Professional Development, web 2.0

Q: Should I Start Blogging? A: Maybe.

A common question I field from teachers, faculty, graduate students, higher education professionals, and researchers these days:

Q: Should I start blogging?

My response:

A: Maybe.


Image c/o Blogiau

Blogging and maintaining a blog is not for everyone. I often ask a follow up question to this inquiry to learn more about the motivating factors for the blog:

  • Why do you want to start blogging? [purpose, goal, sharing, reflection, etc.]
  • Do you enjoy writing? i.e. beyond 140-characters & comprehensively
  • What format do you want your blog to be? Written or other, i.e. video, photo-sharing, podcasting?
  • Do you want to express and share your ideas in a public, online forum?
  • What focus will your blog take – work, education, learning, research, or all of the above?
  • Who is your audience? Professional group affiliation? Research discipline? Just for yourself?
  • What platform are you thinking about? Blogger, WordPress or other?
  • Do you have an idea about how often you want to post to your blog?
  • Where will you be getting ideas for your writing? [Content IS king.]
  • How will this contribute to your learning, professional development, etc.? [depending on the person]
  • When will you post to you blog? Daily? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly?

Everyone has different reasons for the WHY they blog, or even how they started blogging. Some use blogging as a forum to connect to a professional or academic community. Others use their blog to share resources and ideas. Bloggers often present concepts and challenge the status quo in their field. Then there are other bloggers who use it for shameless self-promotion and self-marketing. The main point is – you should blog because you WANT TO BLOG.

My blogging tale started back in 2006 when I initially took up blogging to share my travel adventures and general life happenings on, Souvenirs of Canada, for family and friends who wanted to stay in touch. In 2008, I created TechKNOW Tools as a professional development space for an academic advising technology seminar for NACADA, and after that I continued to use this space to discuss my own work experiences, research projects, and share what I have been learning.

blogging requires passion and authority

Image c/o Gaping Void

There are a number of reasons WHY I blog.  Thanks to a researcher reviewing educational bloggers, I audited my own blogging experience, and I have considered what [really] prompts me to blog and continue to blog. For me, blogging and writing about my progress is very reflective and I enjoy documenting, sharing, critiquing, and writing about what is going on in my professional (and sometimes personal) sphere. I appreciate the community of research and educational bloggers who play in this blog sandbox. I like their comments, questions, challenges, and support — and at the end of the day I LIKE BLOGGING — otherwise I would not blog. Really.

If it sounds blogging might be just space for you to share your interests and express your ideas — go get your BLOG ON! Here’s a quick “HOW TO” Set Up a WordPress Blog I created for my learners, with a few helpful resources posted at the bottom to get you fired up for your blog writing. Want some more ideas? Here you go:

Do you have resources for the beginning blogger out there? Any advice or comments for new or potential bloggers? Post it in the comments, and also be sure to say HOW LONG and WHY you blog. Blog on, my friends. Blog on.

Learning Community, Micro-Blogs, PLE, PLN, web 2.0

Happy My Twitter Story Day! #mytwitterstory

I often talk about my personal learning network (PLN); however I cannot deny that a large part my PLN is located on Twitter. In honour of the #MyTwitterStory Share event happening today, I will tell you about my Twitter experience, involvement and why I engage. Thanks for your story and initiating the #mytwitterstory blog prompt, @michaelmgrant

Once upon a Twittersphere, there was a Canadian Princess Laura who moved to Texas to for a new job, new place, new academic program, and a new life adventure. While relocating from the metropolitan county of Toronto to to the Dallas realm, she thought it was wise to stay connected to friends, family and colleagues she was leaving behind. Princess Laura was socially connected via Facebook, Skype, blogging, Flickr, LinkedIn and more. Then in August 2008,  she was introduced to Twitter by a new @NACADA friend, Eric Stoller, who wanted to use this tech tool for the 1st  #NACADAtech Seminar.

Although Princess Laura was not quite sure about the 140-character perimeters or the random personal updates, she did fancy the cute little bird and thought she would keep an open mind about it. In the beginning, Princess @laurapasquini decided to lurk on Twitter to figure out why others were using this  social media tool. Through her observation, Princess Laura discovered a couple of great learning opportunities using Twitter (and other social web resources with@courosa ‘s #ECI831 and #CCK09 facilitated by @gsiemens  & @olddaily. While engaging in these open, online classes Princess Laura found the value in connecting to others to share resources, swap ideas, hold discussions and ask questions. Twitter was a space to participate in on-going learning and training initiatives to enhance her personal & professional development. The experiences in open learning courses, conference backchannelsTwitter listshashtag communities, following supportive Tweeters, and the participation in a few of the many Twitter Chats opened Princess @laurapasquini up to the educational potential of the Twittersphere.

By using third-party clients like  Hootsuite Seesmic, Princess @laurapasquini was able to discover the power of micro-blogging with great learning communities such as #edtech, #SAchat, #AcAdv, #SAtech, #HigherEd and MORE!  Princess @laurapasquini continues to archive her tweets & URLs to her Delicious account via, which also pays it forward and shares and RTs. Now Princess @laurapasquini places great value in the tweets of others for news, information, trends and happenings for her personal, professional and academic interests.

This Twitter tale really expresses Princess @laurapasquini’s love for her PERSONAL LEARNING NETWORK…

maintaining old and new CONNECTIONS…

and most of the FRIENDS who make her #MyTwitterStory complete.

The End! [Or is it? Follow along for more Twitter tales @laurpasquini.]

AcAdv, nacada, NACADA Tech, PLN, Social Media, web 2.0

Getting Connected With More #AcAdv at #NACADA11

“NACADA. It’s like a family reunion you want to go to.” ~George Steele

I agree. The Global Community for Academic Advising has been a great group of advising professionals who I am happy to say are in my personal learning network. Many of its members have been in my own learning network for quite some time. I often engage with the #AcAdv community online and during our regular weekly chats. Many of these professionals in advising and connected to NACADA have been there to support me as a sounding board for a project or just to ask advice during a career transition. Last week’s #NACADA11 conference in Denver was a great way to connect and re-connect with advising pros from around the world to share some new ideas and of course have a bit of a chat.

A BIG Thanks goes out to the #NACADA11 Social Media dream team. This great group of advising pros kept the blogging and tweeting alive in the backchannel — while snapping photos and capturing videos. The Twitter backchannel was fantastic, and thanks to Paul Cox we have an excellent archive of the #NACADA11 Tweet HERE: 

I am happy to say that the #NACADA11 Tweet up was a smash! Around 65 advising friends showed up on Monday night sporting their Twitter buttons (created by Starfish) to the Yard House. It was so great to meet so many tweeting advisors IRL and get to know them beyond 140 characters.

Hoo-ray for the rocking #AdvTech Commission meeting! We tried to do some “speed-dating” intros to get to know the cast of characters around the room.

Since Clay is passing the NACADA Technology in Advising Commission Chair throne to me this year, I look forward to getting more of this bright group involved and supporting @NACADA’s move forward with technology. We are a connected & networked group, so one of the first points of collaboration at #NACADA11 was with the NACADA #LGTBA Commission get their NACADA: It Gets Better video channel fired up [Thanks Brian, Julie & Paul]. Are you a NACADA member interested in joining the #AdvTech Commission, but were not able to be there in person in Denver? Here’s the NACADA #AdvTech Sign Up Sheet.

The best part of the #NACADA11 conference, like any conference for me, is always the people. I look forward to staying in touch and continuing the conversation beyond the annual conference. Advisors are social. NACADA has a few ways for advising professionals to stay connected & social online:

Read the NACADA Blog: 

  •  Central hub for social media with access to Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook
  • Comment on quick recaps of major events, videos, pictures, links, and more

  Follow NACADA on Twitter: 

  • Tweeting about conference cancellations, schedule changes, and reminders
  • Use the Twitter Search for tweets with #nacada, #AdvCon, #AcAdv #NACADAR{insert your region number here} , #AdvTech

View NACADA Flickr Photos: 

  Like NACADA on Facebook: 

  • Post your comments, photos, and engage with other members
  • Periodic updates will be posted during and after the conference
But best of all — we will be able to stay connected on Twitter and engage once a week for the regular #AcAdv Chat! Thanks awesome co-presenters & MOD-ers – @howardsj & @peacox  – here is our presentation  and handout:
For some of my advising friends who are just getting social with your media, check out the introductory presentation and handouts from @julieclarsen & me:
BreakDrink, CTCX, Learning Technologies, web 2.0

Nothing But Web

There are a systems of systems being created. Our data is detected to help up be more efficient and effective at what we do. An interesting video was released from IBM Social Media called The Internet of Things. This video looks at the complex set of relationships among all of these complex systems to see patterns in the data, information and knowledge to support innovation.

Google took great consideration in thinking about how they complex systems apply to the webapplications and extensions, as shared on the Google Channel. In considering how we work, play and interact online – the evolution of Google’s Chromebook appeared mid-June to support this online user. The Chromebook is a new alternative to using a notebook interact and engage online using new features & the Chrome OS. Here’s a quick synopsis via @googlechrome

Join us on Monday (6/27) at 7 pm CT as the BreakDrink Campus Tech Connection (#CTCX) talks LIVE about the Chromebook Samsung 5 and more tech tools reviews for higher education professionals. Join the #CTCX gang with your thoughts, questions, ideas or reviews: 

  • Listen to the show LIVE
  • Tweet your thoughts using the hashtag #CTCX 
  • Call or Skype during the show: (646) 652-2342 or breakdrink
Learning Technologies, PLN, Social Media, web 2.0

Being Purposeful with Social Media

Earlier this week, Jeff Lail posted How I Use Social Media and Leslie Dare followed up with a blog post of her own on the same topic. This got me thinking about how I engage and interact with the social web. Last year I talked about what’s In My Toolbox as an educator, however I think I should share how I use these tools as an educator, professional, student… and then some.  

Flickr photo c/o Luke Mahan

I try to be Mindful with Social Media and how I use it. I strive to be intentional and purposeful when I engage with social media. I am the musician, these resources are my instruments – so here’s how I make my music on the social web:

  • To Blog, Or Not to Blog?: WordPress, specifically TechKNOWToolswas designed to be a reflective space of what I learn, research, read and more throughout my studies. I’m a transparent and open learner/educator. I hope that these posts help support my writing and nurture my research goals. TKT serves as a journal of my PhD & academia journey. Blogger was my first introduction to the blogging realm back in 2006 as I started my travel/work adventures in France & the UK on the Souvenirs of Canada blog. Many of my friends & family follow this to keep track of my happenings – and some asked that I keep sharing what is going on to stay in touch. I have two blogs because I have these different sets of readers. Most of my personal contacts prefer not the get all my research and geek info from TKT blog, and it helps to share more “off off the blog” info when we chat on the phone, Skype or IRL.
  • The NEW & Improved Home Phone: Skype – This VoIP service has not only allow me to maintain relationships far, far away – it has also allowed me advise students at a distance, present training sessions with the screenshare option and conference with colleagues new & old for a variety of projects.
  • Saying Cheese:  Photography has been a part of my life since I was little. Photos were always snapped during special occasions, on road trips, spending time outdoors and more with my family. For me photography captures memories, shares a narrative, and provides a perspective by someone or into the life of others. As a visual learner Flickr helps me to archive and catalog my experiences. I have used Flickr for a few professional conferences, however I first started using it to scrapbook my life and give both my Mom (and other friends/family) the latest and greatest “Laura happenings.”a I like photos in my blogs and I like snapping neat finds. I am pretty sure I was a curator in a previous life.
  • Customized Subscriptions: RSS and Google Reader is my friend. This is a key tool I use to follow news, blogs, podcasts and people, and trends. The convenience of accessing this information in one location and being able to read them on my computer or phone helps me stay engaged. I’m only as smart as the information I am connected to.
  • Micro-conversations & Micro-sharing: Twitter – I have to be honest – when I was first introduced to Twitter in Summer ’08 and I was somewhat skeptical. Why would I be interested in a personal update? What value would this bring to me personally/professionally? Over the last few years this #SM tool has grown on me both a professional in higher ed and doctoral student. With my experiences in open learning courses, conference backchannels, Twitter lists, hashtag communities, and a few of the many Twitter Chats I have participated in – I can now attest to its professional development and educational potential. To help me organize my Twitter streams and followers I want to give a shout out to Hootsuite & Seesmic, two third-party clients I use most on my computer and phone. 
  • I heart The Google: Beyond search, Google is a great productivity and learning tool for me to collaborate and connect to others. My favorite Google applications include: Gmail, Docs, Forms, Chat, Voice, Scholar, Calendar, Maps, Translate, Realtime… need I go on? This is a must have tool for any graduate student or professional. Are you still using Hotmail? That’s so 1990s. I recommend you switch to Gmail to kick-start your productivity resolutions and then other Google applications will follow. [Note: I may have a bias to Google as my phone is smart with the Android platform.]
  • Saving It for Later: Delicious, specifically My delicious, allows me to archive resources, articles and interesting finds online. When I share a URL on Twitter it automatically archives to my delicious via  I later go into my account to add any notes or highlights that might be relevant – especially if there are articles I might use for a literature review or paper. I also value my Delicious Network contributors who save and share interesting links.
  • My Networks Have Always Been Social: For those of you who know me, I have always been a social person. The creation of online social networks just allows me to continue to be social when I live far away from friends, family and colleagues. I use Facebook primarily for my personal friends and family, however as of late more professionals from Student Affairs, NACADA and other networks have been connecting to me on here. I have created a few different lists to organize my friends on here. More of my sharing is personal & some professional/student information. I have begun to use this #SM tool a lot less as of late professionally – it’s more to stay in touch with far away friends & family. Other networks I use for more professional and academic networks include Twitter, LinkedIn and Mendeley. Depending on my social network, I choose to share different information. I tend to use LinkedIn for professional interactions, and Mendeley for research/publishing contributions, whereas Facebook would primarily be for personal updates, photo sharing and individual conversations. Twitter seems to be my “go to” for information sharing, knowledge consumption and trend watch for #highered, #edtech, #acadv, #phdchat, #sachat, and other lists I follow-with a few personal updates or location-based check-ins scattered in from time to time.
  • Establishing A Brand: To aggregate my many online spaces I have started using About.Me as my virtual card and personal website. I’ve opted to let my personal website URL go and use this and other FREE options to house all things social web and online for me. My digital identity exists already. I have developed my own Google Profile as well. Have you Googled yourself lately?
  • All Things Wiki: I am partial to PbWorks (since I first used it when it was PbWiki), however I have also accessed Wikispaces and Wetpaint for a group collaborations at the office, assessing vendor options with a group, training/learning seminars, professional association planning, pre-conference presentations, online community space, and doctoral research group meetings and publishing. The current wikis I’m clicked into are for my scholastic endeavours: ATPI Research Group and the #phdchat wiki. Future wiki plans: develop my dissertation proposal on a wiki to share with my faculty advisor/committee and design a wiki for an online course I’m instructing at the University of Manitoba this Fall.
  • Now Presenting: I stop by YouTube to watch an effective TED talk, Khan lesson or In Plain English video and more – then I “favorite” the good ones for presentations and/or course resources. As an instructor/trainer/speaker my key tools would be SlideShare and Prezi. I use my personal SlideShare account to share previous presentations, and also encouraged our UNT advising group, UCAN, to initiate their own account to store monthly meeting resources.
  • Checking In: I started playing around with Foursquare and Gowalla over the last year to find out what this location-based mobile application was all about. Some use it for education programs or marketing communication, I primarily use it to archive where I’ve been – restaurants, travel locations, historic locations and such with my personal network. I have also appreciated the location “tips” and discounts when I arrive at each spot. Yelp & TripAdvisor are a few other travel/location referral websites I frequent to read a restaurant review or plan a vacation. 
Phew! It seems like a lot – I know. But I use the above tools for different purposes AND at different times. Keep in mind that THESE ARE JUST TOOLS. During social media training workshops, I often recommend that participants new to the social web “try one or two on for size” to find out what works for them. The bottom line is – it has to serve a purpose, be used intentionally, and help you be a better you. If you don’t use, then you should probably loose it.
There have been a other social media tools I have tried out, but as you can see they haven’t made my frequent flier list. I suggest figuring out what is right for YOU and decide what YOU want to make time for. If you understand the what/purpose (content) and the where (social media application), you will be able to find your social web zen. Social web participation and engagement has to make sense. Be sure to ask yourself:

Are your social web interactions meeting your personal, professional and/or  learning needs?