How To Use Social Media to Network Your PLN

 LandscapeI’m getting ready for the fall semester at University of Portland School of Education where I teach grad and undergrad social studies methods class. Our class blog EdMethods.

This year I’ve decided to become much more purposeful in training my students on how to use social media for their own professional growth. As a proof of concept, I thought I’d crowdsource for some ideas that I might incorporate into my social media course strand. If it’s such a useful tool, time for some “dogfooding.”

I posted the following tweet

Social media tweet

With more than 140 characters to work with, I posted the following to a number of my Google+ communities and LinkedIn groups.

LinkedIn queryWithin hours the replies started to come in. In less than 48 hours I had received enough feedback to collect them in Storify. View directly here or embedded below.

(Storify won’t collect G+ discussion threads or anything from LinkedIn. So I did my best with text only.)

How would you teach aspiring teachers how to effectively use social media to network and for their own professional growth? Add your ideas in the comment below.

Image credit: Vocational training for S.A.T.C. in University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Class in Pole-Climbing in the course for telephone electricians, with some of their instructors. University of Michigan., ca. 1918 U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier:165-WW-119A(1)

Get a iPhone 5s Or Switch to Android?


My iPhone 4s is coming off contract soon and before I replace it with the iPhone 5s / iOS 7, I thought I should do some research on Android-based smartphones (no interest in Windows mobile, sorry Steve).

My good friend Mike Gwaltney had great idea to end the guesswork – try an Android for awhile before I get caught up in next week’s iPhone launch frenzy. So two days ago, I took his advice and bought a Nexus 7 at Best Buy (two week return policy).

What follows is my initial experience with the Android OS. Keep in mind that I’m a Android newbie and I’m not certain how much of the Nexus 7 experience will carry over to an Android smartphone. Nor am I interested in the Nexus 7 hardware – my real goal is a new smartphone not an Android tablet. The superb audio and video Netflix stream on the Nexus 7, doesn’t tell me much about the Android smartphone experience. Android or not, the Nexus 7 goes back to Best Buy next week. (I enjoy creating multi-touch iBooks – can’t view them on a Nexus 7)

I was already using many Google services – Chrome, Gmail, G Drive – all that content was on the Nexus as soon as I logged into Google. But I’ve never used Google for contacts and calendar – they’re hosted on iCloud and synched between my Mac, iPad, iPhone and MacBook Air. My first goal was to get those over to the Nexus 7. I found a very easy (and free) solution for for moving contacts to Google – the (free) Bump app. I loaded Bump on my iPhone and Nexus 7 and did the bump. Selected all contacts and over they went. Looks like Bump can also move photos and audio files. (Though there must be better ways to do that.)

Moving to Google Calendar was much more challenging. I looked online at discussion groups and searched “Help” at Google and none of the solutions seemed to work. Eventually I found the SmoothSync app ($2.86 at Google Play). It moved my calendar to the Nexus 7, but strangely my appointments don’t show up in the desktop versions of Google Calendar. Haven’t fixed that yet, but my iCloud and Nexus 7 calendar are syncing with new updates in both directions.

I downloaded a bunch of my key apps to the Nexus 7 – Dropbox, Evernote, 1Password, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. For the most part they look and behave like their iOS counterparts. LinkedIn somehow manages to have an equally confusing notification system on both platforms. The only app the varied greatly between platforms was 1Password. The Android version does not support selecting specific sections of text for copying to clipboard in the secure notes or attachments – very challenging if you have any important data stored that way,

Finally I tried my hand at customizing the home screen. I’d been impressed with all cool themes, wallpapers and widgets that I had seen online. So many to choose from, though some customizations didn’t function very well. When I tapped on the cool non-skeuomorphic icon for my calendar, I didn’t see my appointments, I was offered more settings for customizing the calendar icon widget. After wasting a few hours trying to trick out my home screen I ended up creating something that in retrospect looks a lot like my iPhone home screen.

So I’m 48 hours into Android. If I had to make a decision right now, I’d stick with the iPhone. So far I haven’t found any big advantages with Android. And getting my wife and I moved over from iOS and still maintaining synch with our Mac desktops seems like far too much work. But I’ll give it a few more days.

Update Sept 20, 2013
Returned my Nexus 7 to Best Buy a few days ago.
Here’s me waiting in line to get the new iPhone 5s 64GB (Black  - No bling for me).
Note: I’m the only Mac FanBoy reading an actual book.

mac fan boy line

Image credit Flickr: George Thomas/ios-android-war-iphoneindia

How to Market Yourself Online? Freely Share Quality Content


Content is everything

This morning I responded to a question on one of my LinkedIn groups. “If you could use only one method to market yourself online, what would do?” After being asked to elaborate on my initial comment, I decided to turn it into a blog post and a demonstration (of sorts). Note: While the question addressed promoting “yourself,” my focus is on promoting your ideas.

Promotion begins with freely sharing quality content. I use the Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0 license. Use it, share it, remix it. Just tell people where you got it, and don’t try and sell it. I’ve never been hesitant to “give my stuff away.” Remember, as the price of commodity drops, consumption increases. Who wants to go back to a site that hides all its content behind a paywall.

Freely sharing your material amplifies and “promotes” it in new ways. One of my most popular posts – Taxonomy of Reflection – has been modified for diverse purposes – from 2nd graders, to the SEC XBRL filing process. I would never have generated all those uses. I don’t even know what the second one is.

Remember, as the price of commodity drops, consumption increases

Each time I publish a new post, I use to create a shortened URL along with a tweet pointing back to the new content. (I also send it to Facebook, Linkedin, and Google+). I then add the new post title and shortened URL to an existing text file – a running list of “” links to all my posts. I keep that text file on Dropbox, accessible from any of my computers and my iPhone. Your list of “” links is a great resource to add to your #edchats, conference backchannel tweets and emails.

I do much of my reading online, focusing on the space where digital literacy, social media, technology and education intersect. If sites offer the option, I’ve registered and created a reader profile – usually with an icon image, info about me and a link back to my blog. If I run across an interesting piece that relates to one of my existing blog posts, I’ll take a moment to leave a comment. I can easily use my text file of shortened URLs to include a link back to one (or more) of my relevant posts. If I happen to be one of the early commenters, I usually will detect a ripple of traffic in from that comment. My analytics show that often, these new visitors will continue on into my site to view a few more of my posts. Please note: I’m not suggesting you use comments as spam to paste a link back to your post. I’m talking about extending the conversation in a meaningful way, and including a link back to you, only if you have a post that’s germane. (I get loads of inarticulate, off-subject “comments” on my blog from sites like Does someone really think I’ll approve them?)

To help me find relevant content, I use RSS and auto notifications from a number of sites that steer me towards new material that I might enjoy and comment on. When I’ve written a particularly timely blog post, I sometimes will search on that news item and leave comments on other sites linking back to my post. For example, when the latest PISA test results were released, I placed comments with links back to my post Stop Worrying About Shanghai, What PISA Test Really Tells Us About American Students It was a unique take on the test results that sidestepped the typical “American education Sputnik moment” and drew lots of traffic. Plus the links in didn’t hurt my Google rating on “PISA test” searches.

So answer to the original question – if you could use only one method to market yourself (and your ideas) online – it begins and ends with freely sharing quality content. (And being able to easily access and add to your comments.)

Final note: When I’m done with this post, I’ll illustrate my method by adding a new comment to the Linkedin discussion with a link back.

Hat tip to Chris Wechner for his discussion group question.