Tag Archives: Twitter

Adjuncts and Academic Blogging: #AdjunctChat

academic bloggingI’m excited to be guest moderating #AdjunctChat this week! This weekly Twitter conversation takes place on Tuesday at 4:00pm ET.

As a full-time education writer (a.k.a. blogger) and an adjunct online instructor, my interest in this topic is close to home. Blogging platforms (e.g., WordPress, Blogger, EduBlogs) offer the opportunity for an individual to be heard, to share a perspective based on his or her unique combination of experiences, context, and areas of interest. And many academics have turned to blogging, as an alternative form of publication, to do just that.

Blogging can be, well, whatever the writer wants it to be. Consider the possibilities for:

  • Developing an online presence
  • Sharing practical experience and advice
  • Disseminating research results
  • Connecting with students
  • Collaborating with colleagues
  • Exploring professional development
  • Developing a portfolio

These questions will guide the chat:

  • Is there a value to blogging?
  • How can and adjunct faculty member add his or her voice without adding to the noise?
  • What cautions should adjunct bloggers be aware of?
  • What are your favorite adjunct resource blogs?
  • Do you blog? Share your link(s)!

If you are interested in finding out more about how students, faculty, and administrators in higher education are creating blog content, you can visit my ongoing collection of related articles via Scoop.it, and a related conference presentation: All about Blogs: Universal Tool of the Digital Academic.

What would you like to cover during this chat? Add your ideas and questions to the comments area below.

Please join us on Tuesday, January 28th at 4pm ET! All are welcome.

UPDATE: Thanks to all participants for their enthusiasm for this topic. A long list of ideas, experiences, and further questions were shared. The group took the chat in a helpful direction with a discussion about the use of blogs with students and in a class setting. The AdjunctChat site will post a transcript and a Storify version is linked below.

Image credit: Travelin’ Librarian, Flickr, CC:BY-NC-SA

Top 10 Learning Tools – 2012

Are you familiar with the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies (C4LPT) annual “Top 100 Tools for Learning” project? Led by Jane Hart, this is a collaborative effort in which learning professionals all over the world submit their top 10 tools for the year. This year more than 500 submissions were included.

I’ve contributed to the project over the last several years, but having missed the deadline for the latest list, I thought I’d go ahead and post my thoughts here. As a blogger, freelance instructional designer, and adjunct online instructor, these are the 10 tools that have been the most helpful to me over the past year (in no particular order):

  1. Google Search: What would we do without it? As a blogger I use Google to begin the research for almost every post I write. In the process I’ve become a student of analytics and changing algorithms. I recently completed Google’s open access Power Searching class and highly recommend it if you have the opportunity to enroll or use the posted resources.
  2. Blackboard: I love it and I hate it. Both the class I taught in the spring and another I assisted with this fall used Blackboard to deliver content to online students. While it’s not my favorite, I think an LMS at its most basic can provide a helpful hub for information and communication during an online class.
  3. Gmail: Email may be dead, but I sure am using it a lot these days to communicate with students, co-workers, and even to conduct asynchronous interviews for blog posts. I currently have more active accounts that I really want to count, and continue to be issued new ones with new contracts.
  4. Twitter:Perhaps my favorite on this list, I spend a lot of time on Twitter for a multitude of reasons: current events, industry news, network building, conference backchannels, keeping in touch with friends and colleagues, community-building and more. I also moderate a weekly chat focused on online learning and presented Twitter-related topics at several conferences this year.
  5. MS Word: Still my go-to for all things related to writing, I use Word to draft all posts here and at work, as well as for note-taking. Although I am using shared Google Docs more and more when collaboration is needed.
  6. Skype: I initiated Skype use this past year for virtual office hours with students and found several other groups asking me to join Skype meetings as well. I have also had a Skype phone number for the past several years and find it is more reliable (and has clearer reception) than my cell for work-related calls.
  7. WordPress: WordPress.com is home for this blog, and Inside Online Learning is powered by WordPress.org. One of the highlights of my year was presenting at WordCamp Miami in February and learning more about how to use WordPress from other speakers and participants representing a wide range of blog topics and web development skills.
  8. Google Chrome: As my favorite browser (although Firefox is a close second) Chrome has come a long way and just makes my work easier with a streamlined interface and great add-ons like Awesome Screenshot.
  9. Camtasia: Earlier this year I designed and developed an online course for CEUonestop (LinkedIn) which required screencasting. The Camtasia app was affordable and much more intuitive than I thought it would be, allowing me to quickly capture and edit resulting in a nice looking final product.
  10. Flickr: I continue to rely on the generosity of photographers providing use of their images with Creative Commons licenses. Flickr makes it easy to search for these via keyword and license type so that I can find items suitable for use in blog posts. I also try to add to the pool when I can.

Take a look at C4LPT’s final Top 100 list below, but don’t stop there. Go to the main page to explore more details about the submissions in the “Best of Breed” list and to see how this year’s tools compared to those submitted in 2011.

Image credit: (Top 10) iabusa, Flickr, CC:BY-SA

Top 10 Learning Tools – 2011

This is my third year of submitting my Top 10 Tools for Learning to Jane Hart’s annual project. Jane invites you to add your input as well:

If you are a learning professional (e.g. teacher, academic, trainer, consultant, developer, practitioner, analyst, etc) and active in the field of (e-)learning, please share your Top 10 Tools for Learning to help refine the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2011.

She goes a step further and defines learning tool for us:

This could be a tool you use to create or deliver learning content/solutions for others, or a tool you use for your own personal learning.

This year I’ve done more writing than designing, but have put these tools through their paces for my own personal learning purposes. So, here’s my list (in no particular order):

  1. Hootsuite: I have written about information curation and management systems several times this year and use Hootsuite every single day to manage Twitter tasks: monitor the incoming feed, correspond with other individuals in the field, track topics of interest, follow conference events, and develop writing ideas.
  2. Twitter: This one pretty much goes without saying after #1! I have come to rely on Twitter a great deal, but I am also exploring Google+ more and more for information, conversations, and network building.
  3. Google Search: This is the go-to search engine for me without a doubt. Especially since I made the move over to Chrome.
  4. Chrome: Using this as my primary browser not only opens up the convenience of Google-related features and functions (e.g. searching via keywords in the address bar), but also does a nice job of tracking most frequently visited and most recently visited sites for easy return.
  5. GMail: Another Google product and the one I use for work. Email continues to be a mainline connector for me, and a place where other communication efforts (i.e. Twitter) seem to end up eventually. Did I mention it works well with Chrome? Chrome allows me to set up the notification of new messages so I get a visual on-screen.
  6. Feedly: This is another information management tool that I have written about this year. Set up your reading list of blogs and other websites, and access them in an easy to scan interface. This is a daily routine as well. (And, yes, connects with Google Reader). The Feedly App also allows you to sync your reading list and progress across devices.
  7. WordPress: I use WordPress.com for this blog, and my work is posted on a WordPress self-hosted blog. When asked for recommendations for pretty much anything web-based (i.e. blogs, websites, portfolios, online course delivery, content management ) I mention WordPress. With its large and helpful user community, easy to learn admin side, and design flexibility, you’ve got to give it a try. Oh, and don’t forget to check out a local WordCamp!
  8. MS Word: I made the move to a MacBook Pro over a year ago and haven’t looked back, but I still use Word. For me it’s tried and true. I know how it works and document creation is essential for me. I even admit to creating drafts in Word first before moving to Google Docs or WordPress to share, and then I back up the shared files in Word.
  9. Delicious: I’m still using Delicious pretty heavily, even after the move to AVOS last month. The transition was a little rocky, but everything seems to be back up and running – except, sadly, for Chrome extensions. So while I am shopping for another bookmarking system, Delicious is it for now.
  10. iPad: I am not sure if devices are allowed on this list, but it does fit the definition provided for learning tool. I resisted this purchase with the original then pre-ordered the iPad2 and use it to access everything listed above, except MS Word.

After I completed this list I looked back through my Top 10 for 2009 and 2010 and was a little surprised at how my use has changed over time. How about you? If you haven’t added your Top 10, consider doing so before the project wraps for 2011 sometime in the next few weeks!

UPDATE! Jane Hart’s list of the Top Tools for 2011 is complete! Take a look at the list and slideshow presenting the submissions of 531 learning professionals.

Image credit: zigazou76, Flickr

Catching Up with Google+

Today I (finally) posted an article about Google+ over at Inside Online LearningGoogle+: New Social Media for Education?

I just set up my account last week and have been experimenting a bit. My second post asked:

So, are you using Google+ in addition to the rest (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…) or is it replacing your efforts in these networks?

I was thrilled to get a bit of conversation going with three folks from my fledgling Circles. A lot of people are also writing about this and the reviews are mixed. There’s no consensus, but everyone seems to be watching it closely and experimenting with the various tools.

My take so far – Google+ looks like it might turn into something, and there are some interesting new features and functions, so what not give it a try? If you already have a Google Profile, you’re halfway there.

Now to find the time to manage the account and really explore…

I linked a few resources to the other article, focused primarily on use in higher ed, but here are a few more that might be helpful from the instructional design, freelance perspective.

As always, your thoughts are welcome. Let us know about your early impressions, reviews, and predictions.

Image credit: Creative Nerds

Create and Share Your Own Images

One of the many tasks involved in preparing content for delivery is locating and selecting appropriate images. Whether you are writing a blog post or developing a full academic course, images (drawings, photographs, charts, etc.) help tell a story, help to get the message across.

Where do you find images?

You may be lucky enough to have a graphic artist in-house or maybe a subscription to a stock images resource. But if you’re on a budget, you may be looking for other options – images that are available online with no fee for use. Creative Commons (CC) licenses are a popular way for photographers to make their work available for you to use. Here are a couple of ways to search for CC licensed images: Flickr and the Creative Commons search page.

Do you have images to share?

If you are interested in contributing, you can do so by creating your own online account and making your photos available – searchable and clearly labeled with your intent for their use. One option is @DailyShoot:

The Daily Shoot is a simple daily routine to motivate and inspire you to practice your photography, and share your results! It’s not a contest and there are no prizes. It’s simply about encouraging you to pick up your camera and make photographs.

Everyday @Dailyshoot tweets an assignment – an idea, a topic, to focus your efforts. You tweet a link to your photo for that assignment that includes the day’s hashtag, and it is linked to the site. For more about how it works, check out The Daily Shoot. If you post one photo per day you would end up with 365 contributions by the end of the year (next year, that is)! Even one per week would result in a gallery of 52. As a consumer of CC licensed images, now I can contribute to the pool.

Most of The Daily Shoot participants don’t post every day, but a couple do. You can browse their past photos on the site. It’s also interesting to see the differences and similarities in approach to each day’s assignment. As an example, take a look at 12/26/10 – “What fuels your creative process?”

I heard about this project at a conference in September and have wanted to give it a try ever since. Armed with a brand new camera (thanks, Adam!) I just started yesterday. I’ll be contributing via my Flickr stream.

Are you already sharing your images? If so, please let us know where! If not, consider joining in.

Image credit: gywst

Update! (12/3/11) The Daily Shoot decided to cease operations several months ago, but fortunately the organizers made their list of of prompts available via Google Docs: Daily Shoot Assignments. I managed to complete 150 assignments in the past year and have now maxed out my free Flickr account. While I consider upgrading to “Pro” I’m looking for a new source of prompts….any ideas? Please share them here!

A Listening Post

Listening is an important part of our practice as instructional designers – listening to clients, listening to SMEs, listening to our team members, listening to leaders in the field… Having an ear to the ground and an eye to the horizon allows us to have some knowledge of what’s coming next so we can prepare, position, and not just react. To actively listen we have to focus our attention away from ourselves and towards what is going on around us. 

As I sit in meeting after meeting (many of us suffer this to some degree, right?) I find myself wondering if anyone is listening. We seem to cover a lot of familiar ground and make decisions that were decided in previous sessions. It can be easy to get caught up in the need to be heard. It can be easy to get caught up in the need to meet our own individual deadlines.

When I went through military training (eons ago) I learned about establishing Listening Posts and Observation Posts (LP/OP).  These were strategically positioned outposts that allowed for the collection of information. In my memory one of the key characteristics of these posts is that if you were the LP/OP you had to be quiet. You had to take accurate notes about what you heard and saw (collecting data!) so that you could share the information once you got back to your unit. I have no idea if these LP/OPs are still part of the way military units operate, but I do think there’s an opportunity for all of us here. It’s a simple concept, yes, but not necessarily easy to implement.

Where are your Listening Posts?

For instructional design, I rely heavily these days on Twitter. I follow a mix of people and organizations involved in instructional design and technology at varying levels and from multiple perspectives: k-12, higher ed, corporate training, textbook publishers, open education resources, professional organizations, thinktanks, and journalists. Twitter allows me to customize my own kind of news feed – one in which I can participate as well, but it’s only one listening post. Others include conference attendance and networking events. What do you rely on?

You’ll find a lot of people talking about listening these days, too, not only in instructional design, but also in social media, marketing, and business circles.

What can we learn from listening to what’s going on in other fields? What can we learn from listening to what is going on within our own field, within our own organizations?

Image credit: gregwake, Flickr

Top 10 Tools for Learning 2009


I was inspired by Jane Hart to create my own list of “Top 10 Tools for Learning 2009”. Of course, when I started to write them out there were more than ten… so, for brevity’s sake, this list is from the perspective of the designer, developer, manager of online learning. These are the tools that I have turned to throughout the year to get the work done, and more importantly, to collaborate with others to get the work done. These tools also provide me with learning opportunities making me better at what I do.

  1. Google Apps – Particularly the Calendar and Documents, Spreadsheets to track dates and involve multiple people in the creation and review of content.
  2. Twitter/TweetDeck – I was reluctant to join in, but have been amazed at the amount of information, access to leaders in the field, and potential for professional development.
  3. Skype – Key for conference calls and instant messaging within workgroups. Highly recommend the Skype Number service .
  4. Firefox – You need a gateway to the Internet for all of this work and my personal preference is Firefox.
  5. Basecamp – Allows team members to post and reply to internal messages, work on asynchronous whiteboards, maintain version control of documents…
  6. Dimdim – The features of a synchronous system are not always required, but can’t be beat for walking someone through a product online. Elluminate and Adobe Connect also offer free accounts, but Dimdim works well and can ‘seat’ up to 20 in the free version.
  7. SurveyMonkey – Getting feedback from multiple parties, in an asynchronous manner, that provides easy to assess responses – an online survey tool can be very helpful. SurveyMonkey offers a free account that will serve the purpose of most development teams, but Google Forms is another nice option here.
  8. VoiceThread – This can be a great tool for students to present their projects, etc. in an online class, but I have also used it to demo course projects to other development team members when we are all in different locations.
  9. WordPress – I have found writing my own blog to be a learning process and that has led me to read others’ blogs as well. WordPress offers a super simple way to start a blog that looks great, with the potential to tweak and customize for those with more skills.
  10. Learning Management Systems – Maybe my 2010 list won’t include this, but it’s still a factor in my current course development efforts. I’ve used Sakai, Blackboard, e-College, and dabbled in WebCT and Moodle. The features are similar and provide a framework for delivering a formal course. WordPress has a lot of similar features as well.