If you are interested in this course for Autumn 2014

For a limited time, I will retain the blog posts of last year’s co-learners — you can get an idea of what goes on. Please read the “about this course” menus. Admission is by permission of the instructor and the size of the cohort is limited because we aim to cultivate a learning community, which requires getting to know each other.. This course demands more than what you are accustomed to in other courses. Only committed students should apply. This will (probably) be the last time I offer this course. If interested, read ALL the menu entries and email me: howard@rheingold.com.

My Personal Learning Environment (PLE)


A PLE, as you can see in the green box, are “the systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning”. The most important five systems that I included are as follows (ignore the purple for now, that is all entertainment):

Yellow: Co-learning communities

Blue: Mentors

Red: Tools I use to keep in touch with my mentors and communities

Orange: Tools I use to manage information flows online

Pink: Tools I use to collaborate with my peers

The thing that surprised me the most about this process was the fact that I have a lot more people in my PLE than I thought I did. In the course of a quarter, I interact with my network at many different nodes–my mentors, all my groups on campus, my friends and family–and they have all added both professional and personal value to my learning. Each person in my PLE adds something a little different, and it all adds up to a sum greater than all its parts–a constantly growing, changing, stimulating PLE.


Cultivating My Capital

During session 9, we discussed the definition of social capital, which is basically the “ability of individuals and groups to access different kinds of resources from their networks”. We also concluded that the two keys to building powerful networks that add value to your personal and/or professional life are trust and reciprocity. I would most like to build social capital in the radio journalism world and with all this mind, here is what I have done–and will do–to strengthen my networks and increase my social capital:

  • begun to cultivate my KQED intern network by creating a GroupMe account for all of us. We work in different departments, and I think having a group message space has made us a little more comfortable with each other. We are all glad to see each other around the office, and we occasionally have lunch and dinner together. One of the other interns and I are planning to organize a hiking trip so we can do a more IRL bonding.

  • begun to cultivate my Stanford Storytelling Project (SSP) network by taking a class with Jonah Willihnganz, who is the head of SSP. I have also been to the events that are sponsored by them, and I plan to work with them more in the next two quarters.

I plan to…

  • cultivate online, collaborative relationships with the KQED interns by connecting with them on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and start a couple of online projects that would be a benefit to all of us. Specifically, I think it would be good for us to compile a list of online resources, groups and blogs about storytelling/radio journalism as well as podcasts/programs that would be good listening. I also think that it would be useful to compile a list of radio internships. I hope to start these documents the first week of April.

  • cultivate Face-to-Face collaborative relationships with the KQED interns by organizing a story pitch/development Hack-a-thon of sorts. We can spend a day pitching each other ideas and refining them together as well as sharing any skills that would be useful for us to know like how to make GIFs. I want to plan this for a weekend in May.

  • cultivate my online relationships with my KQED supervisors by connecting with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. I want to be able to contact them once I leave so I will add them in April.

  • cultivate my relationship with the SSP producers during the next two quarters by working with them on stories.

  • cultivate my online knowledge by joining virtual communities that are dedicated to storytelling, podcasting and radio journalism. I also hope to build a Scoop.it page with current happenings in that world. I hope that this will increase my IRL and online networks and give me access to more resources. I will do this during June and July.

Especially with my KQED intern group, I am trying to give a lot of myself so we can form relationships that will last after our internship ends. Already, I have learned a lot from them and they have added value to my work. I also think that they will all grow to be successful journalists because they are kick-ass and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to stay in touch. Perhaps we will be the next generation…


The Evolution of Our Virtual Community

This quarter, we developed a virtual community from scratch. After reading the section “Virtual Communities: Networking Hearts as well as Minds” in NetSmart, I decided to trace the evolution of our community through my own posts and examine the norms that I followed.

In the beginning…I treated my posts as academic mini-essays. I made sure there was a topic sentence and some supporting evidence. I also tended to ask general questions at the end of my posts like “What do you think? Thoughts? How do you feel about that?” Overall, I was much more formal and my tone of voice was pretty stiff.

By the end…My posts were much shorter and more informal unless there was a tricky situation that I wanted to navigate. But also my questions became more specific and geared towards continuing the conversation. I consciously used the five eyes and nine legs discussed in the article by Gallagher to move things along. I also became more comfortable with revealing my true-to-self voice with humor and lightness. I could find a balance between dry/academic and fun/informal.

Looking back over all our posts, I would say that these may be the norms that our community followed:

1. When you post a link or question, provide enough context for the members to get engaged.

2. Tag the people you are specifically responding to.

3. Break your longer responses into manageable paragraphs.

4. Be generally positive and polite.

5. Like things you think add some value to the conversation/tone of debate.

6. Be open.

I think that about sums it up! Do you guys have any norms that you would add or change?

Netvibes + RSS Feeds + Me = HELP!

During Week Three of Comm 183, Howard introduced us to Netvibes, a platform that allows you to aggregate and keep track of RSS Feeds. I had heard of RSS feeds (and seen the little logo/button) before, but I wasn’t 100% sure what they were and I had absolutely no experience working with them, so I was curious to see how playing around with Netvibes was going to go for me. Well, let’s just say it wasn’t too pretty.

I struggled quite a bit when it came to using Netvibes. The interface wasn’t intuitive and, overall, I found the site to be quite confusing. I had to revert back to Howard’s step-by-step PDF multiple times while setting up to try and figure out what exactly I was supposed to do and where I was supposed to click to get certain things to show up.

I decided to put together a dashboard that brought together the various topics that we were studying in Comm 183, but even after I finished putting my dashboard together, I didn’t enjoy using Netvibes. Personally, I felt like there was less effective filtering via the tools available on Netvibes, and that introduced a lot of distracting crap into my dashboard. Considering that I was using my dashboard to collect information on a variety of related topics (as determined by the different class sessions of Comm 183, rearranging the dashboard didn’t really do much for me either. However, I could see how this could be a useful skill for someone who was using their dashboard to put together information on a variety of different topics (that having been said, I don’t think I personally would ever choose to put unrelated topics on the same dashboard – I think that would be too confusing for me and would result in information overload, even if I were to move the tabs around).

Overall, I’m a much bigger fan of Twitter as an aggregator than I am of Netvibes and RSS Feeds, but I’m aware of the fact that that preference may simply be due to the fact that I am familiar with Twitter and have been using it for a while. When I first joined Twitter during my senior year of high school, I thought it was dumb, and I ignored my account for a long time before getting back on in college and becoming the avid user that I am today. Perhaps Netvibes will grow on me, but if I were to go off my first impression, I wouldn’t count on it.

Let’s talk Paper.Li

During Week Three of this course, we were asked by Howard to test out several new tools for aggregating and viewing information. One of those tools was Paper.Li, a site that allows you to create your own personalized newspaper that addresses specific topics. Considering that there is so much taking place on our very own campus that it’s hard to keep track of everything, I decided to create a Stanford-centric paper that would bring information about a variety of different “Stanford Happenings” to one central location, my Paper.Li newspaper. Here’s a look at what it ended up looking like:

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 4.48.48 PM

I was a big fan of Paper.Li – its user interface was extremely intuitive and friendly, and the overall site had a wonderfully clean and sophisticated feel to it. The paper that it created for me was clean and simple, with the information sorted and presented in an easily understandable way. In fact, I was really impressed with how it was able to (for the most part) effectively sort the information into the categories displayed underneath the headline! With the exception of a few incorrectly sorted articles or ads that snuck their way in, the categories were spot on!

When creating the paper itself, I greatly appreciated how functional and thorough the search toolbar was. When I was playing around with Netvibes, I had to follow the tutorials and instructions very closely to ensure that I didn’t get lost, but that was never a concern with Paper.Li. I never had to open a tutorial or found myself getting confused. Everything was laid out in a really easy-to-use manner.

Deciding who my experts were going to be was pretty straightforward since I was focusing solely on Stanford-related news. The first thing I did was add the University’s official Twitter account, and then I went on to add the Stanford-related accounts that the official University account retweeted. This method led me to add Stanford Athletics, Stanford Medicine, and the Stanford D.School, among others. Once I was done adding official accounts, I felt the need to add a more impartial journalistic voice into the mix, so I searched for and added the Stanford Daily’s account as well. The Stanford Daily is an entirely student-run publication that actually operates independent of the University, and they’re who I tend to follow for sports updates and opinion pieces, since the official University accounts can be a bit too complimentary and self-congratulatory at times. I then chose to add tweets containing #Stanford to my paper, and I think that’s where I made my big mistake. A lot of people tag Stanford in their tweets for unrelated or personal reasons, and that resulted in a few really random things ending up in my paper. I’m glad I made that mistake though, because now I can learn from it and I know not to include hashtags that are too broad as part of my contributor list in the future.

Overall, I really liked using Paper.Li, and I think this is one of the tools that I’m going to continue using as we move forward. I spend a lot of time getting my news from a variety of different sources everyday, and this site seems like it could really cut down on my attentional drift as I switch from one site/source to another. I look forward to blogging about it again in the future once I’ve started using it consistently – I’ll be sure to let you know if any of my first impressions change!

Transcribing my Vlog

Hey co-learners, I spent too much time perfecting my vlog and nobody has commented on it :-(  http://youtu.be/LmySEW1XK78 So I thought I would produce a transcript. Here are my goals for cultivating and harvesting social capital from my personal learning network:

1) Sharing

This class has encouraged me to see the value of sharing. Before this class, I was very reserved and OCD about everything I posted on my Facebook and the Internet.  But now after understanding more about the value of contributing to the architecture of participation, I’m much more open to taking it in.  Also, the tools from mindfulness and metacognition have helped me become a more adept user of social media. For example, this quarter, I haven’t used the Self-Control app at all and that is really impressive for me. And the fact that I’m posting this video YouTube means that I’ve let down some of my guards about sharing and now I’m much more open to connecting with people in my network.

2) Be open to new Internet tools

Before this class, I was really hesitant about trying out new apps because I didn’t want to be sucked in to another product. But this class has taught me ways to cultivate good Internet habits. Throughout the quarter, I’ve enjoyed trying out new tools like Netvibes and Diigo and I have to say that Diigo is still a very useful tool in my life.  Additionally, when a co-learner shared a new app, I was always eager to try it out, like when Molly Bullock shared Jelly and Alex shared Secret, I downloaded the app and tested it out. I also want to start reviewing useful Internet tools on my scoop.it, which brings me to my next goal which is curation.

3) Curate

Throughout this quarter, you guys have heard me talk on and on about my senior thesis, which explores the political impact of social media in Vietnam. I hope to continue to curate on these interests for my network, such as continuing to post to my Scoop.it.

I also hope to use curation for personal interests. I want to keep using my blog and sync it with the other platforms we have used in class. One interest that I hope to curate on is traveling. I have a lot of photos and stories from my travels but I don’t like putting too many of them up on Facebook, so I plan to use my blog, where I will have more control, to post pictures, stories, and traveling recommendations about where to eat and what to do. I also hope to curate on topics like frugal traveling, such as how to choose a good hostel, or how to make new friends when you’re traveling alone. The deadline I’ve set for myself is that after this class ends, I want to start re-designing my blog.

4) Connect

I hope that by sharing and curating, it will allow me to connect with others. So returning to my thesis again, the process of investigating social media in Vietnam has led me to connect with various experts from NGO practitioners in Vietnam to State Department officials in the US, to scholars studying Vietnam. Through this process of connecting with these professionals using email, Facebook, and LinkedIn, I’ve gotten data for my thesis, as well as explore professional interests about possible paths after graduation. So through this process of sharing, curating, connecting, I will continue to explore professional interests and I hope that will lead to a job. I’m going to start my job search more seriously this summer and I plan to link my blog to my LinkedIn profile so that others can see me beyond the standard profile and they can look at my curation on professional and personal topics of interests. I don’t want to separate those two because I think that’s when I really thrive when my personal and professional interests intertwine and I would appreciate an employer who can see that.

That is my plan for sharing, being open to new internet tools, curating, and connecting. Please let me know if you guys have any comments.  Thanks so much to the co-learning community for a great quarter! And to our esteemed instructor, Howard Rheingold, for introducing us to many wonderful tools!!!

Lessons Learned from Comm 183

What a quarter it’s been!  Have learned a lot and have been pushed outside of my normal boundaries to take part in this class.  Here are a few lessons I’ve learned and hope to take with me:

1) Crap detection is a skill that you only get better at with time and the right tools.  I had thought that an intuition about whether or not something seemed true or not was good enough.  However, deception is getting trickier and trickier to unveil, with spam sites and simply false information spreading quickly like wildfire to all of my networks.  Even for digital natives, crap detection is not a given skill.

2) Mindfulness goes beyond just logging off of FaceBook sometimes – its about the ability to completely unplug from all of your devices and just take in the world around you.  Apologies if this sounds a little too campy for your taste (it’s a little campy for my taste, too), but I don’t think I can expect to just log off of facebook sometimes and call myself being “mindful” of my social media usage.  I have learned from other co-learners some methods to “ground” myself more, which includes logging off of FB, but also not always checking my texts or reply to my texts when I get them.  I have noticed that I get stressed out whenever I receive a new email or text, to the point where I absolutely have to go check something new in my queue or else I feel very uncomfortable.

3) Everyone has something to contribute – so you should do your part and add to the rich reservoir of information that others have been contributing to.  I still have some reservations about just getting out there and publishing information that could be traced back to me.  Call me paranoid, but I would hate for me to be upset one day, post something inflammatory on my social media networks, and then have that come back to me later in a more professional setting.  However, there is a big difference between that scenario and simply contributing in a way that is comfortable to me, and that reflects who I am, somewhat filtered.


It’s been a great quarter, and I hope to continue to blog in my spare time.

Scoopin’ It, Diigoin’ It

During our sixth session on Curation, I made both a Scoop.it and a Diigo profile. Both are curation/bookmarking sites, but I took to Diigo much more than Scoop.it because there was more organizational flexibility within the Diigo platform. Below are screenshots of each of my home pages.

Screen shot 2014-03-20 at 3.13.14 PM Screen shot 2014-03-20 at 3.13.25 PM

I like Diigo because of the tags–I don’t have to shuffle my articles into a folder or a board so I feel more freedom in tagging anything I want. Also, Diigo is more conducive to private use–you can make your own little library of sources. One of the downsides is that though you can make groups and share articles, it seems more difficult to find people who follow the things you’re interested in if you don’t already belong to a group with them. I do enjoy seeing what our group is bookmarking, but I definitely like using Diigo for my own personal use.

Scoop.it on the other hand made me create subject boards and then I went of into the Internet to scoop things with that title in mind. When I was Scooping versus Diigo-ing, I felt more restricted because I wanted them to fit nicely into my board. But if I went the opposite direction and made my board too broad–like my Space board–then I’m at a loss of what to start Scooping. In that sense, I think you need to have a little more of an idea of what you want to curate when you make a Scoop.it profile versus a Diigo profile.

On the other hand, I did love looking through the Scoop.it users’ content. Once I found one person that I liked, then I could find a bunch of streams that I enjoyed looking through. In that way, I’ve treated it more like my twitter and Facebook feed. I scroll through articles and headlines, following interesting links and discovering things. I can’t do that on Diigo so Scoop.it gets a point for that. Once I find something that I’m truly interested in curating, I will be more excited to use Scoop.it to tag articles, but for now, I use Diigo and Scoop.it for two very different functions.


Dat Capzles Life

For my final learning narrative, I wanted to use an application that would help me to linearly visualize all of the work I’ve done for the course. After a bunch of searching for (free/cheap) timeline creator applications online, I came across Capzles. Had never even heard of it before, but figured I’d give it a test run anyway.

I ended up loving Capzles, so much that I wanted to write a short post about it to share it with the rest of the class. I’m sure, for at least one or two colearners, it might come in handy for a future project. A couple awesome attributes:

  • Free!
  • Allows you to upload MP3s, PDFs, Docs, jpegs, and a bunch of other media
  • Lets you to add media to a specific time point OR “stack” media to create a folder of work on a specific time point
  • Lets you link a blog to your timeline (this is especially cool given the social media aspect of our class)
  • Has an exhausting amount of backgrounds and visual adds ons which allow you to personalize the look of your timeline.
  • Lets you to tag content for easier exploration of the timeline
  • Kind of silly, but you can add background music too.

This was the quick and dirty review, but I encourage you guys to take a look at the interface if you get a sec: http://www.capzles.com

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 9.25.47 AM

Above, a screenshot of my Learning Narrative Capzle, to give you an example of what a timeline can look like.