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Tag Archives: personal learning network

Making the Square Round

I started this M.Ed. program three years ago. At the time, I wanted to make a career change and find a job in corporate training, something I had dabbled in previously providing product training to the sales teams I supported. Since then, I have gone back and forth about whether it is really a corporate environment I want or maybe an academic setting where I can put my adult education training to work. All the while, though, it has been a trainer/teacher position I imagined.  This semester, however, has shown me that there are many more opportunities in adult ed than just being the one facilitating the education.

In my 20+ years in marketing, I have worn a lot of hats — writer, editor, event planner, agency liaison, public relations coordinator, web site content manager, and campaign result analyzer, often all under the same job title. Marketing isn’t just a job, it’s many jobs. And like so many other comparisons I’ve blogged about over the past few years, here again marketing and adult education parallel. Through the design challenge projects we’ve worked on this semester, I have seen that as an adult educator, I am likely to wear many hats again — trainer, developer, designer, scheduler, platform evaluator, provider of tech support as well as some of my familiar roles as writer, editor, and event planner.

To be honest, this is not a completely new realization, as I had stumbled across this SlideShare presentation last year. However, this semester is, as some of my classmates have noted, a capstone course in our chosen track of educational technology, which is making me realize how close I am to being ready to find a job in my new chosen field. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a scary realization. Not scary in the sense that being an adult educator means so many different things, because I’m used to that in marketing. What’s scary is trying to show a potential employer that while none of these job titles appear on my resume, I can be an asset to their team as an instructional designer, instructional developer, eLearning technologist, or project manager.

Actually, that last title is on my resume, but it has the words “marketing communications” in front of it. Much of my past experience does transfer nicely into adult education, but it’s going to take a little work on my part to convince a potential employer of that. To that end, I am glad to have the diversity of projects this semester to gain experience on real-world problems working with people in the field I desire to be in. Merging the goal of this class with that of last semester’s class: experience + my PLN = (I hope) my foot in the door.

I am the square pegMore so than my resume, my blog has become the showcase for what I can do. Therefore, I respectfully submit this little corner of the web as evidence that I can be an effective member of your learning team. While you can find plenty of applicants with work experience that fits exactly with the role you’re hiring for, I believe that my academic studies plus myriad experience demonstrate the adaptability and intelligence that are not only needed in this role, but are also essential as the organization grows and faces new opportunities and challenges. I look forward to hearing from you to schedule a time to discuss my application.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in ADLT 642

 

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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 quotes.dictionary.com]

 
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Posted by on September 30, 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!

 
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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 Mural.ly 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.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in ADLT 641

 

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