Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Facelift and other Substantive Changes

This weekend, I decided to give my blog a facelift.  More than just an updated look, this change marks an important shift in my thinking about my blog.  Since my first post in January 2010, I have written my blog for me and me alone.  Even during those semesters when we were asked to comment on other students’ blogs, I never imagined as I was writing that the audience was anyone other than me.  But as I am now making a concerted effort to grow my personal learning network (PLN) and starting to feel as though I might have interesting things to add to the conversation, I hope that some in my PLN will find my blog and, dare I say, comment on a post or two!

In addition to the new visual theme, I’ve added a couple of pages.  One is “About me” which is a pretty standard kind of introduction about what I do and why I blog.  Hmmm… actually, it doesn’t say why I blog… mental note to make that edit soon. As I’ve been adding to my PLN and checking out interesting blogs, the about me page (or some variation of it) tends to be a page I look at to see what I can surmise about the author and his/her motivation for writing the blog.  I thought it only fair to offer the same consideration to anyone checking out my blog.

The other page I added was one I called “The best of…”, and it includes links to pinnacle writings from most of the classes I’ve taken in the M.Ed. program so far.  (I’m still working to find the right writings for some classes.)  These papers and projects demonstrate the breadth and depth of my thinking and include topics I’ve not covered in my blog. While it is true that part of the reason I added this page was because my blog is supposed to be an e-portfolio of all my work during the program, I must fess up to a more selfish (maybe even egotistical) reason, too.  I think they’re pretty damn good papers, and I would be tickled pink if somebody read them and thought so, too.

The final substantive change I made over the weekend was to change the website link listed on my Twitter account.  When I first established my presence on Twitter, I was out of work and not yet enrolled in this program, but I was a Board member of Southeastern Virginia Golden Retriever Rescue, Education, and Training, so I decided to give the rescue a plug and list that website.  Now that I’m using Twitter as a major avenue for building my PLN, I realize I need to give myself the shout-out instead.  Oh look, there I go being selfish again!  But a little self-promotion might be just what I need.

“To establish oneself in the world, one does all one can to seem established there already.”
François de La Rochefoucauld
French Essayist (1613 – 1680)

[Quotation sourced from]


Posted by on September 30, 2012 in ADLT 641



Twitter Revisited

“Twitter is _______________.”

That was the question posed by Jonathan Becker — J.D., Ph.D., and distinguished guest at the  Bammy awards — on the night he took over ADLT 641.  My response to that question is Twitter is finally clicking for me!

This past spring semester, the Adult Literacy and Diversity class took on Twitter as a new literacy to explore.  While Twitter was not brand new to me then, I was still very much in the lurking phase — or put in a more academic way — still very much in the peripheral participation phase.  In a series of blog posts at the end of the semester, I reviewed When and Why I Started Tweeting, Who I am on Twitter, and Where I Think Twitter Falls Short.  Since then, the first and second ideas haven’t changed much, but I would like to take another stab in defense of Twitter now that we’ve gotten to know each other better.

By no means have I joined the ranks of Dr. Becker among the Twitterazzi, but I am having more substantive conversations on Twitter, sharing more, and beginning to understand the concept of back channeling (aka tweeting in class).  And I geeked out big time when I was recently RT’d by @jeremyhobson from Marketplace Morning Report!

Since those posts back in May, I have doubled the number of people I am following and nearly doubled the number of people following me.  I haven’t completely figured out the etiquette, if there even is one, for following people back who follow me.  Usually, I will check out their profile, and if I see recent posts that look interesting, I’ll follow them.  However, I am still one of those “old school” types who only checks Twitter at night on my laptop (mostly due to having a personal “dumb” phone).  The company I work for has Twitter blocked while management continues to struggle with how to capture tweets for FINRA purposes since we are in such a highly regulated industry. All that to say, the time I can devote to catching up on all the tweets I miss during the day is limited, so I am still selective with who I add to my feed.

Where I see great opportunity for Twitter and me is in the ability to tap into a professional community of practice.  As I have mentioned ad nauseam throughout this program, I am hoping to make a career change, and while many in the professional network I have built over my 20+ year career in marketing will continue to be relevant, I am looking for ways to expand my contacts within the adult education / training field, and esp. with my budding passion for all these cool social media tools, I think Twitter will be a good place to start.  It’s kind of ironic that I started exploring Twitter as a way to stay current on marketing trends and now plan to use it to put my marketing career behind me.


Posted by on September 23, 2012 in ADLT 641


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R.I.P. Morgan Freeman

Thankfully, it was just another internet hoax, and it only took me a couple of clicks around the web to settle my heart back into place after I saw this in my Facebook status feed recently.  But it raises the issue of the power of the media and the need to be able to discern fact from fiction — a question we began to tackle in class this past week.

In some ways, I think it’s easier than ever to determine validity or falsehood with the vast resources available on the web; however, I think the burden of proof has shifted from the source to the sourcer.

But does it takes a new kind of literacy to make that call, or just variations on a theme?  For example, do you believe everything you hear on the news?  News casts have biases, and their reporters are synthesizing materials from various sources, so there is room for error.  Take, for example, the early news reportings about the SCOTUS ruling on healthcare reform.  Let’s see… which media outlet should I cite to talk about the other media outlets’ erroneous reports?  How about we go with the L.A. Times, since they pick on both the left and the right with their headline:  Fox, CNN blow it in initial calls on Supreme Court healthcare ruling.

On a more personal level, I learned how sensationalized a news story can be when I was involved in a large-scale rescue of dogs from a hoarding situation almost 4 years ago.  I was part of the team from one of the Golden Retriever rescue groups that went to a farm in Isle of Wight County to rescue close to 80 Goldens, many of whom were sick with heartworms… and worse.  While the details of the rescue were hard enough to see first-hand, many of the newscasters added dramatic emphasis during their stories, and several got their facts wrong.  (To their credit, WAVY 10 in Virginia Beach had fairly accurate coverage.)

Both of these examples illustrate basic principles of evaluating information you see, read, or hear.  Don’t believe everything you read.  Do read the fine print.  Consider (or determine) the source.  Seek additional resources that support (or refute) the claim.  I believe these hold true online as well, but don’t take my word for it!  If you want further proof, check out this post on InfoPlease (the fine print says InfoPlease is part of Pearson).  It’s an excerpt from The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Writing Well. I mean really… how much gooder of a resource is there!


Posted by on September 17, 2012 in ADLT 641


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If I build it, will they come?

I’m a little fixated on this idea of a personal learning network (PLN).  Not because it’s new — as I wrote in a previous post, I’ve been building my network for years.  I’m fixated because I want it to be better!  I want it to be more interactive — less of me just sponging up all the information out there and more of me providing something useful to others.  I can’t really call it paying it forward, because I’ve got years of being the sponge to pay back first.

The idea for this post came from a weak link in my current PLN.  Two semesters ago, I ran across a presentation on SlideShare that fit perfectly with a project I was working on for ADLT 650.  I found the creator of the presentation on Twitter and decided to follow her.  For months, her posts would show up in my feed but not really resonate with me.  Then, this morning, two posts from her that reached out and slapped me across the face in terms of their relevance to my studies.  The first was a primer for open education.  The second was a TED talk by Dave Eggers on a tutoring program he founded for inner city school children with the help of his writers network.  Of what relevance is that to adult education?  Maybe none directly, but in the course of his talk, Eggers spoke of opening the tutoring center and waiting weeks before the first children came in for help.  That got me thinking about my PLN and how I built it but am still looking for the right tools to bring people to it.  To borrow from my current profession, I haven’t done a good job of marketing my PLN.

So how do I bring my PLN to life?  How do I get — as one of my classmates said — the connections that I reached out to to reach back to me?  Another classmate tweeted that all I needed to do was reference the boy band One Direction, and I would have an instant following.  In fact, just by tweeting that to me, she gained another follower!  (We’ll see if that holds true for this blog post!)  But she’s got a point… I need to write about stuff that other people want to read.  The internet may be the great platform of participation, but I need to find ways to cut through the clutter and be found.  I’m open to any and all suggestions!


Posted by on September 9, 2012 in ADLT 641


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The Current State of my PLN

I recently started to learn new names for something I have long valued as important — my network of contacts.  Last semester I was introduced to George Siemens and his theory of connectivism of which I was instantly a fan.  From my fondness for chaos theory to my interest in Eastern thinking, connectivism fit me.  Now, we’re talking about a Personal Learning Network, or PNL, that is the outward demonstration of what Siemens lists as one of the principles of connectivism — that nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.

During a prolonged period of unemployment, I started in earnest to create my online presence, first by growing my connections on LinkedIn, as that seemed the most appropriate for my job search.  At first I connected with the obvious people, i.e., former co-workers and bosses.  But I also reached out to people with whom I had lesser ties (also called weak ties) and was surprised with their affirmative responses.  I joined professional organizations and sought out their online spaces for more resources.  I also started to explore social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.  Over the years, there has come to be a fair amount of overlap between my connections, such that I tend less and less to view them as distinct networks, but rather subsets of my overall network of contacts.  And now, as I seek out ways to blend my academic pursuits with my desired career change, I’m looking for ways to integrate some of my digital tools, such as my blog that has been exclusively tied to school, with my broader network.

I am completely on board with Siemens’ assertion that “the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses.”  Since one of the expectations for this class is that we will develop (or grow) our PLN, I wanted to put a stake in the ground here at the beginning of the semester so I can see how my PLN grows and changes during the next 16 weeks.


Post Script: At the end of the semester, I presented “My Personal Learning Network” with a graphic that depicted several different facets of my PLN that expanded, were added, were yet to be fully explored, or — in the case of my RSS feed — failed miserably during our 16 week exploration of digital media.  My PLN remains a work in progress.  I hope you’ll continue on this journey with me.


Posted by on September 3, 2012 in ADLT 641


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