LinkedInGroups, Twitter: Finding Cool Stuff

As we, my students in HRD 4407 / 5507 and I continue to grow our PLN, the task at hand is first to find a group on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Groups

Joining a group on LinkedIn allows you to see what others are sharing in the group on LinkedIn.  You can see what topics and especially who people in your group are following on blogs, twitter and other social media.

Two groups I have joined on LinkedIn are the Instructional Designers Group and the Moodlers Group.  Instructional Design is the area of my doctoral degree and there are so many different areas of employment for instructional designers.  This is a large group (67, 519 members as of 6/4/2014).  I do not expect to connect with or “get to know” all of them, but I do like what people in this group share.  As I was looking up the group to link in this blog post the article below was shared – which I thought was appropriate considering Michell’s blog post on identity, privacy and social networking

A tale of two doctoral students: Social media tools and hybridised identities

The Moodlers Group is much smaller with 1,788 members, but as Moodle support is a large part of my job, I thought it would be valuable to connect with others using Moodle.  This group tends to have discussions on best practices in implementing and supporting Moodle.


The second task is to find someone new to follow on twitter and then to look at who s/he is following.  I enjoy seeing who those I want to learn from are learning from.  There are some amazing learning paths and connections as you explore who is following whom in social media.

I happened to be looking up a book by Douglas Rushkoff – Program or Be Programed.  I really needed to find it on Amazon and place an order, but being lazy and since the Google search page was open I simply searched the title of the book, knowing there would be an Amazon link in the results list.  At the top was Douglas Rushkoff’s website, and it occurred to me that this would be a good person to explore his website and possible blog.

On the book page, at the bottom I found easily identifiable social media links.



So, I click on the twitter icon, logged in to my twitter account and “followed” Douglas Rushkoff.

Once on the page below, I can see that there are more than 27,900 people following him, but he only follows 317 people.  I can also see that he recently gave an “astoundingly refreshing keynote” at the BEA2014 conference, based on the first tweet listed.

There are also some suggestions of people Twitter thinks are simliar to Douglas Rushkoff and recommends that I follow them too.




But the second step of this task was to see who he is following, who are these 317 people.  In the six people that showed up first, there is an artist, a book publishing professional, an optimist, a software artist, the office of creative research and the 18th chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.  As Douglas Rushkoff is a “media theorist,” it does not surprise me that terms like “artist,” “publishing,” and “creative” come up in the descriptions.  Of these, I too added the Office for Creative Research to those I am following.



There are so many ways to find people to add to your PLN, follow the paths, search with key words and explore the profiles.  Add to your own profile, the keywords, phrases, descriptions and ideas that best represent who you are and who you want to become.



Social Media: Drinking from a Fire Hose

Social Media can feel overwhelming.  Between all the various tools to connect and navigate, the options on sharing – photos, urls, text, videos etc., the other tools to organize your social media not to mention all the usernames and passwords, it can quickly feel overwhelming – like trying to drink from a fire hose.


by Official U.S. Navy Imagery on Flickr  creative commons button by-sa Some rights reserved

This is a phrase I heard during a keynote by Alec Couros at the NWelearn conference several years ago.  At this point in time, I was not active in social media and was seriously wondering if it was worth “adding one more thing.”

stacked by Chrissy Wainwright

by Chrissy Wainwright on Flickr  Some rights reserved

Stopping to Explore

The solution Alec Couros suggested was to not worry about what you missed.  You just need to stop by every now and again and take a drink from the river of information.   I have followed this advice and found some incredibly helpful information when I needed it, or an introduction to a new idea or technology that proved useful later.

daughter of milam by anurag agnihotri

by anurag agnihotri on Flickr  creative commons button by-sa Some rights reserved

Blogs and RSS

One of the first tools I used was an RSS reader.  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication – which while it does make you feel like it is something you could wrap your mind around – really doesn’t answer the question  of what is RSS.  You can search “define RSS” in google and you will get the definition along with a number of sites to explore.  Or we can turn to CommonCraft on Youtube for a visual explanation:


So, you use RSS to help you keep track of your blogs and other sites that use RSS.  I currently use Feedly to gather all the RSS feeds I have discovered.  I like the ability to sort, organize, and search.  It can still be overwhelming, but you have to remember that you are not “required” to read everything, just the titles or images that catch your eye.  Or maybe use the search for terms like “presentation” to find people talking about technology for presentations.

 People, Products and Twitter

I have found that twitter can often provide a quick look at something new. With only 140 characters there is a limit, but often links will be added using a url shortner (,, that take you to blog posts, articles or other expanded information.  It has been through these short moments in time that I have found some cool tools (gingko), insights from big names in my field (, informative graphics (), and inspiration

So, while social media can be overwhelming, don’t feel you have to “do” or capture everything.  You are in charge of how you use social media.  Explore a little, but do some planning as well.  Plan to take time to use the tools in a way that in useful for you.

At times you may feel like you are letting information go down the drain, but there are tools – searching, filtering, etc. to help you find the information when you need it.  Take the time to learn those features and you will be in charge of your social media.

fire hose drain Kat N.L.M.

by Kat N.L.M. on Flickr   Some rights reserved


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