Connectivism in Action Part 2

My dance with  National Council of University Research Administrators-NCURA’s social web network.

courtesy of aka_serges photostream on flickr

I first looked at their Twitter feed and found that the majority of tweets (and I mean almost all) were pointing followers to their “YouTube Tuesday” sessions. The second most tweeted subject by NCURA was about conference dates and conference related things.  OK- on the surface really good stuff, but not immediate texts and links that I am interested in. Now I dig a little deeper and look into their 456 Followers.

Note: this is where the idea of Connectivism gets real. I am taking a respectable organization’s twitter account and peering into their followers AND I am allowed to. I am not hacking, this is public knowledge. Wow! It is like looking into someone’s contact list.

Behind Door Number 1: Trustworthiness

I see that  John’s Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is following NCRUA, but decide that this Tweeter is focused more on health related topics and not general research related ideas, which is what I am searching for. So, although they are incredibly trustworthy, they do not meet my “follow” criteria.

Door Number 2: Lacking Tweets!

I click on another follower of NCURA’s tweets and see that this person has only tweeted 3 times, which again, does not meet my criteria. The tweeter I want to follow from this group will be an active twitter allowing me to learn something or attempt to build a professional connection.

Door Number 3: A winner! Trustworthy & Lots of Tweets that meet My Professional Needs

Next up is HarvardOSP or the Office for Sponsored Programs at Harvard University. At last, real potential. They only have posted 58 tweets, but it looks like this is a new account and is very active for September.

Furthermore, their content is exactly what I am looking to find : educational resources on the web, funding opportunities and critical issues in my field, news. I think this Tweeter would be a great one to do my next layer of connectivity research.

Door Number 4: Way off Topic

My next Tweeter to research was a woman with a very promising scientific profile. She also had 288 tweets. Awesome, or so I thought. When I dug further, many of the tweets were personal, some political and several had a lot to do with the Mars Curiosity rover, which is interesting , but not what I want to follow. So, she did not meet my criteria.

Door Number 5: Off Topic…again

Found a promising tweeter that is also followed by NCURA and HarvardSOP, so I thought,  “Perfect!” a real person I can follow. Unfortunately, his postings were a lot about sensationalistic news items and fewer references to research development.

During  my review of other resources/websites that I stumbled upon I found other golden nuggest of information and resources.

For some of these I know that I will have to  sift through the (yes, I have to say it) the Connections, I will find valuable opportunities to learn and connect with others in a way that I did not realize.

This is so, so, so very cool. I cannot tell you how much this assignment has meant to me, to my professional life.

Gold Mine for Sale!

My overall observation? It takes a lot of digging to find gold.


Connectivism in Action Part 1

“Tools are extensions of humanity, increasing our ability to externalize our thinking into forms that we can share with others.”  –George Siemens

courtesy of wlonline at Flickr

Completing this week’s blog assignment for Mathieu Plourde’s Social Networking class at UD #udsnf12, has taken me to a deeper level of understanding of the Internet’s capability to build bridges and expand my knowledge, to build my Personal Learning Network.

I have been welcomed into the rabbit hole and have found helpers along the way. I was afraid of the volume of information (still am a little), but now understand how to filter it and make it work for me.

And, now, thanks to this assignment, have seen the proverbial light by reading George Seiman’s artile on Connectivism. Matthias Melcher (who Seiman refers to in his article) even states that Connectivism is too broad of a concept to be harnessed with the restrictive label of a “learning theory.”  That Connectivism expands this parochial notion of education and pushes us to reach beyond the walls of an educational building, a teacher, a formal learning experience.

This is revolutionary stuff, my friends. This is MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), this is OER (Open Educational Resources) . This is the Web, or as Connectivism likes to describe this experience as the neuronal network, where uncertainty is certain and the paths are many. (At least, this is my current interpretation.)

I began seeing these connections when I started the first part of this assignment by researching professional organizations and their use of social media tools. The one I finally decided to review is the National Council for University Research Administrators (NCURA), which subscribes to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linked In.  Now for the fun part!

It’s not you, it’s the web…

Or should I ask, Can I Control Information Overload with Filters and Tools?

Clay Shirky

First of all, I love Clay Shirky! He really brings the message home, whatever he investigates. However, in his Web 2.0 Expo talk in NY (that we watched for Matt’s EDUC #udsnf12 course), I did not like his claim that

“all the solutions [web/email filtering solutions] are temporary…you have to take the volume increase for granted.”

No, I do not want to take the volume increase for granted! Yuck! Yet, hearing this is liberating. It’s not me, it’s the flow. I am not incapable. I just don’t have the right combination of filters set up. This concept is freeing, really and truly.  I will have to keep modifying my set up, but when I get overloaded, I know that it isn’t me, it’s the flow. As Shirky puts it we are in “post-Gutenberg economics.”

So, in order to manage this phase of info gluttony, I have investigated the following tools:

IFTTT (If This Then That)-an old adage from programming language, eh? I just started using this, but I think this tool will really help me increase my klout score. Is your ego interested in this? Did the Web 2.0 makers come up with this digital expression of online worth? We shall see…  Yet, I do like IFTTT because it allows me to (1) post in multiple places with one expression, (2) it also brings all the information I want together into my google reader-this alone will be awesome. (PS-be sure to check out article below–it looks like IFTTT is dropping TWITTER!)

Netivbes: I was totally enamored with PageFlakes (RIP) until they went belly-up and I lost everything I aggregated in there. I really liked their simplicity. But a new tool came along and now I can do just about everything in Netvibes. I am still learning the extent of this tool and am very excited to do more than collect urls and see my feeds from Facebook, Twitter, etc.. The aggregating tools in Netvibes are immense and I need to figure out how to best utilize them.

Tweetdeck is OK, but I “think” it can do the same thing as Netvibes. I think this tool would be really helpful if you had more than one Twitter account. I would like to hear other opinions about this.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hootsuite!! I think know I am going to really like Hootsuite! This may be my “go to” tool. I really like the straightforward interface and adding in all kinds of apps. I added my youtube subscriptions and they play right in Hootsuite! Awesome! And there are about a million more apps to add in like Evernote too!

So, what’s the difference between content curation and content aggregation? Well, this site really helped me out  and from that I have the following understanding.

From Secret Sculpture Garden

Content Curation means sharing other people’s content and information with my friends and connections in some awesome and very deliberate way, like using a website. Curation has my personal touch on it.

Content Aggregation means pulling a bunch of information together and not sifting through it to get the good stuff. This is usually via some sort of search process or aggregator that automatically pulls information in.

I am seeing the differences between the two in this way. Content Aggregation is like throwing a bucket of paint on the wall while Content Curation is like using many colors to create a beautiful mural.

from something else studios

What do YOU think?

Struggling with web 2.0 and kids

Ok, I know most of you think that web 2.0 is awesome, and I do too! Really, I do. Yet…(in a sort of whiny voice) I am worried about when kids use it. This blog has started changing my mind.

Thanks udsnf12! aka Matt & co.


Pintrest and Twitter and Blogs, Oh My! The Yellow Brick Road of the Web.

wizard of oz 70th celebration

This blog post is in response to Mathieu Plourde’s UD course, Social Networking (SN) week 3 question.

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home” (Ken Olsen, 1977) Ok, we can find this rather funny now, but 36 years ago, this sounded reasonable. Which leads me to consider how outdated my current personal feelings might be about social networking and where we will be 36 years from now. Can you imagine it? 36 years from now? (The year will be 2048 and I don’t even want to tell you that I will be an octogenarian then!)

Will we have found the yellow brick road or the poppy field? Probably a mix, if it is like everything else.

How do we manage it, so that it does not manage us? Stephen Mangat’s video describing how he is using SN was incredibly helpful. He described how he sets up accounts to automate information dissemination and then he sticks to a schedule to do particular tasks like professional development, managing monthly tweet ideas, etc.

1. So, I think the first plan would be to develop a social networking plan with a coordinating schedule and stick to it.

And then do not drive yourself crazy by checking it ALL of the time-this is a pitfall!

2. Create some type of management dashboard.

This semester for my project I will be exploring the use of the tool Netvibes. Tools like this allow people like us who want to participate in all things web with a way to manage, in one space, our links and our social media. If anyone would like to join me in this project idea, please let me know.

3. Utilize RSS feeds and email filters.

As Matt described these two options in class, I realized that these two concepts can really help clean up and organize my inbox. I started using the email filter, but still need to explore how I want to receive rss content.

4. And, finally, we need to pre-determine how we will manage our inboxes when we finally get a chance to go offline. Maybe email filters….perhaps??

In this article, 5 Tips for Managing Information Overload, the 5th tip says to “Disconnect Often.” I think this is truly helpful, but not if we are going to go crazy dreaming of an ever-populating in-box, twitter feed and the like. If you check out that article be SURE TO READ THE COMMENTS, one person talked about “more wired, more tired” and the lack of actually doing things of substance and truly finishing tasks. It sounds very similar to our class discussion from Monday.

All the best, I wish us much brain power this semester!

Oh, and just so that you know, becuase I was taking so long to write this post, WordPress logged me out and didn’t save anything. So…I had to write it again. Lesson learned, you wiley web, you!

Reflections on The Connected Learner in a PLE


Connected (Photo credit: steven w)

My reflections after reading The Connected Learner in a PLE.

Thank you Professor Plourde for posting this on our Pintrest site. I think articles that center around “connected learners” is a great direction for us to start thinking about HOW to use these tools. When I think of the possibilities I am a bit overwhelmed and feel that we need to have our own “Connected Classroom Learning Standards/Rules/Manifesto..etc.”

We need to address these challenges:

1. How do we navigate the infinite choices that change, break, get bought/sold?

2. In what ways should we use the tools of choice? What are the best practices?

3. What privacy issues need to be addressed by the school district, the parent, future stakeholders in this child’s life?

4. How do we address this ending paragraph from this site?

  • “As proponents for the use of technology, we also realize that the noise from myriad digital distractions threatens the cognitive complexity of learning. Learners need to have the skills to know how to self-regulate the use of these tools.”

I hope that we will begin to discuss some of these questions that keep me wondering about web 2.0.


ferpa chain and lockI, Jann Sutton,  understand and accept that some of my academic work for the fall 2012 semester will be published on the open web for the work that I will be putting online as a part of the EDUC439/639 class at the University of Delaware. The home page of this open class is located at
I also pledge to leave it online until at least December 21, 2012, the end of the fall semester.
Under those terms, I waive parts of my FERPA-granted rights for the purpose of exploring social media and web 2.0, excluding private conversations with colleagues and course grades.

Social Networking Course Expectations


I need a dashboard!

I am very excited to take this course! I am looking forward to examining social networking options and their implications with the help of my instructor and classmates. In particular, I would like to understand how these tools can be used to extend student learning.  I feel that I can easily see the social relevance of many of these, but would like to better comprehend the ways these tools can be used to support learning in a meaningful way.I am also interested in effectively using organizational tools like dashboards (such as netvibes) that can help me keep everything at my fingertips.

Here we go…..   🙂

PS While I was searching for netvibes, I found a site called, Social Brite, social strategies for nonprofits. It looks like it might have useful information.