with others!! You can also fine me on Twitter @jrhode or Facebook at facebook.com/jasonrhodephd

**UPDATE 6/23 – I’ve recorded a couple of screencast tutorials and posted here with a few more details on how to get started with the Google Group, as well as setting up Google Alerts and subscribe to see what those who are blogging during #EDUMOOC are saying**

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Online Learning

In case you’ve missed the official announcement, the University of Illinois Springfield‘s Center for Online Learning, Research and Service is organizing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow!

It is free. It is non-commercial. It is an open opportunity to collaborate. Here are a few more of the details:

When: Registration is Free and Open now! The course runs 6/27 – 8/20, 2011

Resource site is now open…you can see where we are going, the course will evolve
Live Webinar panel discussions every Thursday 2p EDT, 1p CDT, Noon MDT, 11a PDT beginning with the first session on June 30

Where: http://sites.google.com/site/edumooc is the home/resource site. Discussions for those who register will be hosted by Google Group eduMOOC

Twitter hashtag is #edumooc

Diigo tag is edumooc to share additional resources

Why: To learn, collaborate and network with interesting and knowledgeable colleagues

Join us in building resources; discussing today and the future of online learning. Sign up today. It’s totally free – do as much or as little as you choose – no advertising – just collaboration, communication and networking with colleagues in online learning. Simply register with an email address at the site below and join in this worldwide collaborative event!

http://sites.google.com/site/edumooc