Sue Waters Blog

November 30, 2009
by Sue Waters
14 Comments

Using Public Google Waves For Personal Learning

There’s always a shiny new toy– and with it the stampede to use.

Yes that was also me once too :(  Nowadays I’ve learnt very slow, steady saves time and my sanity.

So I’m incredibly proud of the fact that I’ve never watched ANY Google Wave videos, read ANY tutorials and avoided every invite until I stumbled across a reason for investigating.

My motivation was I discovered you can set up public waves that any one can join.

I decided this was a good way for me and other educators to learn how to use Wave, by working together with each other, while also seeing how Wave might be used for personal learning (and with student).

Joining a Public Wave

We’ve called our public wave eduwave.

Joining  it is as easy as:

  1. Search for Eduwave by typing with:public Eduwave into search and then hit Enter.Searching for a public wave
  2. Now all you need to do is click Follow once you’ve found Eduwave to start following it. Following a wave
  3. Feel free to add your own replies to the wave, test different features and send me a tweet (@suewaters) if you want me to log in and join you.

Off course I’m proud of the fact that my friends taught me quickly how to use Wave.

Creating a Public Wave

Big thanks to Rob Wall for quickly locating the information I needed to create the public wave.

All you need to do is:

  1. Add [email protected] to your contacts lists by clicking on Add new Contact, enter the email address [email protected] and then click Enter Adding public@a.gwave.com
  2. It should add Public to your Contact list
  3. Now hover your mouse over Public’s avatar and select new wave Creating a public wave

Now anyone in Google Wave can search and add themselves to your public wave.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Please share your thoughts on Google Wave.

Your like(s), Dislike(s), What’s cool? Your tips… and links to any tutorials that I should have read 8-)

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October 4, 2009
by Sue Waters
19 Comments

A Year Later And Are We Using Different Tools To Connect To Our PLNs?

One year ago I asked my network to complete a survey on Personal Learning Network.

The survey was used in a series of presentations and to build my PLN Yourself website.

Being a year later I’m wondering how much has changes?  Are we using different tools to connect?  Are the tools we would recommend to new people different?

Can you help in the following ways:

  1. Can you please complete my new Personal Learning Networks Survey?
    • There are only 2 questions
  2. Can you promote my Personal Learning Networks Survey to your network using a range of tools?
    • For example blog post, twitter, plurk, Facebook so responses aren’t biased by promotion by one tool or one individual

If you do promote this survey can you please link to this post by creating a pingback and/or leaving a comment?  So I have a record of all the different ways in which this latest survey has been promoted?

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June 21, 2009
by Sue Waters
14 Comments

Baiting the Digital Hook to Build A Professional Learning Community!

Last week I was invited to present on PLNs (personal learning networks) as part of Getting Connected 09 for The Australian Flexible Learning Frameworks.

As the conference targeted the VET sector I decided to take a different PLN approach and share how social networking tools can create communities of professionals, and students, that help each other.

Skills level of participants

Participants were surveyed near the start of the session to help guide how little/much information on each aspect need to be explained. The results are shown in the table below (Yes= has their own or uses with their students; No = doesn’t have own or use with students; No response = they didn’t respond to the question).

Value of Creating Communities

The message for creating professional learning communities using social networking tools was similar to PLNs. Our daily face-to-face interactions offer limited opportunities for:

  • Asking our work colleagues/students questions
  • Reflecting on ideas with each other
  • Effectively sharing information

Social networking tools provide the ability to easily connect ourselves, our students, with educators in the same/similar fields, and people from industry to form a global community. This greatly increases opportunities to receive assistance and provide assistance.

The main difference to a PLN is technology skills of individuals you may want as part of your professional learning community are often (very) low. This means you need to use a range of tools including ones they are more likely to feel comfortable using.

To stay sane remember:

  • Not everyone will share your excitement (and it is unrealistic to think they will)
  • Let them choose whether or not they join
  • Don’t be offended if you can’t encourage everyone to participate
  • Be grateful for those that do participate
  • It takes time!

During the session I discussed the main tools I use for aquaculture industry to highlight their benefits and how it can be done.

Facebook

In terms of aquaculture Facebook is used mainly with my students (but I do have some work colleagues in my account). My students are given the option to add me to their Facebook account knowing that they can email me, use the chat or leave comments on my wall.

Years ago I used to give students my email address and never get got any emails. With Facebook student regularly contact me to help with both my work and other courses. Many continue to remain in contact when they leave.

Ning

Our AquaEd Ning community to connect educators, industry and my students together (consists of members from within Australia and oversees).

Benefits of Ning are ability to have forums, upload photos, upload/share videos and easily email all members etc.

For me this Ning community meant I was about to source training material and images to use for an aquaculture elearning unit. I couldn’t have sourced this material as well (or as quickly) using traditional methods.

My students, and other community members, are using this Ning to share what they are doing and ask others questions.

Ning challenges are you need to be prepared to facilitate and encourage conversation. The more people you can encourage to help you facilitate the more likely it will grow. As a Ning owner you need to closely monitor all new members (using RSS) due to spammers.

Twitter

Never thought it would happen but have people from aquaculture joining my twitter account. Which has been excellent because they also then join AquaEd Ning.

As these people are already into social networking they add value to your community because they aren’t reluctant users.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This session was recorded and you can watch it here!

My advice for building a community remains the same as for a PLN — your first step is to start using these tools for your own learning then start thinking how you can connect with members from your industry. Check out my PLN Yourself website to get started!

Meanwhile for those that have created professional learning communities — please share your stories. What has worked well? What aspects have caused problems?

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March 10, 2009
by Sue Waters
15 Comments

What Are Your 5 Top Web tools For Managing Your Workload?

Image of top toolsAs part of my presentations on Personal Learning Networks (PLN) I created a PLN Yourself site to help new people work through setting up their own Personal Learning network.

The site focuses on the top 5 tools for building your own PLN based on 196 responses in my Personal Learning Network (PLN) Survey.

This site has been popular but is it catering adequately for people new to using web technologies?  For those already engage in social networking we appreciate the value of building our PLN.  But it must seem very foreign concept for new people?  Perhaps tools that help them manage their workload or do it more effectively would increase their desire to learn how to use web technologies?

So I’ve decided to build onto my PLN Yourself site by adding the 5 top tools for for managing your workload.  Once again I would like to model how PLNs work.

I’m hoping you can help me in the following ways:

  1. Please complete my survey on Tools for Managing Your Workload – will take less than 1 minute
  2. Can you ask your network to complete my survey on Tools for Managing Your Workload – if you blog about it can you send a pingback to this post

FINAL THOUGHTS

Results from this survey will be shared on this blog and used to determine which 5 tools to include on my PLN Yourself site.

Another aspect I would like to add to my PLN information is when and/or who were the reasons why you started building your own personal learning network?

  1. Can you remember when you first started to use online tools and build your network?
  2. Was it a conference presentation, workshop, person or information you read online?
  3. Which people do you feel have influenced you the most to want to build your network?

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December 15, 2008
by Sue Waters
6 Comments

Insomnia, Twitter and Personal Learning Networks!

Been suffering from insomnia for the past few weeks so imagine my surprise when I started up my computer at 3.00 AM to suddenly see the following tweet on my desktop:

Image of Tweet

mmmm who is Amber and why is she talking about me?

Going back through Rob’s tweets I discover that Amber Macarthur is doing her keynote presentation at #wrcac08. So now I’m definitely pondering what’s happening.

From Google I discovered that #wrcac08 is The Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee Symposium 2008 in Canada and David Warlick was also doing a keynote. After checking the conference program and discovering Amber Macarthur was on the “Dos and Don’ts of Social Media and Using Web 2.0″ I became seriously worried 8O

Lets be honest you truly never know what conversations you’ll see in my twitter account. I’ve had some classic ones such as:

Thankfully Rob De Lorenzo relieved my worry with the following tweet:

Image of Rob\'s second Tweet

All of this is pretty amazing considering I live in Perth, Western Australia and are hearing about this happening on the opposite side of the World.

Best of all Rob and I engaged in conversation in Twitter and later he joined us at Free Online PD where we talked about Communities of Practice and Professional Learning Communities. After seeing how we are using Elluminate to connect with each other he is now trying to set up something similar for educators living in Canada.

Please contact Rob De Lorenzo if you live in Canada and are interested in being involved.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Twitter is an important part of my Personal Learning Network and increases my opportunity to connect with others.

If you aren’t using twitter or are new to twitter I suggest you:

  1. Check out my “Quick Start Guide to New Twitters
  2. Remember to use @replies when talking directly to people . For example if you are asking me a question use @suewaters at the start of your tweet.

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December 14, 2008
by Sue Waters
4 Comments

Overview of Connected Trainer Workshop From Converge08

This post is a quick overview of The Connected Trainer workshop (45 mins) that I presented with Simon Brown at Converge08. Since the participants were shown an overwhelming number of online tools throughout the conference we decided it was better for them to reflect on they could become more connected.

Survey of Workshop Participants

Before the workshop we tried to survey how connected participants attending our session were so we could design the session to better suit their needs. Unfortunately people choose which sessions to attend on the actual day of the conference which made the task hard. However we did get 15 responses to our survey.

The image below shows the number of responses to use of each tool. Please note : Basic meant they had heard of the tool but had minimal experience using; Average meant had used the tool and have reasonable ability; and Advanced meant they had their own site that they regularly update.

Image of survey results

So instead we ended up quickly surveying the participants at the beginning of the session using a shortened version of the survey and writing their response on the Powerpoint. Majority had minimal experience to no knowledge of using blogs, wikis, podcasts, photosharing, feed readers, personalised start pages, microblogging tools and social bookmarking tools. However there were also some very experienced users within the workshop.

With both surveys it was interesting to see the limited exposure to some of the more handy tools such as Google Documents, Slideshare and Personalised home pages.

Getting Participants To Reflect On Their Connectedness

Instead of doing a workshop where we did all the talking we decided to engage them in conversation by using Flipcharts. I’d had seen Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach use Flipcharts effectively at a workshop.

The idea was for them to work in groups to consider the issues and challenges facing them plus work out the actions they needed to take to become more connected. For those already connected we asked them to consider ways of helping others within their organisation become more connected.

Unfortunately we hadn’t factored into account that the room would be a sloping Theatrette with fabric on the side walls that restricted the area where the flipcharts could be used. While it did work room layout made it harder.

Image of room

As groups they rotated through the Flipcharts answering the following questions:

  1. Question 1: What are the barriers that are stopping you from connecting now?
  2. Question 2: How would you connect if you didn’t have any barriers? What would your choices be?
  3. Question 3: How will you find the answers to learn how to become more connected?
  4. Question 4: What are three action that you will take as a result of attending this conference to become more connected?

Image of Flipchart

Below are photos of their responses on the Flipcharts:


After the groups wrote their responses on the Flipcharts we got a person to read out the answers on each Flipchart and then we all discussed the responses. Both Simon and I also learnt about tools neither of us had heard of which was excellent.

Its been good to see that people at the conference, as well as people within my personal learning network, are using my PLN Yourself website and are increasing their connections to other educators.

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December 8, 2008
by Sue Waters
10 Comments

How Tweet It is! PD in the 21st Century

Image of Slide TitleThis week I was invited to Melbourne to present at Converge08 by eWorks. I was involved in two presentations:

  1. How Tweet IT is! PD in the 21st Century
  2. The Connected Trainer – presenting with Simon Brown

Emphasis of both was on the different aspects of personal learning networks (PLNs). This post is a quick overview of my “How Tweet IT is! PD in the 21st Century” presentation.

Why this title? To highlight how increasing numbers of people are using online tools to create their own personal learning networks (PLNs) which enhance their professional development (PD) beyond what is often achievable in traditional f2f workshops.

Throughout the entire presentation (1 hr) I tried to model how a PLN works by:

  1. Making the conference participants part of my personal learning network (approx. 300 people) by giving people tasks and encouraging conversation
  2. Sharing results from my PLN survey while also live demoing the most popular tools used in building PLNs
  3. Asking my online PLN to engage with the audience (using Twitter)

Using Conference Participants as a PLN

I explained that in a PLN members frequently help each other and provide assistance. This is how I used conference participants as my personal learning network:Image of macbook

  1. Official photographer (Becky) – used my Canon Powershot to take photos of whatever interested her.
  2. Flickr Poster (Steve Cahill) – used my iphone to take photos and upload immediately to Flickr using FlickrUP.
  3. MacBook Assistant – Seconds before my presentation was due to start we discovered a problem with my Internet connection so had to borrow Carol McCulloch’s laptop to use her wireless and she had to use my MacBook for the conference live blogging. She had never used a Mac previously so an audience member stood behind Carol and helped when necessary.
  4. Office 2007 Assistants – I’d never used Office 2007 or Vista so I enlisted the participants to help whenever I got stuck
  5. To answer questions and vote (on if they used a tool and off course their favorite chocolate :) )

Becky, Steve and Carol had never used the technology which I used to emphasize that in PLN’s we learn by playing until we find out how it works; and if we get into trouble we ask others for help (which they all did). PS Carol may have muttered some un-nice words about both the MacBook and me (I definitely owed her big time! Thanks so much Carol for the help).

Poor Steve, my iphone was playing up and the SIM card locked up on him….. So he also learnt that being part of a PLN can be stressful sometimes :)

Below are photos taken by Becky and Steve during the presentation:

Survey Results of Conference Participants

Most people at the conference had limited knowledge and experience using the main tools for building a PLN.

Very few had used Twitter so during the presentation I demonstrated the instantaneous nature of twitter by sending the following tweets to my twitter network:

Image of Tweet

I added the discussion of chocolate so I could highlight that what question you ask impacts on whether people respond and how online tools like twitter can be used to build relationships.

Interesting fact — dark chocolate was the most popular chocolate by both my twitter network and conference participants. I used this to highlight that you can’t always trust your PLN (chuckling).

FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks to eWorks for inviting me to Converge08 and all the people at the conference who made me feel welcome. Special thanks to Dean Groom for helping choose the title of the presentation (with added help from my twitter network) and for writing the conference abstract.

Don’t forget:

  1. I’ve posted the results of my PLN survery here
  2. I’ve created a PLN Yourself site to help new people work through setting up their own Personal Learning network.

If anyone can locate statistics on chocolate sales by milk, white and dark could you please share? Would love to know what is the top selling flavor. Surely it can’t be dark chocolate?

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December 4, 2008
by Sue Waters
20 Comments

Here Are The Results From My PLN Survey!

So far there has been 196 responses in my Personal Learning Network (PLN) Survey since it was created in October.  And I know a lot of people are interested in what it all means and how I am using this information so let me explain.

About the PLN Survey

I’ve been doing a few presentations on building your own personal learning network (PLN) and wanted to demonstrated the power of a PLN in action. My focus on PLNs was for two main reasons:

  1. If our aim is to use online tools with our students we first need to be using these tools for our own learning to appreciate how they benefit our learning and to ensure we use them effectively with our students
  2. Ability to receive and give advice in our normal f2f interactions is mostly limited.  Personal learning networks greatly enhance our ability to get assistance, increase our learning, reflection and innovation.

Originally I asked my network to help me by sharing their advice by responding in the form of comments on a blog post. While it worked extremely well analysing the information was hard due to the number of comments.  This is when I decided that an online survey was the better option.

So in October I created a PLN survey using Survey Monkey and promoted it using Twitter and blog posts.  The questions asked in the survey are:

  1. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your PLN?
  2. Rank tools in terms of importance in your PLN
  3. What 5 tools would you recommend as a starting point for building a PLN?
  4. What are your 5 tips for new people to help them get started building their PLN?
  5. What country are you from?

Thoughts on The Survey Design

The main design flaw in the survey is Question 1 where respondents were asked to rank 10 types of tools in level of importance in their own PLN. I decided to use ranking of tools that I provided rather than allow respondents to name their top 10 tools because I felt it was more likely they would miss an important tool and it would also make responses harder to analyse.

While the concept of ranking was a good idea unfortunately I missed two important tools – wikis and virtual worlds such as Second Life.  It also meant by supplying the tools to rank potentially I was biasing what options people choose.  Also it would have been good if the survey design provided greater flexibility for respondents to replace the supplied choices with their own options.

Other challenges were with 196 responses analysing short answer questions such as your 5 tips and most important thing learnt from your PLN became harder to analyse.

The Results

Due to the number of response it was necessary for me to pay to use Survey Monkey which was great in terms of the fact I was able to download and analyze the responses using Excel. If you would like a copy of the raw data please leave a comment and send to you.

Most of the people who responded where from USA, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Canada.

For Question 1 about ranking the importance of tools in your PLN I used a weighted formula to determine the relative importance of each tool.  The following diagram shows the importance of each tool in their PLN with size indicating relative importance.

Based on these results microblogging tools was the most important tool in a PLN.  Would be interesting to know if how the survey was promoted (i.e. via blog posts and twitter) influenced this result.

For Question 3 “What tools would you recommend as a starting point” responses were not weighted and it was based on counting the number of responses for each type of tool.  The top 5 tools were:

  1. Set up your own Twitter Account
  2. Start your own blog
  3. Subscribe to blogs
  4. Start using a Social Bookmarking tool
  5. Join a Ning community

Please note the order above doesn’t indicate order of priority as respondents weren’t asked to rank.

There was lots of great advice and it’s impossible to provide all the tips for building your own personal learning network however these are the main points:

  1. Start slowly and find mentor(s) to help you.
  2. Use the same username across tools
  3. Share as much as you take
  4. Ask as much as you answer
  5. Try new TOOLS before you decide they’re not worth the time
  6. Comment on other people’s blogs
  7. Life long learning is the key!

How I have Used The Survey Results

I used the survey results for form the structure of my presentation and I have created a PLN Yourself site to help new people work through setting up their own Personal Learning network.  Hopefully people will find my new PLN Yourself site useful. All feedback welcome as to any changes required.

One concern I now have is while thePLN Yourself site site explains how to work through setting up your PLN based on the top 5 recommended tools I think it is lacking in terms of top 5 handy tools.  Why handy?  Well there are some tools that are everyday tools that are important to us all that aren’t necessarily as important for building a PLN.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Would love to have your feedback on my new PLN Yourself site:

  1. Have I missed anything important?  Is the information too hard?
  2. What about including top 5 Handy tools?  Will it overwhelm?
  3. And if I did have Top 5 Handy tools what would your 5 choices be?

Let me know if you would like a copy of the survey results.

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November 27, 2008
by Sue Waters
4 Comments

Have Added Your Voice To My Personal Learning Network Survey?

Next week I will be in Melbourne (from 3-7th December) for Converge 08 and will be doing two presentations:

  1. How Tweet IT is! PD in the 21st Century
  2. The Connected Trainer – presenting with Simon Brown

Image of a stickyEmphasis of both will be on different aspects of personal learning networks (PLNs). I will also be sharing the results of my PLN survey (which I created in October) to demonstrate how my PLN extended my ideas beyond what’s achievable by me working individually.

So far there’s been 149 responses and if you haven’t taken the survey here’s your chance to add your voice! Here’s the link to my Personal Learning Networks (PLN) survey – there are 5 questions and it takes a max. of 10 minutes to complete.

Looking forward to catching up f2f with people in my personal learning network:

  1. Please come up and say hi if you see me at the conference.
  2. Sue Tapp’s organizing a blogger’s meet up for lunch on Saturday — if you want to join us please leave a comment on her blog.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Please leave a comment if you would like a copy of the survey responses (in Excel format) and I will send it to you via email.

Image was created using Superstickies.

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October 7, 2008
by Sue Waters
19 Comments

Twitter and Building Your Personal Learning Network

Image of twitterIt’s well known that I’m a self confessed Twitteraholic and twitter is an important part of my personal learning network. I’ve even written a Quick Start Tips for New Twitters.

Yet I’ve never been comfortable with recommending twitter as a starting point to build a personal learning network.

Maybe I’m too conservative?

Twitter is currently ranking the highest from 128 response in my Personal Learning Networks survey question “Which five (5) tools would you recommend as a starting point to build a personal learning network?”

My thoughts are twitter must be freaky and intimidating to people new to using Web 2.0 — especially given the etiquette involved in using twitter. Let’s not forget there are numerous very experienced elearning professional who aren’t comfortable using it.

So I’m interested to know:

  1. I started as a podcaster — where did you start?
  2. What was the first tool you used to build your personal learning network?
  3. Is twitter a good starting point to build a personal learning network?

Also there’s still time to add your responses to my Personal Learning Network survey!

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