Sunday, August 4, 2013

One Task at a Time

When you have so much on your plate, how does one keep up with all that she has to accomplish? This week was one of those types of weeks for me. We started back to school…whew, do I have to say anymore when I tell you I’m the tech person at my school? On top of that, my husband’s family was preparing for the funeral of my in-laws. During the funeral, my husband was not feeling…shorten version…he’s in the hospital right now.

This is a Social media class right? Well, this story is related. You see I did something I’ve never done before. I couldn’t sleep last night and I was extremely emotional. It was late and I couldn’t call anyone at that hour. I decided to go on Facebook to check on my friends’ posts. I then decided to write a post about my day and my husband and my feelings were included. I thought that writing it on there would help me release some of my emotions so I could go to sleep. It worked. I didn’t wait to see responses. I went to bed right after that and woke up refreshed to continue to work on this week’s assignments. It’s a one task at a time for me…this week and every week.

Here’s the summary that Nick and I worked on for Part 2 of our final:

A Learning Network for You…Seek, Sense, Share

Annette Ahuna and Nick Alexander

Here’s a link to our Prezi presentation.

PLNs versus SNs

The differences between professional learning networks (PLN) and Social Networks (SN) are subtle yet important.  Social media is defined as “forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages and other content” (  Social networks can be further narrowed down to an online community.  Online communities generally have a higher quality, continuity and degree of commitment in the relationships between members. (NetSmart, p.162). In short, members of an online community care about one another.

According to (, personal learning networks are “systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning”.  A personal learning network allows you to organize resources and materials, learn about current trends, as well as network and be a part of a community of learners.  The PLN is a place to learn from community members and resources as well as the ability to contribute to other people’s learning. 

Using a culinary context, imagine you are making a pizza.  Your ingredients, toppings, crust, etc., are your social media tools.  You evaluate which stores have the best ingredients, and then you buy some ingredients from Safeway and some from Foodland.  Once you combine the ingredients and cook it up, you have a pizza, which is your personal learning network which you consume.

A Look at PLNs

After learning what a PLN was, we both realized that we each have a PLN of our own. We didn’t realize that this is what it was called. Because of our interests, we naturally look for environments that ignite and fuel these interests. Nick’s PLN includes forums, Facebook groups, Twitter feeds as well as online publications that help him to gain an understanding of new trends and best practices in the audiovisual field. Annette’s PLN includes teacher blogs, a ning called Elementary Technology Teachers, Twitter feeds and Facebook groups that involve elementary education or educational technology. And within both our PLNs, we are both members of the Tech Cadre. The Tech Cadre is a Department of Education mail group where members are involved in technology at the school or department that they work at. Since we are both Technology Coordinators at our schools, we network amongst our peers by sharing resources, posting questions and answers, and even giving away equipment/supplies from time to time.
Having a PLN is very important for educators. PLNs allow them to connect with others in the fields that they are intrinsically interested in. Within PLNs, they learn, share lessons and ideas, and keep up with current trends and best practices in education or the area of interest. Instead of “one size fits all” professional development (PD) classes, educators can choose the environments they want to learn from and include these places in their PLNs. Because they choose, they engage themselves in the areas they are passionate about. Having a choice makes educators want to learn and continue their learning thus developing themselves as professionals.
Organizing Tools for PLNs
LiveBinders is a free online tool where users can organize their digital life.  In a LiveBinder, users can create a visual portfolio containing websites, documents and media.  All of the content can be annotated and placed in different tabs for easy sorting.  Each LiveBinder can be shared with students, colleagues and administrators, along with the general public.  With LiveBinders, users can also collaboratively build a binder for things like presentations, teaming and evaluations.
Organize and Share with LiveBinders - This resource covers: What The Heck Is LiveBinders, Getting Started, Navigating, Livebinder It Tool, and Challenges of using LiveBinder. It shares videos, screenshots and resources such as An Educators Guide to Twitter and iPads in Schools. Rating 5

Diigo is a social bookmarking tool which allows users to share internet resources with others.  In Diigo, users can tag bookmarks, follow other people’s bookmarks, and search popular bookmarks.  Within Diigo, users can also perform screen captures and use sticky notes to comment on resources.  Diigo is a cross platform software with Android and iOS apps available.
12 reasons why teachers should use Diigo - This resource takes readers through 12 different, and effective uses for Diigo.  From tagging to multi-platform operation to highlighting, this article demonstrates the capabilities of Diigo in education.  Rating: 5

Comparing the Features

Free (premium available)
Free (premium available)
Content Stored
Bookmarks, screenshots
Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
Blog Integration
Blog Integration

Attwell, G. (2007). Personal Learning Environments-the future of eLearning? eLearning   Papers, 2(1), 1–8.
Gilbert, E., Bakhshi, S., Chang, S., & Terveen, L. (2013). I need to try this?: a statistical overview of pinterest. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 2427–2436). Retrieved from
Lieberman, A. (1995) Practices that support teacher development: Transforming conceptions of professional learning.
Rheingold, H. (2012). Net Smart: How to Thrive Online. MIT Press. 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.


  1. Annette--
    Wow, sounds like you have been through a lot this week. Hope that this finds your husband and family well.

    Thanks for the information that you present here. I had never heard of Live Binders before and thanks to your post I will surely look into them.

    Keep it up!

  2. Hi Annette,
    I hope everything is well with your husband. You have a good strategy for handling your work load - prioritize and focus on one thing at a time. I do that too when I feel overwhelmed with life. Thank you for sharing personal feelings. As for the LiveBinders, I explored that community too. So far I really like the structure of LiveBinders. It is so easy to develop, and share with others. I copied two LiveBinders already with just one click. I then can modify them to fit my needs. What a great platform for sharing!

  3. I am sorry to hear about the recent challenges you have had and hope that your husband is recovering well. From working with you on our group project, I know that if there is anyone who is capable of handling all that life throws at her, and doing it with finesse, it's you. I am glad to hear that your were able to tap into your social media network to emotionally unload at least a bit of the weight you had been carrying on your shoulders alone that night. Because I don't keep a journal, I have often turned to Facebook to vent, commiserate, or express my unbounded joy or excitement. Thank you for sharing your personal story.

  4. I was given permission to review and comment on Annette and Nick’s Final Project, Part 2 assignment as the classmates listed above my name have not submitted their assignments by the time I began this task on August 13th. Apologies for the late posting but as so many of us have said before, we are being challenged in this class to work on our assignments in a timely manner when so many other priorities are pulling us in multiple directions. I was interested to learn that both Annette and Nick are Technology Coordinators at their schools. I think many of my classmates in ETEC 642 are also in similar fields as they seem to all be networking amongst their peers by sharing resources, posting questions and answers, and using social media and Web 2.0 tools like absolute pros. I wish there were more tech coordinator positions in higher education, or at least at my college as this would be such a cool job to be able to assist professors, faculty, staff and students in using educational technology for teaching and learning.

    This team reviewed LiveBinders and Diigo as organizational tools for PLNs. I am unfamiliar with LiveBinders and would like to review this tool and see how it is being used in higher education. I am, however, familiar with Diigo as I had focused on this app (Diigo versus Delicious: Comparing two personal information management tools) in my first class assignment way back at the beginning of our ETEC 642 journey together. The resource that Annette and Nick provided, 12 Reasons Teachers should use Diigo, was a good article that I have bookmarked to my Diigo collection of resources to use when I want to train others on using these Web 2.0 tools. Even though I had investigated Diigo, I learned something new from this article regarding using the tool to provide visual access to websites I have collected using the built in program “webslides”. I also appreciated their point that “Instead of ‘one size fits all’ professional development (PD) classes, educators can choose the environments they want to learn from and include these places in their PLNs.”

    With that quote in mind, I am curious to learn if Annette and Nick think the role of tech coordinators in the classroom will ever be replaced by online tech coordinators providing lessons and coaching on using Web 2.0 tools to those who contact them via their networks? I was also curious to find out if Annette and Nick had used either of these tools for organizing their own PLNs and how each tool has helped them improve their effectiveness at work.

    Posted by Tim for Luisa Castro