My personal learning workflow is under revision

Google+
Google+

As I become more comfortable with new learning tools, my personal learning environment keeps morphing. Recently, I incorporated Google Reader and Google+ more predominately into  my learning scheme. While it may not necessarily look like it, I am also rethinking how I am using this blog as a learning tool. I thought I would share with you my current personal learning workflow. This work flow has been shaped by recent books I have read; primarily, Google+ for Business. I recently wrote a book review on it.

Some things have not changed. Each day, I receive 10 Paper.li “newspapers” where I have an opportunity to review posts (normally Twitter feeds) on a number of different topics. If something catches my eye, I will read it and save it to my Diigo account, if appropriate. I use these saved sites as a fodder for the Geeks and Speaks newsletter I send out at the end of each month. Here are the newsletters I currently subscribe to:

I also use Flipboard, an iPad application, to review my Twitter streams. However, I have not been as active reviewing my search queries in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. My review of search queries seems to vary based on time available. Again, finds that I believe to be useful make it to my Diigo account. Additionally, based on the advice of Brogan, the author of Google+ for Business, I am posting more to Google+. Google+ is a nice balance between Facebook, Twitter, and this blog. Google+ seems more mature in the posts it provides. I can post more than Twitter, still share things I find interesting, but not have to write a full blog post.

The most significant addition to my personal learning workflow is the addition of Google Reader.  I have made a more concerted effort to subscribe to blogs and news focusing on my interests. Using some of Brogan’s advice, I have started to explore and follow new blogs. This is an interesting experiment because I need to find a balance between the quantity and quality of information. I have found some streams of information to be too overwhelming and I have had to unsubscribe.  Overall, I am pleased with what I have been finding.

Tapping into all this information can be exhausting if you do not have a plan of attack. I typically review my information streams twice a day; again, great advice from Brogan. Usually, I review my feeds when I get to work or first thing in the morning. I also review them in the evening while I am watching TV. During each of these periods, I save what I find important to Diigo, and share a subset to Google+ with my comments. I also update a monthly blog post with articles that provided me with new insight on a topic or simply caused me to pause. My first post collecting these types of articles can be found here.

I have been happy with this approach so far… unless I get out of routine, then I tend to get backed up. Once it is habitual, it will be easier going. How are you feeding your thirst for information?

Using technology to help get the word out

About two weeks ago, I had the privilege to present to the ACE writing special interest group. They were interested in how to use technology to help get their messages out. The group is comprised of writers, editors, and other communication professionals who write to highlight the work of cooperative extension educators and specialists. Realizing that methods for communicating with their constituents has changed and expanded, they want to reach their readers in the most efficient manner possible. You can watch the recording of this presentation with this Adobe Connect link.

The techniques I described in the presentation are the ones we are using to help the University of Wyoming Extension distribute stories and other media. UW Extension has realized that we must deliver our stories through social media because according to Pew Research Center’s 2011 Annual Report on American Journalism more people are getting their news online compared to declining traditional sources.

At the University of Wyoming Extension, we support the distribution of our news, podcasts, video, and other media using a Facebook fan page and three Twitter accounts; @skrabut, @uwcesedtech, and @uwagguy. Until recently, when we posted a story to our news page, we would manually post the story to these social media sites. This not only took time but it also was inconsistent. We are now using Twitterfeed to automatically distribute to our social media sites. We have an automatic distribution to 1,613 people who elected to receive our messages.

Twitterfeed allows you to take a RSS feed or blog URL and distribute it to multiple Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. In the case of Facebook, you can send the feed to specific Facebook fan pages. When a new story, podcast or video is added to its primary site, Twitterfeed will note the addition of the item and then distribute it to the appropriate social media sites. Our Twitterfeed account looks for new items every 30 minutes.

As the University of Wyoming Extension implements the use of Twitterfeed, we are incrementally adding more and more feeds to be automatically fed to our social media accounts. Presently, we are feeding the following accounts through Twitterfeed:

We are getting ready to add additional podcasts, blogs, and videos sites to the feed. The great thing about this approach is that we can highlight work that our extension educators and specialists are doing. Expect to see more and more great content as we identify and incorporate feeds into our stream.

How to Leverage Twitter Lists for your Professional Development

It does not matter if you are new to using Twitter or an experience user, tapping into lists will help your professional development.  Twitter lists allow you to filter your feeds into logical groups, at least, logical to you.  Lists are handy because you do not necessarily have to create all of your lists, you can use lists prepared by others. Finally, by following a list, you do not have to follow particular users thus clogging up your Twitter timeline.

In this post, I will show you how to create a list in Tweetdeck, my Twitter tool of choice. I will also show you how to follow a list created by someone else, as well as, show you some great places to find lists.

Before I do these two things, here are instructions for the Twitter Help Center on How to Use Twitter Lists.

Creating a List in Tweetdeck

As I mentioned, Twitter lists allow you to group the individuals you are following into logical groupings. For example, I have created a group to follow the conversations of elearning and training professionals.

Step 1. With Tweetdeck open, select the “+” button at the top of the program.

Tweetdeck Add Column Button
Tweetdeck Add Column Button

Step 2. Select “Groups/Lists.” You might want to also change the account you are using.

Tweetdeck Add Column Dialogue Box
Tweetdeck Add Column Dialogue Box

Step 3. Click on the “New List” button.

Tweetdeck New List Button
Tweetdeck New List Button

Step 4. Enter then name of your new list. The name has to be less than 25 characters long. Enter a description of your list. Determine if the list is public or private. A public list can be shared with others. Finally, click on the button to “Add list members.”

Tweetdeck Add New List Dialogue Box
Tweetdeck Add New List Dialogue Box

Step 5. Select “Friends.” Decide which account you want to use.  You can change between multiple accounts. Select a link and move the follower to the right hand column. Finally, select the “Save List” button.

Tweetdeck Add Members to List Box
Tweetdeck Add Members to List Box

Step 6. Finally, select the “Completed! Go and View your list column” button to view and enjoy your new learning experience. You also have the option to share this list with your Twitter followers.

Tweetdeck Save List Screen
Tweetdeck Save List Screen

Adding an Existing List to Tweetdeck

There are times when others have created great lists that you want to benefit from. After I show you how to add a list, I will provide some recommendations where to find lists.

Steps 1 and 2 are the same as those for creating a list.

Step 3. Enter  the list name. The list name should resemble this example “@mashable/Social-Media”. Next, click on the “Add” button. The list will automatically add a column.

Tweetdeck Add a List Dialogue Box
Tweetdeck Add a List Dialogue Box

Finding Twitter Lists

Naturally, it is up to you to vet the lists you find to see if they meet your needs. However, here are some very useful lists of lists where you can start.

If you go to an individual’s Twitter page, you can see the lists they have.  First, select the lists tab and “Lists by ” the specific account to see the lists available. I would recommend copying the list name, e.g., “@uwcesedtech/extension” and added it using the instructions above.

Twitter Lists Tab
Twitter Lists Tab
Twitter List
Twitter List

Well that’s it on lists. Go out and find some great learning opportunities. If you have lists you would like to share, please add them in the comments.

How I manage my Twitter feeds

Tweetdeck screen shot
Tweetdeck screen shot

Twitter is perhaps one of the most powerful learning tools presently available; however, it can be a real time sink if not managed effectively.

Currently, I am managing three Twitter accounts; my personal one – @skrabut, one for work – @uwcesedtech, and one for a volunteer organization – @wywgcap. Through these accounts, I am following from 60 to 390 depending upon the account. Additionally, I am following a number of specific interests from aerospace education to informal learning.

With the number of people and ideas I wanted to follow, I quickly realized I needed a tool to bring them all together. For that reason, I chose Tweetdeck to help me manage my feeds.

Tweetdeck allows me to efficiently do some important things:

1. Update Multiple Accounts with One Post – There are times when I have information that I want to send to different Twitter accounts. Tweetdeck allows me to do this by simply selecting all the accounts I to which want to send a message. Not only can I send to the three Twitter accounts I am using, I can also send updates to my LinkedIn and Facebook accounts as well as my six Facebook Fan pages. For me, this is a powerful feature.

2. Follow Twitter Feeds – With Tweetdeck, I can easily follow, reply, retweet, and direct message the folks whom I follow. I can also follow,  comment, and message my LinkedIn and Facebook feeds.

3. Follow Search Queries – This is perhaps the most powerful feature I use to help me keep an eye on things that interest me. I have set up searches to monitor what is being said on topics of interest such as “informal learning” and “aerospace education;” on places such as “Laramie,” “Tunkhannock,” and the “University of Wyoming;” and organizations such as the “Civil Air Patrol” and the “Bujinkan.” It is possible to set up a search on the fly and monitor it for a short time. I often do this to follow conference proceedings that use a hashtag. Presently, I am following  #ASTD2011 as I get ready to attend the conference in May.

4. Reviewing New Followers – I recently started to display the “New Followers” column on Tweetdeck for each of my accounts. This makes it easy for me to see who I am following and not following, as well as provide an quick link to review their profiles.

5. Following Customized Lists – This is another feature that I have started to use extensively. My list of 390 people I follow can be a bit overwhelming at times. With lists, I can group and organize them based on the reason I am following them. For example, I just ran across a list of recommend people who write about education and elearning, I created a list to follow only these people. I also have a list of people from the University of Wyoming whom I follow. The benefit of the list is that it can be shared with others.

Tweetdeck lets me keep a finger on the pulse of information. How are you managing your feeds?