application, Blogging, Computers, Education, Links, PLN, Read/Write Web

Flipping Vicky Loras’ Blogging Challenge


Earlier this week, I had shared a story for Vicky Loras’ Blogging Challenge “What’s Your Story?”  One of the things that you have plenty of time to do while suffering from a cold is doing some reflection.

As I reflected on the extent of the content, the stories, and the global connections from her challenge, I really became with how impressive this young lady’s reach is.  I certainly couldn’t even begin to reach the number of educators that she has worldwide and then have them share their story.  So, I hopped over to her blog and posted a reply and then it came to me – her blogging challenge is actually in two parts now.  Wouldn’t it make sense to put them all together in one spot?  I thought of a number of ways to curate that sort of thing and thought that a Flipboard magazine would probably be the most interesting way.

So, I suggested that she do that.

During this morning’s dog walk, Jaimie pointed out that I’m quick to suggest work for others.  He also noted that his walk was a little short because I still was sick and suggested that I make my own Flipboard of her links.  Why not indeed?

After all, she’s done the heavy lifting organizing all this and wonderful educators from all over the planet have written their best.  It wouldn’t take long to flip them into a book.

So, I did!  There were some entries that were no longer available as well as Posterous which had hosted them.  I got a few of these:

but a retry got it in eventually.

In a way of paying back to this wonderful project, please enjoy this Flipboard magazine “What’s Your Story?

vicky

Blogging, Computers, PLN, Read/Write Web

Media Errors


This is not a professional blog.  It just takes a minute to read the first paragraph or so to realize that the author, moi, got 60% in Grade 13 English.

At the time, I hated writing.  Now, I actually enjoy it and try to write a post here once a day to try and get some sort of proficiency in the written language.  Some days are better than others!  The nice thing about the blog format is that you can experiment with different types of design and approaches to your writing.  I wish I’d had that option when in high school.  I hated writing essay after essay.  Later, as a teacher, I can’t even imagine sitting down and reading and then marking them.

I am a consumer of information.  Of that, there is no doubt.  This blog is, in part, my way of paying back.

But I digress.

As 2014 ends, a lot of folks are reflecting back on the year that was.  For bloggers, it means looking a high and low points.  An article I read yesterday had me focussing on the lows.

Without a doubt, the worst moment in my writing occurred last week when I wrote the following in the post “Learning While Not Shopping

How’s that for a nice shagging dog story?

Believe it or not, I do proofread the posts.  I guess I just don’t do a very good job at it.  Fortunately, I have a couple of folks who aren’t shy about dropping me a message indicating that I screwed up again.  Thanks, Lisa and Sheila.  In this case, apparently, Lisa waited until she stopped laughing and told me about the error which I quickly corrected (after a laugh of my own).

But, Lisa, my errors pale in comparison to the ones I know you’ll enjoy in this article.

The year in media errors and corrections 2014

While it didn’t make the #1 position, I found this one the funniest.

image

So sit back (without a mouthful of coffee) and enjoy the article. 

Interestingly enough, the article has a posting date and a revision date.  Could an error have been found? <grin>

Somehow after reading these, I feel my blog should get a Noble Loriet award for writing.

Computers, Ontario Edublogs, PLN, Read/Write Web

Early Morning Learners


#FollowFridays are always a bit of a social experiment with me.  

My interpretation of the concept started a long time ago in a discussion with a few friends.  We liked the worldly connections that Twitter affords us.  If you’re on Twitter for any length of time, you just naturally make the connections and expand your network.  The problem was, as we saw it, people were starting to take happenings in other educational jurisdictions as true for Ontario.

In reality, sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t.  As Twitter gained popularity, we thought that it would be helpful to try to promote Ontario connections.  #FollowFriday seemed to be a natural for this.  So – I started to do that.  

I’ve always been an early morning riser – it’s my time to do some reading and reflection before the world’s most entitled dog demands his morning constitutional.

I decided to carve out about 15 minutes or so of my morning reading to recognize some of the Ontario folks who populate my Twitter feeds with inspiration, stories, blog recommendations, connections, happenings, …  It’s now become a regular routine.

The social experiment part is to see what people do when their handle comes up.  Some favourite it, some send a message of thanks, and some do something really interesting.  I’ve mentioned it before, the message always starts with #FollowFriday – Active Ontario Educators – so there are lots of characters that can be shorted or dropped to fit within the 140 characters.

I always thought that I was the only person up and about during these dark hours.  It turns out there are a lot of us up at that time.  

Yesterday, for example, the following generated notifications beginning shortly after 5am …

  • avivaloca (she’s always first)
  • TammBush
  • jcorbinh
  • turnmeluce
  • spagsmario
  • MrOrr_Geek
  • ugdsb_missfitz
  • Jason_To
  • ColleenKR
  • mrpinizzotto
  • CGoure1
  • lowenESST
  • aljasngenieetoo
  • bgrasley
  • SharonHuxley
  • margotroi
  • MmeM27
  • GHarris01
  • HeatherTouzin
  • AlanaCallan
  • richfarm
  • mcguirp
  • DavidFifeVP

The list goes on and on.  If you want to see the entire list, check my timeline.

By retweeting, they’re extending the connections and then it gets extended again and again…  I’d love to see a visualization of it all.

It’s one of those things that never get old for me.  It’s humbling to think of the connections and the learning that I do every day thanks to the efforts of those who are generous enough to share online.

We live in an amazing time.  It’s a great time to be a learner and I like to think that I learn from some of the very best.

PLN, Read/Write Web

Learning While Not Shopping


OK, so it’s December.  It’s the month that I grudgingly agree to go to the mall.

I don’t mind shopping but my technique is different from my wife’s.  I know, in advance, what I’m going to buy, park at the entrance nearest the store,  then go in and buy whatever I need and leave.  I’m not big into visiting every store, walking every aisle, and touching everything.  I think I do OK and I don’t recall anyone ever asking for the receipt so that they can take the gift back…

I can tell you – I’m not the only one.  There used to be a time when those of us of a like mind would sit on the little benches people watching.  Nowadays, we’ve upped our game.  We’ve become even more anti-social and spend the time on our smartphones.

There I was a couple of weeks ago biding my time by watching my Twitter feed go by…  A Twitter message appears announcing a new post on the The Edublogger Blog “A Must See Video: What Will Revolutionize Education?”  As a rule (mine, anyway), things on the Edublogger Blog are worthwhile reading.  In this case, it was a post from Ronnie Burt talking about a video that he’d watched that day.

Ever the cheapskate, I didn’t want to rack up a big data bill by watching the video using my phone’s data plan so I just retweeted it.  As I’ve mentioned many times, that does a  number of things.

  • it shares the link with others;
  • it gets bookmarked to my Diigo account via the Packrati.us utility so that I can check it later;
  • I get powerful feedback from those of you with whom I’m connected.

All three are great reasons for doing it.  I value them all, especially the last one where I get feedback from you.

Then, it was time to go to another store.  Time for me to move to a new bench.

Within a minute or two, I get a notification on my phone that someone had interacted with me.

This time it was from Will Richardson.

Oh, this should be good.  He’s recorded a video in response?  That was quick.

When I clicked the YouTube link, it was to the same video from Ronnie’s original post.  HuH?

Clarification was forthcoming….

Ah, it was in a response.  D’oh!  How many times had I given the advice “Scroll down, you dummy”.  Now it was my turn.


How’s that for a nice shaggy dog story?

It didn’t seem to be earth shattering at the time.  Just a question asked and answered between two people that I greatly respect for their thoughts and opinions.  It happens daily.  I wouldn’t normally have been that open except that I was out and about and too cheap to pay for data.

In the big picture, it just reinforces the concept of being connected with wonderful people with great thoughts.

I can’t imagine a world where this sort of learning isn’t respected and valued.  After all, universally we all want to learn, grow, and be better at what we do, don’t we?

Reality came crashing in over the weekend.  One of the folks I interact with online had responded to another resource that I had shared about using Twitter in the classroom.  This person works in a school district just up the 401 and he noted that Twitter is still blocked from access at the school.  Really?

I’m sure that the logic is still coming from some monolith who cutely says “We don’t want to know what you had for breakfast”.  In the process, you’re denying a world of connections and learning for students and teachers.  It just floored me.  This isn’t some new emerging technology that you’re taking a gamble with.  It’s a proven technology that connects educators, students, ideas, and learning.

Wow.  Just wow.


In case you’re interested, here’s the video that started this entire rant.

(and, please scroll down to read the comments after you enjoy the video)

Blogging, Computers, Education, Just Rambling, learning, Ontario Edublogs, PLN

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s Friday.

You know what that means. I am honoured to dig into my browser cache and share some of the great stuff from Ontario Edubloggers.


Pets are not Presents

This may well be one of the more important ones to read and share.

Those who have known me for a long time, may remember Beauregard.  He was part dachshund, part miniature dachshund, and part psycho.  Upon his passing, we weren’t sure that we had room in our lives for another pet.  My kids took me to the Humane Society where we met and fell in love with Jaimie.  After a big family meeting, I had a new walking partner who certainly needs more exercise than Beau did.

But the key to this was that we had complete family buy-in when we adopted (some use the term rescue) from the Humane Society.

In this post, Claudia Amendola masterly describes why you don’t give a pet as a present at this time of the year.

This is a wonderfully passionate post that describes in great detail why pets shouldn’t be presents.

Now, to extend the concept.  In the spring of the year, if a family decides that they wish to extend their membership, there are all kinds of willing friends.  If that’s a fit, then I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending a trip to be interviewed by perspective family members.

Please consider sharing Claudia’s post with anyone thinking about getting a pet for Christmas.


Deal with a Disappointing Day

Diana Maliszewski shares with us some of her thoughts after a day of disappointments.

I’ll share a few of my disappointments today and maybe get around to reflecting on how to handle it. I will practice phrasing my thoughts using the “I feel” statements I was taught in Tribes – where the feeling and situation are explained and no blame is given. (I’ll reveal all the self-blame and finger-pointing underneath.)

Her approach to taking it to her blog was unique.  I do write at times in anger or frustration 

Notice that I have 43 drafts that I haven’t published.  One of the benefits or deciding upon a time to post is that I do have time to read/revise/rethink before hitting the publish button.  But, I do like the login in Diana’s post.  I need to think on this a little more.


Descriptive Feedback Experiment

I like the thinking out loud that Jamie Weir has in this latest post about descriptive feedback. It think that it shows a growth and maturity in her career.  It’s the sort of thing that should be contemplated by all teachers.

Reading between the lines shows a great deal of confidence in herself to be able to do this.  It shows a supportive environment with her department and principal.  It shows a dedication to the profession.

I think it also shows a dedication to the process of ensuring that every student will be successful, if they want to be.

At the same time, that voice in the back of my head is noting, this is about success.  It’s everything that a one-shot standardized test isn’t.


Letting Go!

Aviva Dunsiger recent musing about letting go of control in her class had me smiling and made me realize how distant my Computer Science classes were from this reality!

Her observations are in blue; my reactions in green!

  • Students had assigned spots at tables and desks.
  • We had assigned seating for the first bit until I got to know names and for the sake of supply teachers.  Other than that, the Computer Science classroom is learning in motion;
  • Students had assigned spots on the carpet.
  • Secondary School students are too cool to sit on the floor;
  • There was a line-up schedule, with rotating positions as the “leader” and the “caboose.”
  • We never really left my room(s).  Classroom in front; programming area in the back;
  • There were assigned jobs: from those that swept the room to those that brought down the attendance for the day or even the week.
  • I had to do my own attendance at the end of the day;
  • Students were assigned places to eat at lunchtime. 
  • Thank goodness we had a cafeteria and formal lunch breaks!
  • There were strict bathroom break times.
  • In Mr. Peterson’s room, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go.  The only difficult part was making sure they came back;
  • There was even a schedule for washing hands.
  • Maybe it’s because we didn’t have any paints, but I never thought of this.  I did personally buy sanitary wipes so that students could wipe down their keyboards if they needed.

I guess Grade 1 and Grade 11/12 are worlds apart!

But I do applaud her approach to easing up a bit.  If we truly want to get to a world of students taking charge of their learning, they need the flexibility.  The teacher will always be there to “set the table” and provide the environment for learning but it’s the student attitude and abilities that will make it happen.  I hope that she continues to share how it’s going with her new mindset.


Tweets of the Week

If you read my interview with David Fife from earlier this week, you’ll know that I asked him about his “Tweets of the Week”.  Check out these and more from his blog.


Are Learning Communities effective?

You know what my opinion will be on this topic!  Read Rola Tibshirani’s thoughts after the Bring IT, Together and Google Apps for Educators sessions she recently attended.


It was another great week of reading and sharing.  Please show some online love and read the posts above and drop a comment if something hits you as comment worthy.

You can enjoy all of the Ontario Edubloggers collection here.

Blogging, Education, PLN, Teaching

An Interview with David Fife


David Fife is currently a vice-principal at Mitchell Hepburn P.S in St. Thomas, Ontario and is a long-time Twitter user.  Prior to becoming an administrator, he was a Learning Technologies Coordinator with the Thames Valley District School Board.

David is very transparent about his online presence.  He’s created a digital footprint page showing where he is active here.  http://www.davidfife.ca/my-digital-footprint.html

Doug:  Thanks for agreeing to the interview, David.  This should be fun.  We go back a long way – can you tell the readers where we first met?

David:  Thanks for the opportunity Doug, it’s a real honour! Although my memory isn’t as good as it once was I’m sure the first time we met was in 2005 at a Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee meeting at the old Thames Valley Educational Centre building in St.Thomas. A building I drive by daily to my job at Mitchell Hepburn. Sadly it’s no longer in operation, but we had many meetings and events there. Even then it was easy to see that you were a very respected educator, with a lot of experience that we could all learn from.

Doug:  Ah, the Community Education Centre – South.  In these days of mega structures, it’s hard to picture that as a board office.  The Western RCAC was a terrific group of educational leaders such as yourself.  Lots of great sharing happening there at the time.  I still see Cliff online and Alison certainly as established herself as a provincial leader.  Thames Valley was a powerhouse leader so it comes as no surprise that you made the move to administration.

You’re a bit of an oddity in the online admin world.  There are a lot of administrators who use social media but you’re incredibly active online sharing your learning.  What value do you see being this connected?

David:  I’ve often said that I have learned more from my PLN in the past 3 years than in any other time in my career, and that includes the courses I have recently completed to obtain my Master of International Education degree. The collective knowledge about pedagogy, leadership, school culture and what is working for kids that my PLN share every day is the reason I have stayed active on social media. I’m really not sure how I could have learned what I have over the last 3 years without them. I believe wholeheartedly with David Weinberger’s statement from Too Big to Know that “the smartest person in the room, is the room”. Social media, for me, is one big room. However, it’s not only the virtual connections I have made that I value. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many fantastic educators in my PLN in person. It is in these face-to-face conversations that I have learned even more about the people I connect with.

Doug:  That’s a common message that you hear quite often – meeting virtually enhances the eventual face to face experience.

If I was overhearing parents talking at a soccer match, how would they complete this sentence “Oh, Mitchell Hepburn!  That’s the school where …..”

David:  Another addition is required! Joking aside Mitchell Hepburn is a very large elementary school in an area of St. Thomas that continues to grow. What I hope parents would be saying is that Mitchell Hepburn is a school that provides students with exciting opportunities to learn with teachers and staff that care about them. A place where teachers work hard providing extra-curricular activities in areas of the arts and sports. A place where because of social media parents and community members have a view into the learning happening in each and every classroom. Mitchell Hepburn is a great place to learn because of the people committed to make it that way.

Doug:  What sorts of things with respect to computers and information technology is Mitchell Hepburn known for?

David:  We are a school on the move. We have recently closed our computer lab and have moved to a learning commons equipped with five S.O.L.E (Self Organized Learning Environments) stations. We have just recently been fully converted to a school wifi network which will help support our BYOD initiatives. Mitchell Hepburn is also fortunate to have 40 iPads, 20 netbooks and 15 Chromebooks to help support our BYOD and Google Apps for Education initiatives. Most importantly, however is that we have a core group of teachers like @pluggedportable that model effective integration of technology into the curriculum and support those that are willing to take the leap with the use of technology in the classroom.

Doug:  That’s a nice collection of different computing devices.  It should provide a rich experience for students.

In your former life as a Learning Technologies Coordinator, you were heavily involved with professional learning.  As a vice-principal, you’ll be providing leadership in this area as well.  Is there a difference is the approach between the two?

David: Yes there’s a bit of a difference. As a Learning Technologies Coordinator we provided professional learning experiences in a general sense for an entire system and provided some support to the school we were responsible for. These were generally big ticket items such as SMART Board training and software specific training.

As an administrative team we work with staff to develop a School Improvement Plan based on our most pressing student needs. Our professional learning then evolves from that. It’s my job to guide the professional learning opportunities based on our School Improvement Plan. It’s not necessarily technology related, but may have include some aspects of technology based on our student needs.

Doug:  What skills did you bring as Learning Coordinator to the role as a school administrator?

David: As a Learning Coordinator I was involved in many initiatives and pilot programs where I learned how policy and procedures at the board level work. Teachers often don’t see the bigger system picture, which is understandable because they are so involved in what they are doing at the school level. I’m able to explain to them how things go and this often is enough for teachers to understand the implications of what they are looking for and they begin to understand the complexities of working in a large district. The other skills that I think I’ve brought to the school as an administrator is that of listening and asking questions. So often as a Learning Coordinator I had to listen to issues that schools or individual teachers were having with technology. My job was to understand their concerns and ask questions to clarify and help to find solutions. It’s no different in the administrator role. I listen to students, parents, teachers and colleagues with the goal finding the answer or supporting them in any way I can. I always look to find a way to say yes. It’s not always easy but by asking the right questions I find that problems are easier to solve.

Doug:  On the Mitchell Hepburn website, there’s a private link to Library eBooks.  Can you tell us how that works?  How successful is it with students?

David: Library eBooks are a collection of eBooks that have been purchased by Thames Valley for use at all schools. Some schools have also decided to make their own purchases to add to their collection. The collection is not widely used at Mitchell Hepburn mainly due to issues with bandwidth. As many boards across the province are experiencing the ability to download or view anything multimedia is challenging. Therefore we have decided to stick with traditional methods of reading material, which is fine by me. I love the feel of a real book in my hands.

Doug:  Do you allow students to bring their own devices to class and attach to the school’s network?

David: Yes. As I mentioned earlier we have just recently been converted to a fully wireless school. With this we have 3 separate and distinct connections. TVDSB-Student is the connection that students can access with their Active Directory accounts on their own devices. TVDSB-mobile is a network that if students are using a school device such as an iPad, netbook or Chromebook the device will automatically connect to it. Finally we do have a TVDSB-Teacher connection that teachers can also connect to using their Active Directory account.

Doug:  How well does it work?

David: So far we have been very happy with the wireless connections. I must admit during the transition from having a few “hot spots” in the school to where we are now there was some frustration among staff. Of course we all wanted the work done immediately but to their credit our IT department did a great job making sure everything was working well before expanding the wireless connections to the entire school.

Doug:  How does the concept of equity work?  Do all students have access to a technology that they can bring in this way?

David: Our junior and intermediate division are primarily working with a BYOD scenario. Our challenge was with teachers that felt the computer lab was the only way to facilitate effective integration of technology. Thankfully with excellent modeling from their colleagues we are beginning to see more mobile and BYOD technology being used.

In order to support those students who do not bring their own device and for our younger students we have moved to an online method of reserving our school purchased devices. We have created calendars in Google Drive that all teachers can access through their Thames Valley Google Account to reserve devices. We encourage teachers to think and plan ahead and to work with our teacher-librarian on projects and ideas. Our vision is to utilize the devices as creation tools where students are engaged in demonstrating their learning in creative ways. As an example could be a primary teacher reserving 10 iPads so that their students could work in pairs using Explain Everything to demonstrate their understanding of 2-digit addition.

Doug:  I’m a regular reader of your blog and enjoy many of the insights that you share.  You have a feature you call “Tweets of the Week”.  What inspired you to do this?

David: There are just so many great tweets that I read every day. I decided to start “Tweets of the Week” for a selfish reason, I didn’t want to forget them! Now I get emails and Direct Messages in Twitter all the time about how much they enjoy reading them. So I guess I better keep doing it :-)

Doug:  Nothing succeeds like success!  More importantly, since you’re so active, you must read a huge amount of Twitter messages weekly.  How do you determine what to keep for this purpose and how do you curate them?

David: That’s a great question Doug, one that a new user or someone who may have an interest in getting on Twitter will want to know. I have been using Hootsuite since I started on Twitter and quite frankly without using it, or some other tool most users would get frustrated with amount of information that is streamed on a constant basis. In Hootsuite I have a tab for my own feed with a stream for mentions, sent tweets, favourites, new followers and direct messages. I have a tab for Thames Valley and streams for specific hashtags that our board uses such as #tvdsb, #tvadmin, #tvinnovates, etc… I also have a 2 tabs that are for my favourite chats. Again the streams within each of these tabs were created using the hashtags for those chats such as #edchat, #suptchat, #cpchat and #kinderchat, just to name a few. Finally I have two tabs that are dedicated to list that I have created and added people to. For example a few of my lists are: leaders, administrators, active, edtech and fdk teachers. When I see a user in one of those categories tweeting out great content I’ll add them to that list, then their tweets will always be easy to find. This works for me.

I usually spend 10-15 in the morning, periodically during the day when I have a spare few minutes and lots of time at night reading all the streams under each of my tabs in Hootsuite. For someone new to Twitter or someone who is struggling with how to keep up I completely understand. But if they use a tool like Hootsuite and create a method of streamlining the flow of information that works for them I’m sure they will have a much better experience.

Doug:  When a student graduates from Grade 8 at Mitchell Hepburn, what sort of digital citizen do you hope they have become?

David: First and foremost I hope they come to realize the importance of protecting themselves and their privacy online. If we only do one thing when it comes to digital citizenship then it has to be that. Beyond the protection and privacy issues I hope that our students learn to become digital citizens that can critically analyze information on the web and that they become proficient at using web tools effectively to enhance their learning.

Doug:  Do you ever hold yourself up as a digital leader modelling social media for your students?

David: Not directly. Students always seem to find my social media accounts and are amazed at the number of followers I have. I am quick to let them know two things. It’s not the number of followers that’s impressive, it’s how much I learn from the people that I follow that’s impressive. The second thing I tell them is that with any amount of following you have the responsibility to behave in a manner that is professional, thoughtful, kind and respectful. I like to use the example of any number of professional athletes that tweet something that is highly inappropriate and within minutes they are forced into an apology and often delete their accounts. You can’t really hide on social media, you are there for the world to see. Shine your light in the right direction.

Doug:  That is a terrific piece of advice for anyone using social media.  “Shine your light in the right direction.”  Consider it stolen!

Thank you so much for the interview, David.  I appreciate it.  It was great to get caught up – it’s been a few years since we’d meet at the RCAC and you seem to have moved along nicely into administration.

You can continue to follow David’s journey on Twitter at @DavidFifeVP and through any of the social media connections in his digital footprint.  http://www.davidfife.ca/my-digital-footprint.html

Mitchell Hepburn has a presence on the web here – http://www.tvdsb.ca/Hepburn.cfm

PLN, Teaching

About Snake OIl


I had breakfast with the wonderful Alison Slack yesterday.  We seldom get a chance to sit down and chat so we made a point of making it happen.  I’m so glad that we did.

We talked about many things and one thing that she shared with me was an article “How to Recognize Snake Oil in Your Personal Learning Network“.  It is a real thought provoking article and I whole-heartedly recommend that you read it at least once.  I think I’ve gone through it at least four times as of this writing and I pick out something new from each read and the comments.

I think it’s important to recognize and admit that we’re all selling something.  Perhaps not formal or touchable but I would suggest that ideas, thoughts, and experiences are just as powerful and can be as valuable.  I remembered a Murray McLauchlan song from long ago and it’s been going through my head since she mentioned the article.  The whole song isn’t relevant but certainly this part is:

Everybody has ambition
Everybody has a dream
But everybody don’t get to be kings and queens
That seems to be the way it seems

I think that the message heard tags on nicely to the post that Brandon Grasley made about expanding one’s online learning by “Finding “unusual” content using Zite“.  In addition to enriching your learning by reading, you enrich your learning by the folks that you include in your Personal Learning Network.  (A term that I’m not a fan or but is used throughout so I’ll include it.)

Reading an article is one thing.  Your attention can be grabbed with a catchy title and drawn in my a good opening paragraph.  It’s standard writing fare and writers use it all the time.  After the first paragraph, you do have the option to stop reading and move on if it’s not meeting your needs.

If we turn to social networking, it’s a bit difference.  Twitter messages, for example, have no title or opening paragraph.  In up to 140 characters, you get both barrels before you have a chance to really evaluate the merits of the post.  There are no pictures or diagrams – you just get it.  The brain is an amazing thing; the message gets taken in.  A well supported post may also include a link or two to online content that fleshes out issue.

A lot of the time it doesn’t. 

You’ve got everything that the author has.

I’m making the assumption here that a major reason you use social media is for learning and expanding your mind set.  Therein lies the rub.  The reason why you follow a person presumably is that you feel that you have something to learn from them.  So it begs the question “What are they selling?”

I think you also need to ask:

  • “Why are they selling it?”
  • “Do they actually practice what they’re preaching?”
    (A colleague once called it “All sizzle, no bacon”
  • “Are they consistent with their message?” 
  • “Do they engage in a worthwhile manner that’s worth your time to read?”
  • “Are they learning as well or just using the platform for personal promotion?”

Moderating things with Zite is relatively easy.  Just give it a thumbs down and Zite promises to give you better content.

On social media, it’s a bit different.  At times, the snake oil becomes annoying and repetitive.  At its worse, it can change your perception of things for the worse.  You may develop a negative attitude towards things that don’t deserve it or you may be cajoled into doing something that you shouldn’t or are not capable of doing.  At times, these people can exhibit the worst in bullying behaviour.

What to do?

Stand up and focus on why you’re connected in the first place.  I remember advice from my parents “Would you invite them into your house?”  I think it clearly applies here.  I’m a glass half-full kind of guy. I wouldn’t invite a bully into my house.  Why would I continue to have them in my online learning space?

Use the tools to address the snake oil salesperson.  Mute them, put them into a list that you don’t read regularly, unfollow or unfriend them.  Life is too short to be wasted on detractors.

Take back your Personal Learning Network and turn it into your positive learning again.  You’ll be glad you did.