Come Together: A Guide for Group Blogs

Originally posted on News:

Many of the blogs and websites we discover are fertile ground for a mix of voices and perspectives, and for some of you, blogging is a collaborative effort. On, you’ll stumble upon pockets of micro-communities on every subject, from the author-illustrators writing about illustration and design at Illustration Age to the political science PhD students discussing current events at The Smoke-Filled Room.

These sites, and many more, take advantage of various features in the dashboard that make group blogging easier. Have a collaborative blog — or thinking of starting one? Here’s a checklist of settings and tools for your site:

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Final Reflections


Sun set or sun rise?

As Chris, the DJ on Northern Exposure would say; It’s with a fond farewell that I bid adieu to this class. I’ve learned so much and had fun doing it. The best part has been learning about educational pedagogy and simultaneously putting those theories into action. Creating a WordPress site would have been a great standalone assignment but to see real users in the real world use our learning modules has been especially rewarding. That said, no one from our site library actually participated in my module! What a disappointment. But this eventuality was probably the reason that we worked as a group. I was able to benefit in so many ways from working with a team of people who taught me so much. And I was able to see how our participants reacted to other modules so I learned a lot about the learner.

The best part about this class has been watching the instructor model the behavior that is so important to facilitate learning. The assignments provided structure and boundaries but the specific elements of the work were open to our individual creativity. I found myself spending more time on assignments than I have in classes where quantity seems to be the standard expectation. And it gets even better. I’ve created a Learning 2.0 project for my small, rural community so I was able to take specific learning outcomes from a class directly to a library job.

My Personal Learning Network

Goals Statement

“A professional who intentionally builds, maintains and activates her strong, weak and very weak ties with contacts within her personal network for the purpose of improving her learning — and uses technology to support this activity — is creating a personal learning network”(Rajagopal, 2011). The goal for developing my Personal Learning Network (PLN) is to continue to educate myself about resources that are relevant to library instruction and the health sciences using a variety of tools and sources.

Defined Scope

My personal interests are libraries and health science. In both cases, maintaining a flow of information about instructional technologies is very important. My PLN will provide information about library organizations, library instruction and instructional technologies, health science, health science information resources. I have already developed a network of sources for job openings in the library field that I will not include in this PLN for the sake of simplicity and in hopes that it will not be a component of a long-term PLN.

Resource Network

My Personal Learning Network is organized according to the chart by Mindmeister so the main headings are Formal (professional associations, email listserves and blogs), Informal (conversations and being where people are) and Social Media (Facebook, Delicious, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, etc.). I’ve found that many of my resources have a presence in most social media platforms. (more…)

Playing to learn

Thanks to Michael Stephens and my fellow classmates, I’ve created a new Learning 2.0 project for the teens in my small, rural library. I’ve called it Check IT Out and I hope to fill some gaps as stated by Jenkins (2006):

  • The Participation Gap— the unequal access to the opportunities, experiences, skills, and knowledge that will prepare youth for full participation in the world of tomorrow.
  • The Transparency Problem— The challenges young people face in learning to see
    clearly the ways that media shape perceptions of the world.
  • The Ethics Challenge— The breakdown of traditional forms of professional training and socialization that might prepare young people for their increasingly public roles as media makers and community participants.

I hope to close the digital divide as I guide the teens through the very public social media world. (more…)

Context Book Review

I read Now You See It by Cathy N. Davidson for my context book review. In the spirit of this class, I explored a new technology tool to report on the book. I had fun and learned a little something in the process.

This book is packed with more information than can be easily summarized. I recommend it to all of you who have ever engaged in learning, which means that everyone should read it! It gives a new perspective to the concerns about education in a digital era. Davidson feels that our brains were made for the complexity of web-based technology. She says that collaborative thinking has only been missing from our educational system since the last mid-century. She backs up her claims with research so you can read primary work to decide if you agree with her. (more…)

Personal Learning Network

With the information overload that we all deal with, a Personal Learning Network (PLN) is the best way to organize information into a usable format. I thought that I had already developed a few PLNs and fully understood the meaning of the term. I have a Google Reader that feeds me information in several different categories that are organized into folders. I have a Twitter account that also feeds me great information that I organize by making lists of like-minded people or organizations. I’ve created a LibGuide that lists a collection of resources along with blogs and twitter accounts that will supplement the basics.

Unfortunately, there is an important element missing in my PLNs. According to Rajagopal (2011), I have developed weak connections that are merely “sources for new information, knowledge and ideas.” A strong connection will ” allow for active collaboration on knowledge creation.” Thankfully a combination of both strong and weak ties creates the best PLN. I’ve actually been looking forward to having the time to build stronger connections. First, I’ll begin by contributing to the conversation. With time I may become the next online content leader! McCormack offers the 3 Commandments for the next online content leaders. The steps are:

  1. Build authority
  2. Curate
  3. Provide context

These ideas may be taking a PLN a little farther than intended but the collaboration and creation of ideas that are important to the individual is a gratifying endeavor. I’d like to be the online content leader in animal nutrition. Who do you want to be?


A New Culture of Learning

Reading the first four chapters of Thomas and Brown’s A New Culture of Learning, made me wonder how our Learning 2.0 Project fits into the new, “arc of life learning” mentioned in Chapter 1. Contrary to the new nature of learning, our project has many elements of traditional education. The blog builders are the teachers who are educating students. There is a very prescribed set of activities to master and report to the teachers via the blog. We have learning outcomes. There aren’t grades or lectures but we also haven’t completely created an environment of collective learning.

I don’t have a problem with this though. A friend asked me what these modules were all about. If she wants to learn something, she goes online and explores and plays. She wanted to know who would ever need a module to learn? My answer goes back to the notion of meeting your students where they are. Some learners feel that technology tools are scary or overwhelming. It feels like trying to find  one particular snow flake in a snow storm. They feel that this new trial and error form of learning is just too much for them. (more…)


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