Mapping my PLN

PLN Analysis by I Stewart (1)

This is my final Extend Activity for the Collaborator Module. I took my time in completing this and considered who I might like to add to my PLN. I wanted to look for some thought leaders to add, outside all the wonderful leaders that are already in my Ontario Extend network. I had already added Rajiv Jhangiani as he was a keynote speaker at a recent Open Education Summit that I attended. I added Jesse Stommel and JR Dingwall to my list.

During my thinking time, I also Zoomed with Terry Greene about some of my struggles coming up with this map. I VConnected with Helen DeWaard and Terry Greene and really enjoyed that opportunity to listen in to Festival of Learning 2018. I have appreciated reading and receiving feedback about my blog. I also joined the Making Sense of Open Education lead by Jenni Hayman and have learned from participating in the discussion forums. Later this week, I will have Zoom lunch with Alan Levine and others from Extend West!

I think my struggle with developing my PLN map came from, at that time, participating primarily through Twitter. By extending the ways I interact with other in my PLN, my map and my experiences are richer.

Day 2 – Reflecting on Building an Open Community

Making Sense of Open Education: Day 2 Building an Open Community – today’s learning centered on understanding a Community of Practice (CoP) and ways to find one. This connects neatly with my professional development efforts using OntarioExtend and my beginning development of a Professional Learning Network (PLN).

Let me begin by saying that I am very new at this. I have been working on my PLN for five weeks using Twitter. I am still sorting out what it is that I might be able to contribute.

In the readings, there were two aspects that struck a chord with me. In discussing the challenges of  CoPs, Hayman pointed out that:

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Photo by Elisabetta Foco on Unsplash

“If you are a marginalized person in your local context and/or workplace, if you feel like your opinions and voice are not valued, joining a new community can feel very risky.” Making Sense of Open Education Day 2 by Jenni Hayman is licensed with a CC BY 4.0 International license

 

I hesitate to admit that I am a marginalized person because there is a potential backlash for even saying so. I am a faculty member, as outlined in our Collective Agreement, but because I work in Student Services, I am often discounted by faculty who teach in the classroom. Part the reason is the structures we work under where faculty who teach are in the Academic Sector and faculty (generally counsellors and librarians) in the Student Services are in another sector. When surveys or registrations require you to “pick a school,” faculty like me who are school-less, cannot be heard or participate (unless you complain). When information is disseminated by schools, I don’t hear about it. Because faculty who teach are the majority, the professional development opportunities are geared to their needs. This and other experiences leave me feeling as an other.

I struggle to not feel like an other in Open Education professional development experiences as well because I don’t teach in a traditional sense. I do small-scale teaching with one time workshops, training tutors, seminars and other out-of-class experiences for students. I work on pilot projects that don’t fit anywhere else but this could mean that I have more opportunities to be open.

So yes, joining a new community feels very risky! I don’t know if I will be accepted or if I have something to offer and I don’t want to just take from the community. But at the same time, being new to this PLN building, I have found lurking to be a good strategy.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

“It’s also completely okay (you don’t need anyone’s permission) to observe the course and the behaviours and communication of others in the course as part of your learning. This is sometimes called “lurking” in the online teaching and learning environment, but it’s not a very positive term. Observing (as many new-to-something learners do) is a valuable activity in the learning process.” Making Sense of Open Education Day 2 by Jenni Hayman is licensed with a CC BY 4.0 International license

I am learning a lot by observing including how to participate, what kinds of things to post, how to respond to posts, and what the social norms are like in this online community. At the same time, I am finding thought leaders to follow, organizations of interest, technology I can use, sources of OER and lots of information about Open Education. Oh yea, and I am learning to blog too!

Featured Image Photo by Nathaniel Tetteh on Unsplash

NOTE: I am participating in a 15 day MOOC on Open University called Making Sense of Open Education and will blog entries to fulfil the activity requirement.

Extending my PLN through Twitter

My adventures in creating a Personal Learning Network (PLN) is only weeks old. However, through OntarioExtend – the modules, the blogging and the Dailies, I already have a fruitful PLN growing.

First Steps:

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Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson on Unsplash
  • I began with the Daily Extend. I created one and tweeted it. Then I watched for people to either tweet a Daily or like a Daily. If they did, I followed them.
  • I created my first blog and added it to the ExtendWest blog feed. Then I read other blog posts that showed up and found those folks on Twitter and followed them.
  • I attended two conferences in early May, the Open Education Summit 2018 held in Windsor, Ontario and the OntarioExtend’s ExtendWest Kick-off event held in Sarnia, Ontario. I added people I met to twitter. I tweeted about the events and searched #oes2018 and #ExtendWest and added people who were also tweeting about these events.

Second Steps:

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Then I started cleaning up:

  • I did not follow back everyone who followed me. When someone follows me, I check them out first. Is this person just looking to increase their follower count or do they have something interesting to offer me? If the person is creating new tweets (not just retweeting) and has interests in common with me – particularly in teaching, learning, technology, professional development… I follow them back.
  • I checked the list of people I follow and thought about why they are on the list. If I couldn’t come up with at least one good reason, I unfollowed them.
  • I discovered Twitter lists. I love lists. After I add someone, I put them in a list based on categories. It helps me remember why I added them and when I review, I can decide if they are worth keeping. Sounds mercenary, but you have to be worthy of my time and I will do my best to be worthy of yours.

Taking Further Steps:

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Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash
  • Now I am watching my feed and looking for people who people I respect follow especially those that more than one person I respect follow! I add these new sources.
  • I am also thinking about and looking for organizations that work towards goals that are important to me. Here is one to consider adding to your PLN: @Womenalsoknowstuff
  • I am also beginning to explore Twitter Chats and VConnecting.

The Big Step:

I can’t just lurk in the background, taking from my PLN and offering back only likes. I have to figure out what I can contribute. I am not sure what that is yet.

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Photo by Elaine Casap on Unsplash

In the meantime, I am okay with the idea that it is early days and I am still learning about cultivating my PLN. But along the way, I am doing a lot of learning by observing. And of course, the Collaborating Module in OntarioExtend is providing a good road map. I am going to repeat this activity in about the month and see how my PLN has changed!

Featured Image screenshot from TAGSExplorer while playing with Replay Tweets was taken and decorated with TechSmith Snag-it.

 

Sirona Vapes After Dark

The title of this post is the name of one of my Vaping Shows. For the last 18 months, I have been part of a community that produces online broadcasts using either OBS or Xsplit for the Vaping community. So what does this have to do with creating a PLN. A lot, actually. I have been very interested in different ways of communicating online with technology and I have used other interests such as vaping and gaming to explore those technologies. I found that I am a teacher and a communicator where ever I am and I have been able to extend my learning through leisure activities to my work as a faculty member at a Ontario college.

Using Coggle, I created a map of the types of communication technologies I use in different arenas of my life (pictured below). I have been a full-time faculty for almost 11 years with another 13 years of part-time teaching and support staff contracts at St. Clair College. I have been an online gamer for 13 years and a vape broadcaster for a year and a half. I have been working on a PLN using Twitter for just over a month. Not long at all in comparison.

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I have more experiences in developing and maintaining a Personal Learning Network with the Vaping and Gaming communities then I do with the Higher Education community. My gaming experiences in creating a YouTube channel of instructional videos and my broadcasting experiences in the vaping community improved my ability to create videos for my work. Using chat through Skype and Discord with players from all over the world increased my cultural awareness of communication patterns and pitfalls that has helped me in speaking with and understanding my International students and tutors. Building reciprocal relationships though Facebook helps me to better understand what is needed to develop online connections on Twitter with other Higher Ed professionals. But I am still finding it hard to generalize my experiences and to understand the requirements of the Collaborator Module for Ontario Extend.

Perhaps part of this stems from my struggles in trying to create a PLN at the college with other faculty. As a faculty member in Student Services, I have found that Academic faculty and others in the Academic sector often don’t think of Student Services people as faculty. I am currently classified as a counsellor and while I may not be a professor, I do have a practice that includes teaching. I have an interest in teaching and learning but do not have many opportunities to meet with and talk with faculty outside of Student Services. The kinds of meetings we have and the sort of communication vehicles we use (email and telephone) do not lend themselves to community building or finding allies. Even our schedules make this difficult. As faculty who are scheduled 35 hours per week, we have regular lunch periods and most in-class faculty have, can I say, erratic schedules that don’t necessarily allow for a 12 noon to 1 pm break.

I will attempt to create a PLN map for the Extend Activity, I just hope I can figure out at least 10 people to put on it!

Good for students; Good for us too.

Catch them doing something right. I remember this advice from when my children were small. The idea was instead of always pointing out the mistake a child was making (negative attention), I should actively watch for the actions, behaviours and attitudes I valued and give praise (positive attention). It worked.

Here’s the thing, it works with students too. In addition to the correct knowledge that we want them to have, we have skills, behaviours and attitudes we value. When we are assessing their work, we need to be looking to catching them doing something right. I was reminded of this when reading patches from the Open Faculty Patchbook. My nugget is:

Give affirming feedback, where you highlight what the student has done well. This can be a powerful means of building student confidence and engagement, and can directly reinforce good performance. ” (Awwad & Bali, 2017)

This is sage advice for us in Extend West as we seek to grow in our knowledge, skills, behaviours and attitudes. We should give and seek affirming feedback in our learning cohort. I have been considering asking for feedback on my blog and thinking about what kind of feedback would best help me learn and grow. One technique I have used with classes is Stop, Start and Continue.

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The basic model is to ask for three types of feedback. A stop, something I should stop doing. A start, a new idea to incorporate, to start. And finally, a continue, something that is good and that I should continue. The continue is always the part that makes me feel better after hearing all the things I do that I should and all the things that I don’t do that I should.

For blog posts, the model could be used by asking a critical friend the following questions:

  • Stop – what is something that is detracting from my blog?
  • Start – what is something that you have seen others do, or you do yourself that could improve my blog?
  • Continue – what is something that you like about my blog that I should keep?

Structuring our request for feedback in this way can ensure that we get information that we can use and that affirms. When I think about my extending experiences, I feel a bit like the climber in the featured image, I am working my way up and even though I have some safety equipment, it still feels scary. I need advice like don’t put your foot there and use your guide rope as well as the keep going, you can do it. I need the stop, the start and the continue.

If you would like to explore how to use Stop, Start and Continue in the classroom, Boston University has a good explanation of getting feedback using this model. And here is an approach on using the model for team building from Retruim.

Featured Image Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

References

Awwad, A. & Bali, M. (2017, May 25). Patch nine: Shifting your design of assessments. Retrieved from https://facultypatchbook.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/patch-nine-shifting-your-design-of-assessments/

It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood!

As I am growing my PLN on Twitter, I am breaking a known social convention. Just because you follow me, I am not following you back. In order to get my follow-back, you must have something worthwhile to offer me, unless you are a cat. Cats always get follow-backs.

I need there to be a reason to follow you (or your organization). You have to fit into one of my LISTS on twitter, you need to belong to a ‘hood! New people I am meeting through Ontario Extend belong in one list. These may be folks involved in #ExtendWest or folks recommended by Extenders.  That along with Education – Organizations is my Professional Development School of Awesomeness, if you will.

The St. Clair College list is my work, Vaping Advocates is my political interest and Chatham-Kent is my local news. Opinions of Interest is a group of people who are famous in some way but that is not why I am following them. Each has a different perspective on life and the world that they share that is beyond tabloid nonsense. I may be a fan of their work, but I follow them to read their ideas.

Finally, I think everyone should occasionally stop and pet the cats. Or smell the flowers, or run with dogs, or watch a sunset… a little lightness and humour give you some balance in your neighbourhood.

I want to shift out the noise and nonsense of twitter and keep it meaningful.

P.S. I used Snag-it from TechSmith to take the picture and add the monster stamps. I purchased this using their Student/Education pricing policy which was reasonable. I would recommend this tool.

Meet PLN Warrior

PLN Warrior’s  superpower is harnessing the web to create a personal learning NETwork of like-minded heros who will work to build and defend an open learning environment that seeks to benefit all! We are just a few days into #ExtendWest and I am already seeing the benefits of having a personal learning network with the tool of Twitter. It is energizing and nourishing. However, I am seeing that to benefit and to be a benefit to others, you have to go in with a superhero mind-set.

The superhero mind-set is this idea that I will use my gifts and talents, my skills and knowledge to help other by sharing and encouraging and I will accept others’ gifts and talents and encouragement to become better. A superhero works to make the world better, not just for themselves, but for everyone.

A superhero also needs a nemesis and I believe the nemesis is that the open learning movement is a privilege. As Amira Dhalla discusses in her blog post The Dangers of Being Open, “being open is actually elite.” And if that is true, we need to work to make it not elite and not only open to the privileged. I am just starting out, I am a baby or a novice superhero, so I don’t have all the answers. Actually, I don’t even have all the questions, but I am starting with committing to being open and inclusive and to face the potential dark underbelly open learning.

PLN Warrior was created with Marvel HQ Create your own superhero.

This post is a response to Ontario Extend’s Daily Extend #oext168 What does your superhero look like?