Archive for category Social Media

Trying out Snapchat for professional development

It’s Day 13 of the Learning Rebels 30 Day Brainstorm Challenge.  The Challenge is about looking for inspiration and ideas every day and sharing it with others in any way you choose.  My Challenge post today is about my early experiences trying out Snapchat, a photo and video messaging app, as a professional development tool.

Sources of inspiration

snapchat tutorI started using Snapchat this week.  I was inspired to do this by Helen Blunden who has been exploring it in her usual curious and enthusiastic manner.  I’d seen Helen tweeting about how she was using it to Work Out Loud and connect with others.  My second source of inspiration was my 11 year old daughter, who I turned to for help.  (She has since been a source of both ongoing assistance, encouragement and ridicule as I grapple with this app.)

Snapchat profiles

After downloading the app to my iPhone I set up my account and created my profile.  Profiles are very basic as shown below.  The dots are a Snapchat branded QR code (aka ‘Snapcode‘) which other users of Snapchat can scan to automatically follow a person (called ‘adding a friend’ on Snapchat).  Every account also has a url that others can use to follow e.g. https://www.snapchat.com/add/michelleockers6.  The number ’74’ after my Snapchat user name is the number of points I have earned, although I remain fairly clueless as to how this works even after reading an explanation of how points are calculated.  (I don’t think it’s important to me anyway.)

Snapchat profile.jpg

Functionality – getting my head around the basics

Reader beware – I’m about to tell you what I have been doing on Snapchat.  I am at the ‘consciously incompetent’ stage in this learning curve so I apologise in advance if any of what I post here is misleading.  I’ll update this post if I discover any errors at a later date.  

This post from Pocket-Lint introduces Snapchat functionality and endeavours to answer the question ‘what’s the point of Snapchat?’

The basic idea is you create stories using a mix of photos and short (maximum 10 second) videos which you shoot in the Snapchat app – these are called ‘snaps’.  You can overlay a small amount of text, emojis and graphics from a library, draw or add Snapchat filters.   You can broadcast your content either to ‘the world’ (i.e. everyone on Snapchat) or just Snapchatters who follow you.  It’s visible to you and others for 24 hours then ‘poof’ no-one can see it anymore.  You can also send ‘snaps’ directly to friends who will see them for just 10 seconds after opening.

People can comment on an image or video but their comments are just sent to you as a direct ‘chat’, not visible to others.  There is no like or favourite functionality.  You can see who has viewed your snaps.  You can’t add hyperlinks (you can type in a url, but it will be text, not a hyperlink).  There’s no ‘feed’ where you can scroll through all of the ‘posts’ of everyone you follow.  It doesn’t support multiple people having a collective conversation about your content.

It’s deliberately intended to be ephemeral, to be about ‘now’, to share stores from your life with people who are interested.  It demands more constant attention than other social media platforms if you want to stay abreast of what people in your network are doing and sharing.

You have a single story, which will continuously update as you add snaps.  You cannot have multiple stories running at one time unless you have multiple accounts – in which case I think you would need to sign out and in of accounts to switch between them.  You can delete individual images or videos from your story.  You can see who has viewed or taken a screen shot of every snap in your story.

From your own content you can download either an individual image or video to your camera roll, or your whole story (i.e. all content from last 24 hours).  Downloads save as  video on your camera roll.  Although I haven’t tried this yet I expect that I could import this to iMovie to edit.  Display is portrait only.

You can also save your own individual images, videos or a story on Snapchat using the ‘Memories’ functionality.  I haven’t played around with this yet, but it sounds promising.  The in-app help says that you can reuse the content saved in Memories – including adding content to your current story or sending directly to friends, editing stories, and creating new stories. It also allows you to upload images and screenshots from your camera roll and use them in your stories.  Again, display is portrait only so anything shot in landscape will appear on it’s side.

Uncomfortable and Strange

Snapchat what to doI’m used to a lot of open interaction on social media and blogs as I work out loud and learn from people in my network.  I’m used to being able to view content long after it was originally published, to bookmark content for re-use.  This Snapchat space feels a bit strange.  It’s deliberately designed to be impermanent – that’s the element which feels the most unusual to me.   Yet that appears to be the key to it’s popularity. Further, as an aid to working out loud, the impermanence could reduce the inhibition to share.

Even once I master the functionality of the app (which is fairly simple but takes a little to get used to navigation – something my daughter is finding particularly hilarious) I think it will continue to feel a bit uncomfortable for a while as I figure out what I could use it for.  That’s okay – this feeling is part of the process of trying something new.

What I’ve tried & what I’m learning

Below are a couple of examples using Snapchat stories that I uploaded from my camera roll to YouTube.

A daily journal – keeping a record of what I do in a day:

Working out loud about a project (before I knew I could edit out individual images – so there is some irrelevant content in this one):

I’ve tried mixing content from my work and personal life into my stories.  I’m being quite selective with what I share from my personal life.  There is a lot that I cannot share in images and videos from my working life because it contains organisation specific content that it may not be appropriate to share publicly.  There have also been some important things that happened this week that I could not include in the journal style video (first example above) due to individual confidentiality.  So, using Snapchat as a daily journal would result in an incomplete record due to the constraint of all content is public.  This is an issue common to many other social media tools.

The short duration of the videos is forcing me to be succinct.  I have 10 seconds to get a point or key message across Given I am experimenting with vlogging as part of the 30 Day Brainstorm Challenge this is helping me to become more concise in my vlogs.

I have only viewed stories of three other people.  From my daughter I am learning about making things look a bit funkier and modern.  She is not very upbeat about my potential, telling me my stories are ‘boring’.  Helen Blunden and DrCameronJones both work out loud on Snapchat and tell their stories in an interesting way.  I am using them as role models e.g. stringing together a series of short videos to explain an idea more fully, and drawing or jotting thoughts on paper and using them as an aid to explain key posts in a video.

Given how quick it is to capture my working process in Snapchat (as per the second example above) I found it an easy way to work out loud as I worked.  Being able to download content for re-use in new stories and inclusion in more permanent working out loud video posts is an essential feature for me.  It means that I can separate out content about different projects or activities after downloading and remix in more coherent ways.  The short video format feels very fresh to me.

I have not yet tried to use Snapchat as a networking tool – to find new people and connect with them.  Helen has told me she is finding it very useful for connecting with others, particularly those outside of her own field.  I’m curious about this.

Part of my challenge may be that I’m trying to use Snapchat for things I already do using other platforms, that I’m treating it like other platforms.  The impermanence is the distinguishing characteristic of this platform – I feel like I can be more casual here, and share without too much effort or polishing.

What I’ll do next

I’m going to:

  1. Keep narrating my Community of Practice toolkit development on Snapchat with the intent of remixing and reusing the content.  It will be an experiment in Working Out Loud using Snapchat.
  2. Figure out how to use the ‘Memories’ functionality to reuse and edit content.
  3. Follow more people and watch how they use Snapchat.  Observe closely and learn (i.e. I’ll be ‘lurking).  Look for the use cases.
  4. Try using it to connect with people – to leave comments on their content and chat with them (one on one of course).

To help with 3 and 4 on this list I’ve followed everyone that Helen has identified as people who show their work on Snapchat.

It still feels strange, and remain willing to walk away from Snapchat – but I’m not done exploring yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#ATD2016 My Post-Conference Insights

I attended the Association for Talent Development International Conference and Exposition (ATDICE) in Denver 23– 25 May 2016.  On the day after the conference I made a short video to share key insights I gained from some of the sessions I attended. Video is below, followed by (slightly polished-up) transcript.

Personal Leadership

My first insights I relate to aspects of personal leadership. I attended a session called Leading with Impact and Influence by Amy Franko from Impact Instruction. Amy spoke about leading from the inside out, and not being knocked about by external circumstances, or letting them dictate how you show up.  She spoke about creating your own leadership path to create a ripple effect on others in order to have impact, influence, and provide inspiration. She shared research from the Centre for Creative Leadership that identified key future leadership skills:

  1. Communicator
  2. Collaborator
  3. Agile learner
  4. Multi-Cultural Awareness
  5. Strategic Thinker
  6. Self-motivated
  7. Adaptable
  8. Social

I really liked the tips for building resilience. These include:

  • having a sense of purpose,
  • developing a strong network
  • self-care,
  • asking ‘What can I do right now?’
  • reframing
  • having a gratitude practice.

View my notes on Amy’s session.

Thought Leadership

Another session I’ve got a lot out of for myself was on Stepping Into Thought leadership. The session was presented by two very dynamic people – Alexia Vernon and Halelly Azulay. Before they went into different thought leadership they talked about what thought leadership is. They suggested that you don’t need to carve out a completely original area of thinking or an original idea; rather it’s about bringing your original voice and perspective to the topic to articulate what you want to say about it. They provided questions to help you uncover your focus area of thought leadership.  They also stressed the role of building strong networks to help build thought leadership.

Thought Leadership Secret Sauce

Then they went through a stack of different though leadership activities in the areas of:

  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Service
  • Media
  • Hosting
  • Online Training

Their presentation was well laid out and I’ve captured key points in these notes.

Brave Leadership

Sticking with the theme of leadership, there is no way I couldn’t mention the amazing keynote by Brene Brown. Many people will have seen her TEDTalk on vulnerability. She was a fabulous speaker, very authentic, and spoke to her topic really well. It’s a topic that can be quite raw and I had a feeling she was reaching out directly to my heart and talking about topics relevant to my personal life around thing such as vulnerability and trust, and also that she was speaking to my head in organisational context around bringing trust into the workplace. She suggested that leaders have to make a choice as between comfort and courage. It takes courage to do the essential work of being a leader – which is to go to places that others may not want to go to, places around emotion and behaviour. She spoke about the four pillars of courage:

  • Vulnerability
  • clarity of values
  • trust
  • rising skills, which is about how to get back up after a fall.

She really made me want to embrace life, to live a bigger life and to be the very best leader that I possibly can.  I’m definitely a Brene Brown fan girl now.

View my notes about this session.

Science of Learning

I went to the ATD Science of Learning Community of Practice panel.  Four speakers each spoke about a different aspect science of learning.

Paul Zak , Chief Research Officer at Olfactor, talked about trust as the basis for effective culture.  He shared interesting research which uses oxytocin as a signalling mechanism for trust.

Sebastian Bailey is a psychologist with a PhD in learning transfer. He’s used his research to develop a model for supporting learning with bite-size methodology. He has founded Mind Gym.

Patti Shank PhD and is president of Learning Peak challenged the use of the term ‘neuro-‘ anything. When someone claims that a product or approach is backed by neuroscience she suggested that you need to be wary as we haven’t learnt much about learning from neuroscience. However we have learned a lot from cognitive science and we should be paying bit more attention to that and applying it.

Will Thalheimer is a PhD, consultant and research translator. He spoke about ways of improving smile sheets, which I’m sure anyone working in an organisational training context could benefit from looking at.

View my notes on this session.

Benchmarking

TM BenchmarkThe next area I was really interested in here was benchmarking and Data. I had a great conversation with Laura Overton of Towards Maturity who specialise in benchmarking and research on organisational learning. We discussed their benchmarking tool which is open at the moment. I strongly encourage workplace learning practitioners to complete the benchmark. I’ve recently done that and it’s giving me some good data to look at where my organisation sits compared to the benchmark in a range of elements of learning strategy and practices, and helped me to start identifying areas for improvement. Here’s a link to the benchmark .

Laura also presented with Peter Casebow from Good Practice about improving how managers learn using an evidence-based approach. The Towards Maturity data shows that only 30% of learning professionals understand how their people learn. Good Practice has done research with 500 managers on how they deal with unfamiliar challenges. It turns out that access trumps the perceived effectiveness of method for finding answers and solutions. People will use the easiest way to access information, even if they know they may not be using the best quality information. Lack of access and lack of relevance of content were highlighted as barriers to people using their intranet to help solve problems.

Practical Uses of Social Media for Formal Learning

The final session I wanted to mention here is from the super-energetic Dan Steer who had us cheering along at the right times. It was on practical uses of social media in formal training. His objective was to ensure that everybody left with something practical that they could put into action immediately to improve the formal training – and he delivered. He provided some basic principles around only doing in the room what need to do, and thinking about using social media tools to do other things that don’t need to be done in the room. He also suggested you need to think about the type of activity you are doing, the objectives of the activity and identify the best motivating and most useful tool.

One tool I learned about that session which I will definitely be looking to use is Ginkgo, which is a collaborative note-taking tool. What is awesome is that you can download the collaborative notes into a MS Word format and make that available as a readily accessible recap afterwards.

View my session notes – or go straight to the source and view Dan’s materials and additional resources.

Thank You ATD

ATD Michelle

The other thing I wanted to do is to thank ATD. 10,000 people, huge conference venue, amazing organisation. ATD did a great job at every single aspect of the organisation, and as a speaker I really appreciated the opportunity to be here and share a case study. I don’t know that I’ll be back every year it is a long trip from Australia but I’m certainly planning on being back in two years . I will be blogging and sharing more of my notes from sessions over the next couple of weeks so lookout on my blog for more insights

 

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Hosting a Post-Conference Blab – What I Learned

blab logoBlab is a live video streaming tool with chat box / Instant Messaging.  I hosted my first blab on 15 March 2016 – here’s link to the recording.  I was inspired to do this by an article in February’s ‘Training and Development,’ magazine, published by the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD).  I read the article en-route to Enterprise Collaboration TechFest in Melbourne (29 Feb – 1 Mar).  The author, Helen Blunden, provided suggestions for How to Work Out Loud at a Conference.  Although hosting a blab wasn’t one of her suggestions I’d been looking for a good reason to do this, and could see that it would provide an opportunity to continue the conversation started at TechFest.  I scheduled the blab almost on a whim when I arrived at the conference, and then had to figure out how to make it work.

I hosted a 30 minute to get confident with the tool.  A few friends who had hosted blabs before joined this session.  This was a good move. The tool is easy to use and an Internet search will yield plenty of ‘how-to’ advice.  The hands-on practice allowed me to focus on content rather than mechanics at the real event.

What I learned and some tips

Using the Blab tool

Blab is an easy tool to use.  Search for ‘how-to‘ guides online and run a practice session before your first real event.

I am a Mac user.  I wasn’t able to run blab in my Safari browser (perhaps it can be done, but I couldn’t figure it out).  I used Chrome instead and it worked well.

You can add a custom image to your scheduled blab to help promote it.  I didn’t know this at first and hated seeing my profile photo every time I Tweeted about the blab.  Once I added a custom image I was more confident to promote the blab.  I also felt that the image reflected the topic and could attract people to the blab.

Remember to record your blab.  One of the attendees reminded me 20 minutes after the start of the session.  The next morning I went to a breakfast event where someone told me they had been listening to the recording that morning.  (That blew me away!)  I have since reviewed the recording both to recap content and to reflect on what I would do differently next time.

blab1

 

Hosting a Blab as a post-conference activity

Before you schedule your blab ask the Conference organisers if they would be willing to promote it, and check conference hashtag.

Schedule your blab before the Conference starts so that you can promote it during the Conference.

Include the conference hashtag in the blab title.

Consider multiple time zones when you schedule your blab.

Allow 3-7 days between the conference and your blab so conference attendees can travel home and word of your blab has time to spread .

Promote the blab via social media and word of mouth during and after the conference.  Use the conference hashtag and hashtags relevant to themes and topics discussed at the conference.

Use a mix of general social media posts to promote your blab and targeted posts where you @mention people to invite them.  Target conference speakers and organisers, people active in the conference backchannel, and thought leaders in relevant fields.  Even if they don’t attend they may promote the blab.

Invite speakers to join the blab.  Sharon O’Dea joined mine and it made a lot of difference to have her take part in the conversation.

Within a couple of days on the Conference publish a blog post summarising Conference themes and your takeaways.  Curate links to content published by others about the Conference.  Promote the blab on your post.

Write generic reusable questions to use in your post-conference blab. (Tip – you could answer these in your post-conference blog) Examples of questions:

  • ‘What do you think the key themes of the conference were?’
  • ‘What is the most valuable idea or tip you picked up at the conference?’
  • ‘What’s one thing you will do (or do differently) as a result of attending this conference?’

Write conference-specific questions to generate discussion in your blab.  Refer to your notes about panels, questions from the audience, or questions you had written during the conference for ideas.

blab2

 

Your Ideas?

What other tips or ideas do you have for hosting a post-conference blog?  Please post your thoughts in the comments box.

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How Twitter Chats Help Me Learn

lrnchatozlearnIn late March 2014 I joined my first Twitter chat.  Three months later I’ve participated in a  five Twitter chats with either #lrnchat or #ozlearn.  Today I reviewed the published chat archives to reflect on how participating in Twitter chats help me to learn.

What is a Twitter Chat?

A Twitter chat is a live, real-time moderated discussion on a specific topic that takes place via Twitter messages with the use of a specific hashtag.  Anyone who is interested in the topic can join.

The following articles explain how Twitter chats work and provide tips on how to participate:

Twitter Chat’s I’ve Joined

  • #Lrnchat March 27 – Working Smarter*
  • #OzLearn April 8 – Alignment Requires Clarity
  • #Ozlearn May 13 – Consistency in Learning & Development
  • #Lrnchat June 6 – On The Job Learning*
  • #OzLearn Chat July 8 – Benchmarking in L&D

* OzLearn Chat archives are published at lrnchat.com

My Chat Experiences

In all of these chats the moderator has asked a series of questions on the topic to which participants respond.  I’ve found the questions thoughtfully constructed and logically sequenced.

Twitter Chat 2During my first chat I answered questions and retweeted some responses of others.  Mostly I watched, read, and got used to the format. It was a busy forum and I had to concentrate.  I recognised some participants as conference speakers and authors, but was unfamiliar with most.  Five chats and ten weeks later I participate actively and fluidly.   I ask questions about others comments and experience, engage in side-discussions, and share resources.

I am now comfortable using Twitter and my online Personal Learning Network (PLN) has grown, so I ‘know’ more participants.  My PLN growth is in part due to chats – I always leave a chat with more people on my following and followed lists.

Twitterchat 1

 

Familiarity with other participants makes me comfortable to have a more robust discussion.

 

 My Most Valuable Twitter Chat

I found the OzLearn chat on Benchmarking in L&D particularly valuable as:

  • the topic was relevant to my needs
  • a subject matter expert attended
  • pre-reading was provided
  • useful resources were shared during the chat
  • there was a lot of healthy exploration of comments
  • I was motivated to act at the end of the chat
  • the chat was well curated on Storify, with commentary and presentation of discussion threads gathered together rather than a stream of chronologically ordered tweets (thanks @tanyalau for your curation)

Twitter Chat 3

Twitter Chat 4

 

 

 

Chat Archives

While I favourite tweets to follow up after a chat, I also find chat archives useful and have started bookmarking those that I may want to refer to at a later date using Diigo.  The other way in which archives are useful is where I am unable to attend a chat on a topic I am interested in.  This is particularly challenging for those of us in Asia-Pacific region where chats are being hosted at times convenient to either U.S or European participants, but in the middle of the night for us.  I regularly review the #ESNChat archives.

How Twitter Chats Help Me to Learn

Steven Anderson has presented the case on this very well in Why Twitter Chats Matter. Twitter chats help me to learn by allowing me to:

  • Meet new people
  • Hear new ideas
  • Explore opposing view points
  • Find new resources
  • Create action

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How the Conference Backchannel Adds Value

I’m fairly new to using Twitter for professional development having been actively experimenting with it since March 2014.  One of the ways that Twitter is used is for real-time conversation during a conference, known as the ‘backchannel’.  In My #ASTD2014 Backchannel Experience on 7 May I wrote about my experience of being a backchannel only conference participant.  Since that time I’ve participated in two more backchannels – the Australian Institute of Training & Development (AITD) conference (14-15 May) where I also physically attended the whole conference, and EduTech Brisbane (3-5 June) where I attended half a day of the two day event. Of the three events, I was most active in the AITD conference.  I used Twitter to take notes by tweeting (or retweeting) key points at the sessions I attended.  Following the conference I then used Storify to review tweets with the conference hashtag, and create a summary and reflection on my conference experience which I published as My #AITD2014 Experience.  Using the backchannel in this way turned it into a sense-making activity.  Watching and, in some cases responding to, what others were sharing in the backchannel extended and enriched my conference experience further by:

  • making me aware of what others found important in the session content
  • providing relevant examples
  • providing me with links to additional resources
  • introducing other points of view on topics being discussed
  • helping me to network with other participants
  • giving me the occasional laugh (good ingredient for learning)

I was speaking in a panel at EduTech on the afternoon of Day One and looked at the backchannel as I travelled in the morning to see if I could pick up on any themes or information that might connect to my topic.  I noticed immediately how active the backchannel was – I had heard that educators were high Twitter users.  Then I saw that there were 4000 attendees, so even if only 5% of attendees were tweeting across the 10 concurrent ‘congresses’ (separate conference streams) it was going to be a busy backchannel (I’ve since seen a claim that there were over 10,000 tweets at the 2 day conference). I struggled to unravel tweets from the different streams and make sense of what was going on (a plea to organisers of large conferences – stream or session-specific hashtags please!). What was helpful in the EduTECH backchannel (as well as visually attractive) was the summary of the first keynote session tweeted by @art_cathyhunt.  Cathy’s sketch note summaries were so useful that they were shared in Twitter over 10,000 times and she’s published them as a collection.

EduTech Summary 1 Value Adding Backchannel Behaviours

Cathy’s sketch notes got me thinking about the different ways in which people add value in the backchannel. Here is a list of some value-adding backchannel behaviours, with examples.

Reporting1Reporting – Tweeting key points made by presenters, sometimes with photos of slides.  Context helps those participating in back channel only to make sense of the points.  It’s useful to see the topic and presenter tweeted when a session is commencing, and when session has ended, and also a tweet when the presenter moves from one topic to another.

Tweet3

Applying – Tweeting examples of personal application of an approach, technique or tool that the presenter is discussing, with a short reflection on the good, bad and lessons learned.

Extending3

Extending4

 

Extending – Sharing links to additional resources and relevant internet sites.

Pondering1

Reflecting / Pondering – Asking ‘what if’ or ‘how could I’ type questions to prompt consideration of how the session content could be applied.

Connecting1Connecting – Creating links between, for example, different conference sessions or linking the session to the conference theme.

Tweet4Questioning – Posing questions to the backchannel.  Sometimes these are hypothetical.  What I enjoy more is those that generate tweeted responses & discussion.

Summary3 Summary1Summarising – Summarising key themes and overall content of a session and sharing either shortly after a session (as per Cathy Hunt’s EduTECH examples) or in a blog within a few days of the session.

Curation1Collating / Curating – Publishing links to a set of conference and backchannel resources.  Here’s a great example from ASTD2014 curated by David Kelly.

 

I was going to include Challenging / Provoking in this list – Thinking critically about session content and challenging the information or ideas in order to present counter-views or a different perspective.  However, I couldn’t find a backchannel tweet representative of this behaviour.  It’s not something I’ve seen done often; perhaps we’re too polite…..

Physical versus Backchannel Conference Participation

Kent Brooks lists 10 Reasons to Tweet at a Conference, all of which ring true for me and are great reasons why I will continue to play in the backchannel when I attend conferences.

Joining via the backchannel only is not a substitute for physically being at a conference, fully immersed in the sessions, discussions and interactions.  I have found following a backchannel in real time a fragmented, slightly disconnected, and sometimes chaotic experience.  However, summaries and curated collections posted at the end of sessions, full days, or whole conferences provide a filtered presentation of themes and resources.  In effect someone else has started the sense-making process for me, making it easier for me to access the best of the conference.  It’s also a great way of interacting with those in my PLN who are attending, and finding more interesting people to follow.  And it’s certainly better than not being able to join in conferences that I am interested in but not able to attend.

See you in the backchannel…..

 

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PLN Review and Action Plan

This week I’ve reviewed my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and created a quarterly action plan to continue PLN development.  My PLN is simply the group of people that I am connected to for the purpose of learning.

PLN Composition Review

I commenced this process by plotting my “professional” network using an activity from the Social Learning Practitioner Program, and answering the seven great questions in Mark McNeilly’s article Ask These Questions About Your Professional Network Before It’s Too Late.

My key insight from this activity is that my PLN different to my ‘professional’ network – while there is overlap, there are people who belong to only one of these groups.   I interact with the people in my PLN with the specific goal of learning through sharing resources and having discussions.

With this realisation, I asked the seven questions posed by McNeilly  again, this time just in the context of my PLN.  I concluded that while my PLN has been growing recently as I have become active on Twitter (see the graph below showing follower growth), it could be larger and more diverse.

Twitter follower growth Apr14

 

My active PLN consists largely of Learning and Development (L&D) professionals across a small number of industries.  On LinkedIn I am connected to almost 500 people, many former colleagues with a broader range of professional backgrounds and industry experience.  There are a lot of people with Supply Chain experience, which is relevant to my current role as a capability manager in a Supply Chain business unit.  However, I have not actively used LinkedIn to learn with, from and through this group of people (or any other group for that matter!).  On the plus side, my PLN includes a number of global thought leaders in my field, giving me visibility of important trends and developments.

Twitter follower profile apr14
I used Twitter Analytics for the first time to review what is currently the most active part of my PLN – my Twitter network.  The image below is an extract of some data about my 89 followers as at 11 April.  There is some diversity in location and gender.  The interests statistics confirm a bias towards L&D professionals, many of whom are in the financial services sector

I could not find similar analytics tools for an individual LinkedIn page, but a quick perusal of my connections list confirms the greater diversity in professional background and industry in this group.

Of course, there is also that part of my PLN that I am connected to in the ‘real’ world rather than the online world.  In the process of working with colleagues in my organisation there is opportunity for continuous learning.  Those that I most often interact with for the specific purpose of learning are in similar job roles to myself.  The people outside of my organisation that I make the effort to connect with in person are, again, predominantly in the L&D community.

PLN Activity Review

The things I have most commonly been doing in my PLN this year are represented in the image below.

PLN Activity Evidence

Undertaking the Social Learning Practitioner Program (SLPP) has been a big driver of my recent PLN activity.  The SLPP tasks (5 completed, 6 underway, 14 to start) have gotten me ‘kick started’ to develop, contribute and utilise my PLN actively and purposefully.

I monitor my social media feeds daily using Hootsuite, comment on posts and resources I find interesting, and occasionally have a short discussion with someone in my network.  This and participating in live tweet chats (#lrnchat, #ozlearn) has generated new connections and started building relationships. Depending on the topic, I have found these chats promote reflection and different perspectives on my professional activities and interests.  I have found them worthwhile.

I started this blog on March 8, and have posted around once per week.  I share each post on Twitter and, sometimes, on LinkedIn.  Outside of tweet chats, the activity which has generated the most engagement in my Twitter network is my post on design of a social media lesson.   I’m not sure whether this was due interest in the topic, the fact that an influencer with a large network retweeted it, or that I had shared an original resource that others may find useful – or some other reason.

This week I’ve struck a challenge on a work project, and I need to find some information to help me address it.  I’ve been able to turn to my PLN on Twitter and quickly source information and arrange discussions with people who can help me to solve this problem.

In the ‘real world’ I have attended two events this year – the Learning Cafe Unconference and a breakfast seminar on workplace learning with Charles Jennings from the 702010 Forum.  Discussions at the Unconference prompted me (finally) to get serious about developing my PLN.  By the time I attended the 702010 Forum event I was participating in the backchannel on Twitter during the event (sounds sophisticated! It feels like getting away with ‘talking in class’).  The online discussion continued after both of these events, and enabled further sharing of resources from the events and discussion of ideas and issues raised at the events.

The following digram shows how I am currently using online tools in my PLN.

PLN Tools

PLN Action Plan

Having reviewed by PLN composition and activities I then prepared a quarterly action plan.  In addition to my review I considered the following factors when preparing my plan:

PLN Considerations

My goals for this quarter are to:

  • Complete Social Learning Practitioner Program
  • Deepen relationships in existing PLN
  • Start sharing and learning through LinkedIn rather than just connecting
  • Expand network though live Twitter chats and AITD Conference
  • Utilise my PLN and PKM to support community building in my organisation

Key actions are shown in the table below, with the highest priority items in red (because I always put too many things into my plans…….).  Wish me luck! 🙂

Quarterly PLN Plan

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