Saturday, May 9, 2009

Day 10-2 Using your PLN

Having just read my last two postings, you are probably busy figuring out who to include on your PLN (or not). Maybe you're busy signing up for new services like Twits Like Me (I love that name!). In any case, I always like to see at least one practical and useful example(s) before I jump into anything new - so here it is!

John's PLN

I will be leaving for 2 weeks vacation this evening, during which I will often be without internet. As a result, my postings to the Musictherapy365 blog over the next two weeks will be minimal. However, in order to ensure that you will have new content to view I've utilized two (and possibly three) individuals from my own personal learning network. I've left the content of the postings by these guest authors up to their own discretion. Please take the time to view their postings and comment on anything that you see or read.

Who are they?

Carolyn Dana Dachinger
MT-BC is a music therapist from Florida, whom I met through using Twitter. On Twitter she goes by @bachinaminuet. She describes herself as "...a free spirit who loves music and people. music therapist, multi-instrumentalist, soon-to-be grad student @ Uni of Miami and lover of all things 80s.".

Robin D. Pedrero is a very successful visual artist. On the Twitter network she goes by @robinpedrero. She is a great inspiration to me as a small business owner and has some great artwork for sale that you can see at: Gallery523. She also has a regular blog called Pocketful of Colors.

As you can see, not everyone in my PLN is a music therapist. I think that is a good thing - diversity and imagination are wonderful things!

Have you started setting up a formal PLN? What were the upsides, and the downsides?

I look forward to reading your comments and ideas when I am able to get online during my vacation. Since I'm taking the train (first time, 3 days each way!) I'll also be posting some photos on Flickr when I get back (Flickr username: JL Outdoor Photography).

Cheers everyone

Day 10 - Personal Learning Networks (con't)

In the last post, I ended with the logos of several popular social networking sites that might be useful in developing a Personal Learning Network or PLN. Today, I wanted to share some more details.

Arguably, one of the most popular social networking sites on the Internet. You can use Facebook in a number of ways. First, you can locate "Friends" or contacts from your address book and/or a search of an individual's name. (i.e. You might find a friend from your college or university days). Secondly, you can find individuals who might have similar interests by searching "interests" (i.e. Music therapist). Finally, you can search for groups/associations that have a Facebook page in your area of interest. While I have good experience with Facebook, I would tend to use this site for personal updates, rather than professional exchanges. I would also use Facebook to stay up-to-date with the happenings in various organizations and groups such as AMTA or World Federation of Music Therapy, in addition to visiting their websites.

Linkedin is one of the newer "networking" sites. In contrast to Facebook, this site is significantly more professional in content and culture. By fully setting up a "Linkedin profile", you are disclosing a great deal of information about yourself. Consequently, you need to be think carefully about your public profile before joining. (I discussed the benefits/dangers of your "public profile" in an earlier posting entitled, Day 3 - The "When" of Music Therapy). I don't yet have a lot of experience with Linkedin so I post a bit more about it later. I will say, that if you want to link in some pretty cool Web 2.0 software tools such as SlideShare, WordPress, Huddle Workspaces, and, the integration of these applications is very easy and simple. You can also post links to your website, blog, wiki, etc.

Twitter is one of the newest and most popular social networking sites. You can both "follow" friends (get their updates) and have people follow you (followers). People provide instanteous, real-time "tweets" about things that they are doing and thinking. This can range from the "I'm waking up now" to "Here's a great new link to an article". The catch in all of this is that your "tweet" can be no longer than 140 characters. This may seem like a lot of characters but it goes quickly. This leads to all kinds of short forms like "4U (for you)" and "IMHO (In my humble opinion). As mentionned, you can also include URLs or website addresses. We all know that these can be VERY long. Twitter helps with this by allowing you shorten the URL using a free service called The only role of this service is to provide a shortcut or shortform of longer URLs.

Opinions about Twitter tend to be polarized - you either like it and you stick with it, use it regularly, and find it useful, or you HATE it, use it briefly and then move on. My own personal experience has been the former - I like it. As one of the "new" kids on the block, it still has some growing pains. A search for "music therapy" will lead to a "No results" message. You have to either discover or know the name of the individual that you are trying to find. However, there are people writing secondary applications that can help you use Twitter more effectively. Some of these include: Twits Like Me (used to find Twitter followers that might share you interests), Tweetdeck (an application that lets you see your friends "tweets", direct messages, etc.) and Twackit (generates all kinds of statistics about your account and lets you follow trends on Twitter globally). For a complete list of applications that interact with Twitter, visit Twitdom.

Another way to track terms that are of interest to you is through the use of a "hashtag". Quite simply, you add a "#" sign in front of the term you want to monitor or follow (i.e. #music therapy). This sets up a custom search that finds all instances of "music therapy" in people's tweets.

I've got to go now - my son just woke up and is "dying" to use the computer :-)

Do you use any of these social networking sites? What has your experience been?