Collaboration, Learning Community, PLE, Professional Development, Social Media, Virtual Communities

#Hashtag + Community = Learning?

Photo c/o Flickr User drips

Hashtag – The Definition [and then some]

I value my learning networks and those communities I engage, listen, follow and participate in online on a regular basis. In thinking about my PLN, I often rely on a few of #hashtags for information, resources, support and more! Here’s a quick visual c/o Wordle:

In thinking about my initial involvement with #hashtags and learning communities I often ponder people, categories, and the learning groups I am an active member in. Earlier in my involvement with a few #hashtag groups, I am reminded of preliminary tweets from various groups and consider newbie reactions to the community who might share initial uncertainty of involvement and question what is happening and how the conversation evolves:

It isn’t until later that I have engaged with these communities and realized the potential for my own learning and development – personally and professionally. This evening, I was fondly reminded of the impact and appreciation during the #AcAdv Chat and how a simple #hashtag can unite and connect an online learning community :

A question I threw out to my Twitter friends this evening was – “Pondering my hashtags this evening… what ones do you follow to learn, engage, connect, etc? Please share.” Here was the quick response:

A combination of ideas initiated after these immediate query & response on Twitter – is it the #hashtag, person or community you are engaged with? Will your #hashtag live on? How do you form effective learning networks on Twitter? What combination of people & #hashtags will meet the need in ones PLN? These are further investigation areas I will consider to ponder in my research and studies. Your thoughts and ideas are always welcome.

Collaboration, Learning Community, PhD, PLE, Professional Development, Reflections, Virtual Communities

Thoughts On My PLN

I have been pondering the value of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) for quite sometime. I value educators, professionals and researchers in higher education who share, connect and collaborators with me online and IRL (in real life).

Not too long ago @clintlalonde interviewed me for his masters thesis research paper on learning networks. I agreed to this Skype interview, as PLN is a strong interested on my own research thread. A BIG thanks goes out to Clint for having me reflect on my PLN. After reviewing the transcripts from our interview, I thought I would highlight a few thoughts I shared about my PLN:

  • a shared space where I connect and engage with a community of peers
  • this group is a sort of a scaffold & sounding board
  • a place go to for resources and ideas
  • usually related to my interests or areas I want to expand upon
  • technology did not create my PLN, but is is now a great and easy medium to cultivate it
  • resources for personal and professional development is in the network
  • 140 characters really does have value in my own educational development
  • my network is varied and there is never a dull moment – this is why I stay engaged
  • it has different themes within different nodes & groups
  • crowd-sourcing – starts the conversation, inspires project development and collaborative initiatives
  • it can evolve and it can change  – the medium may change but the messages & info is always there
  • I never stop learning…that’s why I heart my PLN!

Here are a few great articles and resources from educators in my PLN:

Have you grown YOUR PLN lately?

PLE, Professional Development, web 2.0

In My Toolbox

Inspired by @timbuckteeth‘s blog post Tools of my trade, I decided to share my tech tools I can’t seem to live without.  I have to give kudos to these web 2.0 resources which have enhanced my learning networks & contribute to my professional career.

Photo from Flicker donna_makes_cakes

Here is a quick list of online tools that I frequent to inspire, engage & learn with on a regular basis, in no particular order:

  • Google Docs – Calendar, Gmail, G-Talk and MORE! All of these wonderful cloud computing applications from Google have made my life professionally, academically and personally very simple. These apps have helped me stay connected, engage in current communication and allow for an organization on a daily basis.
  • Flickr – By nature, I am a historian and I love documenting life as it happens. Flickr has allowed me to share my experiences with others, and participate in a phenomenal photography community. I have been inspired by my Groups and challenged by new image projects, like the Daily Shoot.
  • Networks that are Social – Facebook & LinkedIn are two of the main social networking sites I connect to my “peeps” with over the course of my travels. For someone who has relocated a few times in the past 10 years, it’s been a great way to connect with friends, family & colleagues old and new. Although I tend to use the cluttered Facebook more than LinkedIn, I have found great purpose in both as it has lead to conference connections, professional development, and career opportunities.
  • Delicious – has been the best way to store & save useful articles, publications, and websites for my research. It’s a helpful way to collect, tag & store my online bookmarks. I love that delicious is very accessible, and the social features make it easy to share resources in my network. I have started to play with Diigo application a bit, but I suppose you always stick with the one you use first.
  • Twitter – After a late introduction to the Twittersphere in Fall 2008, I learned how great Twitter can be for news, information and developing my personal learning network. Twitter has proven to be a helpful resource for conferences or discussion groups by the use of hashtags (e.g. #nacadatech or #sachat), and I have connected to other Ed Tech colleagues to enhance my resources and research.
  • Slideshare has been a fantastic place to archive & share presentations online. There is a unique community of learners and educators who share some phenomenal screencasts & slides from their work.
  • Wikis – Anyone who has been in a research group or worked with me, can attest to my love of the wikis for any group collaboration. Whether it is project management, a communication platform, online classroom, or a forum for research, I have found wikis to be a very useful online workspace. My preferred wiki platform is either PBworks or Wikispaces.
  • Skype – has kept me in touch with loved ones and allowed me to collaborate with colleagues across the nation & globe. Skype is a brilliant tool to connect when you cannot meet in person. Often it is used to instant message a colleague with a quick question, or it has the ability to let me attend a class when I’ve been traveling.  I have virtually presented at conferences with the screen share application (along with Ustream) and I think it is fantastic.
  • Blog(s) – I initially began blogging back in 2006 when I was working in France & the UK. I used Blogger to describe my adventures, post pictures and share experiences with friends and family. When I returned home to Canada, many of my blog readers asked if I would keep it going as they thought it was entertaining & a great way to stay in touch. I found blogging to be very reflective and a great tool to express ideas, share content and document personal experiences. As my professional work and academic learning required more reflection, I initiated TechKNOW Tools [WordPress] as a space to share resources and ideas that impacted my school/work life.
Collaboration, EC&I831, Learning Community, PLE

Learn to Share(ski)

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would post a little bit of technology love and sharing. Last Fall, Dean Shareski joined Alec Couros#eci831 class to discuss The Power of Sharing.

Photo by excomedia


Online movement on the internet is very personal and quite social.  When you share ideas and resources it is possible to initiate new connections and develop your online personal learning environment (PLE). Much of this online, social learning creates collaborations, connections and interactions to enhance an education experience.


As web 2.0 and social media continues to develop and thrive online, this leaves users with little reason not to share. Most applications are collaborative and creative in nature, which require users to become active participants in the conversation.

Benefits of online sharing & shared learning:

  • immersion into all things ‘like that’
  • interactive web experience
  • publish first and then filter work
  • online & immediate feedback
  • share knowledge & resources easy
  • connection is another means to learning
  • efficient research
  • modelling from others online
  • development collaboration skills
  • variations on an article, concept or idea
  • pay it forward – share what you know and what you do
  • power of connecting people
  • moving toward search & learn
  • networks CAN replace Google
  • encourages filtering information

More stories of shared online learning:

Just a few tools of the sharing trade:

  • Skype
  • Delicious – great resource sharing & connecting
  • Google Reader – RSS feed for bookmarks & paste into add subscriptions for google reader
  • Google Documents
  • Flickr – creative commons license to share; take an idea of how to compose and generate ideas and learn form them
  • Twitter – just in time & just for me learning; personal and professional mix
  • Wikis
  • YouTube
  • SlideShare

What else are you using to share with your personal learning network? Please share.

“Sharing, and sharing online specifically, is not in additions to the work of being an educator. It is the work.”  Ewan McIntosh

Collaboration, Open Education, PLE

It’s Time for the Educational Remix…

It’s time to catch up with some fantastic scholastic chats in #eci831… and there are a few weeks to share. During #eci831 Week 10Brian LambScott Leslie discussed their experience in remixing education. In reviewing some inspiring media savants, examples, and ideas for open, remixed educational resources.In a true network environment – the application logic is relied onto the machines and built into the network itself. The open education movement introduced large quantities of formal education resources into the pool of content that can be mashed up and remixed for learners. Networks have evolved to the point where learners are no longer bound by space or time, which allows learners to direct and choose their personal learning environment objectives. There is now a “mashup of learning” medium to best support content knowledge and skill acquisition for learners. The process of remixing education is simply extending the existing concept. Mashing OERs as an Instructor (or DJ) includes this sample DJ workflow applied to education:

Image from Mashing OER Wiki

More resources that inspire openness & remixing:

Collaboration, Learning Technologies, PLE

Surfing the Google Wave.

Google wave is a web-based application that enhances electronic communication. Here is a (long) presentation and preview of Google Wave:

This latest initiative may provide educators additional resources for online personal learning environments. In EDUCAUSE‘s 7 Things You Should Know About Google Wave, details how this emerging technology can be utilized for teaching and learning:

  • Conversations -multiple messages for message board chats, IM, texting, etc
  • Archiving email/chat dialogues that are also non-linnear & asynchronous
  • Interactive maps
  • Informal polls
  • Translation of text for global learners
  • Photography & image sharing
  • Playback function for review of conversations, notes & presentations
  • Team-based learning for collaboration of projects
  • Accessibility & usability
  • Practical uses for academic advising [from @ericstoller]

As a recent invitee to Google Wave, I am still experimenting and sampling this new resource [with the help of The Complete Guide to Google Wave]. As more people receive invites and the beta version of Google Wave develops, educators will get involved and as they find value and potential for their profession.

Learning Community, Networked Practice, PLE, PLN

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) & Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) & Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) are a forced to be reckoned with as technology becomes more accessible and user-friendly.


On October 13-16, 2009, the online symposium on learning-centric technology shared ideas on how PLEs & PLNs are impacting the educational technology field. Here’s a bit more from the symposium organizer’s George Siemens & Stephen Downes:

The interest in Personal Learning Environments has grown with the emergence of Web2.0 technologies. Learning technologists can see how PLEs can help learners to organize their own personal learning, rather than that formal education institutions control the technologies that are being used and the way in which they are being used. Speakers will include developers and researchers of PLEs. All events will be hosted in Elluminate and recorded for archives. A discussion forum will be hosted in Moodle for asynchronous interactions.

Although I was working during the scheduled speakers, I managed to read posted materials and listen to the one of the recorded sessions . There are a wealth of great experiences & ideas archived online, and I hope to listen/learn more  in the upcoming weeks. Many of these speakers are leaders and pioneers in the PLE & PLN learning field.

For those of you interested and engaged in contributing your own educational experience with personal learning environments/networks, might I suggest you also check out the Call For Chapters for an upcoming eBook by Athabasca University and the National Research Council of Canada.