Friday, May 16, 2008

So, how did you get started... and what difference has it made?

For my dissertation, I'm exploring the impact of the use of social media on the professional practice of learning professionals. To the consternation of my rathe rconservative university, I am submitting the dissertation in the form of a wiki (although - strictly speaking - is it really a wiki if I don't open it up to the community to co-author, which of course I can't do in this instance).

Be that as it may, I'd like to know your story.

  • How did you get started with social media?
  • What was your introduction, and how did the journey unfold?
  • What difference has it made in your professional practice?
If you've already posted on this subject, please just point me at that post/those posts via a comment below. If not, I'd love to have your input. You can either create your own blogpost linking back to this one, or post your contribution as a comment on this post. Please include your proper name (pseudonyms do not make for good references in academic writing), place/sector of employ and job title/description.

Note: I will regard your submission as inclusive of assent for its use in its entirety, or in part in my dissertation. The url for this post, or for the post you create/indicate will serve as the reference.

I'd be especially appreciative if you'd point your readers in my direction, too, since I suspect I'm only reaching a small group here!


Alan Haywood said...

Good Morning Karyn,

I'm Alan Haywood and am the Supervisor of Technical Applications for Academic Purposes at Centro Cultural Brasil Estados Unidos Campinas, an EFL school in Brazil.

I'm just starting to explore the uses of Social networks in learning. So... I hope I can be of some use to you.



ehelfant said...

I posted about importance of being networked here:

I got started with bloglines and a series of education/technology related blogs.. That lead me to twitter. The blogging and twittering became my best venue for getting ideas, learning new tools for embedding technology in the classroom..information shows up in twitter faster than anywhere else..It became the place to throw out a questions and get an answer rapidly. It was also a venue for getting pointed in the direction of lots of Prof. Dev opportunities on and was both a filter for blog reading as well as a suggester of new bloggers worth reading.

Anonymous said...

@alanjh I'd be very interested in your perspective. What have you observed thus far? What are you hoping for? What has been the reaction of the staff and pupils in your school?

@ehelfant Thanks for your input!

Anonymous said...

Hi Karyn:

I'm Dennis W. Faix, and I'm coming at this from a different perspective (which is, I suppose what you want . . .)

I'm on the faculty of HACC, a community college in central Pennyslvania. I'm working on an undergrad course in Personal Knowledge Management using such things as wikis, OneNote, PersonalBrain, etc. My supposition is that it is better to habituate students on their way to becoming "learning professionals" than trying to start the habit after they've "arrived."

Which is for me personallyexactly what I AM doing. I'm trying to teach myself to save, tag, annotate, cross-reference, blog, etc. as I am in the course-creating process.

It's not an easy process. I find myself saving logs, tagging a little, and then "cataloging" retroactively, rather than it being a seamless continuum. Still, the awarenessof being able to and being responsible for adding information to my sphere of knowledge is a huge step forward.

BTW, on "wiki as dissertation" thing--if I were sitting on your review panel, I'd insist on a more traditional submission as well. The wiki itself might be a very large appendix or referenced research, but I'd want the actual defensible dissertation to stand up to even the most conservative critics from other institutions (if I were to confer a terminal degree from such a submission. . . .)

Unknown said...

Hi Karyn,

I was directed to your post by Tony Karrer's eLearning Blog (

My answers to your questions:

* How did you get started with social media?
* What was your introduction, and how did the journey unfold?
* What difference has it made in your professional practice?

are at

emapey said...

Hi Karyn, I hope you find my About me page useful for your dissertation.

Since we first met on the network, many other social networks were created, such as Nings,, LinkedIn and Twitter. I am using all these social networks to stay in touch with other educators.

Anonymous said...

My introduction was as a result of an organisational change that led to the exploration of the potential of web 2.0 approaches/tools into traditional learning & development solutions. This was back in August 2006. My journey has been one that has resulted in more personal learning than I could have imagined and the reality of having virtual friends. (who are very real to me if that's not a contradition in terms)
I guess my blog documents some of the learning and is a record of thoughts that I've had that have influenced my professional practice.

I'm sure there must be cross over in the areas we're looking at for our dissertation, maybe we can share info? My topic just incase you haven't seen my blog post is;

To what extent is on-line social networking currently used to support coachees who are in an active coaching relationship?

I’m seeking to find out

Whether social networking is being used in coaching relationships and if so in the context of that relationship;
How do coaches and coachees define social networking?
How many coaches and coaches are currently involved in social networking?
What social networks are most widely used by coaches and coachees?
How it social networking being used to support coachees?
The benefits and disadvantages of its use
Why is social networking being used?
In which part of the coaching process is it being used?
Are networks accessed before, during and/or after the coaching sessions?
How was it introduced into the coaching process?
When was it introduced into the coaching process?
How long has social networking been used to support the coachee?
Who initiated its use?
What has been achieved from its use in the coaching process?

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all of you for your input. I hope there will still be more to come.

I'd like to pick up on dwf17505's PS point, though, and ask why you would feel the need to please the conservatives. One of the greatest frustrations I have had during this programme has been the prescriptive approach as to what constitutes acceptable academic writing. If we only restrict our debate to material that is presented in a specific format, do we not run the risk of having a skewed view of what is being written on a topic?

In my papers I have often referenced blog posts which the faculty have referred to as "unconventional" but, to give them their due, they have been prepared to look past the strictures of convention and consider the references on their merit.

Bear in mind two things (a) if I were doing an MA in music composition, my final submission would be a piece of performed music, if I were sturying art, I might submit a sculpture. If these submissions can be made in the mediun being studied, why should a submission on social media not be acceptable if submitted via one such medium? (b) writing for a wiki and writing for print are two totally different things, and I would effectively have to write two separate dissertations to comply with your suggestion. George Siemens found this when working on Knowing Knowledge. Transferring material collected as a wiki into a flat medium that was suitable for the print format was a huge trial to him.

I am pleased to say that my university is ahppy to accept the wiki submission. I do, however, feel under enormous pressure to do this really well so as to overcome the natural prejudice of the marking faculty and so as not to raise additional obstacles for the next person who wants to submit their wiki as an online piece.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,
This is probably too much information but, here's some of my web learning.

My 2004 Ph.D. dissertation was an Arts-Based Narrative Inquiry using phenomenology which can be found at
p.191 > 259

My WebTools for Learners blog

From my Eduspaces blog

The social web is my learning tool. I harvest URLs in areas that interest me from my Bloglines collection and from my Twitter account. I collect them on Diigo and (I gave up Furl and I'm not yet sure about Diigo). I pass on information through my blogs and Twitter, and I watch a number of "explorers" I admire through their blogs & Twitter. I play on wikis and play at creating learning materials that I can mount online. I am fascinated by social media and believe it's the most significant development ever in human communication and in learning possibilities.

Anonymous said...

Karyn, a good question to ask. My answer (How I Got This Way) is doing double duty; it's also my contribution to the May edition of the Working/Learning blog carnival.

Anonymous said...

Karyn I have recently posted a blog on how my blog mates helped me in doing my post graduation. I used to post the answers and the difficult ones would stay in my memory when I discussed these in my blog. i think I will anwer these questions in a post and if you find these useful you can use the link.I am frustrated knowing of their silly approach, there are no two ways of describing your knowledge and understanding. I still have to see such well-written posts. Take care and rest assured we will convince the faculty that social media is reliable and relevant. Regards
and hugs.

Anonymous said...

Karyn I have made a post with the answers and the link is here or you can click my URL. Hope it is what you were looking for.Hugs

V Yonkers said...


This is the end of the semester for me so I currently am up to my ears in grading. As this semester I used social networking software as a main part of my courses, there are still some things I need to sort out (and think about) when I am done grading. So I'll send you to my links next week.

However, in order to pass on your request to my colleagues, I have two questions: Are you looking at learning professionals in all areas (primary and secondary school, professional education-e-learing-training, university)? Are you interested in those that may dabble in others blogs or areas such as facebook and ning, but don't generate their own sites? I have some colleagues that will look at blogs and wikis, but haven't gotten to the point where they have their own.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karyn,

I've had a go at your questions here

Bridget's Twig said...

Hi Karen.
I'm a librarian at LSC, a community college in Duluth Minnesota. I decided to take part
in an online "23 things" 2.0 learning opportunity for Minnesota library staff. I figured it was about time I learned about RSS, blogs, twitter, etc. The experience did much to bring me up to date with many social networking tools. I'm am now looking for ways to implement my new knowledge. The challenge within our institution remains educating faculty and staff on the existence and practicality of these tools. Feel free to email me with any questions. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Unrelated to your questions which I must ponder first, I started my dissertation proposal writing in a closed wiki as well. I liked the accessibility but bogged down with the citations. Inserting them manually was just too much of a chore and typing it in OpenOffice then pasting it into the wiki seemed to defeat the purpose. How are you handling it?

The reason I started using the wiki was more for the ability to see everything I ever wrote as my understanding of the subject grew. I think the study of such a wiki where nothing was ever deleted and everything was timestamped with all the histories in place would be an interesting dissertation in and of itself.

Anonymous said...

Once, again, thanks to all who have stopped by to contribute. This is so exciting!

Virginia (Yonkers) - "Are you looking at learning professionals in all areas (primary and secondary school, professional education-e-learing-training, university)?" I am primarily relating my own journey and I happen to work in corporate learning. However, I am looking to include some anecdotal information from other learning professionals regradless of their field. I am particularly interested in the difference made to their professional practice by the use of social media.

"Are you interested in those that may dabble in others blogs or areas such as facebook and ning, but don't generate their own sites?" I don't wish to place any restrictions - what ever their experience of social media, that would be great. If they are prepared to share why they use the media the do and why they don't use the ones they don't, so much the better!

Anonymous said...

Hi Karyn,
I run a chool in Indonesia, and I have recently posted a reflection after one years blogging at
Doug Stoltz

Rina Tripathi said...

Another posting where I have tried to explain e-learning to my blog friends. Hugs and best of luck to your kids for their exams.

Adam said...

I am a social software trainer with a DC consulting firm. My clients are government agencies looking to leverage "enterprise 2.0" to manage and share information. I honestly can't remember how I got started with what is now known as "social media." I've been participating in bulletin boards, listservs, and chat since I discovered the web in 1996. I started following blogs several years ago, then started using (but not editing) Wikipedia a few years ago. Moving on to Twitter, Facebook,, digg, etc., has increased my social network and the number of peer-suggested resources I draw upon. Reading, commenting on, and writing blogs is definitely one of the keystones of my learning process. Reading and contributing my knowledge to one of two corporate wikis (one for my client, one for my firm) is the other key to learning and sharing my knowledge. Organizing all my links using social bookmarking sites helps me keep track of the best resources and using RSS easily keeps me on top of it all.

Britt Watwood said...

Good luck with your dissertation. I blogged my response here:

Anonymous said...

Hi Karyn,

I started about two and a bit years ago when I was a lowly classroom teacher.

I started by reading some blogs and following their links. As I did so, I became more engaged… I could appreciate the points being made and came to understand the ‘lingo’… I also started wanting to chip in my thoughts. I encountered something that I thought was important, but as I didn't have my own blog at the time, I posted the link to Ewan Macintosh. He wrote a post about it and challenged me for not having a blog. I began that day.

Since then, I have used blogging and RSS reading to expand my own vision and knowledge of education and teaching practice. I have written my own blog (with varying degrees of regularity!) and commented on countless others (well, actually, since I found cocomment, they ARE countable).

I have discivered wikis and RSS and have introduced pupils in my school to the trinity of Blogs/wikis and RSS… again with varying degrees of success. One great success has been seeing one of my pupils become Sean the Bassman… and the only UK blogger on

I've been asked to deliver in-service training at school and authority level as a result of the knowledge I've gained. I've been invited to participate in a number of committees and consultations that I would never have been able to had I not become a ‘social networker’… and the knowledge I have gained from this has helped me become a more reflective practitioner… and more importantly, it has rekindled my enthusiasm for teaching.

As a result, I have gained the skills which made it possible for me to apply for, and be appointed, Principal Teacher of English in my school. I am also going to be delivering a seminar on wikis at the Scottish Learning Festival in September.

In short, I can honestly say that social networking has helped me develop and progress as a teacher and in ways that I could never have predicted — but the bottom line is that I do it because I enjoy it and it's great fun…

Good luck with the research and feel free to drop me a line if you want clarification.

Anonymous said...

Mr W Thanks for your input. But there will be none of this "lowly classroom teacher" stuff on this site! You need to take a page out of Vicki Davis's book. She calls teaching a noble calling.

Anonymous said...

Hope you don't mind, but I've 'memed' you!


Unknown said...

I often talk about this when I give talks, but I started blogging as a professional activity (I'm an Educational Technologist), but it soon became an important outlet for my personal life and other professional activities. I honestly don't think I could have finished my dissertation without blogging. Blogging and twittering have kept me in touch with colleagues doing the same work. We can share ideas, support each other, etc. In fact, I'm working on a book project with 4 other people I met through blogging. I could say a lot more. Feel free to contact me.

Anonymous said...

What great answers you've had so far, Karyn!
I like the idea of a wiki for a thesis; I'd love to know what the reaction would be here were I to suggest it. That said, I don't think that it being an individual piece of work necessarily negates from the wiki-ness of it; to me, we should be looking at what we *can* do with tools, not what we *should*. In anycase, I've seen several examples of people using wikis as PIMs and/ or to replace OneNote etc.

However, this isn't answering your question. I've had a blog (for real) since August 16th 2004.
Before that, I'd been quite active in using discussion boards & mail lists. I was wary, I have to confess, of blogs, as the main experience I'd had was supporting a friend who'd had people threaten her via a blog. Which didn't really enamour me to them; also, I'd not really thought about them as a learning tool; more of a self promotion one.
However, we had decided to start using them in conjunction with students, and the more that I realised what could be done with them, the more I like them.
I've now several blogs (though only two unique ones, I use Elgg to mirror one of them); I use Social Networking with studnets.

I've never really *got* twitter, perhaps because I'm not really into texting, nor do I like the Status things in Facebook.

I guess I'm fairly active; though perhaps tending to stick to a limited range of tools for myself; but I do try to encourage others to look at things that I perhaps am not so keen on. (E.g. I use SecondLife with students, but wouldn't naturally; I am going to try using Twitter with project students in the summer, despite my dislike; I encourage studnets to use, though my preferred bookmark tool is iKeepbookmarks. I just transfer some folders over every now and again.
And I don't like Facebook, but use it.

Inge (Ignatia) de Waard said...

hi Karyn,

my two cents : My journey into Social Media and how I became an evangelist.

Hope this helps with your dissertation :-)

Anonymous said...

Great question and great discussion, Karyn--here's my response:

Anonymous said...

Hi Karyn,

You've been (and still are!) a great commenter at my blog, so here's my response:

Anonymous said...

How I started was following a suggestion from my supervisor (am doing a PhD on change with use of txt, email, internet message board posting in counselling- as much as we think we shape it, in what ways are we shaped. Seems to be a match in going virtual to see how i'm shaped in a process of studying whats shaped.
What it does for me is make more conscious of my own shaping.
This is in addition to networking opportunities with others using same methodology (actor network theory) as well as with research areas of interest. Puts me in a community of practice regarding teaching and learning that is worldwide. This borders on my research interests as well as with my work.
And it gives me the opportunity to explore new modes for submitting my own PhD so i wish you well with this. The online platform lends itself to hyperlinking, to tools that are alive rather than ststic such as mindmapping software, audiovisual representations...
visit me
Biggest differences- I write, not chapters, but i blog, i have a chronology of change to my thinking, I have a site that provides me with feedback and prompts to new ways of thinking, new reading, new interpretations

ggrosseck said...

Hi Karyn,

my name is Gabriela Grosseck and I try to teach Web 2.0 to my students in Romania. I posted a comment on Britt's blog, but I want to add this:
for me the learning 2.0 journey was a little bit difficult because I am not an English speaker. And secondly, I didn't have the support of my colleagues as Britt, to learn from their experiences (with two exceptions). And, this is what Web 2.0 means: collaboration, participation, sharing knowledge.
Now I use lots of social media tools such blogs (Blogger and EduBloger), microblogs (Twitter and, social networking (Ning, FaceBook), social bookmarking tools (, diigo), file-sharing sites (youtube, slideshare, flickr, scribd etc.), google apps and so many other.

Anonymous said...

@gabriella I think you're a prime example of what web2.0 is all about. You bypassed the boundaries of organisation and country and joined the networked community which knows no such boundaries. I am not one who refers to the "flat world", since I have seen too many people who are not able to access the small flat place that some people seem to think is the whole world. Nevertheless - you have now joined that flat space and blaze the trail for others whose lives you touch! Fantastic!

V Yonkers said...

Now that my grades are in, I have had some time to think about your question. I have posted the answer (although I noticed I paraphrased your question...sorry about that)on my blog .

I have links to the beginning of my blog which will give even greater insight into how I got started as the first few months of my blog was about why I was blogging and how I was using it.

Anonymous said...

I got started with social media because of the influence of face to face friends. My husband introduced me to blogging when he was still my fiance and then two of my friends began sharing photos exclusively through facebook. For me, this all started in the second half of 2006.

Shortly after I was introduced to social media, I began teaching a course on instructional technology for teachers and I explored the web for new technologies that could be useful in a k12 context. This search led me to various social media tools that I began "promoting" in my courses, mainly because I found the tools so useful personally. I use Diigo and, though I prefer Diigo. I've used CiteULike and StumbleUpon some. I also use Blogger and WordPress. I use social networking tools less frequently, but I am on Facebook and several Ning networks. I have a Twitter account and I listen a lot, but feel as shy on Twitter as I do in real life.

Social media has expanded the amount of information that I come in contact with on a daily basis. I find more resources through the various social media tools that I use than I could ever hope to find alone. I am not as well connected online (defined by mutual connections) as I would like and as much as I try, I often feel that I get more from the community than I give. However, the knowledge that I have gained through social media has helped me establish a reputation with my face-to-face colleagues as a resource for knowledge about educational technology.

Anonymous said...


Another post in response to your questions

Good luck!

David Truss said...

How did I get started with social media?
What was my introduction, and how did the journey unfold?
What difference has it made in my professional practice?

First I watched a Charlie Rose interview with Thomas Friedman about 'The World is Flat'.
Then I saw Alan November in a webcast speaking to teachers about using technology in new ways.
Then I tried blogging with students.

...And now I "Can't go back"!

I've changed... I can not go quietly into my classroom...

David Truss, Educator (Teacher until this past February and now a Vice Principal - Middle School, B.C., Canada.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dave. Hope the move up the 'food chain' works out well for you. As long as you still get to have face time with the kids, I imagine it will still be okay. It's when your management responsibilities take you away from being a teacher that I would imagine it gets rough.

Anonymous said...

Huge apologies for lateness, got there in the end