Collaboration, Learning Community, PLE, SAchat, Virtual Communities

Let’s Get Visual with Data

Fizz is one of the many ways to review and analyze online data. I am a visual learner. Naturally, I am intrigued with visual research and data analysis. The 2010 Horizon Report indicated that Visual Data Analysis will be  impacting technology and learning in higher education in the next four to five years:

Visualization tools like Many Eyes, Flowing Data, and Wordle are making statistics and data fun. These representations present actual facts and ideas in visual format to strengthen research and debates. Visualization tools help support learning and engagement for both educators and learners. Besides making meaning and giving access to facts, visualization allows learners to personalize and engage with data. A fellow doc student, Kevin Guidry, shared a great example of how to represent an online community in Twitter with his Visualization of #SAchat Data. Seeing this data allows more people to understand the dynamics of a community and how they connect online.

Another great proponent of visual statistics is Hans Rosling. Hans  is bring sexy back with statistics as he details his love of stats on the one-hour BBC documentary The Joys of Stats and his non-profit project Gapminder. For those of you who think statistics is a dirty word, I encourage you to take a gander at this one. If you are not afraid, I encourage you to get more visual with your research, learning and data. Here are a few resources to get you started – please comment and share more tools that you use & love to visualize data:

Collaboration, PLE, PLN

Talking About PLNs on #SALive

My good friend/colleague Eric Stoller invited me to join his latest adventure with Student Affairs Live (#SALive) last week to further share my thoughts on PLNs and how to breakdown the silo mentality in higher education. #SALive is an extention the awesome weekly Higher Ed Live (#HElive) video podcasts/shows offered weekly by Seth Odell. Both of these weekly shows provide interesting and engaging topics for students, professionals and faculty members working in higher education.

I thought I’d share a few of the show highlights & discussion points below…

What is a Personal Learning Network (PLN) for Student Affairs Professionals or others in Higher Education?

  • Professional development – learn from content-area specialists
  • Locate resources for your Student Affairs (SA) content  area – such as free websites, software, etc
  • Get ideas from experienced SA Pros & Grad Students – initiatives, programs, suggested practices in the field
  • Learn about new technology & how to integrate it into professional field and/or content area
  • Find collaborative solutions – crowd-source it!
  • Getting connected – to people, knowledge, information, best practices, opportunities
  • Staying current with the trends & literature in Higher Ed & SA: – interesting links, news, articles, journals, event
  • RSS feed of reading fun – blogs, news, people, podcasts & then some!
  • Having a bit of a chat – dialoguing & sharing
  • Support – motivation from peers in your professional network

General PLN resources shared during the video podcast:

This is just one of many Student Affairs Live episodes for @EricStoller – so if you liked the first few be sure to check it on Wednesday at 3 pm CST. The next #SAlive show on April 6th will be about the #NASPACPA Association Consolidation vote. Tune in live here: http://bit.ly/StudentAffairsLive

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.