A change I’d like to see . . .

As one of my professional development goals for this summer, I decided to participate in the first annual CASTLE Summer book club. The book we are reading for this summer is Influencer: The Power to Change Anything by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. The authors suggest that you apply what you learn as you go along and Scott McLeod, the organizer of the book club challenged us to take the authors’ suggestion.

Since I’m hoping to learn from the book and the book club, I’m going to take the challenge. To do so, I need to to the following:

  1. Identify a change – personal, professional, or organizational – that you’d like to see and/or make happen.
    I would like my students to become lifelong learners. More specifically, I would like to see my students set goals and build personal learning networks to support their progress towards their individual goals. I want them to continue to use their networks to pursue these goals after they have finished taking my course. These are the outcomes that I’d like to see, but Influencer teaches that prospective change agents need to think in terms of behaviors rather than outcomes.
  2. Identify some vital behaviors that would lead to that change.
    Based on last semester’s course, I now believe that writing a learning contract is a vital behavior that helps students set their own learning goals. I suspect that creating a personal homepage, organizing resources using social bookmarking tools, and scanning RSS feeds are at least some of the vital behaviors that students need to create personal learning networks, but I’m not certain and I could really use some help in this area. If you are reading this and have any thoughts about what are the vital behaviors for managing a personal learning network, please speak up!
  3. Identify some recovery behaviors for your change initiative.
    Recovery behaviors are what you do to pick up the pieces after you’ve gone off-track and stopped performing the vital behaviors. With a personal learning network, I think recovery behaviors are what you do to manage information overload. One of the two of the important recovery behaviors are the “mark all as read” and “delete” options. I think people need to remember that they are in control of their own information flow. If it becomes too much for them, then they have the power to reduce it. They can always “catch up” at the click of a button.
  4. Identify a setting in which you can test your results.
    I can test my results with my students, but I would also like to figure out a way to test my ideas on what constitutes “vital behaviors” for personal learning networks with people who have well-established networks. Who do you think I should I talk to? Are you interested in donating a few minutes of your time to talk about vital behaviors for PLN?

About Kimberly McCollum

I'm a former middle and high school science teacher and current stay at home mom.
This entry was posted in Books, Teaching and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A change I’d like to see . . .

  1. Thanks for reading our book, and for investing your time and energy into testing it’s recommendations.

    First, let me connect you with another blogger:
    http://www.anecdote.com.au/archives/2008/06/vital_behaviour.html
    Shawn is an Aussie who is working with “communities of practice”–pretty similar to what you’re doing.

    A clarification on Vital Behaviors: Our book focuses on entrenched habits that you want to either eliminate or foster, so I think of the Vital Behaviors as being frequent and repeatable, rather than one-time actions like setting up a website. I wonder whether you can build on the Vital Behavior Shawn proposes???

    Great work!

    David

  2. Thanks for the reference; I think Shawn has some good insights into the vital behaviors for building a community.

    In my post I didn’t mean to imply that vital behaviors were a one-time action. When I suggested that vital behaviors for PLN might have something to do with creating personal home pages, using social bookmarking, and scanning RSS feeds, I was thinking about the habitual activities associated with using each of those tools. While Shawn is studying community building, I’m studying the “personal” side of PLN. I want to know what behaviors successful individuals employ as they build their network. My definition of a PLN includes tools and resources as well as other individuals in the community.

    I suspect that people who use technology to help establish a PLN are using the the tools differently than people who find the same technologies “a waste of time”. I’m trying to pin down the habitual behaviors associated with the tools that support PLNs. For example, creating my Google account was a one-time activity, but maintaining my Google Calendar, using my Google Reader, and updating my Todoist task list through a widget on my iGoogle page are habitual tasks. I’m trying to figure out whether daily behaviors like this are as vital for others as they are for me. Does that make more sense? Thank you for pushing me to clarify my thinking.

  3. Kim, before I started working with my PLN/PLE, my first online behavior each morning was to check my email. From there, I’d visit my favorite bookmarked sites to see if anything new had been added.

    Since I discovered RSS and started using Netvibes as my “personal portal” that behavior has changed. Now each morning I fire up Netvibes and quickly peruse my tabs. There are some I look at more frequently than others–some daily, some weekly, but I’ve changed my daily behavior to start with that process.

    I’ve also set my Google calendar so that each morning it emails me my schedule. This way I know what’s waiting for me and can use that to set up my day.

    Another major change for me has been that since I started blogging, I am much more likely to consider what I do each day as fodder for a blog post. This has me reading more thoughtfully and interactively and has caused me to more actively seek connections between the various pieces I read and my “real-life” daily activities.

    The point in this long-winded comment is that I do think there are habitual daily behaviors that go with using social media effectively and these do require you to change your habits. For me, the energy I’ve put into changing what and how I do things has been more than repaid by the benefits.

  4. I’m like Michele – I always check my email first, then I look at Twitter and post a couple of tweets so everyone knows I’m up and about. I have a quick look at Google Reader to see if there is anything that immediately catches my eye, otherwise, I try to get back to it by the end of the day. Depending on what else I have planned, I then try to write a blog post. If everything goes to pot, I delete all my posts in Google Reader and start that from scratch. I also make quick notes in my blog, so I don’t forget what I want to say but will come back to it when I have time.

  5. @Sarah and @Michele – Thanks for sharing a little about your routines. I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind answering another question . . . How much time would you estimate that you spend on identifiable behaviors associated with your PLN/PLE?

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