Tag Archives: Social Media

RSS Reader Review: Feedly

If you are like me, you’re trying to stay current, to manage the flow of information, and it seems like an uphill battle. After several failed attempts at Google Reader I decided to try Feedly.  I’m about two months in at this point and am glad I made the move. Feedly isn’t new, but if you are looking for something to organize all the stuff you want to read online, you might want to check it out. Here are a few of the reasons Feedly is working for me.

Cover page format – Advertised as “magazine-like” I have found this to be true, and I think this format is the key to me coming back to actually read. It offers a nice, simple layout and combination of headlines, text, and images. On this main “cover” page, and in the other views as well, you can view the details of each post, many in full text, before deciding whether or not you need to go on to the site. This page also gives you a quick look at the headlines.

Categories – You can assign each new blog or website you add to your Feedly account with a category. This works well to keep the work related streams separate from other interests for example. This feature also allows you to view just the feeds related to a specific category you’ve created.

Tie-in with Twitter – It’s extra easy to send a link out via Twitter within the Feedly page. You need to link your accounts then you are ready to share. Feedly offers several social networking elements that might be interesting to you. You can also share via LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Reader, Instapaper, Tumblr, and others.

Tie-in with Delicious – I am a diehard Delicious fan and Feedly allows me to quickly add a link to my collection there. You can also add to Evernote, Pinboard, Diigo, and others.

“Latest” view – Probably my favorite view at this point. Gives you a long list of what’s been posted most recently – one line per entry with the blog or site it came from and the title of the post. Checking this view has become part of my routine at the end of the day.

Apps for iPad and iPhone – When I first started using Feedly, I didn’t find an iPad  app and was a little disappointed. But that has been remedied! The app interface is a little different, but you still get that magazine like feel and the “latest” view option and tie-in with Twitter.

Firefox Add-on – Another component that adds to the ease of use is the add-on. Use this to quickly open your Feedly account at any point and to add a feed to your account from an open blog or other site.

While I still have many, many unread entries, I am able to quickly identify a handful each day to read in full. The format allows me to scan for issues that are important to me and to easily share what I find.

Building a Reading List

Deciding which feeds to read is an ongoing process of adding and deleting. If you try Feedly, or any other RSS reader, give yourself the flexibility to continuously fine tune and stay on the look out for new sites and authors. Here are just a few of the feeds I am now following and recommend:

What about you?

What sources should we all add to our lists? Your recommendations are welcome! Suggest a few of the blogs and websites that you follow to stay informed.

If you have tried Feedly, please consider sharing your experience here. If you are hooked on another reader, let us know which one! What are the features that make it helpful to you?

Join in! LinkedIn Groups for Instructional Designers

You may already have a LinkedIn profile. And perhaps you’ve joined a couple of groups. There are thousands of options right now that cover a wide range of professional and personal interests. Your employer may sponsor a group as well as your alma mater. With this post, I would like to introduce you to LinkedIn Groups focusing on instructional design.

Why join a group?

These groups are made up primarily of online discussion forums and so far I’ve found the to be helpful in multiple ways. Use LinkedIn Groups to:

  •  Stay current – With so many voices contributing to the conversation you’ll hear about new approaches, tools, and resources worth considering for your own projects. You’ll also find that a lot of others have questions similar to yours. The groups also allow for a kind of reality check.
  •  Find out about jobs – Many of the groups have an area to post job opportunities. These are particularly prevalent in the groups related to freelance work. You’ll see a range of part-time, full-time, contract, and teaching positions posted here.
  •  Increase your network – Your profile hopefully includes a solid summary of your experience and interests. You can extend the reach of  your profile by joining group discussions. Your profile will be linked to your posts encouraging others to take a look and possibly connect.
  • ???? – There is also an unknown factor to consider. By engaging in this kind of activity, you never know what new door may be opened or opportunity considered. One example – my most popular post so far, Tools for Freelance Instructional Designers, was the result of a LinkedIn discussion that was then picked up as a cross-post by Open Sesame.

There are different conversations going on in each group, some more active than others. Find the groups that are most relevant to you and your questions, and think about where you can contribute expertise as well.

Instructional Design Groups

The list below includes the instructional design groups I am currently following. You can use the LinkedIn group search page to find others related to your specialization – online, higher education, K-12, workforce training, social media…

Can’t find the conversations you are looking for? If you aren’t having the discussions you would like to be having, want to address a niche area, etc., consider starting a new discussion thread. You can also start your own group and send out invitations for others in your contact list to join. Check out LinkedIn’s Group Guide [PDF]. 

One note: I have found that the email can get a little overwhelming depending on how many groups you join, but you can alter the notification settings to better suit your needs.

I know there are more of these groups out there! Which ones do you recommend? Please add to the list.

Image credit: Coletivo Mambembe, Flickr

Managing the Flow of Information (or Not)

Information and advice about instructional design and technology is everywhere. And it’s being generated everyday, 24/7 – on websites, at conferences, in journals and magazines, in email newsletters, in social networking communities, and on blogs. Much of what I find sits in my Delicious bookmarks account – neatly tagged, but unread.

How do we manage the constant flow of information? And perhaps more importantly, how do we attend to it?

At the end of a recent keynote presentation titled Say it in Photos (which was apparently presented from bed), Alan Levine (@CogDog) was asked: how do you keep up with the stream of information? Alan’s answer was quick and to the point: you can’t. I think he even laughed a little bit when he said it. His advice was to focus on the things that “give you energy” and “empower the work you do.”

This advice is both permission to step off of the information treadmill and a challenge to identify those sources that can make a difference. There’s also a hint here that it’s personal. What energizes and empowers you may be different from what energizes and empowers me.

Read on…

What do you rely on for instructional design and technology news and information? What and/or who energizes your work?

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Build Your Instructional Design Network

One of the cool things about instructional design work is that you can find it in a lot of different places. We tend to look to education and workplace training offices first, but related work is found in universities, private organizations, government agencies, and non-profits. You can work online or in an office, and sometimes there is the opportunity to travel. Joining a community or network made up of other instructional design professionals can help reveal some of these opportunities.  This kind of group can also assist with exploration of the field and provide specific advice on work related questions. As a member of these groups you can also be the one to provide advice and answer questions based on your experiences. At its best, this networking involves sharing across the board.

Professional Organizations

There are a number of professional organizations that focus on instructional design and instructional technology in education and training. Membership usually comes with a fee (but there are a few that offer free options with limited services and/or discounts for full-time students).  Previous posts have listed some of these organizations and conferences – check out Professional Conferences – ID, IT, Distance Ed and Jobs in Instructional Design and Technology.

LinkedIn

Online communities can be good sources of networking. LinkedIn offers a Group feature. You can join groups that focus on your areas of interest. Since this is primarily a professional networking site, you’ll see job listings as well as information, resources, and advice. A few groups you might consider:

  • Instructional Systems Design Professionals – this group requires that you “be an instructional systems designer (ISD) or training specialist with at least 1 year experience; or have a degree in Instructional Design or a similar field.” Recent discussion topics include communities of practice, job leads, and conference updates.
  • Instructional Design and eLearning Professionals – focuses on online education and training. Recent discussions include a debate about the importance of instructional design certificates and degrees, storyboarding templates, and research and multimedia.
  • eLearning Guild – other associations have LinkedIn presence as well.  This group uses the space to advertise upcoming events and foster discussion and exchange of ideas. Recent discussions also include the future of the LMS and “must have” development tools.

Don’t limit yourself to groups or organizations with instructional design in the title. These are a great place to start, but then consider branching out – there are also groups focused on Project Management, Social Media… where is your niche? What do you want to learn more about? Where could you offer your expertise to others?  A recent post on Twitter suggested that the future of education will come from outside traditional education circles, suggesting the need to look beyond our own groups, conferences, etc.

[If you are already active in LinkedIn –  I’m interested in connecting with you out there! http://www.linkedin.com/in/melissavenable – use linkedin at design-doc dot com]

Twitter

A lot of education and training professionals are active on Twitter! They provide information, links to resources, and general observations about their experiences in instructional design and technology and the realities of getting the work done. Add these folks to your Twitter feed and join in the conversations. A few to get you started:

Share Your Networks

What networks are your favorites? Where are the good discussions and connections taking place? Who are your favorites on Twitter? Please consider sharing those places and people you recommend.

Image credit: ciro@tokyo, Flickr

A New Kind of Scholarship?

Professors, administrators, researchers, and graduate students are increasingly using social media to:

  • communicate with their students,
  • collaborate with peers, and
  • publish their work.

Blogging in particular seems like an effective delivery format. Some academics are using blogs as a way to establish expertise and authority outside of an association with a specific institution. Others are requiring students to establish their own blogs and craft posts as course assignments, adding comments to classmates’ posts to increase interaction with each other and with course content.

Blogs and Publishing

Through blogging a new kind of scholarship is emerging allowing academics to report on their research, recommend possible courses of action, and ask questions that spark discussion.

The time required to publish in the traditional ways, e.g. textbooks and peer reviewed academic journals, can be lengthy. This presents a problem, especially in fields that involve technology, education, and communication. Research study conclusions and recommendations can be obsolete before they are published in print. Blogging provides a venue to make this information available to the public in less time.

What concerns should academic bloggers have about using this kind of venue to foster the exchange of information? Copyright? Acceptance? A system of peer review to ensure rigor?

Academic Bloggers and Social Media Experts

Academic blogging is not for everyone; at least not yet. Those who are out there challenging the academic status quo in open forums may be those who already have tenure or those not on the tenure track.  And while many institutions may be encouraging the use of social media in coursework, they may not necessarily encourage the production of social media by those among their academic ranks.

How can social media experts and academics work together? Do you see a benefit in collaboration here? I gave a presentation on blogging at a recent educational technology conference and one of the attendees commented that it all “sounds like marketing”. Could a strategic, marketing-type approach be appropriate for these authors and their audiences?

Read on…

If you decide to cite a blog post in your next academic paper…

The latest (6th ed) APA Publication Manual includes instructions for citing blog posts, posted comments, and video blog posts. APA also maintains a blog called “APA Style”.

Photo Credit: timtom.ch, Flickr

TCC 2010 Online Presentation and Resources

I’ll be presenting a session titled Communicating, sharing, and learning online: A guide for starting your own blog on April 21st at the TCC Worldwide Online Conference. I’ve attended this event twice, but this will be my first time presenting here! Per the conference tip sheet’s instructions I’ve tried to keep my slides simple. There are a lot of related resources I would like to share with the session attendees, so I’ve collected them here in this post.

My main objective with this presentation is to encourage my fellow instructional designers and technologists to consider blogging as a professional development activity. I think there are a lot of unique approaches and stories out there and sharing them via blog can be educational, helpful, and cathartic. I do not claim expertise where blogs are concerned, but I do believe in the learning benefits and potential for collaboration.

Whether or not you attend this conference or session, please reply with additional suggestions for us all. Thanks!

Choosing  a Blogging Tool – Many free options available! Obviously I have a bias here but encourage you to explore and compare. What are your favorite bloggers using? A nice comparison of WordPress and Blogger is available online.

Finding Your Voice

I challenge you to find someone who explains this any better than Jess Jurick did at WordCamp Miami. Check out her presentation online

Setting Goals

I lot of people actually blog about blogging (it’s not just me). Take a look at what some of them are saying about setting goals for the experience and for the process itself.

Writing Ideas

So, you would like to give blogging a try but don’t know what to write about? Where is your expertise? What are you interested in? Here are a couple of nice lists to get you started.

The “Cool Kids”

I am showing a few examples in the presentation itself. Who are the big names, leaders, influencers in your field of expertise or area of interest? Check out their websites and blogs. What are they talking about? Which posts get the most response?

Some Things to Think About…

…As you get started

…After getting set up

As you move forward with your own blog, remember your goals. Revisit them frequently!

[View presentation slides via slideshare.]

Image credit: Stock.XCHNG

Media Literacy – Consumers and Contributors

This post is my reaction to Alec Couros’ presentation on 11/10 as part of eci831. The main topic was media literacy. Slides are online.

What is Media Literacy?

The world is full of people trying to sell us things – products, destinations, ideas, and messages. Much of it we don’t really need. We are subject to this every time we turn on the TV or radio, pick up a magazine or newspaper. Internet websites are no different. When you visit a website you are a potential consumer of whatever the creator or sponsor is trying to sell. The skill related to being able to decipher the sales pitch and make a decision about its worth is media literacy. Of course the Internet is more about interacting with the media, or can be, and that creates issues related to what you consume and contribute. Learning what you should and should not post and what is appropriate online behavior is also related to media literacy.

Can/Should Media Literacy be taught?

  • Teaching teachers. I worked on a course for pre-service teachers a few years ago and the content expert included a unit dedicated to media literacy. This seemed unusual to me at the time (note: my background is not K-12) but important for teacher candidates who would be moving on to positions of influence with students and reacting to issues related to internet access and censorship in school administrations. In hindsight, the students in that course would have probably been better served with a course that addressed media literacy throughout, not just in a specific unit.
  • My media literacy via TV. Couros’ presentation made me think about how I may/may not have learned media literacy prior to the age of the Internet. I grew up watching television. A lot of television. Not unlike the Internet, television was and is full of “good” and “bad”. Learning media literacy happened though the modeling and control of my parents, what they watched and wouldn’t let me watch. And perhaps also through the comments and lessons provided by my teachers and conversations with my friends and classmates, etc.
  • Knowing how it works. This presentation’s discussion reminded me of a general session with Andrew Keen at a recent conference. His approach was a little controversial with the audience – basically, kids don’t have knowledge or wisdom about the world-at-large. He gave the example of his son doing a Google search before making a purchase. When Keen asked his son which item he purchased and why, the son replied that he purchased the first one that came up on the result page since the one at the top must be the best. Did the son understand that the result page was the result of an algorithm and not a group of people rating the quality of the product? Keen supposed not, another issue of media literacy and the Internet – understanding how search engines work.

  • Online identity. As I watched Couros’ presentation I realized that I may live in an Internet bubble (a similar comment was made by a participant.) I don’t find myself exposed to offensive content, hate, racism, violence, porn, etc. on a regular or even occasional basis. We are all making choices about how we consume and contribute to Internet media. Perhaps this should be taught, or at least modeled in schools: creating, protecting, and maintaining your online identity. As a career counselor I used to encourage clients to consider what a future employer might find online and post accordingly. This might fall into the definition of media literacy. It may also be too conservative, to limiting to potential creativity and expression. Or maybe it depends on your career path. Your thoughts?

Other items to pass along:

photo credit: musha68000,  Flickr