8 key steps to building a personal learning network inspired by @hrheingold

Howard Rheingold

Howard Rheingold @hrheingold

Whilst doing research in preparation for a keynote presentation at the University of Cambridge on the theme of ‘making connections’ I happened upon a series of tweets from Howard Rheingold. Howard has played a significant part in my digital learning journey. I have had the privilege of taking part in online courses he has facilitated, read his books and articles, as well as enjoyed many opportunities to listen in to live and recorded webinars and presentations. These experiences have lighted the curious within me and given me the confidence to explore, experiment, play, reflect and share what I have learned and encourage others to do so too.

Over the last seven years or so I have discovered how to use social media to connect with other educators and over time developed networks that have enabled and empowered my own approach to engaging with informal learning. These networks often lead on to new learning communities and collaborative projects. Some are time limited and others continue. Geographical boundaries cease to exist as we can make connections online across the world. Communication may be in real time or as and when we can pick up the messages and respond.

Learning how to use social media effectively as an educator is one of those light bulb moments. You realise the potential but then discover there is a whole load of stuff you have yet to learn to catch up with those who have already been doing it for some time. Building a personal learning network is the most important thing you can do to help you on this journey. Yes it is a journey and it does take time, but you will gain so much from this investment. The network you build will provide you with the signposts to valuable information; a pool of educators you can communicate with and ask questions of; and a rich collection of spaces you can explore to take the conversations you are interested in to new levels.

I’d like to share Howard’s eight recommendations for developing a personal learning network. Each one resonates with me and whilst the tools may change the concepts hold strong.

  1. Explore
  2. Search
  3. Follow
  4. Tune
  5. Feed
  6. Engage
  7. Inquire
  8. Respond

Here are my thoughts on each which focus on the use of Twitter as a space for developing a personal learning network (PLN).  That’s not to say this is the only space to do this as there are other online social network spaces and any of these have the potential to add to the networks we build face to face.

  • Explore – as you begin to follow like-minded educators, take a look at who they are following. Check out the individual’s bio – what does it tell you? What are they tweeting about.
  • Search  take note of shared hashtags and put this in the search bar. These could indicate tweets shared at a conference e.g. #HEASTEM16, or a weekly tweetchat e.g. #LTHEchat, #HEAchat, EDENchat.
  • Follow – as you increase the number of people you follow, organise them into lists. This can help you to zoom into conversations from specific groups of people.
  • Tune – it is ok to unfollow people who don’t bring value to your feed. People use Twitter in different ways. If these conversations are not interesting or useful, then simply stop listening to them.
  • Feed – share information that you happen upon that you feel will resonate with those that follow you. It is quick and easy to click the share button when reading or listening to something interesting.
  • Engage – interact with others by responding to their tweets. Whilst brevity is key, many a useful conversation can take place.
  • Inquire – reach out to others and ask questions. Know when it is good to take exchanges to direct message and perhaps on to an email or phone call.
  • Respond – don’t simply broadcast. Listen for responses and in turn respond to these. The conversation is richer if it is two-way and we listen and answer questions raised.

Below are the tweets Howard shared in 2011. I hope you find them as useful as I do.











Further resources

If you have not had the opportunity or want to re-look at Howard’s work, I highly recommend the following as starting points. Howard is a very generous open practitioner and someone we can all learn from as lifelong and lifewide learners.





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The four dimensional conference: using social media at conferences

4 dimensional conference

Below is a blog post written by Prof Simon Lancaster and myself in preparation for the Higher Education Academy STEM Conference. I am sharing it here as many of the points raised are of value to anyone attending a conference. Added to this are some tips on Twitter etiquette,

Originally posted on the Higher Education Academy blog

The academic conference format has endured largely unchanged for decades. Despite the affordances of the internet, the opportunity to physically meet colleagues remains highly prized.

The format of the conference and the role of the lecture within that form have been hotly debated both on Twitter and between popular bloggers in the STEM community1. In practice the majority of conference presentations adopt a rather traditional style with all that entails. If the speaker has raced through quickly enough and / or is firmly steered by the chair then there will be time for questions. And of course we all know what the potential pitfalls of the conference question session are2. Whether it is a “good question” or a self-indulgent rant, it is still only one person’s question, the format will never permit everyone a voice. The conference, at least the formal sessions, might then be described as a linear experience.

Nowadays we all want to be heard, and we struggle to justify attending a conference unless presenting at least one paper. Conference organisers know this and so we have a proliferation of parallel sessions. Interesting choice of the word ‘parallel’, implying that the linear threads are never intended to cross; the result is a two-dimensional plane on which all we can do is touch the surface. Choices between sessions have to be made and the grass is always greener on the other side.

Our final observation is that the traditional conference is ephemeral and exclusive. You had to have been there. The networks you form might endure but will the handwritten notes you scribbled on the freebie notepad?

Given the authors, many of you will have guessed this blog post was always destined to arrive at Twitter. Sue has written extensively on the value of social media to academics3 while Simon can tell you exactly what he thought of every lecture he attended at the 2013 HEA STEM conference4. Twitter can add additional dimensions to the conference experience:

1. Presenter and audience interactions

Twitter can render any presentation a communal event where the presenter encourages participants to tweet answers, comments, corrections and to engage in discussion. The participants themselves are able to use Twitter to crowd-source a rich and lasting record of the session.

2. Interconnected audience interactions

Twitter can thoroughly intertwine the threads of parallel sessions creating interconnected collections of stories across the conference. Analogous information between different sessions can be picked up and synergies formed to take the discussions forward online and arrange face to face meetings. Imagine a set of threads constantly colliding in a ball of twine.

3. In person and virtual interactions

The use of an event hashtag means that Twitter can facilitate the participation of people who could not attend the physical venue. By following the aggregated tweets, anyone can respond, raise questions, and provide links to associated information. Even the passive observer has an opportunity to develop their network by following interesting contributors to the conference Twitter stream.

4. Multiplicity of pre and post event interactions

The conference does not need to end after the closing remarks. Twitter can keep the discussion going and through tools like Storify keep it accessible and alive for years to come. Presenters can tweet links to their presentations uploaded to Slideshare and indeed openly share via other social networks. Participants may choose to blog about the event and embed key Tweets to emphasise points made. Within this space readers can be encouraged to interact with the blog post by ending with a question or call for feedback/opinion using the comments.

Twitter can deliver interconnectedness and timelessness to the traditional conference experience. What would you rather experience a two- or a four-dimensional conference? You know how to prepare for .


Good Twitter Etiquette

Whilst at many events it now an accepted form of communication there are a few things to consider:

  • When taking photos of people speaking, do seek their permission. The conference organisers may have already sought permission from speakers, but it is courteous to check.
  • When tweeting quotes, ensure that these are always attributed to the speaker. Ideally use the person’s Twit this is not known search for it (using the search box in Twitter or check the tweets of others who may know it. Failing that use the person’s full name. Place quotes in speech marks.
  • Differentiate your own opinions from the speakers.
  • When discussing the event through tweeting, always be polite and respectful.
  • If someone asks for their work not be shared, then respect that request.
  • Be professional and remember anyone can view the tweets.
  • If you are presenting, include your Twitter name at the start of your slides to make it easier for people attending your session to attribute you.
  • Do remember to PUT YOUR PHONE ON SILENT! No-one wants to hear the pings you may receive every 30 seconds.

Final Tips

  1. Make new connections ahead of an event
  2. Reach out and interact
  3. Make a note of user names or create a Twitter list of names of people you know are attending or speaking at an event.


1 Anna K. Wood, Lectures at Conferences: Good or Bad? http://linkis.com/blogspot.com/ObwNp; Michael K. Seery, Why I love the lecture (at academic conferences) http://michaelseery.com/home/index.php/2015/11/why-i-love-the-lecture-at-academic-conferences/
2 Joanne Begiato, Lorna Campbell, Steven Gray and Isaac Land, Don’t be a conference troll: a guide to asking good questions http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/nov/11/dont-be-a-conference-troll-a-guide-to-asking-good-questions?CMP=share_btn_tw
3Social Media for Learning blog  https://socialmediaforlearning.com/   and other publications http://shura.shu.ac.uk/view/creators/2503.html
4 Simon J. Lancaster HEASTEM 17-18 April 2013 Birmingham https://storify.com/S_J_Lancaster/heastem-17-18-april-2013-birmingham

See more at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/blog/four-dimensional-conference-using-social-media-conferences#sthash.1XOvga9N.dpuf

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The ultimate LinkedIn cheat sheet! How to enhance your profile.


LinkedIn facts

  • LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
  • Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second.
  • There are over 39 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn. They are LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic.

LinkedIn global membership

The ultimate LinkedIn cheat sheet

LinkedIn have grown since this super-sized infographic was created by LeisureJobs now having 400 million members. However there are a whole host of useful tips that I would recommend you work your way through. Your LinkedIn profile needs to be nurtured and updated to reflect new accomplishments or even changes in your role.

Making sure your LinkedIn profile is complete with a photograph will not only ensure you will be found in search results, but when you are found it reflects you as a professional. We know practically everyone uses Google to find information and searching for people is no different. When they see your LinkedIn profile in that search it is therefore important that what they see next on clicking this, makes a lasting and positive impression.

An additional feature that LinkedIn offers is the ability to make LinkedIn relationship notes on those you connect with, which are only visible to you. Under each connected profile you can click on ‘Relationship’ and then ‘Note’ to add information or ‘How you met’ as a reminder.

Another useful tip is to turn off your activity broadcasts if you don’t want your connections to see when you make changes to your profile, when you follow new companies or recommend connections.

Take a look at this useful visual guide to making the most of your LinkedIn profile.













You can also download a PDF version here

Header image: Public domain Pixabay

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Using Storify as a curation tool to build digital narratives




Storify is a free tool that enables the user to curate information from social networks to build social stories, bringing together a variety of different media that is scattered across the Web. It provides a space to then add an additional layer by adding a narrative.

How is Storify useful?

  • Storify enables the user to create a multimedia digital narrative that is interactive and social
  • Each story can be shared as a URL link
  • Each element of the story can also be individually shared
  • It is a useful way to amplify the voices of the originators
  • Helps develop better web searching skills
  • Incorporate multimedia (video, photos, tweets, online sources) with original writing

Storify has been used extensively to curate information shared via social media for events and current affairs. For example to:

  • Curate tweets shared during a conference
  • Aggregate a timeline of events
  • Reactions to important stories and breaking news
  • Live tweeting and eye witness reports
  • Gather social media responses about an event
  • Curate the history of a given event as a timeline
  • Create a narrative that can help readers makes sense of an event

How can Storify be used in Learning and Teaching?

A research/topic based post
Create multimedia how to guides
Develop an annotated bibliography
Curate key points from a lecture by note taking using Twitter and gathering as a story
Build a digital CV

Create a digital hand-out of readings or videos with questions to respond to
Curate a collection of videos you want to play during a class
Raise a question on Twitter and curate the responses as a story
Hold a Q&A tweetchat and curate the dialogue
Develop a class plan

How does Storify work?

Users can search through, multiple social networks right from the one place in Storify, and then drag individual elements into stories. Each element keeps the original links and functionality. Text boxes can be added wherever you choose and it is within these that the digital narrative comes into its own. Using drag and drop both the text boxes and elements can be reordered quickly and easily.

You can search for content from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Gifs, Flickr, Getty images and there’s also an option to paste in specific URLs. The  ‘3 dots’ sign to the right of these options reveals more in a drop down menu.

Once users have selected their chosen photos, video, tweets etc., added the optional narrative, they can publish and share their digital narratives via social networks or by email using the URL.

Useful links

Find and follow friends using Storify https://storify.com/friends

The Chrome extension adds an even richer experience. You can add the Storify extension to gather not only tweets, but most Web content right at the source.

Posted in Curation tools | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Experiences of social media in higher education: barriers enablers and next steps #SocMedHE15


Below is the presentation I gave with my wonderful research partners Dr Alison Purvis and Helen Rodger at the 2015 Social Media for Learning in HE Conference #SocMedHE15 at Sheffield Hallam University. We were all also part of the organising team for the conference.

The focus of our study investigates current institutional practice of the use of social media to support and enhance learning. Our short paper shares survey findings; highlighting both enablers and barriers for what is for many, still considered innovative practice where peers are calling for guided support.

There are many examples of social media used in HE to enhance learning and teaching. While some academics are confident in exploring multiple strands of social media and blend them instinctively for a multi dimensional learning experience; others are more tentative, preferring to understand the nature of the tool or process thoroughly, often by learning from others before embarking on a social media based activity (Beckingham, Purvis and Rodger, 2014). There are a broad range of factors, experiences and perceptions that may influence an individual and their resulting use of and expectations of social media as a learning construct.

The aim of the study was to examine current institutional practice in the use of social media in this way, to inform strategic direction and consider implications for future academic development to achieve a positive impact on the learning experience for students.

Fifty individuals responded to an online survey. While the majority of these (n=33) were already using social media in some way in their teaching practice, and mostly had positive attitude to it, the remainder had not. Some were open to the idea, though naturally cautious, but others were clear that it had no place in their teaching practice.

This rich picture presented a variety of barriers and enablers: where confidence was high and support and equipment available; uptake of social media as a technology enhanced learning tool was more prevalent and more successful. There was a strong connection between support (formal and informal) and individual confidence, and a subsequent willingness to try new things to enhance learning.

Recent research advocates the development of digital capabilities including the confident use of social media for communication and collaboration (Beetham 2015); and that where embedded, provide essential skills for future graduates. It is therefore timely to review the skill sets and development needs of staff in order to support the learning of students.



Beetham, H. (2015) Thriving in a connected age: digital capability and digital wellbeing. [Online] Available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/blog/thriving-in-a-connected-age-digital-capability-and-digital-wellbeing-25-jun-2015
Beckingham, S., Purvis, A. and Rodger, H. (2014) The SHU Social Media CoLab: Developing a Social Media Strategy Through Open Dialogue and Collaborative Guidance. The European Conference for Social Media, University of Brighton, Brighton, 10-11 July 2014. Available at: http://academic-conferences.org/pdfs/ECSM_2014_abstract_booklet-new.pdf


Conference website

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Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference #SocMedHe15 – A brief snapshot (more to follow)


On the 18th December 2015 the inaugural Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference #SocMedHE15, a one day conference, with pre-conference workshops was held at Sheffield Hallam University. #SocMedHE15 is about the use of social media for learning in Higher Education and was designed to create a forum for academics, their students, developers and strategic managers to consider the opportunities, challenges and the disruptive influence of social media for learning. The conference was structured around three themes to explore the pedagogic possibilities of social media, as well as the strategic and operational challenges institutions face in supporting it.

The title of this year’s conference was:
“Finding Our Social Identity”

The conference themes encouraged delegates to investigate the disruptive nature of social media; share our practice in the use of social media for networked, social and active learning, and to consider some of the challenges of being responsive, supportive and open for change.

The conference keynote was Eric Stoller, who both challenged and inspired us to review social media in our context within higher education, and explored the opportunities of extending our networks for learning and to consider and reflect upon how we as universities need to respond to the Social Age. Eric’s keynote was fun, quirky and provocative.

Eric is a higher education thought leader, consultant, writer and speaker. His website is http://ericstoller.com. He is also the Student Affairs and Technology blogger for Inside Higher Ed.

Over 50 workshops, short papers and thunderstorm presentations were given. Presenters came from across the UK, the US, Australia, Saudi America, Canada and Mexico. You can find the speakers on Twitter here:


Virtually Connecting

Maha Bali organised and led a Virtually Connecting Google hangout where virtual participants of the conference could ask questions about Eric’s keynote and other aspects of his work.

LiveBlogs and Sketchnotes

Nicola Osborne a presenter at the conference live blogged all of the sessions she attended including the keynote. Sarah Smith, a student at Sheffield Hallam made sketch notes of the sessions she intended. Below are those of the keynote.

sketchnote Eric Stoller sketch note 2

NodeXL: Network Overview, Discovery and Exploration for Excel

A huge thanks goes to Marc Smith Director of the Social Media Research Foundation in California, who created the amazing NodeXL visualisations below of the Tweets containing the conference hashtag #SocMedHE15.

The graph represents a network of 930 Twitter users whose recent tweets contained “#SocMedHE15”, or who were replied to or mentioned in those tweets, taken from a data set limited to a maximum of 18,000 tweets. The network was obtained from Twitter on Sunday, 20 December 2015 at 23:29 UTC.

The tweets in the network were tweeted over the 9-day, 6-hour, 23-minute period from Friday, 11 December 2015 at 16:04 UTC to Sunday, 20 December 2015 at 22:27 UTC. There is an edge for each “replies-to” relationship in a tweet, an edge for each “mentions” relationship in a tweet, and a self-loop edge for each tweet that is not a “replies-to” or “mentions”.

NodeXL map

Top influencers

You can view the entire NodeXL report here, however below are some key examples of the data gathered

Top Mentioned in Entire Graph:

Top Hashtags in Tweet in Entire Graph:
[4399] socmedhe15
[229] tleap
[80] studentpick
[77] nsmnss
[70] socialmedia
[59] starwars
[54] highered
[41] lthechat
[37] learningwheel
[33] nodexl

Top URLs in Tweet in Entire Graph:
[50] https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/socmedhe/842-2/
[37] https://speakerdeck.com/ericstoller/social-media-for-teaching-learning-and-literacy
[34] http://nicolaosborne.blogs.edina.ac.uk/2015/12/18/social-media-for-learning-in-higher-education-2015-socmedhe15-conference-liveblog/
[31] http://virtuallyconnecting.org/announcements/we-are-vconnecting-w-ericstoller-suebecks-from-socmedhe15/
[29] https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/student-affairs-and-technology/trusting-your-digital-champions
[22] http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/socialmedia
[22] https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/socmedhe/heart-and-mind-student-facebook-groups-emphasise-that-learning-is-emotional-as-well-as-cerebral/
[22] https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/socmedhe/morality-social-media-and-the-educational-researcher/
[15] https://blogs.shu.ac.uk/socmedhe/
[15] http://ericstoller.com/blog/2015/11/30/social-media-for-learning-in-higher-education-conference-socmedhe15/


This is just a snapshot of the #SocMedHE15 conference. I will be writing a further post on other aspects of what was an incredible conference! 

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Using YouTube in Learning and Teaching

YouTube strip

With over a billion users across the globe YouTube has become the go to place for finding, watching and sharing videos. YouTube was founded in 2005, and sold a year later to Google for $1.65 billion. The infographic below captures the incredible growth of YouTube. It is hard to believe it is only 10 years old.

300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Contrary to some people’s belief YouTube videos are not just about cats! There of course fun videos a plenty, however there are also many educational uses of video. The prolific growth of smart phones has meant that anyone can create a video and upload to YouTube with just a few ‘clicks’. The videos can be shared via social networks and embedded into blogs, websites and virtual learning environments.

You can also edit and customise videos using the YouTube Video Editor.


With the Video Editor, you can:

  • Combine multiple videos and images that you’ve uploaded to create a new video
  • Trim your uploads to custom lengths
  • Add music to your video from a library of approved tracks
  • Customise clips with special tools and effects

You can get to the Editor at http://www.youtube.com/editor.

Using these tools, you can put together clips to create new videos and publish them to YouTube with one click.


10 Ways to use YouTube in your Teaching

  1. Ask your students to create ‘About Me’ videos and share with the class
  2. Create a playlist of videos you are going to use in lessons
  3. Encourage your students to subscribe to relevant subject related channels or playlists
  4. Showcase student work by creating a course channel
  5. Use TED talk videos (or other relevant videos) as a focus for discussion
  6. In place of a face to face presentation ask students to screencast* their presentation with a voice over
  7. Create how to guides to introduce new concepts
  8. Produce video summaries of assessment briefs and the marking criteria
  9. Use video to give students feedback (this could be a screencast with voice over)
  10. Ask students to reflect on this feedback as a video and embed in their digital portfolio

*A useful screencast tool is Screencast-o-matic and allows you to capture whatever is on your screen with audio. This can then be uploaded to YouTube (as well as other spaces).


YouTube channels for Educators

Here are a selection of educational channels:


Some interesting YouTube statistics 

  • YouTube has over a billion users – almost a third of all people on the Internet – and every day, people watch hundreds of millions of hours of YouTube videos and generate billions of views.
  • YouTube overall, and even YouTube on mobile alone, reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
  • The number of hours people spend watching videos (aka watch time) on YouTube has increased by 60% y/y, the fastest growth seen in 2 years.
  • The number of people watching YouTube each day has increased by 40% y/y since March 2014.
  • The number of users coming to YouTube who start at the YouTube homepage, similar to the way they might turn on their TV, has increased by more than 3x y/y.
  • 80% of YouTube’s views are from outside of the U.S.
  • YouTube has launched local versions in more than 70 countries.
  • You can navigate YouTube in a total of 76 different languages (covering 95% of the Internet population).
  • On mobile, the average viewing session is now more than 40 minutes, that’s an increase of more than 50% y/y.
  • The number of hours people spent watching videos on mobile has increased by 100% y/y.
  • More than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices.

(via YouTube)


YouTube – The 2nd Largest Search Engine (Infographic)

Created by Mushroom Networks

Header image: Pixabay (public domain licence)

Posted in Visual Communication | Tagged | 1 Comment

Curious about the Internet of Things? Read on – a short intro. #IoT

"Internet of Things" by SRI Consulting Business Intelligence/National Intelligence Council - Apendix F of Disruptive Technologies Global Trends 2025 page 1 Figure 15 (Background: The Internet of Things). Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Internet_of_Things.svg#/media/File:Internet_of_Things.svg

“Internet of Things” by SRI Consulting Business Intelligence/National Intelligence Council – Apendix F of Disruptive Technologies Global Trends 2025 page 1 Figure 15 (Background: The Internet of Things). Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Internet_of_Things.svg#/media/File:Internet_of_Things.svg

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. (Wikipedia). The IoT will provide constant contact with our clothing and wearables, cars, offices and our homes. Each item providing information and capable of both sending and receiving information, and then reacting to what it finds.

Thinking about a typical day. Your alarm clock could trigger the coffee machine. Your car could could be connected to your diary and auto sync to a map to provide you with the best direction taking in account weather conditions,  traffic congestion or diversions. Running late? No worries an auto-text will inform whoever you are due to meet. Smart parking will direct you to available spaces. Vehicle auto-diagnosis will remind you when you need fuel, air in your tyres or an MOT. In the office your printer will know it is running low on toner and auto-reorder new supplies. Smart lighting and heating will auto-adjust, helping to reduce energy use. Your chair and monitor heights will auto-adjust wherever you are working. As the evening draws in the curtains in your home will draw close, a welcome light will come on and your smart crock pot will have your evening meal in control.

Harbor Research who curated the infographic below say that from their perspective, this story is not just about people communicating with people or machines communicating with machines. Smart, connected systems are a technological and economic phenomenon of unprecedented scale, encompassing potentially billions if not trillions of nodes — an Internet of infinite interactions and values…

Smart Systems and the Internet of Things are a combination of:

  1. Sensors – location data using GPS sensors. Eyes and ears using camera and microphones, along with seonsory organs that can measure any thing from temperature to pressure changes. For example:
    • position/presence/proximity, motion/velocity/displacement, temperature, humidity/moisture, acoustic/sound/vibration, chemical/gas, flow, force/load/torque/strain/pressure, leaks/levels, electric/magnetic, acceleration/tilt, machine vision/optical ambient light
  2. Connectivity – these inputs are digitised and placed onto networks
  3. People and Processes – these networked inputs can then be combined into bi-directional systems that integrate data, people, processes and systems for better decision making

The interactions between these entities are creating new types of smart applications and services. Examples given include smart thermostats, connected cars, activity trackers, smart outlets and parking sensors.

“We are giving our world a digital nervous system.”

The diversity of applications will affect:

  • Home and consumer  e.g. light bulbs, security, pet feeding, irrigation controller, smoke alarm, energy monitoring
  • Transport and mobility e.g traffic routing, package monitoring, smart parking, shipping
  • Health and body  e.g. patient care, elderly monitoring, remote diagnostic, equipment monitoring, hospital hygiene, bio wearables, food sensors
  • Buildings and infrastructure – e.g. security, lighting, electrical, transit, emergency alerts
  • Cities and industry – e.g. electrical distribution, maintenance, surveillance, signage, emergency services, waste management

Connectivity may take three forms: one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-many. The combinations are limitless.


What Exactly Is The Internet of Things? #infographic

Source: http://www.visualistan.com/2015/09/what-exactly-is-internet-of-things.html

You can also find more infographics at Visualistan

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Who are you and why should I follow you back on Twitter?

faceless woman

Public domain image: Pixabay

Who are you?

Choosing who to follow 

My positive engagement with Twitter has a direct correlation with those I am following. I have always said Twitter is only as good as the people you choose to follow. Muireann O’Keeffe reminded to also add – and the information they choose to share. Twitter as a space has opened up new pathways for informal learning as users share nuggets of information embellished with links, images and videos. My choice of who to follow is a personal choice and is based on my professional interests. My interests may align with yours, however may at best only partially do so. Only you can decide who is interesting to follow.

Given the focus of my blog I am clearly interested in social media for learning. As an educator I am also concerned about how social media is being used, the impact of our digital footprints and digital identity.  I teach Digital Marketing so have an interest in how social media is being used by brands and organisations. My research of social media takes me in many different directions. The use of technology to enhance learning is also of interest, as is the social impact of cloud computing and the internet of things. The combination of all these interests means that I have a wide variety of connections – aka those I follow.

When making the judgement to follow someone new, I will consider the bio, the profile image, and then skim through recent tweets to see what is being shared.  To some extent I then have to follow my instincts. I’ll be honest and tell you that there are occasions I’ve found that an individual I’ve followed has not lived up to expectations – that is to say their tweets don’t relate to my interests. At this point I can choose to unfollow.

Sometimes I miss new followers that I do have shared interests with. I find this out when an interaction takes place – it could be something they have tweeted or I have. At this point I will make the connection. My advice here is that if you want to connect with someone, step one is following but step two should be to follow up with a tweet to introduce yourself and say what your shared interests are. This is where the social comes to the fore and the realisation of dialogue over monologue.



Unfortunately not all those who follow you are genuine. There are sadly an alarming proportion of fake accounts on Twitter. Fake user accounts can be a source of spam and malicious links. If you are concerned you can block a user that has followed you and they will no longer be able to see your tweets. You can find out how to block an account here.

Another issue is where an individual, organisation or brand is impersonated. Impersonation is a violation of the Twitter’s rules. In the event you identify a fake account, or an account impersonating you or your organisation, then do report this to Twitter here:


Avoiding fake accounts

There are some key areas to focus on:

  • The profile bio: Is it informative and does it describe the personality or profession of the person or organisation?
  • The profile photo or avatar: Does the image relate to the bio. It is wise to steer clear of the bikini clad girls like the plague.
  • The conversations: Do the shared updates match the tone and context of a genuine account? If in doubt never click on a link.
  • The followers and who the account is following: A fake account is likely to have a disproportionate follower and following count.


Verified accounts

Twitter provides a verification process for high profile accounts and explains this as follows:

What is a verified account?
Any account with a blue verified badge on their Twitter profile is a verified account.

Why does Twitter verify accounts?
Verification is currently used to establish authenticity of identities of key individuals and brands on Twitter.

What kinds of accounts get verified?
Twitter verifies accounts on an ongoing basis to make it easier for users to find who they’re looking for. We concentrate on highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business and other key interest areas.

Twitter does not accept requests for verification from the general public.


Mistaken identity

There are many cases where genuine user names have been mistakenly used in tweets relating to brands and celebrities. Think carefully about the user name you choose!




Developing your own profile

It is important to consider how others perceive your profile. It is therefore in your interests to add relevant information to help potential followers make the decision to follow. Two key areas are your profile image and profile bio.

Twitter egg icon

When you create a Twitter account the default avatar is the egg icon. Replacing this with your own photo is important if you want to build trust and credibility. Ideally this photo should either be a head shot for a personal account or your company/organisation logo for a business profile.


Twitter bioYour bio needs to reflect who you are and an indication of your interests.  What will your tweets offer to those who follow you? You have 160 characters to encourage others to follow you. It is important to make you bio authentic. Adding a link to your website or LinkedIn profile can provide the source of more detailed information about you and is the easiest way to confirm the authenticity of your Twitter account. Including Twitter’s follow button on your webpage or blog is also useful.

You can customise your profile by selecting unique profile and header images, adding a name, bio, location, birthday, website and theme color, and by pinning a Tweet that other users will see when they visit your profile.


How to customise your profile

  1. Sign in to twitter.com or open your Twitter app (iOS or Android)
  2. Go to your profile.
  3. Click or tap the Edit profile button and you’ll be able to edit your:
  • Header photo (recommended dimensions are 1500×500 pixels)
  • Profile photo (recommended dimensions are 400×400 pixels)
  • Name
  • Bio (maximum 160 characters)
  • Location
  • Website
  • Theme color (only editable on twitter.com)
  • Birthday

4.  Click or tap into any of these areas and make your changes.
5.  When changing a profile or header photo, click or tap the camera icon and select Upload photo or Remove.
6.  You can choose to Show my Vine profile on your Twitter profile (available available if you’ve connected your Twitter account to your Vine account).
7.  Click or tap Save changes. You’re all set!


How to mute, block or report followers


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The anatomy of the perfect blog post

Public domain image: Pixabay

Public domain image: Pixabay

When writing a public blog there is an expectation that someone will read it, however this is not always the case. To increase the chances of your blog being read, there are some useful points to be considered. Whoever you are writing a blog post for, it is important to present what you want to say in a reader friendly and attractive way.  Consideration should be given to how people will find your blog post. Sharing a link to the post through social media channels can help to further its reach. Including keywords in the title and headings can also help bring it up in searches. Continue reading

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