‘Brands are the express checkout for people living their lives at ever increasing speed.’ –Brandweek

WordPress: FAIL- I have to agree with Alex- I’m not a fan of Wordpress right now.  It wouldn’t allow me to post and then once I posted and wanted to edit it crashed!

 In “The Brand Called You,” Tom Peters talked about the importance of creating a brand for yourself. Branding is a way for people to build reputations and make contributions to their area of expertise. The ever-evolving market makes it difficult to seperate yourself from the competition.  A well written resume and educational credentials would have made you marketable five years ago, but this is no longer the case in today’s society.  The current focus is about what makes a person stand out from the pack and since we are now living in the digital age, a person’s online influence is one way for people to grow their brand. 

Seth Stevenson talked about the importance of Klout scores and how they have been used as criteria for candidate assesement.  I can tell you that if a potential employer took a look at my klout scores there’s no way that I would be considered for the job.  So with that said, I decided to revamp my about.me page.  Here’s the before and after…

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I completely changed the entire look of this page by changing the background to something original, including a picture, changing up the headers by adding a some key words/attention grabbers. Hope you like the changes!

Ready to Get Connected?

The professional organization that I chose to explore for this week’s assignment (PLE starter) is the (CEC) Council for Exceptional Children.  I selected CEC because they are the largest national professional organization dedicated to special and gifted education.  Last year I attended the CEC annual conference in Denver, CO (FYI-2013 Conference is in San Antonio if anyone is interested).  It was an amazing experience as educators from all over the world  had the opportunity to discuss the most pressing issues in the field, from RTI (Response to Intervention) to the proposed revision of the DSM-V diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder classification. In addition to the numerous presentations, there was an expo that provided conference attendees with the opportunity to explore cutting edge tools, services and curriculum materials.   CEC also publishes a bi-monthly journal that has useful research-based practical information that I often reference in my work.     

CEC has a presence in numerous social media outlets (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin,  Foursquare, etc.), but the most popular appear to be Facebook and Twitter.  I chose to take a closer look at Twitter because it is an effective tool that should be utilized when creating a PLN.  Check out this video on what Twitter can do for your PLN.

http://bcove.me/fe4h82nq

After I decided to follow CEC on Twitter and take a closer look at the profiles of people that are following CEC, I chose the following (6) accounts:

Dr. Nicole Beurkens
SpEd Nation
Sara Wasserman
NCLD
Sarah Potter
Dara Baldwin

I selected these accounts based on company/individual profiles and then took a closer look based on the criteria below which was gathered from the following sources:

http://jaygoldman.com/2009/01/follow-back-how-i-choose-who-to-follow-on-twitter/

http://blog.tweetsmarter.com/followers/the-secrets-of-following-people-on-twitter/

Criteria:
Number of followers
Friends to follower ratio (more followers than friends tend to add more value)
Bio
Do they have a website?
Are they part of the conversation?
Are their tweets engaging and interesting?
Is the information shared relevant to my professional growth?
Do they Tweet about their sources of info?
Do they add comments to their Retweets?

I chose to follow back 3 of the 6 selected accounts after further examination (Dr. Nicole Beurkens, Sarah Wasserman, NCLD). Profiles are really important when establishing a social media presence; they can make or break opportunities for individuals/organizations. A great profile can lead to increased visibility, however profiles can also be misleading-which was the case for several of the accounts that I intially selected. These accounts had interesting profiles, but when I looked at the additional criteria (participation, engagement, relevance) they fell short in a number of areas.

“Don’t agonize, organize”

Using social media platforms like Twitter is something that is new to me, but I think I overcame some of my social media anxiety this week, and I actually enjoyed it.  I have been making it a point this week to increase my social presence (baby steps folks…feeling comfortable with posting a picture was more than a notion!). 

But before I write about all of the wonderful dashboards that I explored this week, I have to share that…

Last evening I attended an event in Philadelphia that was hosted by several women’s organizations in the area, that focused on increasing awareness/activism surrounding health care and women’s reproductive rights. I have heard time and time again about the power of social media, but last night it really hit home when I heard one woman talk about how a Facebook page became the equivalent of an old-fashioned town square.  This page was the vehicle that managed to rally enough supporters to stop a hospital merger (that would have eliminated some health care services to women) in just two short weeks! The reach of the Facebook page was 77,000!  One of the recurrent themes of the evening was using social media as a vehicle for activism- instead of door to door canvassing, rallies, and marches (reminiscent of the 1950s).  There was even a mini-workshop that showed folks how to set up a twitter account.  I really felt like a big shot when they asked how many of us used Twitter and I could raise my hand (to my surprise, there were only a few of us in the group-Thanks Matt!).  

So with all of this being said, now that I’m really blossoming into a social media enthusiast (ha-ha), many of the tools that I explored this week would be great for helping me stay organized. One thing that these dashboards/task managers have in common is that they save time for those that participate in multiple social media platforms.  Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are both popular dashboards that will serve my personal social media needs.  One important feature for me is being able to schedule posts in advance so that I can maintain a social presence (this is a feature that both of these have).  Netvibes is a dashboard on roids!  It has a lot of features, but I wouldn’t utilize them at this point- not for a novice like myself.  Once I become a savvier user, my thoughts may change. Going forward, I will probably use Hootsuite more than Tweetdeck just because I like the layout a bit better.   

My favorite tool of the week is IFTTT.  I didn’t have the opportunity to create a lot of different recipes this week, but I see loads of potential-plus it’s kinda fun.  It’s a really cool task manager and I can definitely see myself taking full advantage its features.  Blows my mind the power that one simple statement can have! Doesn’t look like I’ll be using any Twitter triggers for long…check this out: http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/21/twitter-api-dick-costolo/

All of these dashboards help to organize information, which leads me to the terms content aggregation and content curation. What is the difference? I really needed some help with this one so here are a few sources that I referenced: http://www.curatecontent.com/content-curation/

 http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/

Content aggregation involves collecting information from internal and external resources and then sharing it.  Aggregation involves extracting information from data sources. Content curation on the otherhand, involves sorting through the information on the web and organizing it into a meaningful way.  This really starts to make sense when you think of what a curator does in an art museum.  A curator of content is really selecting and organizing the best content and sharing it.  Content curation requires a human mind.  To me, aggregation is the first step and then curating the information would be the next.  All of the tools that I explored this week will be helpful in aggregating information, but then I need to review this content and make sure that the sources are reputable before sharing the information.

The Power of the Web

The internet is probably considered one of the top life-changing inventions of the twentieth century.  It has impacted every facet of my life from how I communicate with people to how I make purchases. It is the ultimate timesaver because information is just a click-or two away.  It shapes so many of the daily decisions I make from where and what I eat to the things I want to do. I can make informed decisions because I have access to customer reviews, instructions, background information, etc. Thanks to the web, I have even managed to navigate entire cities in foreign countries without pulling out cumbersome maps and travel brochures from my fanny pack that scream “I’m a tourist…please rob me.”    It’s strange to think that not too long ago we somehow managed to go about our day to day activities without conducting a “google” search before we hired a plumber, went to a movie, took a vacation abroad or purchased a car. 

With all of the endless possibilities that the web offers, there are risks involved such as:

  • Bank fraud
  • Identity theft
  • People spreading malicious rumors on social media (that may cause friction in your love life).
  • Addiction
  • Exposure to sexual predators
  • Accessing false information

Check out this blog on identity and the internet for more information on risks of using the web.http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2011/09/19/identity-on-the-internet-the-pros-and-cons-of-anonymity/

There are a number of ways to minimize the risks involved when surfing the web:

  • Use anti-virus software
  • Have security settings on your computer
  • Be careful about opening up e-mail attachments from strangers that may contain viruses
  • Check for secure transaction info. when making purchases
  • Be careful of what you download to your smart phone
  • Be smart about how you use social media

The web is an unrestricted place where information can be posted by anyone-anywhere-anytime (this feature is what makes it so amazing)!  However, with the abundance of information at our fingertips, we must take precautionary measures to make sure that we evaluate the information by verifying that it comes from a reputable source. 

“Knowing where your information comes from is just as important as knowing where your food and water comes from.” – Dr. Linda Timmins

This influx of information can be difficult to manage as we use more tools to access and share information.  Stephen Mangat made several good recommendations in the recorded interviews about how to successfully manage social media so it doesn’t consume you (not a problem for me J).  I have found that I can definitely use his scheduling recommendations to increase my use of social media tools, by setting a time aside everyday to check class posts and contribute to various sites. Mangat also shared several tools to help folks using social media stay organized. HootSuite and Doodle (helpful at work) sound pretty interesting and I plan on utilizing those quite a bit.  For more information on additional social media management applications check out this site:  http://webtrends.about.com/od/pr6/tp/The-Top-10-Social-Media-Management-Applications.htm

Social Media Explained

 

EDUC 639 Course Expectations

I am always looking for ways to build educational communities and make information more accessible to educators.  One of the biggest challenges that teachers face is that there are not enough days devoted to professional development.  I am hoping that this course will give me a better understanding of web 2.0 tools and how I can integrate this component into improving professional development for educators.

FERPA Statement

Personal FERPA statement

I, Esley Newton, understand and accept that some of my academic work for the fall 2012 semester will be published on the open web.

I also disclose that the work I will be putting up online is done as a part of the EDUC439/639 class at the University of Delaware. The home page of this open class is located at http://openteaching.ud-css.net/.

Unless content put up can potentially damage my online reputation, I also pledge to leave it online until at least December 21, 2012, the end of the fall semester.

Under those terms, I waive parts of my FERPA-granted rights for the purpose of exploring social media and web 2.0, excluding private conversations with colleagues and course grades.