I’m proud to announce that I will have a new book chapter coming out soon.  The most exciting part of this chapter was getting to work with my colleague Yu-Chang Hsu at Boise State University.  Yu-Chang and I were part of a panel discussion at AECT a couple of years ago, and our research interests overlapped.  We collaborated on this book chapter over the fall semester, and it took some real interesting turns as we tried to parse out and define personal learning environments, personal learning networks, and professional learning networks.  Here’s the title and abstract info.

Making Personal and Professional Learning Mobile: Blending Mobile Devices, Social Media, Social Networks, and Mobile Apps To Support PLEs, PLNs, & ProLNs


Mobile technologies have become an integrated, or inseparable, part of individuals’ daily lives for work, play, and learning. While social networking has been important and in practice in our society even before human civilization and certainly prior to the advent of computers, nowadays, the opportunities and venues of building a network are unprecedented. Currently, the opportunities and tools to build a network to support personal and professional learning are enabled by mobile technologies (e.g., mobile apps, devices, and services), web-based applications (e.g., Diigo and RSS readers), and social-networking applications and services (e.g., Facebook, Google+, and Twitter). The purpose of this chapter is to describe and propose how individuals use personal learning environments (PLEs), personal learning networks (PLNs), and professional learning networks (ProLNs) with mobile technologies and social networking tools to meet their daily learning needs. In our chapter, we consider categories of learning relevant to personal learning and professional learning, then we define and examine PLEs, PLNs, and ProLNs, suggesting how mobile devices and social software can be used within these. The specific strategies learners use within PLEs, PLNs, and ProLNs are then presented followed by cases that depict and exemplify these strategies within the categories of learning. Finally, implications for using mobile devices to support personal and professional learning are discussed.

Our chapter is part of a book titled, Mobile Devices: Technologies, Role in Social Media and Uses in Education and Students’ Perspectives. If you would like to have a preprint copy of the chapter, just let me know.  It’s still in production right now.

Image Creative Commons License Phil Campbell via Compfight


Today is “My Twitter Story” Day! I’m so excited, because we can physically see the power of networks. This small project started with one of my students. People are influenced by other people. My colleagues and professional learning network responded. In the true nature of a constructivist perspective, knowledge is constructed through the social negotiation with others. Twitter and social network are one of the mediators. In fact, Twitter has begun a campaign to capture the impact of “Twitter Stories.”

Researchers Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler discuss the potential and promise of networks in their book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives — How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do. You can see Christakis present the phenomenon of social networks in a TED video here. Closer to home with teacher education and technology integration, Shelly Terrell’s “Teacher Reboot Camp” expressed the power of networking through social media, like Twitter, as:

Sometimes, the connections I make on social networks are to parents, learners, politicians, authors, other teachers, or administrators. We more than connect. We have conversations of what education transformation should be.

Today, moreover, we’re sharing how the varied natures of our professions affect others and ourselves. Interestingly, there is a paradox of the 21st century skill of cooperation. Increasing cooperation requires increasing personal responsibility (Tella, 2003). The more we need to work together, the more our personal contributions matter. That is, the reciprocal nature of social networks and professional learning communities is founded on an individual’s willingness to share in others’ social construction of knowledge.

Blog Posts

With “My Twitter Story” Day, we are sharing this reciprocity and how we’ve been affected by it. I encourage you to read these stories and then share your own. I have a feeling this list is going to grow. Won’t you document your impact? Won’t you comment on these reflections?

  1. “My Twitter story or ‘Why teachers & faculty members should give it a try’” by Michael M. Grant
  2. “How Twitter Saved My Career and My Family” by Jason Bedell
  3. “Why Teachers Should Join Twitter…What I have Learned as a Twitter Newbie” by Beth Crumpler
  4. MyTwitterStory Blog Carnival” by George Veletsianos
  5. “Happy My Twitter Story Day!” by TechKNOWTools’ Laura Pasquini
  6. My Twitter Story #mytwitterstory « A Retrospective Saunter by Philip Cummings


Tella, S. (2003). M-learning—Cybertextual traveling or a herald of post-modern education? In Kynaslahti, H. & Seppala, P. (eds.) Mobile learning (pp. 7–21). Helsinki: IT Press.


Good morning! I just wanted to reminder everyone that Wednesday, November 16, 2011, is ‘My Twitter Story’ day! This grew out of a conversation with a student of mine in one of my online courses and some follow up conversations about how we really should be sharing our stories of professional development for others.

I would really like to share and document the value you find from social media … and Twitter is just one example of this.

Here’s how it will work:

  1. Invite. I invite you and you invite others to write your own Twitter story. Here’s mine if you haven’t read it. By the way, feel free to use this blog post and image in your own posts! (Feel free to plagiarize this to death use this as a model.) Start now. Retweet this.
  2. Write. Write your own Twitter story on or before Wedenesday, November 16, 2011, as a blog post. Feel free to be creative. Podcasts, vidcasts, and slidecasts are all fine by me.
  3. Rite. Add #mytwitterstory as the hashtag in your tweets and/or blog post.
  4. Cite. On or before Wednesday, November 16, 2011, add your name and the URL to your blog post in the comments area this blog post. I will add your name and link into the updated blog post for Wednesday, November 16.
  5. Excite! On Wednesday, November 16, 2011, I’ll publish the updated blog post and tweet it out as well. Retweet it willy-nilly!
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

One of my students in my online course (IDT 7064: School Change & the Internet) inspired me today.  She made me want to tell my Twitter story.  I’m pretty sure it’s not original.  I’m pretty sure it’s as pedestrian as … well pedestrians.  But it’s mine, and it is why I believe teachers and higher education faculty should try Twitter.

About 18 months ago, I was not a Twitter user at all — not even a casual user.  I even sort of scoffed at others for using Twitter, adding that it was a time drain.  About a year and half ago, though, I went on sabbatical from the university.  I studied mobile teaching and learning during my time away.  One of the tools I learned to use was Twitter.  Sounds a little silly, doesn’t it?

I found out I was wrong about Twitter. I decided early that Twitter would only be a professional outlet for me.  I wouldn’t be sharing photos of my kids, birthday wishes, etc. on Twitter.  Actually, I started out not sharing anything.  I started out just reading stuff.  It wasn’t a reciprocal relationship with others on Twitter yet.

I found great folks with great minds and great spirits for teaching like Scott Newcomb, Phillip CummingsSteve Anderson, Kyle PaceJason Rhode, and Vicki Davis.  I made stronger connections with colleagues I knew but began to interact with a lot more like George Veletsianos, Michael Barbour, Monte Tatum, and Dan Surry. I also began to follow colleagues that I used in my teaching and scholarship, such as Tom Barrett, Peter Pappas, Inge de Waard, Mark van ‘t Hooft, John Traxler, Mike Wesch, and Cammy Bean.  Plus, there are folks that I always get some great resource, tool, or news nugget from like Mark Scott, Allison Rossett, Jason Haag, Tom Whitby, Steve Dembo, Jason Bedell, Tony Vincent, Joanna Bobiash, Alec Couros, Richard Byrne, Johnny Kissko, Smashing Magazine, and David Wicks.  I’m a better teacher, researcher, writer, and professional development consultant because of these folks.

As I began to follow more folks, I found that things I had read might be useful to others.  So, I just posted them.  Reading other people’s posts these resources I had found seemed to be in the same vein.  Surprisingly (and it still is often), some of these ideas and posts were reposted, and those individuals’ followers then read them.  Some were even reTweeted again.

Free twitter badge

Image via Wikipedia

Over time, my Twitter relationships began to become reciprocal.  It didn’t have to be.  No one is going to say you need to be contributing or I won’t share with you.  Instead, it seems to be a natural progression.  In the beginning, we have a belief that we don’t have much of a voice or something to share—only reading others posts.  But we begin to find that voice, and we do begin to share.  As we do that, folks want to follow us and hear our voices.  They want to read what we’re sharing.  (It’s still a little flattering for me to get a notice that someone new is following me. Sometimes, when I get three or four followers in the same couple of day, I wonder, “What did I say or do to make this happen?” I haven’t changed.)

In Twitter, it says I have 522 followers. I can’t imagine that actually. The impact of me to 522+ people every day is humbling.

What I’ve come to believe is that I think all teachers (and higher education faculty members) should be on Twitter for the professional development community.  Teaching can be a lonely and isolating profession.  I believe it’s often hard for teachers to admit they do not know something.  Maybe it’s just being human.  Being a teacher just amplifies the expectation.  Much of what we do as teachers is taking others’ ideas and reshaping them to fit our students and curriculum.  Twitter is one of the BEST places to receive ideas from.  It also offers informal professional development.  When you begin to follow folks who are experts in your content area, then they begin to impact your thinking and your learning and your teaching.  You find avenues and resources you didn’t know you were missing.

I also believe that social media tools, such as Twitter, are tools we can use with our students as well. Dr. Monica Rankin’s video of The Twitter Experiment impacted me. I saw Kevin Oliver use a TwitterChat in one of his courses.  Some of the tools we use, such as our course management system (I.e., eCourseware & Desire2Learn) require logins and are not easy to integrate seamlessly into our everyday lives. Twitter can be used with mobile phones, too, so it can continue conversations inside of class and outside of class.  In everyday experiences, we can share and demonstrate our learning. I’ve even used Twitter inside some of my courses—both online and face to face ones.  Some students took to it.  Others didn’t.  I do believe that if Twitter isn’t interesting to you then you’re either not following enough people or you’re following the wrong people.  In either case, you need to add folks to follow and probably prune others off your list.

I still only use Twitter for professional relationships.  Facebook is my choice for personal relationships.  I’ve learned a lot about Twitter in my 18 months.  I’ve learned a lot about a lot of things in my 18 months of Twitter.  I’ve made new colleagues that I’ve never met, but I really want to. And now this story is out on Twitter.

That’s it.  That’s my Twitter story. Do you have one?  I’d like to read it, so please share it!

On Saturday, I’m going to TribeCamp.  What’s TribeCamp?  Here’s what the organizers have to say about it:

TribeCamp is a daylong conference with sessions about Web Content Creation, Social Media, Online Marketing, and “Tribes”, which are really professional groups of people with some commonality (think Designers, Entrepreneurs, Marketers, etc…). However, the sessions are just half of the day.

The other major benefit of the day is the numerous connections you’ll make with a sphere of professionals. TribeCamp is a unique experience by LaunchMemphis and LunaWeb designed to foster the community of entrepreneurship in Memphis.

It’s going to be a blast.  Coming off the high of Project Showcase and then going to TribeCamp, it’s like “learning-crack.”  I’m going to be floating all the way to AERA next week.  Wanna go to TribeCamp, too?  I hear you!  There’s still time to get registered.  It’s not expensive, and there’s lots of discounts.  Here’s the link to find out more:


Guest PostFacebook is an Internet phenomenon. It launched to a small group of Harvard students in 2004 and now has millions of users worldwide. Although elearning is popular, it has not had the kind of widespread acceptance with the general public that Facebook has seen. Let’s take a look at a 5 things Facebook can teach us about elearning.

1. Anyone can do it.

One reason people give for not wanting to participate in elearning is that they aren’t good with computers or technology. According to Inside Facebook, Facebook’s fastest growing demographic is women over 55. I’ll never forget the surprise I had when I logged into Facebook and saw that I had a friend request from my mother. MY MOM IS ON FACEBOOK! I was shocked. If she has the ability to create an account, upload pictures, make status updates, and everything else she’s been doing on Facebook, why can’t she take an elearning course?

2. People don’t mind spending time online.

Another complaint I’ve heard about elearning is that people don’t like spending that much time on the computer. If you take a look at Nielsen’s Online Ratings, you’ll see that the average Facebook user spent almost 6 hours on the site in December. If someone can spend 6 hours a month updating their status, viewing photos, and participating in virtual pillow fights, they should be able to spend time participating in elearning.

3. Evolution is critical.

Facebook is constantly changing and improving. They add features that are needed and take away features that people don’t like or don’t use. They change the layout to help improve the user experience, even though everyone doesn’t always agree.  Elearning must take a similar approach for the content and the experience to remain relevant. Elearning must take advantage of the latest technology, make changes based on user feedback, and keep content up to date in order to improve the overall experience.

4. An active facilitator is not necessary.

Elearning proponents often talk about the need for an active facilitator to help create a thriving online community. Facebook blows this theory out of the water. Facebook has an extremely active and constantly growing community without having someone in charge of making sure everyone is participating. However, there is some facilitation programmed into the system. It might make a suggestion about adding a new friend or contacting someone you haven’t messaged in a while, but there is no live person checking to make sure you do these things.

5. It’s not for everyone.

I know I said earlier that anyone can do it, but that doesn’t mean that everyone wants to do it. Even with over 300 million Facebook users, there are still people who just don’t get it. I know several people who have signed up for an account, spent some time looking around, and then never returned. The same applies to elearning. It just doesn’t seem to fit with some people’s learning style.

So, if you are involved in the development of elearning, keep these things in mind. They might help it improve. If you can think of other things that Facebook can teach us about elearning (good or bad) please post them in the comments.

Guest Blogger: Joey Weaver teaches Computer Technology to high school students at Kansas Career & Technology Center in Memphis, TN. He is currently working on a Master’s degree in Instructional Design & Technology at the University of Memphis.

Image courtesy of Befitt at http://www.flickr.com/photos/befitt/3786204929/

I’ve had a really great time here at TETC in Nashville.  The sessions on Wednesday went great.  The feedback I received was really positive, and I hope the information was helpful to many of the teachers.  Today, we’re going to be discussing two topics.  The links and topics are below.

W84-The Secrets to Project-based Learning (2:45 – 3:45pm, Ballroom C)

Here is the link to web page with the details about PBL all in one place. I plan to be adding some more pieces here, too, so let me know if you think something is missing.

  1. Secrets to Project-based Learning

Web 2.0 … from the beginning

Here’s the link to the page that contains details about the presentations

  1. Web 2 from the beginning

I recently had a facebook friend post a celebratory post about reaching 400 friends. Of course, comments of congratulations followed this. However, I could not help but wonder how many of the people he would recognize or speak to if he met them on the street?

A recent blog posted by Dion Hinchcliffe lists the twenty-two power laws of the emerging social economy. I found it interesting that number 3 was Dunbar’s Law that states we can only have 150 active connections. With more than 10 social networking options available, I think of people who have more than 150 connections on each network. For example, on my LinkedIn network, I only have four connections with two group memberships.

So, how many connections do I need? Personally, I have 148 friends in Facebook. In September, Wired published an article explaining where you could purchase Facebook and Twitter friends. Most of my connections are personal connections made through education and church settings. However, I did use my friends list recently to distribute a survey for a course. Because of their feedback, I was able to focus the instructional design of my unit.

The Facebook Song seems to summarize the feelings of the growing population of social networkers. With the number of social networking sites and connections increasing, are social interaction skills beginning to suffer? I love the thought of being able to connect with high school friends or college friends. However, when you begin to suffer withdrawl symptoms because of lack of Facebook time, there is a greater problem.

[youtube width=”480″ height=”295″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSnXE2791yg[/youtube]

  • Have you suffered facebook or social networking with drawl?
  • How many social networking connections do you have?
  • How do you use these connections personally and professionally?

Guest blogger:  Jamae Allred is a former preschool teacher of six years. She enjoyed working with children from three to five years old. After completing her Masters of Science in Education in Early Childhood, she taught undergraduate early childhood courses for one year. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in instructional design & technology at the University of Memphis. Her research interests include online education and e-Learning influences in the early childhood arena. She plans to teach in higher education after completing her degree.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

Over at The Edublogger, Sue Waters offers up a quick tutorial (with screenshots) on how to import your blog posts into your Facebook account.  With a comment I made to Sue, she also discovered it was possible to use Yahoo Pipes and splice multiple RSS feeds together and import that into your Facebook account as well.  Finally, because Facebook is accepting an RSS feed, it seems possible to publish/re-publish just about any RSS feed, including your Delicious bookmarks, a CNN feed or the feed from your Google Calendar.

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Yuri Quintana

Yuri Quintana

Increasingly social networks are being used in business, education and by non-profit groups. Which social networks do you use? Which one is your favorite? Why is it your favorite? How should educators be using these networks? How can these networks be used in the classroom? What kinds of student projects could be done for course credit?  Here’s a list of some popular and some niche networks.  Add your thoughts in the comments below.

Professional Social Networks
http://www.linkedin.com/ <http://www.linkedin.com/>
http://www.xing.com/ <http://www.xing.com/>
http://www.talkbiznow.com/ <http://www.talkbiznow.com/>
http://www.plaxo.com <http://www.plaxo.com>

Wireless Social networks
http://www.whrrl.com <http://www.whrrl.com>
http://www.snaptell.com <http://www.snaptell.com>
http://trutap.com <http://trutap.com>
http://taptu.com <http://taptu.com>

Social Networks for MDs

Networks for Scientists

Create  Your Own Social Networks

Self-Publishing and User Contributed Content

Video Publishing

Guest blogger: At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Yuri Quintana has led the development of several international online projects, including www.Cure4Kids.org, an online pediatric cancer education Web site used by thousands of health professionals in 164 countries; Pond4Kids, an online system used for international pediatric cancer protocol research; and Consult4Kids, a Web-based system used by health professionals for clinical consultations. Prior to coming to St. Jude, Quintana was a principal investigator in the Canadian HealNet Research Network focusing on consumer health informatics; while there, he designed breast cancer decision support systems for the Canadian Cancer Society. Formerly a faculty member at the University of Western Ontario, Quintana also served as director of the New Media Research Lab. He has held high-tech positions at IBM Canada Limited, Watcom Inc., WATFAC, and the University of Waterloo. The chair of four international conferences on medical informatics, Quintana earned master’s and doctoral degrees in systems design engineering and an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering and computer science, all from the University of Waterloo. Quintana is currently focused on the development of innovative Internet technologies that empower communities of health care professionals and consumers to communicate, learn and collaborate on a worldwide basis.

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