Thursday, July 2, 2015

Invite Guest Bloggers

To add value to your Platform, and to offer more to your PLN, one strategy is to invite someone else to write a blog article on your blog.

Most successful blogs have a regular pace - a schedule of how often they post an article. Since you will want to establish a regular schedule of blogging, this is also good for when you want to take a vacation.

Go to your blog's Settings and select "Basic". You will see a screen like this.

You'll notice several things from this.
1. You can change your blog's URL from here. See "Blog Address"?
2.  You can "Add authors" to your blog. This should feel a lot like shareing a Google Drive file with someone. Here, I am preparing to invite Barack Obama to write a blog post on my blog. All I have to do is click "Invite authors" now, and he will get an email inviting him!

Watch this space for some stimulating articles of domestic and global importance coming soon. That is, if this is actually his gmail address...and assuming he knows or cares who I am. 

Use URL Shorteners to Tweet

As you develop your Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN), you will be using Twitter.
There are many powerful professional conversations are happening there every day.

When using Twitter, you will notice that many professional tweets include a web resource in the form of a URL. However, when tweeting, we are limited to 140 characters.

That means that if I want to share my classroom website, it eats into my 140-characters to tweet the full-length URL:
That's 46 characters! 

"There's gotta be a better way!" you might think. "Some URLs that I might want to share are way longer than that. And then if I want to actually SAY anything in my tweet, I can't afford a long URL!"

Using URL shorteners are just the thing for this problem. You can use them with a free account, and the URLs that you shorten will be saved, so you can look them up again, if you ever want to use them again. Or, you can use them without a login.

My two favorite examples are:

I used to reduce my class website's URL to:
That's only 20 characters - less than half of its former self!
(and a whole lot easier to share with someone, even outside of Twitter)

I used to reduce my class website's URL to:
That's only 21 characters - also a significant diet!

One other advantage of is that you can easily make QR codes with one more quick step:
Click Details, right next to your long URL on your the page.

You'll then see a QR code image on the resulting web page.

Copy that image to your desktop, and you can paste it into whatever document you need it for!

How to learn from your PLN - Guest Post

Guest post from Henrietta Siemens, PhD

There are many reasons for why educators should have a PLN. JacquiMurray cites some compelling reasons for building a PLN. First, building a PLN helps educators grow professionally and connect with people who have similar interests; second, through social media tools educators become comfortable with the tools their students are already using, and third, building and growing a PLN can help educators stay current in their field. But how can you learn from your PLN? A few ideas for how you can keep learning about topics in your field of interest with these three popular social media tools:

Many people use Linkedin for job searches or to connect with like-minded people who may provide future job connections or possibilities. However, Linkedin can be used for much more. One key reason for using Linkedin is to find experts in your field. Ask the question: “Who is doing what I’m interested in”? What is the background of these experts? Where have they studied? What contributions have they made to the field in their area of expertise? A great example is Wes Fryer, an educator who has listed many of his presentation on his Linkedin profile. As educators identify experts in their field, these experts become resources for their own classrooms as well as their own professional lives.

The power of Diigo lies in its ability to book mark, sort, and share all of your favorite websites. For one, just keeping track of favorite websites can be a challenge. But with Diigo’s tagging and sorting features, websites can be easily categorized. Many educators have discovered the power of Diigo in building their PLNs. Favorite websites become even more powerful when they are shared with other educators in your PLN. Users can share and connect with others in their Diigo community. By sharing bookmarks users learn about resources and tools from their Diigo user network. Users can further extend their ‘Diigo reach’ by sharing their Diigo bookmarks to their blog. The Cool Cat Teacher explains how:

Beyond the hype and do’s and don’ts of Twitter, there are really only a few simple rules: Follow quality and tweet quality! No need to waste 140 characters on nonsensical, irrelevant content that does not contribute to the broader knowledge creation and sharing with people you follow (or who you’re trying to get to follow you). By following quality educational content, educators can learn about trends, tools, and resources that help them grow personally and professionally. Here are 50 Innovative Ways to Use Twitter to help you use Twitter meaningfully, especially how to become more efficient and how to discover and track quality tweets.

Remember, these social media tools are most powerful in building your PLN when purposefully integrated into a blog or website.

Thanks to Henrietta Siemens, PhD, for Guest Blogging here.
She can be reached fpuedtech [at]

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Face of a Dead Bird

According to this website and others, it is worth thinking about how long things last that we put up on social media.

Tweets last 18 minutes.
Facebook posts last 3 hours.
Pinterest pins last months or even years.
The jury is still out on the life cycle of Google+ posts.

There are lots of suggestions out there about when to post, how often to post, and why you might want to "auto-schedule" posts. This means that you write and publish your content, but set it to go "live" or "public" at the time of your choosing. Some advise that you schedule for the wee hours of the morning, others around the time that your audience would be most likely to see your work.

Quality Content? Quality Attention?
This conversation is just about statistically getting "attention", whatever that means. The conversation is about marketing, attention, high Google Analytics, and such.

These statistics, although important and insightful, might not indicate the actual value of the content and the relationships that are represented in our PLN's.

Twitter is valuable. If you include Twitter as a central tool of your PLN, you can surround yourself with people that offer great thoughts and resources. You may not be out to reach the entire planet with a post that goes ridiculously viral. You want to connect with people who will truly value what you have to say. If you have built a relationship with them, then the pure statistics may not matter as much.

Facebook just has a different personality. The quality of the academic, professional conversations there is somewhat questionable. It focuses more on personal, light, hobby-type stuff. Not bad, just not what you as a professional educator might want to spend your valuable time and attention on if you're out to build a PLN.

Pinterest and Google+ can function in either way, in my opinion.

The takeaway for me
It is valuable to include an image on your blog posts. That way, when people see your fabulous content, they actually have an image to "Pin" on Pinterest, rather than the only image on the page being your profile picture. That's why I spent the extra few minutes finding the picture of a dead bird for this article. I need to get better at that.

Just something to think about.
Has this sparked your interest? Do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment!

By the way...
Here is how to schedule blog posts in Blogger. (No, I was not up at 3:00 AM writing this post!)

Here is how to schedule tweets, from Twitter. Other Twitter clients (applications on your mobile device or computer that help you interact with your Twitter account) have other ways to allow you to do this.

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