Managing Social Media

Hootsuite posted this to their blog and made it available on December 29.

Managing Your Social Media Profiles While On Holiday

I suppose that it could, or should, be posted/reposted during any holiday period as a way to remind folks that there is a great deal of power available in the tools that you use.  In this case, Alyssa Kritsch is pointing to some of the strengths of their product which has become the social media browser of choice for me.

As I read her article, I realized that I was using the features that she talks about on a daily basis – not just when I’m on holidays.  Also, in the reading, I detect that perhaps her intended audience was for business but it all rang true for me and I’ll bet it does for you.  After all, we’re all selling something – ideas, concepts, promotions, friendships, learning opportunities, …

I recall a comment I heard from an edtech “leader” once and he was running down the concept of a Twitter workshop.  “Who needs a workshop on Twitter?”  I suppose that there may be some merit to the concept if all that a workshop did was cover signing up, sending a Twitter message, replying, favouriting, and sending a direct message.

Is that all there is to it?

Absolutely not.  Hopefully, by the time you get to this line in my blog you’ll have opened the link above in a new tab and read it.  Effective Social Media use does involve using the tools for more than sending a simple message or reading a couple of others.

Under the hood of the tool that you’re using, there are many features that will empower your presence.  Even something as simple as scheduling a message or a post to your blog or a picture to Facebook at the time of your choosing lets you take control.  Another simple technique of sharing an article the moment you read it helps feed the community of learners of which you’re a part.

One feature of Hootsuite that I use all the time is access to my Twitter Lists.  My Ontario Educators and Ontario Educators 2 lists are invaluable for keeping focus on Ontario things.  (And it makes #FollowFridays easier too!)  I also realized that I have a particular sleeping pattern.  Basically, I sleep at night.  There’s a whole other group of people who are busy tweeting and sharing while I’m asleep.  My way of coping is to create a special list for them – Over There – so that I can catch up when I get up.  Any list that you create would have to be done to meet your needs, but why not do it and increase the value of being connected?

The power of sharing cannot be underestimated – the more you share, the more people share back.  Consequently, you and your community of learners have the potential of being just that much more informed and, ultimately, smarter.

And isn’t that what we’re all here for?

If you care to share, what tools do you use to manage your social media presence?


My Tweets Do Not Reflect the Views of My Employer

How many times have you looked at a person’s Twitter profile and read this?

They may not, but once thrown on your wall, they can stick.

Writing on the internet is like writing with permanent marker.

It takes the events of this past week to remind us of this.

It’s a heck of a way to get a Wikipedia entry or to trend on Twitter.

At times, it seems like there’s a competition to outshock each other.

Is that what it takes to get attention these days?

You may well be speaking on behalf of yourself and not your employer but it may not matter in the long run.

Digital image, digital footprint, digital future … we’ve all read about this.  Some have paid attention; some have not.

I’ve seen the debate – “Should I have a personal profile and a professional profile?”  Maybe, but just remember that at the end of the day, you are you.  Disclaimer or not.

Thanks to Miguel Guhlin for sharing this story.  Does common sense need to be legislated?

A List for Learning

Any day now, there are many educators that will be starting Additional Qualification courses over the summer.  There are a couple of things that will be certain to happen during these courses.

  • Some sort of goofy ice-breaking, get-to-know-ya activity.  This activity will definitely take up at least the first hour of any course.  They are a necessity since you’ll be learning with others in a concentrated period of time;
  • What’s your Twitter handle?  Any AQ leader worth their muster will be gathering these names and/or encouraging those who are not online learning to do so.  Then, there’s the mandatory “Hello World” Twitter message followed by “Is this thing on?” and then often little more.

The challenge with additional qualification courses lies in generating value after the course has ended.  This value comes from professional relationships or professional conversations after the last day.  Having taken a large number of these courses, I was bad with that.  At the time, working in groups was a necessary activity since the presentations that you did in for class required group work.  But, once the class was over, that was it.  We departed; often never to see each other again.  I was an out of towner, taking the courses in London and Toronto so it wasn’t even like I could car pool with a co-learner.  When it was over, it was over.

I was recently reminded of this by @pmcash.  We took the Data Processing Specialist course at the University of Western Ontario more years ago than either of us will admit.  I just received a message from Peter that he had found an assignment of mine.


I hope that he hangs on to it so that I can take a look at it.  It will affirm how far we’ve come!  If you know Peter, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he was about the only person I can remember from those courses.  As computer science teachers, our paths have crossed a few times over the years but the rest of the class – sadly, I don’t remember.

Back to the current AQ course.  Your instructor will have asked for your Twitter ID.  For some, that will be as far as it goes.  Why don’t you take it further?

Follow everyone in your class.  For the duration of the course, use that as a way to share resources and enhance your learning.  How do you keep track?  Put them into a Twitter List.  I’ve mentioned the concept of a Twitter List before.  Particularly if you’re a regular Twitter user, it’s the best way to keep track of the conversation.  Put them all into a list and then follow the postings to the list in your Twitter browser.  What a great way to share the learning (and the load) of your class!  Hopefully, all will find it so useful that the sharing continues after the course.

It’s also an immediate way to monitor any back channel that you’ve got going during those hours of presentations that typically form the core of these courses.  Of course, your AQ course supports BYOD and connectivity and encourages a back channel – right?

But the learning and connections shouldn’t stop there.  There will come a time when the course ends and summer enjoyment ramps up.  Keep the list alive.  If your learning is good enough for the AQ course, it should be even better when September returns and you’re all back in your classrooms – maybe even teaching that subject or that grade level for the first time.  Share your resources and ideas – don’t do what Peter and I did and leave it until years later, if at all.  To our defence, we weren’t preparing to be 21st Century teachers!  The concept wasn’t even conceived of at the time.  It would be completely different if we were in Prof. Walsh’s class now.

But you are!  The greatest gift and learning that you may walk away with from your course is your own Instant Personal Learning Network that extends far beyond your few weeks in the summer.

Successful Blogging

I read a great “help blog post” yesterday titled “10 Maxims of Successful Blogging“.  I really enjoy reading posts of this type and I’ll often use them as inspiration to do a little reflection on my own habits and how I measure up.  So, here goes…

1. We live in an increasingly information-dense world. The only way to stand out is to dig down deep and bring your own story to the world. Your point of differentiation is you. You have no competitors.  Write a blog post that only you could write.

This made me smile.  As I mentioned recently to someone, nobody could write like this.  They would probably be much more literate.  The “me” that writes this is a rural and proud of it, computer science teacher and now hobbiest, district computer consultant, photographer wanna be, always reading and would like to think always learning.

2. The biggest challenge to blogging isn’t having the time, the ideas, or the resources to do it. It’s having the courage to do it. It takes guts to put yourself out there in front of the world. You can’t learn that. You just have to do it.

I totally agree with this.  I have no doubts that my thoughts and rants may not be universally accepted but they do reflect my experiences and thoughts at the time.  If I’m wrong, convince me.  I’ve always felt that sharing and refining your thoughts is helpful to personal growth.  I’ve worked with people who know they’re always right and sometimes feel sorry when they just keep on digging.

3. Stick to a theme. You don’t want to confuse your readers. It’s possible to use your other interests to tell your story but pick to a theme and build an audience around it.

I’m bad with this.  Just take a skim through my posts and you’ll find education, technology, formula 1, family, teaching, and goodness knows what else.  I always thought that the unpredictable blogger was an interesting one.  I’m wrong by this maxim.

4. There is no greater gift than when somebody takes their precious time to leave a comment on your blog. Never take that for granted. Love on your readers.

I’m wholeheartedly behind this.  I watch the statistics as they come though and really appreciate it when you drop a comment here, on Twitter, or on Facebook.  My biggest challenge is deciding whether it’s important to comment on each one.  I’ve always felt that the original post should contain the major content and just enjoy the way that it creates interaction after it goes live.

5. Be positive.  Lift people up. Negative blog posts are like seeing a car wreck. You might peek out of curiosity once in awhile but you certainly don’t want to see that every day.

I would like to think that I’m positive.  I hate going by blogs where there is venom spewed from beginning to end.  You just know that it’s not going to lead to productive conversation.  If someone posts negatively, you’re going to have a challenge making them see the positive side.  The flip side is a little easier.

6. Even the most talented and popular people in the world get criticized. If you attract criticism, you’re provoking thought … you’re doing job. Stay centered. Overall, the people in the blogosphere are very kind and supportive.  If you do good work, you will be rewarded.

I’ll vouch for this.  The readers that drop by here ARE kind and supportive.  And, when we actually get to meet, those awkward first steps of acquaintance are already breached.  You just know so much about each other already.

7. If you consistently create content that is RITE — Relevant, Interesting, Timely and Entertaining — you will be creating shareable, conversational blog posts. Of these, I believe the most important over time is “interesting.”  Boring is death to a blog.

I think this is why I mix up the topics of my blog.  I’m always trying to write “interesting”.

8. The most important part of the blog post is the headline. As people scan headlines, it better be a great one that gets attention or nobody will even make it to your first sentence. The second most important part is the first sentence. Don’t waste people’s time. Tell them why they are there with you today.

I remember that from Grade 5, I think.  You can’t beat a good title, open with a strong sentence, do you writing, and then wrap it up with a conclusion.  If memory serves me correctly, good writing was described as a sandwich with a top, a bottom, and the filling.

9. The most effective way to build community is to become part of other communities. You have to give to get. Find a few other like-minded bloggers who are just starting out and support each other through sharing and comments. You have to actively work to build community, just as you work actively to build content. Spend some time building your network.

Absolutely.  We have a great network of educators that interact daily on Twitter.  I like to support the Ontario Educational Blogger by giving shout outs on Fridays.

10. The hardest part of blogging is beginning. Think about any difficult work task you have faced. It may have seemed daunting at first but over time you built a competency and it becomes easier. Blogging is no different. You just have to start and commit to it and it will become easier (and more fun) over time!

My most difficult part of blogging was to find the right platform.  At the time that I started blogging, I tried to toe the party line and use the platform that my employer provides.  I then moved and had to decide on Tumblr, Posterous, Blogger, or WordPress.  In actual fact, I have blogs on each of the platforms.  Because you’re here and sticking with me, you’ll know that I settled on WordPress as my main platform.

Well, that was therapeutic!  Thanks, Mark Schaefer for the original post for the inspiration for this post.

I’ll turn it over to you, reader.  Do you agree with my self-assessment?  I’ve got a thick skin.  Let me know your thoughts.

If you’re blogging with your students, do you see this as an activity for the students to reflect on their blogging experiences?


My friend @GingerPatti recently sent me a message asking what I thought about Newsana.  My initial response was Huh?  Never heard of it.  But, I did head over to see what it was all about.

Is it another place to find and curate news stories?

Yes, but with an interesting twist.

First of all, you need to apply for an account.  That’s fair enough.  So, I did and waited and got the notification that my account had been activated and so off I went.

When you sign up, you indicate what kind of stories that you’re interested to read.  I skimmed up and down the list to find the sorts of things that interest me.  There were actually a couple of topics that I’d never considered but I do now.

Once the account is activated, You log in to read.  In that respect, it’s a private reading area but that’s OK.  Once logged in, you’re presented with the Top 5 Essential Stories.  These stories are pulled from your interests so that’s good.  But here’s the difference.  Typically, with social media you express your appreciation for content by sending a Twitter or other network message.  At Newsana, people will write a “pitch” to explain why the story is important.  It’s like an additional commentary on the news from their perspective.  If you agree, you can vote a story up the charts.  And, of course, you can send it out via social media message.

After all, what good is social reading if you’re not sharing.

Similarly, you can nominate and pitch your own stories.  If you do it with interesting stories and a good pitch, you just might collect enough support to get your content moved up.  Comments are always appreciated.


I had done that with a story myself.

So, back to @GingerPatti…it’s an interesting and novel concept.  I like what I see so far.  It will be interesting to see if the masses take the leap and get into interactive and social reading/sharing.  At this point in time, the content is pretty serious and well worth the visit.  I hope that it stays that way and grows.