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This is an excerpt from a response I wrote to a thread of messages between some of my colleagues and friends who recently connected at the CUE conference. This was definitely a special CUE conference… and our shared events have been increasingly so for me in recent years. I often begin my workshop on personal learning networks for educators by asking these questions: Who is in your learning network? I usually ask these questions at conferences, which are frequently only annual events – and rare treats for many educators. The four tips above are the core activities of building a personal learning network, and they can be applied using various tools to connect with others online. These final two tips will help keep your initial frustrations in perspective, and help you avoid the temptation to focus on unimportant metrics as you grow your network. I hope these tips might help you start down the road of building your own personal learning network and becoming a more connected learner yourself – or if you’re well down this road already, I hope these tips might be helpful to pass on to your colleagues to get them started. This event has been a long time in the making… and there are many more details to come, but registration is now open and I wanted to share it here first. Lead Learning 2009 is an intensive three-day summer institute designed to help professional developers learn innovative ways technology can enhance their work.
The Lead Learning Institute is hosted in a unique instructional environment at Thacher School in Ojai, California. Participants will learn to use ubiquitous and free technology to gather data, to facilitate better face-to-face instruction, to enable asynchronous collaboration between meetings, and to share the results of their work with stakeholders – or the world. The institute will also focus on the importance of professional developers cultivating their own Personal Learning Network (PLN) online.
Build a foundation for your own professional development by joining us for this memorable event on the beautiful Central California Coast. I’d love to hear any feedback or reactions to this program description in the comments. As part of my role as educational technology coordinator for the California League of High Schools I was asked to write an article for High School Educator, a magazine which goes out to every public high school in California. When I was a high school English teacher, I was lucky enough to work in a relatively collaborative environment. As great as that was, our learning was restricted to the views of a few colleagues at one particular school. Over time, these interactions will help you build relationships with fellow educators around the world, enabling you to make conversations. As a contributing member of a community of colleagues and friends, you and your questions are likely to be well received when you make requests. You don’t need to be a tech guru or even a techie teacher to get started building your own online personal learning network. Of course, you may be more drawn to the collaborative nature of wikis, the auditory power of podcasts, or any number of newer tools, including video chat or streaming video – or older tools, like email listservs or online discussion boards. To inquire about related professional development opportunities provided by CLHS for your staff at your site, contact CLHS staff or contact Dr. Today was Day 2 of the Technology Conference for Administrators at Tenaya Lodge just outside Yosemite. First of all, of course, I want to share the workshop wiki for Learning to Network and Networking to Learn, which include the slides, outline, and links to all the examples I mentioned – or planned to mention.
So, the night before I added a discussion question to the wiki and posted an invitation to twitter asking people to share their stories about the impact of their PLN. I had tested ustream just prior to the presentation and hoped to set it up at the beginning, but things were two well choreographed to allow that. When I remember not to shut the window, I’ve also taken to using Jing to capture a screencast of the sidebar conversations in these events (after the fact). Receiving frank assessments about ourselves from others is often not easy and can be an emotional experience. Contact us with a description of the clipart you are searching for and we'll help you find it. Yahoo , Facebook , Facebook , Twitter , Twitter , Google+ , Google+ , Myspace , Myspace , Linkedin , Linkedin , Odnoklassniki , Odnoklassniki , Vkontakte , Vkontakte , Google , Google , Yahoo , Yahoo , Rambler , Rambler , Yandex , Yandex , Gmail , Gmail , Yahoo!
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What I wrote, though, applies to so many other people, I thought I should share it here as well (especially since I wound up alluding to the title of this blog, the first place I began to connect with a new sort of community, which might be called my PLN, but has certainly become much more). For others, this might serve as yet another example of the potential power of a Personal Learning Network (PLN).
It is also a place to explore the concepts of a social learning aggregator, and a physical learning studio.
They no longer need schools to provide a network of people to learn from – and learn with.
My goal is for workshop participants to leave the session plugged into a global network of like-minded professionals, who will broaden their experience and challenge their thinking on an ongoing basis. Connect – The growth engine of your learning network is your willingness to reach out and make connections with new people.
Contribute – If you have something to share, post it online where it may be accessible and useful to others. Converse – Over time the connections and contributions you make online will evolve into conversations as others respond to you as well. Although many other tools, such as wikis, podcasts, instant messages, streaming video, and more can used for connecting this way, some tools are particularly valuable for building a personal learning network, including blogs, Twitter, and other social networks, like Classroom 2.0 and Google+.
Blog – Though there will never be another 2004, blogs are still a powerful way for educators (and learners) to connect. Tweet – Among educators (and much of the world), Twitter is the most popular social microblogging tool. Use Google+ – Google’s new social network allows educators to group the people they follow into circles, such as personal and professional (keeping these circles safely separate in a way that is more difficult on other networks such as Facebook).
Be Patient – Many educators get frustrated when they first experiment with these tools, but building a personal learning network doesn’t happen quickly, and it isn’t a trivial commitment.

If you have tips of your own for educators just starting to build their personal learning network, or if you have questions as you begin to build yours… please share in the comments below.
If you would like to read a brief article that goes into more depth on a few of these points, please see my article Learning to Network & Networking to Learn from The High School Educator in 2008.
It will be going out via the usual channels at CUE and elsewhere in the new year, but you saw it here first. This program is ideal for BTSA coordinators, ELD coordinators, Educational Technology coordinators, Professional Development coordinators, and any administrator or teacher leader responsible for training other educators.
The Institute Faculty uses intense immersion methodology to create a transformative hands-on learning experience for each participant. Workshops will explore the role of face-to-face professional development in the age of streaming video and podcasts. Mark Wagner, CUE’s Professional Development Coordinator, and a cadre of experienced CUE Lead Learners, including Google Certified Teachers, Apple Distinguished Educators, and special guest speakers.
And as I mentioned, more information will be coming soon on a separate website dedicated to the event. This is a chance to reach outside the echo-chamber of educational technology, so I was particularly excited about writing it. Some or all of these may be unfamiliar to you, and the unending cycle of new tools can be daunting to many teachers. This isn’t accomplished by asking others to read, listen to, or view the things you post. I’ve been lucky enough to discover like-minded educators in Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Shanghai, Qatar, and elsewhere around the world. But whatever medium you choose, building a personal learning network will still require making connections, making contributions, making conversations, and making requests. I presented Learning to Network and Networking to Learn as the second of two keynotes (the first was Chris Walsh’s Learning Everywhere All The Time). The responses were rich and provided another means for the participants to continue their learning after the presentation.
The program was running behind and my introduction was smooth, so I didn’t take the time to setup the recording at the podium. One participant, a principal I believe, came up to tell me that he was more engaged in my keynote than any other session at the conference, primarily because the back channel chat allowed him to interact with some of the others in the room and from around the world.
Still, today seemed like a good day and the things I’ve shared here are bits I can build on for the future.
Here are a few tips on how best to prepare yourself to receive feedback, to be receptive and to leverage the value of the comments you receive from others.
I share with participants these ten tips for building their own personal learning network, and I hope these might be useful for you too. Leave a comment on a blog post or podcast, reply to a question on twitter, or +1 a post on Google+ (or like something on Facebook). Your expertise (and even your struggles) are valuable to others who don’t have your experience. Within my first six months of blogging (posting things I had written for work or school anyway), I received comments from six of the authors I had cited in my posts! The posts are short and easy to skim, and because following someone on Twitter is not a reciprocal relationship (unlike friending on Facebook), it is easy to create a custom group of people to follow – and to manage the flow of incoming information.
Social networks such as Classroom 2.0, however, are a great place to start with an exiting network (no need to follow, friend, or circle anyone) and with very little pressure to produce. Or, more specifically, users can organize the people they follow into circles for specific subject areas, grade levels, or or even collaborative projects. Despite the appeal of seeing your number of followers grow, or trying to post something you know will generate comments or re-tweets, it is more important to be authentic in your online connections. You are also invited to access the workshop resources for my most recent personal learning networks for educators workshop.
Room and board is included so all participants live, eat, and even relax on the picturesque campus. Techniques for keeping training relevant and for tapping into participants’ passions will be shared.
We shared our questions, frustrations, and solutions… and plenty of funny or heartwarming stories. They may be the only person teaching their subject at the site – or they may feel isolated for a variety of other common reasons. Just as you might benefit from posts made by others who teach the same subject or grade that you do, they might also benefit from your experience. Then create your own blog when you feel you’re ready for a place to share your own thoughts. If you see someone new posting links and questions that are relevant to you, considering following them as well. Practicing these four things can be a rewarding part of controlling your own professional development. The slides were presented through Google Docs, so a related sidebar discussion did crop up.
However, with about 20 minutes to go in the presentation it came time to talk about ustream, so I went ahead and fired it up. However, they do need new tools (and mentors) to help them aggregate the open educational resources and distributed learning opportunities now available to them.
Anything you create for work (or your own schooling) might as well be shared, and might be valuable to someone else. Sharing something about your passions (and challenges) outside of work can also enrich your relationships. You’ll find that you’ll receive much higher quality answers and support by asking your network, than you will by simply searching online. Over the course of my doctoral research, my blog connected me with more researchers and practitioners than my university ever could have.
Twitter has been the most powerful tool in the growth of my personal learning network from a half-dozen teachers in the English department lounge to thousands of educators around the globe.

With over 60,000 members, if everyone contributes even a small fraction of what they read, the site is rich with content.
Additional features are particularly valuable to educators, especially “hangouts” – video calls for up to 10 people, including screen sharing and Google Docs integration. It’s takes perseverance to continue when you receive no replies to your requests, and it requires patience to build up social capitol over the months that may be necessary before you begin to feel part of a community. Don’t try to game the system, worry to much about your online “brand,” or in any way cajole people into following you or responding to you (with contests or incentives for instance). You may be lucky enough to have a core group of people you learn from at your site, or you may be one of the many who feel more isolated than connected. Instead, it is more important for educators to know how to build an online personal learning network, regardless of the tool.
If you read an interesting blog post or listen to an enlightening podcast, leave a comment. Some of our connections are no longer work related, as we share things about our lives, our families, and our hobbies. I make every effort to share the materials I develop and the solutions I discover, and in return I find the community I share with fantastically receptive to my own calls for help.
Happily it also included a surprising number of people who were in the room with their own laptops. But, he was telling me this after also participating in my Two-Way Teaching with the Two-Way Web breakout session in the afternoon, which wound up focusing on blogs and wikis.
The more people you connect with online, the more you can take advantage of the strength of week ties. Making contributions is a way to offer something of value to the new people you are connecting with. Someone you’ve connected with about baseball or raising a toddler might be more likely to respond to your questions about work as well. For many educators, it is a great starting point for experiencing a personal learning network, not to mention learning more about how these tools are impacting the future of education.
The more you reveal your humanity the more people will trust you, identify with you, and respond to your reflections and appeals.
In either case, there are now exciting new ways to take charge of your own professional development and build your own personal learning network using online tools. Whatever the medium, participation in a personal learning network requires four critical behaviors. Just as you can build friendships through conversations with those who happen to work on your campus, so you can build relationships with others (who may have much more in common with you) around the world. If you look at the presentation you’ll also see I included very small text in the lower left corner of each slide meant to help the online visitors participate in and contribute to the presentation. I’d love to pass on your stories to future workshop participants (or even those from today who return to the wiki). Sharing online is even considered a moral imperative by many educators; sharing contributes to the greater good. If you read many blogs, an RSS aggregator (like Google Reader) can be an essential tool for helping you spend 25% of your time reading and writing blogs for professional development.
The #lateworkcrew has helped me through many long nights of whittling down my critical tasks. There are rich communities of technologists, photographers, and thought leaders sharing on Google+. More importantly, the more you seek out the humanity in others, the more they will want to connect with you – and share with you.
Others then have an opportunity to discover you as a like-minded person, whose own work might be interesting to them. In this case it seemed to go over well, though, and I’d like to try to find more ways to bring it into a session in a way that contributes value, not just wow factor. The median salary has been calculated at $52,440, but it’s more probable that the prospect of a career in the field of sales has gotten many job candidates interested in the first place.
As such, asking oneself what it takes to get hired as a sales representative and, more importantly, what the prerequisites for getting ahead are is a valid inquiry.
The top qualities that sales representative hirers look for in potential candidates have to do with their personalities. Are they “people persons?” How well would they fare in the long-run, in a professional environment that requires them to be literally up on their feet for eight hours?
Sales assessment career tests often investigate all these traits through situation-based questions. Potential interview questions involve past experiences: major achievement, as well as stressful challenges. In more ways than one, a sales representative is a professional traveler, making his or her way across the state or even the country. The industry also thrives on trade shows and conferences, in which representatives of competing companies line up and present the latest products in their field, or exchange experiences.A Mind for Figures. Often enough, sales representatives also need to present professional reports of their activity. This requires having a basic grasp of statistics and analysis—and it’s not all about crunching the numbers, but, most importantly, about what they mean.
Can you predict the influences of the coming season, based on previous experience and key figures? The projected level of employment growth by 2020 is 15.6 percent, which translates as 223,400 upcoming jobs that will need to be filled. It’s this potential for development that makes the field attractive, but this, in turn, needs to be matched by the candidates’ potential.

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