My Personal Learning Evironment

In this module of EdTech 543 (Social Network Learning) I was asked to reflect on my personal learning environment (PLE) and create a visual representation of it. There are variable definitions of what a PLE is but I like this one by Connie Malamed:

A self-directed and evolving environment of tools, services and resources organized by a person seeking a way to accomplish lifetime learning, to create, and to connect with others of similar interests.

In short, a PLE includes your personal learning network (PLN) and the tools you use to interact with it. Everyone’s PLE is unique. We all use different tools to interact with our unique PLN.


My PLE diagram tries to convey that I use devices, services, and various tools to interact with people and information. People includes colleagues, friends, communities of practice I belong to, communities of inquiry, and other smart people around the world. Information can be in print, online, or stored in my computer.

I mostly follow the 4 Cs model created by Chris Sessums in which the 4 Cs are collect, communicate, create, and collaborate. As such, there are 3 zones to the devices, services and tools layer of my PLE diagram. At the bottom, are tools I use to create and communicate.  On the right, are tools and ways I like to learn, including using online, print, and verbal media. Finally, on the left, are the tools I use to collect, communicate, and collaborate. All these tools are also used by others to interact with me. I also included the “low tech” old-fashioned way of learning and communicating: the lecture and meetings.

While reflecting on my PLE, I realized I have a core group of tools that I use. There are many tools available but I think most of us regularly use just a few. Over the years I have tested many tools and rejected most of them for various reasons. It was also helpful to reflect upon what role various tools play in my PLE and how the tools have evolved over time. Tools often have many uses but I find I use some tools at only a fraction of their capacity.

I reviewed several of my classmates’ PLE diagrams. Most focus on technology (as does mine). Many of us use the same tools, which makes sense as these tools have been around a while (e.g. Microsoft products, Google products). I did find some people included tools I wouldn’t have thought of as being useful for a PLE. For example, one diagram included PayPal, amazon, and eBay. Others include tools I just don’t use like Instagram, Pinterest, Skype, RSS aggregators, Flip Board, and some educational social networking sites. But that’s what make a PLE personal. What I always miss in assignments like this is not finding out how people use these different tools. I find it’s easy to learn to use a tool but harder to discover new ways to use them. Finally, I like how at least one of my classmates included face to face interaction in her PLE diagram. Too often we focus on technology but interacting with colleagues in the office or at conventions is still a very useful way to learn and create. I also found it fascinating of how different people followed different models to organize their PLEs. All were very creating and informative.


Openness in Eduction: A Curated Topic

In this module of EDTECH 543 (Social Network Learning) we are learning about content curation. I don’t think I had heard of content curation as it relates to education. Curation is not just about collecting information. It’s about collecting the best information, arranging it in an organized fashion, contextualizing it, and sharing it. It’s the adding of our expert perspective that provides value. You want to tell a story with your content so the ordering of the content you present it and what content you present is critical to your message. Because of this, you need to be somewhat expert in your curated topic area. You need to be able to know what content is most useful and be able to add your perspective.

I have been interested in openness since taking Fred Baker’s Introduction to Openness course (EDTECH 597) this summer. I curated a broad overview of what openness is. It was a more of a challenge to decide which tool to use to curate than to choose the curated content. Ultimately I used ScoopIt. I liked the way it presented the material and is fairly easy to use (though I wish it were easier to put things in the order I want). LiveBinders looked interesting too but I couldn’t figure out how to add my perspective to the content I curated. I also couldn’t get PearlTrees to do what I wanted.


In this module we also developed criteria to evaluate the quality of a curated topic. Below is my self-assessment of my curated topic.


  1. Is the content out of date?  While some of the content is several years old it is still current.
  2. Has the content been regularly updated? NA- this is a newly curated topic
  3. Is the date of last revision documented? I dont see a way to put a date field other than in the topic title but each content entry has the date it was curated so a user would be able to tell when it was last revised.
  4. Does the content contain stable and reliable background material that will not go out of date soon? Yes. The content from David Wiley and Martin Weller are classic descriptions of openness.
  5. Do all of the links work? Yes


  1. Is the content from credible sources? I know they are but not sure how a user would know that.
  2. Is the content free of bias? I think so. I tried to post content that offered alternative perspectives and that was free of commercial bias. I found it could be difficulty to find quality counterperspectives. Most were just opinions of some blogger whom I didnt recognize and who didnt offer references to support their opinions.


  1. Is the content is well organized? I put the content in the order that it was presented in the course I took. It goes from more general information to more specific.
  2. Is the content consistent with other content? It all ties together as I curate various components of openness.
  3. Is there a contextualized organization beyond the general theme? I add my perspective to the content. I organized it from general material about openness to more specific about components of openness.


  1. Is the content from a variety of sources? Yes
  2. Is the content format varied? (text, video, pictures,etc) Yes


  1. Does the content provide new knowledge? Yes to someone unfamiliar with this content.
  2. Does the curator add value through summaries and descriptions? I do add my perspective to each piece of content.
  3. Is the content relevant to the learner’s needs? It would be to someone wanting to get a good overview of openness.
  4. Is the content appropriate for the level of the learner? This is geared toward an adult learner.

I think the challenge of using these criteria are several fold. One, they are probably more useful for the curator than someone who is consuming the curated content. Several of them require some content expertise and the curator would likely have more content expertise than the consumer. Next, some of the criteria require content expertise to know if the material is current, reliable and properly contextualized. This might be difficult for a novice in a curated topic area. While I dont know how I would alter the criteria we developed I think it just needs to be realized that some (if not many) learners might not be able to utilize these criteria themselves.

Now it’s your turn. Do you think my curated topic is useful? Why or why not? What could I improve?

Terry’s Tips for Developing and Maintaining a Positive Online Reputation

As a physician, an educator, and an EdTech student it is impossible to not be on the web. Everything we do on the web leaves a digital footprint (those little traces of where you’ve been and what you’ve done) that is indelible. It is important to build a positive online reputation for several reasons including public trust, employment and advancement opportunities, building a brand, and serving as a role model to colleagues and students.

While I do browse a couple of sports and political websites, stream some movies, and buy from Amazon, my visible online presence is mainly of a professional nature. I have developed a few websites and YouTube videos for educational purposes. I  use social media for professional development and rarely for social purposes. I have always had a goal of portraying a certain image online. This requires purposeful development and active surveillance which will be the focus of this post.



From patparslow via


There is a lot written on this topic all over the web so I will focus on what I mainly do and some new things I learned in researching this topic. So here are Terry’s Tips:

  1. Define yourself. Decide on the image you want to portray to the world and build that image.
    • You’ll have to decide on a username. It should be descriptive of you and your talents. If you have a common name, like John Smith, consider adding something descriptive to it (for example JohnSmithEdTech). Whatever name you pick, use it consistently on all your sites. My main identity is as a teacher of EBM principles so my online name is EBMTeacher.
    • Use an appropriate photo. Dress professionally and choose a photo with a high pixel count. Remember you only have one chance to make a first impression.
    • Develop an informative but brief profile description. Highlight your skills and interests (The Ohio State University Career Services Office, n.d.).
  2. Choose the online tools that best match your strategy to define yourself. You should develop a strategy that will maximize your professional presence online. What content will you put on the web? Who is it for? You will need to decide if a website or blog is best for some of your content. Can some content be disseminated by Twitter or other social media? Here again, be purposeful and consistent so your consumers know where to find you and what to expect (Joel, 2009). I use Twitter to share quick ideas and resources. I use my blog to tease out more complex ideas and opinions. I use YouTube to teach EBM concepts to learners. I use SlideShare to share my PowerPoints. I also include a page on my website to share open learning materials that I develop.
  3. Limit what you do and post online. Do you really need to tell or show everyone on Facebook or Twitter where you’re going, what you’re eating or what you bought? Do you really need to take yet another selfie and post it on Instagram? NO! No one cares…trust me…they really don’t. So don’t put a lot of nonsense out there that can shed a less than positive light on you. Remember even if you just send your friends the selfie how do you know they won’t post it somewhere? You can’t control what others do with information about you. You, though, can control what you put out there. So take control (and stay in control).
  4. Have separate personal and professional social media accounts. But remember, just because you have  personal accounts these still reflect upon your professional image because they will be found by search engines. You still have to think before you post.
  5. Follow first. Subscribe to or follow thought leaders or the top “voices” in your field for a little while before adding your voice. This will give you a sense of their style, what they share, and how they share it. You can learn what professionalism looks like online. You can also then figure out what you can add to the discussion. If you can add unique opinions or information you will build your professional brand (Joel, 2009).
  6. Regularly monitor yourself. You need to regularly monitor what you are posting and what gets posted or shared about you. Do a Google search with various variants of your name and with your name in quotes. You can also set up alerts with Google  to notify you when something is posted about you on the web. There are professional services that can be hired to help repair damage to your online reputation. If you find negative posts about you, respond back to set the record straight (Hengstler, p. 119, 2011).
  7. Monitor your professional network for inappropriate postings. Your professional image is also affected by the company you keep. Actively monitor your connections and remove individuals who post questionable content, even if they ae a source of good information. If you find an individual you follow is posting inappropriate materials contact them and tell them you are removing them from your network and tell them why (Hengstler, p. 122, 2011).
  8. Maintain professional boundaries. You don’t need to friend or follow everyone that asks or follows you. This is especially important for educators and physicians. I get requests all the time from patients to be friends on Facebook. I decline them. The power dynamics of student-teacher and doctor-patient relationships are not equal. You have to keep your personal and professional lives separate as much as possible. You don’t want children or disgruntled patients posting negative comments on your own site. I would think most school systems and hospital systems have policies against this and you can politely tell your students or patients that this would be against school or hospital policy (Hengstler, p. 122, 2011).
  9. Buy yourself. What I mean is buy your domain name ( Don’t let someone else own your domain name as they could build a website and post whatever they want to. Domain names are fairly cheap through a variety of services like (no affiliation) (Digital Citizenship Adventures, n.d.).
  10. Promote yourself. Include your website, Twitter username, etc. on title slides of presentations, in signature blocks of emails, on business cards, etc. This will bring greater exposure and klout (Edminston, 2014).

These are just a few of my thoughts on maintaining a positive online reputation. There are lots of other ideas out there and products you could use. The key is that it requires planning, persistence, and vigilance but it will pay off in the end.


Digital Citizenship Adventures. (n.d.). Managing your digital footprint. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Edminston, D. (2014). Creating a personal competitive advantage by developing a professional online presence. Marketing Education Review, 24(1), 21–24.

Hengstler, J. (2011). Managing your digital footprint: ostriches v. eagles. In S. Hirtz & K. Kelly (Eds.), Education for a Digital World 2.0(2nd ed.) (Vol. 1, Part One: Emerging technologies and practices). Open School/Crown Publications: Queen’s Printer for British Columbia. Retrieved from

Joel, M. (2009, March 5). How to build your digital footprint in 8 easy steps. Retrieved from

The Ohio State University, Career Services Office. (n.d.). Building your professional online presence. Retrieved from

Twitter for Just-In-Time Professional Development

In this module of EDTECH 543 (Social Network Learning) I had to follow several hashtags in Twitter that would be useful to me professionally. I use TweetDeck to organize my hashtags. Prior to this course, I had never used a tool like TweetDeck. I will from now on. It really helps organize my Twitter feed.



Screen shot of TweetDeck with columns for each hashtag

Prior to this week I never followed any hashtags; only people on Twitter. This seems like a more efficient way to find information that I care about but I am worried that I will miss information because most Tweets don’t have hashtags applied to them. I know I often forget to put a hashtag on my Tweets and choosing an appropriate hashtag can be challenging.

What new hashtags did I follow? #edchat #onlinelearning #edtech #oer #elearning #connectedlearning and #BlendedLearning. In just the 1st hour I learned several new things: 1) EdChat (“discuss and learn about current teaching trends, how to integrate technology, transform their teaching, and connect with inspiring educators worldwide”) occurs every Tuesday and users can choose the topic of discussion, 2) OfficeLens is a tool I didn’t know about that can “scan documents, cards, and whiteboards with your phone, making them more readable, and in some cases editable”, and 3) most important, I realized I need to pay attention to hashtags in Tweets and follow ones that relate to my interests. I previously only focused on the thought leaders I wanted to follow.

I have been using Twitter (along with several blogs) for a few years for professional development. It has been an invaluable resource. I found so many useful resources and interesting bogs/papers that I don’t think I would have found otherwise.  I use it in more of a push mode in which I get information pushed to me randomly instead of a pull mode where I search for specific information and pull it in. I periodically review my Twitter feed during the day (usually while waiting for the elevator, standing in line, or waiting for a meeting to start) and if I see an interesting link or resource I open it and review it. If I know I want it for later I favorite it or retweet it (that way it’s saved in my Tweet list).  When I need specific information on a topic I tend to Google it. So I have no experience searching Twitter for specific information. The challenge of using Twitter for professional development is two-fold I think: following the right people and hoping things get Tweeted that you need.

Now it’s your turn. How do you use Twitter for PD? What are some of its limitations and how have you overcome them?


EdTech 543: My baseline views and uses of social media for teaching and PD

This week I start a new and near-final chapter in my MET program. EDTECH 543 (Social Network Learning) should nicely complement my recently completed course on openness (EDTECH 597). This is blog post is a reflection on my current use of social media for professional development and teaching.



From Wikipedia and Brian Solis and JESS3 (


What are your initial reactions about joining these social networks for use in this course? I assumed we would use social media in this class. I have accounts for all the tools mentioned this week. I use Twitter and Diigo daily. I don’t use Facebook other than to occasionally (once a week or less) check on what my friends have been up to.

What is your experience in using social media for your own professional development? I have been using Twitter and Diigo daily for professional development for several years. They have been very valuable tools to find and share resources. They are also very valuable for finding thought leaders in education and educational technology. I am a physician and didn’t know the names of education leaders outside of medicine. Twitter (and blogs) has allowed me to expand my personal learning network outside of medicine. I use Google+ some for PD. In the areas that I follow it’s not as risk of a resource as Twitter. I don’t use Facebook for PD (or much of anything). I’m just not a fan of its organization. I think you have to have a couple of resources that you can keep up with regularly and understand how to use and try not to engage with too many social media. A lot of time can be wasted.

What is your experience in using social media as an instructional strategy in your learning environment? It’s limited as I teach in the medical field which is way behind in using online and social media for education. This year I started a Diigo group for a weekly noon conference where I post I important article or resource related to the topic of the conference. We have about 120 residents and 30 faculty who have been invited to join the group and only 24 have in the last month. No one, other than me, has posted anything. I have used Google+ in the past to run a course because our in-house designed LMS has no discussion board feature and I needed a discussion board for a class. I am going to study Twitter this spring in one of my classes to see if tweets of hard to understand topics improve knowledge. I use YouTube and SlideShare regularly to teach. I use WordPress blogs as class sites 2 two things that I teach.

What are your expectations for this course? I feel comfortable using social media for my own learning but want to get exposed to more ways to use it in teaching. I also want to get exposed to some of the theory and research data about its use (though I’m not sure we are scheduled to cover this or not).  I’m a theory geek and like a deeper understanding of things. I also hope we have freedom to use social media we want to and not be forced to use certain platforms at all times. I am worried about so much use of Facebook as I just don’t like Facebook.

I look forward to expanding my knowledge and facility of using social media tools. I also look forward to seeing how teachers outside of my profession use social media.

EDTECH 506 Assignment: White space

Wrist - Arthrocentesis 101- An Online Course for UAB Internal Medicine Residents 2016-03-31 17-12-29

The above page is a screen capture of a blended course I am developing on arthrocentesis. This week we learned about white space. White space is the area between visual elements whether that be text, graphics, or elements within a graphic. Its the background color. It is used to separate elements and to direct the eye to important information. It can be used to clarify information.

Write a justification paper for the activity you select. Describe the following:

  • Your users and the assumptions you make about them (such as age, reading level, and assumed skills). My users are internal medicine residents who have graduated from medical school.
  • Why you think your solution will work; include at least two ideas from the book, including page numbers and your interpretation of the passage used. I use white space to chunk and organize the information (Lohr 2008, p. 272).       Chunking is grouping of information in meaningful or related clusters (Lohr 2008, p. 125). I also use white space to evenly distribute the graphics/pictures in each information cluster.The site is simplistic in design but has symmetry. I wanted to project professionalism since it’s a site to educate medical professionals (Lohr 2008, p. 275). According to Lohr, symmetry can be boring but I think the graphics and color scheme of the template help with that some.
  • What you learned from a “user-test” (have someone look at the image and verbalize their thoughts while looking at the image). I asked 2 faculty to evaluate the page. They felt the spacing was good. Information was broken into meaningful chunks. It was visually appealing.
  • The changes you will make based on user comments (or create a revised image). My colleagues had no suggestions for improvement.


EDTECH 506 Assignment: Organization

Week 6 Graphic_ Fluid Analysis-3

Organizing information (or at least helping our learners organize information) is one of the most important roles of a teacher in my opinion. Chunking, using visual cues, and hierarchy are all ways to organize information.

I am designing a blended course on arthrocentesis. The graphic describes the types of fluid that can be obtained from a joint and its diagnostic characteristics. I created the image using Google Drawings. The cells are labelled for reuse from Wikimedia.

Write a justification paper for the activity you select. Describe the following:

  • Your users and the assumptions you make about them (such as age, reading level, and assumed skills). My users are internal medicine residents who have graduated from medical school. They would recognize the cells in the graphic and understand all the terms.
  • Why you think your solution will work; include at least two ideas from the book, including page numbers and your interpretation of the passage used. I use chunking to help organize the information. Chunking is grouping of information in meaningful or related clusters (Lohr 2008, p. 125). Shape (the circles) facilitates chunking and comparison of the types of fluid (Lohr 2008, p. 252). Each circle is a chunk of information that is related. I also limited the amount of information (5 pieces) in each chunk so as not to overload working memory. I don’t have a lot of white space between my chunks but the circle outlines help delineate the chunked information (Lohr 2008, p. 126). I depict hierarchy (as you go left to right the diagnoses get worse) in this image in 2 ways: increasing WBC from left to right and darkening of syringes from left to right. Also using the horizontal makes the most important information standout (Lohr 2008, p.128).
  • What you learned from a “user-test” (have someone look at the image and verbalize their thoughts while looking at the image). I asked 4 learners to evaluate the image. I asked for their overall gestalt about what the image was depicting and then specifically about what each of the circles was depicting. I also asked them what stood out in the graphic (ie what drew their vision).

Learners understood that the graphic was depicting the possible types of joint fluid and what the testing of the fluid would reveal. They said they noticed the circles in the middle of the graphic mainly.

  • The changes you will make based on user comments (or create a revised image). Learners had no suggestions for improvement.