About Me

Image: Jo Kay

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Jo Kay - Email me!
Based in: Wollongong, NSW, Australia
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Monday, July 31, 2006

Cleaning up my PLE for CLC

Today, I spent several hours fiddling with the template for stuff:ED - tweaking things about, and changing some of the content in the side-bar. It's been awhile since I've done this, and it was about time! However, my reason for doing so wasn't just blog-keeping! ;-)

I recently became involved in the Connected Learning Community (CLC) network - a very interesting project being coordinated by Sean FitzGerald, Diana Khabbaz and Barbara Campbell. The project is funded by the 2006 E-learning Networks Project, part of the Australian Flexible Learning Framework. For further information visit the CLC Wikispace.

The CLC Network Overview describes the the project as:
"A Community of Practice (CoP) with the purpose of exploring Web 2.0 technologies in education and related learning theories, such as Connectivism and Networked Learning.

Based on peer-to-peer learning principles, the network will provide an opportunity for members to share skills and knowledge and mentor each other in new tools, practices and concepts.

The network will be built on the open web using Web 2.0 tools, modelling the process of creating networked learning communities based on personalised learning environments, thereby reflecting the underlying philosophy of learner-centred, self-organising, egalitarian networks."
Sounds exciting huh! ;-) If you're interested in becoming a member check out the 'How to Participate' section on Sean's wiki. You should also check out some of the great resources the team has put together including guides on: Choosing an Online Presence; Online Presence Reviews and RSS Feeds and News Readers.

But back to my blog-keeping...

Piecing together my PLE

Anyway, a couple of great chats with other members of the CLC has inspired me to clean-up and get to work on improving my 'personalised learning environment' ready for the coming CLC network activites.

I use this blog to record my professional and personal adventures online.... and so far it's been a great learning experience and lots of fun. The process of creating and developing stuff:ED has allowed me space to reflect, create and network.... and yes, I'll admit it - the web developer in me loooves tinkering with blog templates and widgets!! ;-)

However, despite the recreational/ creative motivations behind my blogging habit, the real gains from blogging to stuff:ED have been in the contacts I've made the the various networks I am now a member of via this space.

So what have I included on stuff:ED and why?

Online Presence: Although I use a number of online spaces including social bookmarking tools, start pages and photosharing tools, my blog is the centre of my personalised learning environment. I use the Blogger service to host stuff:ED for free and the tools provided allow me to 'mash-up' content into one online space.

Blog Template/ Artwork: I have spent a lot of time 'hacking' at my Blogger template, using a range of resources to learn how to do so - including the informaton about Template tags on the Blogger Help site and a collection of other interesting sites and resources on tweaking the Blogger matrix. This process is quite complex if you have limited experience with HTML, however it has allowed me to further personalise my space, so it is completely unique and reflects my tastes and interests.

Contact Me Tools: My blog is an important part of my digital identity. I use it to keep in touch with others, in both a professional and a personal context. Hence, contact details are important. I have included an email address, Skype Widget and the option of sending me an Odeo message - which should ensure that people can get in touch easily! ;-)

RSS Feeds: Really Simple Syndication has changed my life! The RSS feed for my blog is an important part of staying in touch with my networks, as it allows others to stay up to date with my blog posts, and helps me to ensure that my 'voice' is being heard by those who are interested in the things I am working on.

I'm using Feedburner to manage the RSS feeds on stuff:ED, and have included a number of 'chicklets' to popular RSS aggregation tools, which allows for seemless subscribing to my blog.

I also use RSS it to manage the content I am creating, using feeds to push content into my blog; as well as sharing it with others. Using tags and feeds from del.icio.us and flickr I can create link rolls, tag clouds image badges and slideshows to enhance my blog.

Photo Feeds: I'll admit it - I am addicted to flickr! Photosharing is one of my favourite ways to network with others, and I have more than 900 photos in my collection. Using a couple of different tools including the flickr Badge tools, I am feeding images into stuff:ED in a two spots dynamically. Additionally, I regularly use photos from flickr to illustrate my posts.

Using photos on my site helps to make it more visually appealing; and also allows me to connect two of my key online spaces together (flickr and Blogger). I also believe that photos help to bridge the distance between me and my network of peers and colleagues, as it helps us to visualise each other and our respective homes, workplaces and environments.

Links to Current Projects: I am involved in a range of projects which overlap - both practically and in subject matter. Using some artwork and hyperlinks, I have included information about this work on stuff:ED. My main reason for doing this, is to connect my various bits and pieces of online work together and to allow for any networking opportunities to come into focus.

Links to my Focus Areas:
Those who know me well are aware of my current Second Life obsession, so it's no surprise that info about my exploits in virtual worlds is featuring heavily on my blog. I have included some info about my work in Second Life at the moment, as well as some SLurls 0r links to my personal virtual spaces. I'm hoping that this will assist me in making contact with other members of the amazing Second Life community.

del.icio.us Links:
I use del.icio.us to keep track of all the information, sites, resources and content I'm discovering online. However, I also use del.icio.us to feed links into my blog. Again, this is handy for keeping my site 'sticky' and up-to-date and also allows for any of my readers to tap into my current areas of interest and research. The del.icio.us feed is probably the most dynamic and constantly updated part of stuff:ED.

Sites I Read: One of the key characteristics of blogging is the connections, comments, conversations and engagement that happens between users, and across various blogs. I have included a looong Blog-Roll (list of links) of the sites that I am reading in order to highlight those connections. This allows me to keep track of what is happening in my online network, but also allows me to share a bit more info with readers about the networks I am working and engaging with and my areas of interest.

I am using Bloglines to power the blog-roll on stuff:ED and am finding it pretty easy to use. Note that I have used some additional CSS here to style the blog-roll so it matches my template design.

Site Meter: I use Site Meter to keep track of the traffic on my blog. This is a great way to figure out a bit more about who's reading your blog, who's referring to your blog, and which bits are the most popular. I have discovered some fascinating leads and contacts via referral statistics in my Site Meter! ;-P

What spaces and why?

So now that i've rambled on for ages about my blog and what i'm doing with it..... a question for all the other CLC Members out here!

I'm wondering... What spaces are you using and why?