Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are you a 21st Century Learner, Teacher or Both?

Wendy Drexler created and shared the following video. In a 5 minute CommonCraft inspired video, she does an excellent job of explaining what connected learning is all about. Check out Wendy's blog to read about the Connectivism project for which she developed this and to read the many comments that she has already received.

While she is referring to k-12 school learners and teachers, I think everything she is talking about applies to anyone , especially knowledge workers - regardless of their student status. We are all learners and we are all teachers.

For a great example of how this 21st Century Learner/Teacher stuff works: I found this from an article on 's blog "Digital Down Low", which I found from a Google Alert about a link to my blog on Lori Sheldon's "Blogs I Follow" class wiki page. She and I have been following each other for quite some time in Twitter and have exchanged several helpful messages via twitter when I found that she was doing some really cool stuff with Web 2.0 in her K-12 schools.

I've shared the Wendy Drexler's Video via Delicious, Facebook and YouTube and now, hopefully, I've added a little to it in this blog. I'll also be crossposting it on the NCCE TechTalk.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

4 Steps to getting started with social networking

There are probably thousands of pages written about 'how to get started with social networking'. Recently, I read Floyd Davenport's "Adopting Social Media". In it he linked to Chris Brogan's article "If I Started Today". Anne Adrian wrote "Getting Started in Conversations" more than a year ago. All of these are good reads.

Being that my job is to teach knowledge workers how to use technology to make their jobs easier and better, I felt that I needed to (wanted to) write something to encourage anyone not already using social networking to get started. There are so many ways these tools can help just about anyone today.

Floyd wrote, "Desire has to come from the individual perspective of value. How I feel about and use social media doesn’t always translate well to my colleagues. At the same time, I interpret Knowledge not as how to use technology, but how to make the change within your own time-constrained and political environment."

If you aren't already using some of these tools, how can I get YOU to desire to use social networking? The ways I'm trying to do it include:

  • being there (in the social network) first - so when you are ready to join, you have someone to connect with
  • demonstrate its effectiveness
  • sharing my content
  • evangelize about the virtues of social networking
  • teach 'how'
What would it take to get you or someone you know to 'want' to start social networking? Please use the comments in this post to share your insight and advice (or comment in FriendFeed)

How to get started

If you are not already social networking, I'd recommend the following sites to get you started with social networking.

Use a Feed Reader to read content. There are many out there. I use Google Reader. Then, whenever you see the feed icon in the browsers location panel or button bar for a page you are interested in, subscribe to that page's feed. If you are using a home page for your browser that never changes, use your Feed Reader to be your home page.

Add your comments and opinions to blog posts that you read. Start by commenting on blogs written by people you know. A note to say 'good article' as a way to get your feet wet and to let them know someone is reading their post.

Use - a social bookmarking site - to share your bookmarks/favorites. (Pete Flores and I recently recorded a podcast about delicious.( Install the delicous buttons (if you are using Firefox or MS Internet Explorer) and upload the bookmarks/favorites from all the browsers and computers you use. Stop using your browsers' bookmarks/favorites and only use delicious. Then, start sharing the sites you want by not checking the "Do not share" box. To me, this is the easiest way to get started because it doesn't require that you join an existing network and you can choose to share what you want. Also, the benefits are immediately apparent.

Look for others delicious users that are tagging the type sites you are interested in - find people in your field or hobby that are using delicious and add them to your network. Then, subscribe to your network's feed in your feed reader. This way, you will know whenever they tag a new page.

Start growing your network - tell those who would be interested in knowing what you are bookmarking (colleagues, specialists, friends with common interests) that they can find your bookmarks in delicious and encourage them to share their bookmarks. Chances are, these are the same people you would want to know about what they are bookmarking.

Start your own blog. You have a unique perspective that others could benefit from knowing. Everyone has something to teach, so why not you? Even if nobody ever reads your blog, use it to improve your writing skills and help organize your own thoughts. You might be pleasantly surprised by who finds it interesting. I've talked to many bloggers who say it is great therapy.

Advice for social networking
  • Break down the walls between your personal and your professional life. Aren't the people you work with your friends? Getting to know them on a personal level will (in most cases) improve your working relationships with them.
  • Be willing to share in order to build relationships. Remember the first thing someone asks when you haven't seen them for a while? What have you been doing/reading/working on? Why wait between face-to-face visits. Let those that care find out as it happens.
  • Realize that you have something of value to add to 'the conversation'.
  • Have fun.
  • Be yourself.
  • Make friends.