Make your online work place ad-free

Recently I was working with someone on a GoogleDoc. A very nice tool to write a text together online. It offers most of the options that Word has, too, like commenting and so on.

GoogleDoc example with comments

GoogleDoc: example with comments

One of the extras it provides is the possibility to have a chat if you are working online on a document at the same time as others.That is, if the chat window is visible. Which in this case, it wasn’t for my colleague.

I wrote a chat message, suggesting to discuss something and while I could see she was online and working in the document, I did not get any reaction from her. I was puzzled, because this is not like her at all, but I assumed she was busy with something else at the same time and I was sure we would eventually discuss the matter. No hurry, no problem.

However, when I spoke to her later I found out that she had not even seen my chat message. It had been obscured by ads.

I am not sure how that happened, and it may have been something else entirely. But it made me consider once again how annoying (pop up) ads can be online if you are there for your work. (Of course they can be equally annoying when you are just Facebooking for fun, I do know that!).

But it is truly annoying if your work is being hindered by ads popping up on vital positions on your screen. Like happened a while ago during a webinar. Some of the participants could not see the full presentation screen or were simply unable to concentrate, due to ads.

Imagine if such a thing would happen offline – if half of a meeting would be inaudible because of ads. Or if your notes in your writing pad would be obscured by ads. Or if, as you can sometimes see during TV reports of football matches, part of the playing field would be covered in banners and ads (luckily the ones that seem really in the way of the game are only virtual).

Impractical ads - if they were real. From Ajax-ADO, 2013, via http://youtu.be

Impractical ads – if they were real. From Ajax-ADO, 2013, via http://youtu.be/_KlhlaGfRn8

Of course I am aware that all free things have their price: ads and data collection. I am using many free services and I enjoy them a lot. And I hope they will continue to be free tools. And I am OK with paying a small price by giving up some level of privacy and providing some interesting data. That is our deal. But that doesn’t mean I need to see silly ads all the time.

Ads on Facebook

Ads on Facebook that I don’t usually see luckily

If you also prefer to work in a quiet online environment, without ads for women to meet, bras to wear, food buy, equipment to covet and so on and so forth, there is an easy tool to use. The reason why I had no clue that the chat message window was obscured. The reason why I can never cheer up my Facebook friends with posts about the funny products that Facebook thinks I could be up for.

It is simple to install and works miracles. It is called Ad Block Plus. It is available as plug in, for free, for most current browsers (like Explorer. Chrome, Firefox and a couple of others).

LinkedIn ad

So happy that I do not see these things when using LinkedIn

If you want to have a quiet work place online, I would highly recommend investing two minutes of your time, if that, to install Ad Block Plus. After all, we go to great lengths uncluttering our desks and making everything just so, in order to be able to work productively. So why not extend that courtesy to yourself when it concerns your virtual desk?

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Starting a Learning Process Online

Offline presentation of tools and discussion (photo Gerdi Keeler)

Offline presentation of tools and discussion (photo Gerdi Keeler)

On 31 January last, Gerdi Keeler and I conducted a workshop for NVO2 on how you can start a learning process online already before the first face-to-face event. In order to enable our participants to experience this concept, rather than just hearing about it, we created a closed online environment in which we shared smaller and bigger assignments with the participants. All assignments were related to the use of an online tool. Assignments were also all related to sharing experiences and information.

Using assignments before a learning process or training starts is of course nothing very revolutionary. In the sign up form, future participants are often asked about their motivation, about what it is they want to learn exactly and about their experience with the subject matter. Trainers or teachers also quite regularly ask participants to read something beforehand. All this information could be used to make participants aware of their own personal motivation to take part, to tailor the training to the real needs, to avoid spending time on something everyone already knows and to render the time spent together more effective by sharing some of the theory beforehand.

Also not new is the fact that such assignments tend to yield limited results, and that you mostly find out about how little results were achieved during the face-to-face event.

However, with the existing wealth of online tools you as trainer or teacher have much more possibility to get acquainted with your prospective participants than before. If you do not want to bother them, you can simply look up their LinkedIn profile to see what their experience is, and what skills they think they have. You can check out their Twitter account to see what makes them tick, and if they have a blog you can find out even more about their interests, activities and skills.

If you would like to engage with your participants before the training you can make use of many different online tools. You can ask them to share pictures, videos, cartoons, etc. or to comment on a blog post if you want to go in the direction of Flipping your Classroom.

These assignments can of course be sent out and collected via e-mail. But why take the risk of miscommunication? We all know a thing or two about “Reply all” in moments when it shouldn’t have been used and vice versa, as well as those times that you think you are sending something to one person and it turns out your address book selected another person with the same name. And why not use the chance to create a network of the participants? In other words, it is worth your while to create an online environment where you  and participants can post assignments, results, questions and replies.

Yammer network

Yammer network

In any case, we decided to create a closed network on Yammer for our communications with the participants.  We felt that this tool would provide the best possibility for discussion and sharing, and would probably not be too difficult to use for most people. Just in case, we shared a short guide on using Yammer via e-mail as well as in the Yammer network itself, so that participants could look up certain functionalities as they went along.

Most of the assignments we shared  involved visual tools, like Bitstrips, Wordle, Tagxedo, ReciteThis and the like. In all, some 12 tools were shared, excluding Yammer. Some tools were used by all participants, some by none and most by the majority of participants. Bitstrips, Wordle, Tagxedo and ReciteThis were the most popular tools: they were the most used and participants were the most enthusiastic about them.

What did you gain from the online start? In Spiderscribe

What did you gain from the online start? In Spiderscribe

Participants were very enthusiastic about the online start. They liked getting acquainted online. They found this way of starting “inspirational“, and had learned a lot from the tools and tips shared and from the exchange online. The tools presented were useful and clarifications provided were helpful. They had gotten a lot of ideas for their own work. This had motivated them hugely.

Reflections on the online start underlined the importance of selecting the right tool for the online environment. For some participants Yammer had been easy to use, and as the few questions they had were answered swiftly, they did not experience problems much. For others, however, it felt as if they had to learn two things: to use Yammer and to learn about the online tools offered through Yammer. It seems that they did not consider Yammer itself as one of the tools to be learned for an online start – just as your regular participant would see less use in investing time to learn working with Yammer compared to investing time in the course topic.

Another issue that was mentioned was that of expectations management. Participants had the feeling that they had to do everything that was offered, and that there was not enough time for this. In the end, no one managed to try out everything, although a few participants managed to try most of the tools. This issue could be seen either as a communication issue or as a responsibility issue: should trainers communicate precisely what needs to be done and how much time needs to be invested? Or should participants take responsibility for and ownership of what they want to learn, and also for those things that they decided are not top priority right now?

Here, I think, are some issues at stake that you might not encounter as much in case of offline assignments or even e-mailed assignments. While all assignments were individual-based, sharing them in an online environment where you also collect the products for all to see, could result in peer pressure, even if unintended. Participants see what others have done, they read the stories, questions and answers. In Yammer they can also easily check the statistics (although I do not believe they did in this case). They can also see when something was done – for instance, it would have been pretty much obvious if there had been a “last minute” worker included in the group. This is not the case if you send out assignments via e-mail and collect all replies individually. In that situation, people can be blissfully unaware of who has done what and whether that was within a suggested time frame or not. They also cannot see the quality of other people’s work. Of course, they can also not be inspired by each other, nor help each other out or learn from one another. Which is why we chose to create a network.

Another issue is that of the possibility to use certain online tools on the job. Some organisations do not allow the use of certain tools on work computers, and some people do not feel free to do such assignments from their work desks. This then leads to a need to do these assignments after work hours, from a home device. And that is something that some people simply do not like to do. That may not just be the case for employed participants, also freelancers can find it difficult to find time for self-development and can fail to see that certain tools will help them as professional as well. I do not think that this issue of work versus private sphere was too important for this group, but it was mentioned as an issue that could be important or even crucial to other groups of participants.

A last issue I would like to mention is that starting a learning process online offers the opportunity of a diversity that can be overwhelming and that is accelerated by the group process. As said above, during our ten days of online work with the group we shared 12 tools. Some of them were similar to each other and others not, some of them we asked participants to use, others we just asked them to look at. Some assignments could be ticked off in 5 minutes or less, other could take up more time.

Variety of tools shared, collected on Pinterest

Variety of tools shared, collected on Pinterest

Our idea was to share a variety of things that could appeal to different people, and to make sure that nobody would get bored by not seeing something interesting for a few days. This is also what we had experienced in an online course in which we were the participants ourselves: that people tend to “cherry pick”, depending on time available and the connection they see between what is offered and their personal and professional development goals. However, this is not how it worked for all members of our group. They got overloaded by the tools, the assignments, the products and reactions of others and seemingly unrelated discussions. My conclusion is that an online start requires a great level of discipline and balancing from the participants: they should dedicate time to it on a regular basis in order not to get lost, they should be very clear on what it is they want to learn and why, and they should make sure the online group process does not get in the way of their own plans and needs. On the other hand, as facilitator you will have to nurture these skills in the group members. I do not believe that labelling one assignment as obligatory and another not will help, nor that setting a requirement in terms of time investment will solve this. But I do believe that a facilitator should help participants set their own goals and that a facilitator should help create understanding for the different goals within the group.

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Pinterest

Finally, I can say I started using Pinterest. Obviously, I had been reading about it, and had looked at other people’s pin boards and made good use of them. I also set up an account months ago and dabbled a bit. But I have to admit I was still more hooked to Delicious as a tool to create online libraries and was uncertain whether Pinterest would provide me with real added value. Especially now that Delicious has become much more visual as well.  Now I can say I got it.

Organise saved links in pin boards (Eric Sheninger)

Organise saved links in pin boards (Eric Sheninger)

Like in Delicious, you can save links in an organised way. In Pinterest this organisation is called a pin board, in Delicious it is a stack. Like in Delicious nowadays, these links are shown in a visual way: you get a one picture preview. The difference is, that you can save all links in Delicious whereas Pinterest needs a “pinnable” element on the location you want to link to. Not all sites have such elements, but there is a way around that, see below.

Example of a pin (Eric Sheninger)

Example of a pin (Eric Sheninger)

Both tools allow you to add a short description of the link, so that other people are able to see if this link may be interesting for them before clicking on it. In Delicious you can also tag your saved links, making it easier for visitors and yourself to select even within a stack which links might be useful. As far as I can see, this is not yet possible in Pinterest.

Like Delicious, Pinterest is a social media tool. Meaning that you can make your own profile and follow what other people do. You can re-pin pins saved by others. And you can comment and discuss.

Both tools allow for very easy saving of links, by adding an element to your bookmarking menu (“Save on Delicious” or “Pin It”.)

Both tools can be used in class and for trainings; sharing background materials in one location, collaborating in a group on this collection, etc.

So what is the added value of Pinterest that I truly realised only just now?

Go to the Add button on the top and upload a pin!

Go to the Add button on the top and upload a pin!

Easy! Pinterest allows you to upload your own content, too.  Content that is not online and thus does not have a link to bookmark. You can make pins out of your pictures, infographics and screenshots.  That way, your pin board can become a collection of links and photos, instead of just a library of links. This aspect is also the key to including links without so-called pinnable elements. You can make a screenshot of part of the page, upload it as a pin, and add the link afterwards.

Add a link to a screenshot of a site with unpinnable elements

Add a link to a screenshot of a site with unpinnable elements

This combination of links and own materials makes it, for example, possible to create a pin board relating to a certain event or activity that you have organised. You could collect all press releases, media clippings, photos and videos about the event in one pin board. That way, both people who were there and people who weren’t can easily see what went on and find all related materials in one publicly accessible place.

But, like Eric Sheninger, you can also create a pin board sharing methodsWeb2.0 Tools for Educators.

Possibilities are endless. And although I am sure I will continue using Delicious, I will definitely start using Pinterest more actively than I have.

So, just get started like I finally did and see how you like it!

Example of a pin board about an event

Example of a pin board about an event

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On Safari With Social Media Tools

At the IAF the Netherlands annual conference in June this year, Simon Koolwijk, Gerdi Keeler and I conducted the workshop On Safari with Social Media Tools – how to embed lessons learned in your learning process. In two hours we tried to share experiences of using social media in learning processes and communities as well as to give the group an idea of some of the tools we referred to. To start up the conversation we introduced a social media bingo with a variety of questions, like “Find a person in this room who has made 10 or more tweets“, “Find someone who knows possible uses of QR codes” and “Do you have 3 or more apps on your smart phone; which ones?“.

During this short exercise it became clear that we had quite a diverse group on our hands. Several participants already were quite experienced but were looking for more in-depth insights into best practices, while others were not so experienced and wanted to practise.

After a short Prezi presentation we therefore decided to split up and work in 3 smaller groups, in order to meet the different needs.

To check to what extent we had succeeded, we invited participants to share their opinions by answering 3 questions on Polleverywhere.

The main insights and ideas participants gained were:

  • There is much more possible than I thought!
  • Possibility to create a community for small groups in a learning process
  • Importance of blended learning & change (mix of online and offline learning)
  • More online meetings!
  • I want to get to know Yammer
  • To plan for use of social media tools in learning processes
  • Ideas for online and offline activities before and after face-to-face events
  • I will need to practise – I am lagging behind in the field of social media
  • Better to be proficient in a few tools, and to use them well than to try to use them all at once
  • Variety of social media tools available that can help embed results of my workshops

Tools that participants were interested in using were:

In order to start using these tools most participants indicated they would need time and patience. A few participants mentioned that they would search for more information online and just try out the selected tools. Overall, participants were satisfied with the workshop and felt they gained new ideas and inspiration to use social media in their work.

And what did I learn? It became clear to me that while there are many tools out there not that many facilitators are familiar with them or are using them in their work. Some are making use of the possibilities social media offer, but are not always satisfied with the return on their time investment in this. This may be caused by the learning process involved in getting to know tools and discovering their possible uses. But it may also be caused by a feeling that dabbling with social media is taking away precious time from the real work – and the fact that social media use is not perceived as a genuine part of that work, yet.

This attitude will change only as and when professionals will see concrete examples and best practices of how social media can actually facilitate their work and how social media make them more effective on the job. Though it is relatively easy to try out different tools on your own, it is not as easy to successfully deploy them within your organisation or learning processes. Exchanging experiences, ideas and fears in combination with practical tips on how to use certain tools, tailor-made advice regarding suitable tools for your specific situation and practising in a small (online/offline) group over a period of time, may help bridge the gap between knowing about a tool and effectively applying it. With our workshop we wanted to give a peek preview into what social media can do for your work and how useful further “training” in this area can be, also for facilitators. Looking at the positive reactions, I think we succeeded in this first step. So now – on to the next!

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Online Polling

Whether you are working online or face-to-face with a group it is useful to know what is going on with the people in your group. Are they getting new insights? Are they satisfied? Are they still engaged?

If you are working face-to-face you can of course easily check by taking a look at the group. However, we all know that there are always some people that are hard to read or that hardly speak up. With an online tool you might get them to talk and express themselves.

View only the mood of those you are following

View only the mood of those you are following

A funny tool you can use during a (face-to-face) meeting or workshop is Moodpanda. Participants can rate their mood and provide a “reason” for the grade. It’s easy to change your mood status, so participants can easily keep their status up-to-date.

 

The downside is that you need an account to use Moodpanda and that you will need to follow the people in the group if you want to keep track of the group only. Otherwise you get a feed of everyone using Moodpanda at that moment of which your group is a difficult to discern part only. If you follow others you can choose to have a feed of people you follow only.

Once set up, you can react to other people’s status or simply “hug” a person in need of some TLC  (If in real need, the Moodpanda comes to the rescue, too!, see picture below). Moodpanda can provide insight into what your participants are willing to share regarding their current mood and can add a new level of interaction to your activity. It can show you relations and interactions within the group, as well as the relation between a mood rating and the activity you are doing with the group at a certain moment. Thus it can be a powerful tool to check if you are still on track or if you need to make changes in your plan.

Moodpanda to the Rescue

Moodpanda to the Rescue

Another tool you can use for getting a grasp of participants’ opinions during an event or afterwards is Polleverywhere.

Poll in Polleverywhere

Poll in Polleverywhere

You can start a poll with or without having an account. If you do not create an account your poll will be saved for 2 weeks. People can reply online (phone, computer) or via sms. A poll can consist of one or more grouped questions, and questions can be open or multiple choice. It is possible to post replies more than once from the same computer, which can be practical if not all participants have their own device with them.

Overview of responses

Overview of responses

Results can be shown in different ways, and if you take out a paid plan you can even export the results.

More visual ways of sharing the results with your group are the live text wall and a word cloud.

Live text wall showing replies

Live text wall showing replies

 

Results in a word cloud

Results in a word cloud

Polleverywhere is different from Moodpanda in that you can prepare a poll beforehand, there is no live interaction between participants (although you could show the results as a moving, live text wall) and participants answer anonymously. Results are kept, and not lost in a feed that you would need to scroll through.

Polleverywhere is a bit easier to set up than SurveyMonkey or FluidSurveys, but the type of questions and answers is more limited, too.

The possibility of showing a live text wall of results of Polleverywhere during an event can be a very nice way of sharing inputs and using these as a basis for further discussion, same as the word cloud way of presenting feedback that makes very visual which are the main key words used by the group.

I used both Moodpanda and Polleverywhere for the first time last week and found both of them useful – and easy to use. Try them and see for yourself how interaction with your group may change!

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What I Learned from Trying to Introduce Social Media in 2 Organisations

In the last 6 months I have been busy with 2 failed attempts to help 2 organisations work with social media. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Well, if you like to learn, then it was!

So why did I fail?

Basically – who knows! But I have a few ideas that I would like to share.

Again Yammer!

Again Yammer!

What I tried to do was to introduce different social media tools that would help these organisations to share information, ideas and experiences, to collect documentation in one place, and to collaborate on joint strategies and plans. In both cases there was a genuine task to be carried out, which could benefit from using these tools and which had a limited time frame with an upcoming deadline. Really a hot idea. Or so I thought. And at the start, they liked it, too.

But then – nothing further happened. In one case, the task was postponed to some future date as yet unknown, and in the other case a Yammer network was set up which was used by only few people who used it only to send out ideas and information but were not really aimed at two-way communication, collaboration or engagement. The task did not get done.

Very rough "assessment" of the two organisations

Very rough “assessment” of the two organisations

What I found interesting when I started to identify reasons why was that both organisations had quite a lot in common. They both consist of  “loose parts” that work independently based on a clear task division and very clear “stay out” signs for others, with only one of the parts being focused on the organisation as such. The part having the organisation itself as a main task is working on things like strategies, policies, fundraising and the like, whereas the other parts implement activities and do not commit a whole lot of attention to strategising and such.

Within the organisations there is limited informal communication and limited personal contact between people, especially between people from the different sections. Perhaps as a result of that, there is a limited connection between both people and the functions being carried out by the different sections, and it looks like people do not feel safe enough to share freely. They may feel judged by others, they may feel that others cannot be trusted with certain information, they may be afraid of meddling by others.

In short, internally all signs for open communication through social media or otherwise are a fiery red.

No wonder nothing happened!

Hand Heart Head

Hand Heart Head

So what did I learn from all this? A lot! And probably more than if everything would have worked out perfectly!

  • Whether you can successfully complete a joint task using social media depends a lot on to what extent you can complete the task without social media – social media can make your life easier, certainly, but if it is impossible to get people to work together offline or via e-mail, then social media may not do the trick.
  • Collaborative capability depends on the level of development of an organisation, network or community and on its internal organisation and culture. The fact that there are common tasks does not necessarily mean that such capability exists.
  • The role of a facilitator is limited – a facilitator can definitely smooth the path but cannot from the outside in “enforce” a collaborative environment, especially not within a very limited time frame.
  • That is not to say that a facilitator needs to be completely helpless in the face of such a situation. A facilitator can perhaps more easily than the organisation itself notice what is going on and can re-group; try to find another angle and another path to achieve the learning, change or strategic objectives set by the organisation or individual.
  • A facilitator needs to keep his or her cool at all times! Patience is key to getting there. And getting there is key. All the rest is just what happens on the way.
  • It helps a lot if a facilitator can stay enthusiastic and motivated, even if a new path needs to be cut out through the jungle.

Thankfully I found that I was able to remain enthusiastic and optimistic and that in the few moments that I was not, I had a variety of social media networks and tools available to me through which I could share my experiences and questions. Or through which I could play my way back to optimism!

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LinkedIn

Don’t tune out just yet! LinkedIn may look boring to you but today I found out that it can look quite sexy as well! Like many other tools, LinkedIn is also moving forward in the visualisation trend and via LinkedIn Labs you can create a map of your connections as well as a timeline of them.

LinkedIn Map

LinkedIn Map

In this map LinkedIn tried, as best as it could, to visualise different networks that I am part of and the interconnections between people in my network. As you can see from the labels given to the different colours, this is not a perfect picture (as some friends seem to have been mixed up with other networks of which they are not really part and some people seem to be connected but are in fact not), but it can certainly provide some insights into my network.

At first sight it looks like there are 2 main network clouds (blue on the right and green/red/orange on the left). But it strikes me that there is also a higher level of interconnectedness between networks – bar a few exceptions – than I might have thought. Apart from a few “loose” connections around the middle, all networks seem to be connected to other networks in turn. What I see is that within my networks people are highly connected and I see that I know a few key people that move in different networks of mine and thus act as a linking pin between them (together with myself of course).

The second thought that struck me was the very limited cloud of family and friends. This is due my LinkedIn policy when I started using it – to focus on professional contacts only and not inviting friends. The only friends that entered my network at that time were those that sent me an invite that I did not dare refuse. Over time, obviously I have changed that policy and now my network does include quite a few friends.

A third thought that pops up is that I should invest a bit more in developing my networks relating to my new  activity areas, since these are among the smallest in the cloud. This is something I already planned on doing, but seeing the visualisation of my network brings this message home once more.

A last thought is that the classification of networks is based on from where and when I know people – not on where they are now.  In that sense the cloud is a picture of the past as much as it represents present connections. It will be interesting to see how it will develop further and what it will look like a few months from now.

LinkedIn Timeline

LinkedIn Timeline

Through the timeline application, LinkedIn Labs try to visualise your network development over time. This, too, is not a 100% correct representation of when connections came about but it is a nice try and it does give an impression of how your network expands in relation to your education and job timeline.

So, apart from enabling you to fool around for a bit – are these applications useful? I would say yes. First of all, anything that makes you pay attention to your network is useful in and of itself. More importantly, these applications make clear visually how you have built up your network (and what choices you have made in this regard) and where it is strongly developed. If you reflect on the pictures, they also provide pointers as to where you might invest your networking efforts, if you want to develop your network further.

I think investing some time in LinkedIn is useful not just for people looking for a new job or a new client. I find that LinkedIn with its groups and update functions is also pretty useful for professional development and for keeping up to date with what’s going on – as well as with your friends and acquaintances. The more you link with the people that are right for you, the more you will learn about the world around you – and without much hassle! It may not look sexy, but it is definitely worth it. I find at least one interesting thing on LinkedIn on each day that I check my updates: a job description I have never heard of before, an inspirational quote, a useful link or an interesting group that someone in my network joined … And if you want to spice up your LinkedIn experience you can always play with these nice applications! Enjoy!

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Short Guide to Delicious

I wrote about Delicious before, and I do not want to repeat myself telling you how useful I find this social bookmarking tool. However, Delicious has changed a bit in how it looks and functions since I blogged about it, so in this post I will focus on how it works now.

Delicious is a tool you can use to bookmark web pages for yourself. You can tag them with key words or phrases so that you can find them back more easily later on. In order to do this, you need to set up a Delicious account.

Without account

Starting page of Delicious with search box

Starting page of Delicious with search box

But even without account you can search what others have bookmarked with a certain tag. For instance, if you would want to find all bookmarked links related to the IAF Netherlands conference in 2012, you could search for the tag IAFNL12.

 

If you would do that, you would find the following overview in which you can see the tag you searched for, along with other tags used to bookmark these links (all underneath the links), you could see how many times these links were saved (on the left) and you could see other tags used on links tagged with IAFNL12 (column on the right).  Via the arrow or a click on the link you can view the page. The plus above the arrow on the right hand side can be used to save the link for yourself – but that requires an account of course.

Delicious search results

Delicious search results

Another way of searching you can do without account is to search for a person. For instance, if you know that my Delicious name is suzannebakker, you can go to www.delicious.com/suzannebakker and see what links I saved.

With account

Once you have made an account, you can start bookmarking web pages. In Firefox it looks like this in 2 steps:

Saving a link in Delicious

Saving a link in Delicious

 

Saving a link: details you can add and edit

Saving a link: details you can add and edit

And, once you have saved a link, in your own overview it will look like this:

Saved links in Delicious: with description

Saved links in Delicious: with description

To organise your links you can create so-called stacks. (Please note that stacks have been replaced by tag bundles, which work much the same way). You can add a link to a stack when you save it, or you can add it later on – just as you may edit everything else later on.  You can add a description to a stack to let yourself and others know what the links in the stack are about, and you can easily share the link to your stack with others, for instance participants in your training who can then easily keep updated with materials related to the training as collected by you. They can decide to follow the stack so that they will know when you add a new link to it. Data on followers and views are provided. Here is what a stack could look like:

Example of a stack in Delicious

Example of a stack in Delicious

If you do not invite others to contribute to your stacks, links saved by others with similar tags will not show up in your own overview or in your stack. So for example, I have a stack with links related to IAFNL12, all tagged with IAFNL12. Others can view this stack, and others can save their own links using the same tag, IAFNL12. But if I have not invited them to contribute to my stack I will not see these bookmarked links unless I search for this tag or save the same links myself. However, if someone searches for “IAFNL12″ they will find all the links saved with this tag – both those that are in my stack and those that are not. So the fact that I have made a stack does not hinder anyone else who wants to save links or who wants to find saved links, but it does help me to have all those links organised in one place, and others can take advantage of that if they wish.

This is one of the things I like about Delicious – I can organise myself and inadvertently help others with that, while I can also get inspired by others who have bookmarked links on topics that I am interested in!

I hope this short explanation helps you get started and will enable you to get the most out of your own bookmarks and the power of the social web. Feel free to let me know if you have questions!

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Tools for Learning

Jane Hart, C4LPT

Jane Hart, C4LPT

One of the websites that inspired me in 2011 is Top-100 Tools for Learning as developed by Jane Hart, founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies C4LPT. In the last 5 years this list was compiled annually, based on learning professionals’ experiences and input.

The list triggers my curiosity by providing just a short description in the list (Nr 1 – Twitter:  micro-sharing site), and by providing comments from those that recommended the tool if you click on it. From there you can directly link to the tool’s web address. This year, there is a neat summary available via Slideshare (embedded below), in addition to the list in text form.

What makes the list interesting and useful is not just the fact that it is a great resource, but that it makes you consider the tools on it in a different light. For instance, Twitter has been number 1 since 2009. Before I was directed towards the Top-100 in a workshop on Social Media for Learning and Change, I would not have viewed Twitter as a potential learning tool. Like many others, I thought Twitter was just to share how many coffees you’d been drinking that day, where you were and what you might be doing next. Since then, I have discovered I was wrong there and found that indeed there is a lot to be learned through Twitter.

That’s what makes the list a small adventure for me – there is always a small or big discovery to be had. If you are interested in learning and in online tools to facilitate learning, it is a must-check website!

In 2011 I have explored several learning and training tools that were new to me; some of them I found through the Top-100 and some through other channels. I have dedicated a few posts to my experiences with tools that I found to be (potentially) useful for NGOs I work with, like Delicious, Wordle, Yammer and a few TED Talks that I found inspirational. I plan to continue exploring new tools in 2012 and will share exciting finds through my blog of course.

But as I am sure I will not manage all 100 tools (let alone the 50 tools that did not make the list) I would invite you to experience the richness of the list for yourselves as well. I am looking forward to hearing about your adventures!

Resources

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2011

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Yammer

If you need to collaborate in a closed group with members that are not sharing an office, you might like to try out Yammer. I started experimenting with Yammer recently in the frame of a curriculum on Social Media for Learning & Change in Organisations. In the short time I have been using it I have found it a very useful and easy-to-use tool.

In Yammer you can set up a network within which you can discuss, share information and develop documents.

Selected topic and posts - option to Follow

Selected topic and posts – option to Follow

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