To Curate and Associate

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How to Create your very own PLN

There are many different steps and areas to cover when creating your very own Personal Learning Network. Since it is personal, it varies from individual to individual. The tools I use and add to my own PLN are different from my classmates on this very blog. Yet, there are a few steps to take into account when setting up your own PLN. The video below is a great introduction to what we will be talking about here.

Your PLN is essentially a strategic plan to asks questions like:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where are we going?
  • How will we get there?

These simple questions will direct you in the path you need to go on to discover different outlets for your PLN. Your PLN functions need to address 3 simple attributes to the questions. Connect – Collaborate– and Contribute. Your PLN needs to fit into these 3 categories to fully optimize your PLN connections.

Connect:

If you haven’t already done so, connect with all social media sites you feel comfortable with. Facebook, YouTube, Blogger, WordPress, Twitter, Reddit, etc. This will instantly put your internet footprint on the map. You are now digital. This is a vital aspect to starting your PLN. This WordPress blog on PLN’s shows a great example of how to get started and connect through the internet. The quote, “Engage with participants through introductions by commenting on fellow participant introductions, two or three is ideal”, is a perfect example of how connecting Segway into collaborating. You don’t want to just be a fly on the wall, you want to be a participant.

Taking a page from my own PLN, connecting is just the first step into broadcasting your network. If you have a business, make sure to create a facebook page. Don’t worry about getting likes and attention right away. Build your page slowly and methodically. Your audience wants to know you for you, and not read jargon just for content. Take a look at my facebook page for my business Bisous Box. My site hasn’t launched yet, but I have 6 people already “liking” a page that isn’t fully developed.

facebook business page

facebook business page

This is the first step in connecting with a audience, and creating a worthwhile PLN. Once you’ve found the tools you need to connect, and you’ve signed up and started your pages, it’s time to collaborate. One last word on connecting, if you don’t know where to find the tools you need to connect, well look no further then this blog! We have tons of recommendations on the best sites to utilize for both PLN’s AND curation! A lot of it is also personal preference. You’ll hear about certain sites, check them out, and decide if it’s for you or not. Always look for sites that are well integrated into other sites so it’s easy to add to your bookmarking toolbar (like Diigo), or other forms of connection.

Collaborate:

Collaborating is another word for participating. Like I said before, you don’t want to be just a fly on the wall. It’s important to get involved with online communities and leave your opinions on pages, likes, comments, reblogging, etc. All these actions will link back to your own pages, and ultimately YOU. This site has 20 great tips that expand on this idea. My friend point from this site is:

“Consider your role. The article “Individual Learning” sheds some light on learning roles. Consider your learning style when designing a specific approach to your PLN:

  • Activist-Learning by doing, such as writing a blog.
  • Reflector- Learn by reviewing situations, such as posting opinions to articles.
  • Theorist-Prefer to learn by researching information and data, such as by creating a model.
  • Pragmatist-Apply learning to real situations, such as by creating a project that uses PLNs in the classroom.”

This is a perfect example of collaboration to build a PLN. You need to consider your role for your own network. You can’t be all things, it’s not interesting to read about someone who is a “jack of all trades, master of none” type. It’s more interesting to hear from someone who has the credentials and skills for one topic, it makes the reading more insightful and legitimate. So chose your role carefully. Don’t change your tone, or stances once you’ve started to great content and collaborate within your PLN. My personal role is Activist.

Here’s an image from my facebook business site that links to what my webpage is talking about. bisous boxThe sneak peek for the website shows three different components on the home page. The first being “Grab some Goodies” which is the shopping section. The second is “Talk to the Wiener” which is the text blog where Sex education is implemented into the site, and the third, “Kiss and Tell” is a video interview section where sex education interviews with adult industry professionals, educators, sexologist’s, and more share their stories and information. I’ve decided my role as Activist, and my tone and personality doesn’t change from each post. This is important to maintain a page that is reliable in its content.

Contribute:

Contributing to posts, your own and others, is the final step we will talk about here. It’s important to become and be a voice through the internet by adhering to the above information. By connecting, collaborating, and finally contributing, your PLN will be on its way to becoming as useful as it’s meant to be. You can contribute to posts on subject matters like your own, but don’t spam! The best way to contribute is by creating your own content (whether personal or business) and bringing people to your information.

There are also many different ways to contribute, it doesn’t all have to be over the internet. Contribute with friends, colleagues, and strangers. Carrying around business or personal cards that links back to your PLN sites, is a awesome way to bring your audience straight to you. When people know you in person, they’re more likely to follow and like your posts. Take for example my own business cards. They are simple and straight to the point, and also have a QR Code for people who have the “Scan” app on their phones.

bizcards

This is a fantastic way to contribute to your own PLN outside of the internet, and it’s very effective. Give your cards to anyone and everyone, you’d be surprised as to how many people follow through with checking out what you have to say, when you give a direct link, and make it as easy as possible. I got my cards from MOO.com, which is a fantastic card and etc company. A little on the pricey side, but totally worth it.

Contributing inside the internet is easy too. We’ve talked about posts and linking back to your site. This is extremely important for people who normally wouldn’t know you exist, to find you. Create a name that embodies who you are, or what your is business is all about, and use that name for EVERYTHING.

There are so many ways to contribute to your own PLN and create your internet footprint, it’s really up to you, and what makes you feel comfortable. Since it’s YOUR Personal Learning Network, there is no right or wrong way, just your way.

This post is an introduction to create your own PLN, and the right links and tools to look for. Please click the highlighted and underlined links to take you to personally recommended sites. Lastly, when creating your own PLN, remember to always link back to your site when leaving your collaboration and contributions on other sites, like I did here. Stay connected.

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“Twitter for Teachers” Video Not Just for Teachers

Don’t let the title mislead you! This video entitled “Twitter for Teachers” is actually a great help for anyone looking to establish a personal learning network. The introduction basically works as a review of PLNs–what they are, why they’re useful, how they facilitate dialogue, etc. Beginning around the two minute mark, the video’s narrator discusses the ways to sign up for a PLN-optimized Twitter account. Even if you’re already a Twitter user, be sure to watch and see how you can re-conceptualize Twitter to work more in your favor.

Inspired by this video, I’ve decided to put together some of my own similar advice for other social networks.

Facebook

The first step is adding the right people. The more friends you have in a particular network, the more likely you are to show up on interesting users’ “People You May Know” list. And the more often you show up, the easier time you’ll have attracting attention from people with similar interests and convincing them that you “belong” to their scene. Also, adding people you admire grants you access to many of their best thoughts and shared links–that is, if they approve your requests.

Tumblr

Popular users seldom check out the blogs of new followers, but those with fewer followers might. Affiliate yourself with lesser-known Tumblr users while also following more successful blogs for better content.

It’s so easy to reblog content mindlessly, so try to add a comment if you can. A user might see and think to look at your full comment and maybe your entire blog. Reblogging posts with fewer notes might also encourage the original poster to see what you have to say.

Frequently post content that is uniquely “you” so your blog is equal parts curation and creation. This will give users more of an incentive to follow you and think of you as an online personality, not as an anonymous entity.

Instagram

Unlike Twitter, Instagram’s following-to-follower ratio matters less. No one really looks! So follow as many people as you can and hope that they follow back. And please, try to refrain from posting too many photos of your food. 🙂

Post By: Rachel H.


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Yahoo.com as a PLN Tool

yahoo_logo_2Summary:

Yahoo.com is a VERY popular search engine and multiple outlets on one platform. It provides everything from mail, news, sports, and much more. Yahoo is a great PLN tool because it already combines so many useful features needed in a PLN all in one organized place. Yahoo also provides a slideshow on their homepage of relevant current events that change depending on your specified location in the world. Yahoo is also great because it’s international. Besides holding a US email, I also hold a french account ending with .fr. This is important because it creates a broad spectrum to obtain information and link back to.

Criteria:

I really looked for differences this week in how websites we may already know of are still relevant and useful. These well known websites are known for a reason, and it’s important to recognize their importance in a ever evolving internet popularity. As usual I also looked at user friendly ness, and reliability.

Recommendation:

Most people already have an account with Yahoo, but I recommend it for its other qualities like current events. Thier posts may not be the most well written, but they get general information out there.

 


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AlJazeera as a PLN Tool

Al-Jazeera Tour

Al-Jazeera Tour (Photo credit: Sugar Cubes)

imagesSummary:

If you don’t know what AlJazeera is, you are certainly missing out! AlJazeera is a popular and well-known world news platform that is not afraid to present information and photos in their entire graphic nature. It’s no news (pun intended) that here in the U.S. and other country’s that news is filtered and altered for its intended audience. AlJazeera does the exact opposite and tells it like it is. It’s an international site that is popular for its brutal truth, it’s essentially the news we should be getting on our T.V.s. For your sake and our society, PLEASE check out AlJazeera.com.

Criteria:

Along with my other posts this week, you’ll notice I’ve been focusing on the international aspect of PLN and Curation tools. It’s important to find networks and platforms that are accessible to a wide audience, so that’s why i chose to do a more international theme. AlJazeera fits that criteria perfectly. It’s an international news channel that was started in 2006 meant to reach under reported regions. It is now in over 250 million households and growing. It’s English department is located in Doha, Qatar. Other criteria I looked for was the website readability, layout, and how the news is presented.

How it is a PLN tool:

Simply put, this is the PLN tool of all PLN tools. No where will you access the type of news and information AlJazeera provides for its audience. It’s a crucial part of our right to know what is going on, and they have severely implemented and utilized a majority of social media. They tweet, link, RSS readers, and everything we’ve been talking about on this blog, they do on their site.

Recommendation:

Without a doubt, you need to look at AlJazeera right now. RIGHT NOW. You will not believe the difference in information that is provided on their site versus what is on your T.V. and you will never go back. As an American, it really opens yours eyes as to what is really going on in my own country, from an outside perspective that is truthful and honest. This is a perfect PLN tool because it provides information that is needed to successfully understand your society and how you can become a part of it not only through the internet, but physically.


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Shareaholic

Collaboration really exists at the core of the personal learning network. PLNs facilitate sharing with colleagues, group members, and friends. With the rise of social media comes great opportunities to meet like-minded people online. The challenge is finding a way to share your best resources with those people. That’s why it could help to look into Shareaholic, a service that (if the name hasn’t given it away) assists with sharing.

Share links with friends via social networking: Some services share links internally, meaning that it’s only possible to swap links with other users of the site. Shareaholic allows users to post links to external social networks. Like something you found online? Share it immediately on Facebook or Twitter.

Keep bookmarks organized: The more you use the internet to gather information, the more sites you’ll habitually check. If you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to keep track of these sites by tidying your bookmarks. Shareaholic may work best for you, but keep in mind that this perk is in no way unique to this site. There are plenty of other bookmark organization options out there.

Add share buttons, recommended content, and analytics to your blog: Last week I suggested that Twitter users make use of analytics sites as a way to maintain relevancy and check up on their accounts. I offer the same advice to blog users. Shareholic provides many blogging tools that you might find useful and increase traffic to your blog. Plus, it’s always helpful to provide a reader-friendly site.

Post By: Rachel Hershkovitz


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Twitter Tracking

Last week I mentioned that Twitter works as a great learning tool if used properly. Now with this article from Readwrite, we can take that idea a step further and employ Twitter tracking services to find the exact information we need.

Generally speaking, tracking services limit the amount of work you need to do. The problem is, not all of them are equipped to expand your PLN. Sure, they find information, but can they build networks?

Keeping that in mind, I’ve decided to review each of Readwrite’s recommended tracking services from the perspective of someone looking to establish a PLN.

Tweetizen

This service is somewhat similar to Tweetdeck in that it allows users to tweet from the application interface. What makes it useful for PLNs lies in its networking possibilities. The “group” option on Tweetizen tracks other users according to interests–definitely of use for a PLN.

Twitscoop

Though a useful service, Twitscoop is better suited for users who need to check up on changing issues. Because the service live-updates and records “buzz” topics, it might work well for political journalists or those involved in the stock market.

Tweetchannel

Tweetchannel is engaging and interesting as sociological research. If you’re looking to understand how Twitter disseminates ideas, you might want to check this out. Otherwise, it probably won’t help too much with your PLN.

Tweetscan

It no longer exists! Even if it did, it cost money to use. And what’s the use of paying if there’s an abundance of comprehensive, free Twitter tracking services?

Twistori 

I’m in total agreement with Readwrite: Twistori is “more art” than a functional service.

Twitterfall

Readwrite warned me that this was similar to Twistori, but I decided to check it out anyway using “personal learning network” as my search term. Twitterfall did provide me with some useful content, but I can’t say that it’s superior to conducting basic searches on Twitter.

Monitter

Monitter allows you conduct not just one but three searches side by side and rapidly produces results. It definitely saves time, though it may be similar to Twitscoop in that it’s best for updates on time-sensitive and evolving issues.

The verdict: Tweetizen works best for PLNs, though all of the links were well-constructed and useful, especially those for tracking buzz topics and current events.

Post By: Rachel H.


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Grow your PLN with Social Bookmarking as a tool- Reddit

reddit_logoReddit has about 16,000,000 monthly visitors and growing. It’s one of the top websites for social bookmarking, and it looks like a hipster designed it. Doesn’t want to be cool, so it uses the same platform AOL once did. All this being said, Reddit is actually very useful, and most of all fun. Yes, fun. (Please read this one for a good laugh.)

Summary:

Reddit is a social news website for everything relevant and popular on the web. People can volunteer information, and people can request information, about anything. Urban dictionary defines Reddit as, “It’s 4chan with a condom.” Classy. Users can vote submissions “up” or “Down” in order for submissions to be on the front page and be “seen.” Reddit is essentially a great tool to discover what is trending on the web. Overall it’s a site that generates content but you don’t need to create content in order to enjoy the content.

Criteria:

When looking at reddit, I looked at the front page and how bland and misguided it can appear. It’s very ordinary and bland. It does not evoke excitement or creativity. But perhaps that’s the point, as the content itself is very eccentric and over the top. I also looked at the overall efficiency. Is it easy to use and navigate, user friendly? Well yes, most sites these days have to be user friendly in order to bring in 16M+ visitors a month! People are obviously using this site, so it must be user friendly, as everyone is navigating just fine. I love reddit, and I’m definitely the type to enjoy the content instead of post (did you click my link above?!) but I really dislike the interface. I wish it didn’t remind me of the 90’s AOL days. Screen Shot 2013-03-16 at 6.39.42 PM

Evaluation:

I chose Reddit to evaluate because I feel it’s a great tool to implement for information for your PLN. One aspect of creating and growing your PLN is finding information that is relevant to your needs. Reddit has relevant information, as well as not so relevant. The best part is you can read feedback from people and see what the public is thinking. This is fantastic for business people. I’ve used reddit just to read about people’s sex education opportunities in their lives. This brings awareness to what needs to be said and done in our communities. Off topic, but it shows how I’ve implemented reddit into my own PLN already.

Recommendation:

Yes, yes, yes. If you’re not using reddit, go sign up now, seriously. If for nothing else reddit will give you a laugh, and sometimes that’s all that is necessary to expand your PLN. Reddit is like facebook in some cases, but without all the family drama.