Ripples: Influence, Impact and Connected Leadership

I have been reflecting about influence, impact  and connected leadership today.  How do others influence me? How do I influence others?  How far does one’s influence/impact reach?   When I think about influence, I think of ripples.  The first ring of impact is quite visible and deep but is the smallest in diameter. The rings continue to grow, but may not have as much depth and impact as that first ripple effect. Of course the ripple effect is going to differ based on the kind of impact.  The impact of a stone will have a larger ripple effect than a single rain drop. We are constantly being influenced by other sources.  What started as one ripple, may be morphed by the influence of another, and another.  Even external disruptions like bugs and boats – (technology) – will have also cause a ripple effect on the original impact of the ripple.

Riplle Picture

Flickr CC – aislinnv –

Today I presented at the Symposium of Women Educational Leaders conference a session called Learning and Leading with Social Media.  This presentation is a compilation of many influencers from my PLN that has had an impact on me for many years.   Even last night, as I was finishing my presentation, I sent out a single tweet.

Tweet from Apr 25.

Tweets and ripples

That tweet was picked up and retweeted by Kory Graham (@korytellers) who in turn sparked some tweets by  @ShellTerrell  @pammoran  @RosaIsiah  @teachwithsoul  ‎@AllysonApsey @Jennifer_Hogan @JennBinis and then tweets from Australia @mlobrien1 and New Zealand @vanschaijik started coming in – offering to help and support.  This wasn’t just a sprinkle of support -but a pouring of support from women leaders from all across the globe. (View the storify  conversation)  

As I presented my thoughts of connected leadership to  admin and aspiring administrators in MN today, I began to wonder – what kind of ripple am I creating?  Am I making an impact?  Or a ripple of influence? My PLN, I have created and interact with, continues to mold who I am professionally, what I believe, and where I will take action. My hopes is to  pay it forward with drops, rocks, ripples to support other educator who are willing to make their own ripples with their peers, pln, and most importantly – students!

Goal 2: Improving my professional learning through my PLN

I have been thinking alot about my learning and my personal learning network. I recently shared my past/current PLN experience. But now its time to think about where I want to be, and how my PLN can help me.    Over the next few months I want to take time to improve my professional passions and desires and will find ways to integrate these goals with my PLN.  Effective PLNs don’t just happen.  It’s important to continue to cultivate and customize towards one’s needs.

Learning Growing Changing

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Before reading my improvement  plan – it is important to mention they all are interconnected with MY Why.    Please note – if you are new to being connected, this may seem overwhelming.  Don’t be.  Instead, think of my thought process to accomplish this task.  I started with my passions and came up with some ideas on how I could further strengthen them. Then I moved to my desires.  Right now – these might not be my passions (yet) but are items I want to either improve upon, learn about, or be a part of!

I hope to accomplish the items below by June 1, 2016.

Strengthen my passions

  • School innovation to improve/personalize student learning.  I love to dream. I love ideas. I love to connect ideas and act upon them. (especially when it revolves around MY Why!)
    • Goal: I want to strengthen and improve my understanding of school innovation and how I can better facilitate opportunities for innovation and help my district create a culture of learning and innovation.
    • PLN Action steps:
      • Find, follow, interact with leaders in design thinking (dt).  Participate in a #DTk12chat.  Participate in a webinar/hangout around the topic.
      • Find and be an active participant in a Mooc (Maybe this one or this one) to learn more
      • Read and be part of an online book study – Innovator’s Mindset.  I have subscribed in one out of Canada (ossemooc) that started in Feb!
      • Share successful innovation stories within my district.  Identify local innovation stories and Tweet at least weekly to #byronbears AND blog OR periscope 2 times per month bigger stories about those innovations.
      • Create Twitter lists of the above!
    • What will success look like?: 
      • WSU Fall course outline will be created, I will facilitate a design thinking experience in the district. Potentially Summer 2016.
  • Become a better educator.  I am constantly thinking about PD and how I can deliver/model it more effectively and make it more relevant for the participants. I have 2 big areas I am working on – a new personalized/gamified pd program within our district. I am also an adjunct in a program where I am really trying to be innovative in the delivery of instruction and  assessment of learning.
    • Goal – Expand/Improve my PLN in the area of personalized learning
      • PLN Action Steps:
      • Curate a list of blogs/resources around this topic.  (diigo or evernote)
      • Find/follow/interact with educators who are doing amazing things with their students AND educators who are doing amazing things with their staff.  Expand my PLN in the area of Twitter/Facebook/Voxer.
      • Share my journey (wins and challenges) through blogging/tweeting!
      • What f2f opportunities do I have to learn and observe in action?
    • What will success look like?: 
      • Reflect on current PD program, find ways to improve it.  Evaluate Connected Educator/Connected Classroom course and reflect on opportunities for improvement. Analyze feedback from staff/students.
  •  Leadership.
    • Goal: Strengthen and improve my leadership – specifically around change leadership and developing other leaders.
    • PLN Action Steps
      • Find, follow, and interact with leadership experts AND folks who are also looking to improve their leadership.
      • Create Twitter list of the above!
      • Participate in a formal leadership chats (outside of #mnlead)
      • Maybe form a voxer group of technology director leaders in my state.
      • Influence leaders within our district and outside our district to become connected.
      • Blog at least 2 times about my progress of improving my leadership
    • What will success look like?
      • This is a little tough – I would guess my blog posts would help measure this.  Maybe do a presentation about leadership with another group?

Achieve my desires

Goal without a plan is a wish - quote/pic

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  • Become a better writer/blogger.  I am sure my high school teacher would smile to see this as a desirable goal – but I have learned a lot through my own reflections.  I would say I think about writing/blogging at least 3-4 a week, but wind up writing an average of monthly if lucky.  My blogs are terribly long and I find it takes me days to create them.
  • Goal: Reflect and improve writing through more frequent blogs. Work on efficiency of writing.
    • PLN Action Steps:
    • Read Write more in 2016 by A.J. Juliani
    • Find other blogs/bloggers who share insight on improving blogging practices. Curate and share those with my PLN.
    • Blog weekly and schedule time for it.
    • Quit worrying about telling the whole story.  Increase opportunities to blog about ideas in the works, challenges I face – not just things I have done.
    • When appropriate- consider blogging and directing to people to my blog for answers vs district emails.
  • What will success look like?: 
    • 4 blogs per month!
  • Influence/improve teacher preparation programs.  It wasn’t too long ago I went on a college visit with my son.  We did a tour of the college’s education building and I was troubled by what I saw.  Lecture halls with students in rows.  Sage on the stage. I want to learn how regional universities are preparing our teachers for today’s classrooms.  Can I help them improve their programs?
    • Goal: Expand my PLN in the area of higher ed preparation.
      • PLN Action Steps:
      • Find/follow/interact with cutting edge teacher prep programs (and leaders/professors)
      • Expand my PLN in the area of Higher Ed.  Lurk, learn, and participate in conversations with leaders pushing the envelope in higher education.  Right now I have a voxer group with a few members. Be more active in this group and find more people to add to this group.
      • Find online opportunities to interact with to be teachers in undergraduate programs.
    • What will success look like?
      • My dream – facilitate f2f conversation with institute about  ideas. Present to either A. teachers candidates ro B. Profs in teacher prep program.
  • Understand social media analytics for myself and district . It’s one thing to have followers and follow people. Its another to have people engage and influence “your brand”.
    • Goal: Expand understanding of social media analytics.
      • PLN Action Steps:
      • Learn about Twitter and Facebook Analytics and best practices to improve engagement and relevance to education.
      • Share learning in a future blog post and with district administrators.
      • Can analytics tell me how can I become better at giving back to my PLN?
    • What will success look like?
      • Measure Improvement within my own personal analytics (engagement – not just followers) and FB analytics of our district FB page.
Golden rule of PLN

Image Credit – By Carol Skyring



This past week my grad students (in course Connected Educator, Connected Classroom) began blogging and self assessing their current connectedness.  I decided it was a good time for me to do my own reflection and current practice with my personal learning network.

A brief PLN history.  It’s ironic, I stumbled on an old blog post of mine called My Reflection on Blogs from 2009 that  was an assignment during MY Grad program from the University of Wisconsin Stout – eLearning graduate certificate program.  In the post, I talk about my thoughts of blogs – and how boring mine was, how I appreciated blogs with opinions and a strong author’s voice.  Still true today.   But what I absolutely loved – was a concept map I created of where my PLN was at that moment.

Jen Hegna - PLN - Year 2009Jen Hegna – PLN – Jan. 2009


Social networks and wiki’s were a big deal for me back then.  I was lurker, learner, contributor of these types of networks had created and facilitated these types of networks for my school and groups I was associated with.  I also subscribed to discussion boards that would be delivered to my email.  The H-NetEdtech board was my favorite and would have new content delivered nearly every day.  I had a few blogs I subscribed to and learned from on a regular basis as well as podcasts. I had an iPod, but it was not wireless  – to download new content the iPod needed to be tethered to a computer. I had a SMART phone – but I believe it was sort of Palm Pilot that was cool (at the time) because I could have my calendar on it (again, after a tethered sync) and email!  Whoo HOO! While I felt I had an established PLN.  My future desires was to work with Twitter and Second Life to support my learning.

Second Life never really panned out for me. It was something I was investigating during my masters degree.  It was cool, you could meet and chat face to face with people and you could go visiting and building other destinations.  (Reminds me a lot of minecraft today)

Twitter on the other would become a significant part of my learning. I decided to search for my very first tweet.  Not the most clever tweet now was it?  But that tweet would become the first of 15, 400 tweets (as of Jan 26 – around midnight!)  Sometime late fall of 2009 or early 2010 – I received my first TRUE Smart phone.  I believe it was a Motorola Droid (of some sort).  This changed things and mobile learning became an essential part of my growth!

My First Tweet

My First Tweet

Snapshot of Twitter

Snapshot of Twitter – 1/26/15

My PLN today.

Twitter. Twitter is my primary learning tool of choice.  What was once a wish, is now my reality.  I have gone through all the phases of twitter use and today, twitter is just what I do.  Participating and moderating in Twitter chats has really created new learning connections for me.  My top – most favorite chat is #mnlead on Sunday nights at 7pm CST.  I also enjoy #plearnchat on Mondays and lurk and learn from a ton of other hashtags that fill my tweetdeck columns. Some of my favorites today – #makered, #pblchat, #sblchat, #leadwithgiants, #sunchat, #divergED, #tosachat, #satchat, #designthinking.  (there are many more!)  Frequency of use – I use twitter every day, multiple times a day but mostly at night and on weekends. I use it to learn and have conversations with other people on learning journeys. I use it to share ideas and share great things  I see in my district.  Its a regular part of my routine.

Social Networks. Nings and wiki’s have been replaced by Facebook and Google+ Communities.  I do have a Facebook account BUT I use it primarily for personal use.  Recently, I have been joining groups on FB.  Some of my favorites – TTOG (teachers throw out grades)  Hack Learning, and my newest group BreakoutEdu.  I also “LIKE” pages like Edutopia, Teachthought, and Mindshift because I enjoy a little “sprinkling” of PD on my personal wall about educational innovations.  Google+ communities is used less frequently but  there is great potential in connecting. I also like how it integrates with Google Apps and Gmail.  I have created a few Google communities but haven’t been the best facilitator. It really shouldn’t be about me – it should be about the group – but sometimes we need people to keep the convo going.  I probably should try to bring some life back to them.  Frequency of use – I use Facebook every day – usually early morning and at night because of the personal connections to family/friends. Google communities are used sporadically several times per week.

Video Conferencing.  I don’t remember the last time I used Skype (literally – I think it has been at least 2 years).  My new video platforms of choice – Google Hangouts (GHO) and Periscope.   I also love Google Hangouts on Air as a way to stream video live and it records to Youtube.  Here is a recent hangout I did with Kim Hurd (@khurdhorst) in taking a tour of her classroom!  We had approximately 9 people watching it live and asking questions.  I think the best part of this tool is that it archives to YouTube so I can share it out, review it later.  Something I wish Periscope would do as the streams only last for 24 hours. So- you have to remember to save your videos to your camera after recording – and then upload them to YouTube later.  I was playing around with my phone – there may be a setting within my Google Backup that will allow me to save periscope videos to my Google Account.  Fingers crossed.  Frequency of use – I use both google hangouts and periscope on a weekly basis.  I have weekly team meetings using GHO. I do watch several periscopes a week (just because I am notified via my phone).  But actually facilitating a GHO or publishing a periscope – is probably a couple times per month.

Blogs. Reading and subscribing to Blogs that make me think are  daily routine for me.  I use Feedly to track all of my content.  The majority of my content consists of educational leadership and edtech with a sprinkling of entrepreneurs and business blogs.   For the blogs I REALLY like – I will subscribe via email just because I am in my email – much more frequently than feedly.  Blogs that I read that spark my interest will usually get tweeted out to my pln.  Frequency of use – Nightly/Weekends.  As for writing blogs – this is sporadic and is a big area in which I want to improve.

Voxer. One of my newest PLN favorites is Voxer.  I will admit – I didn’t like it at first and took some time for me to get use to. Twitter is transparent and open.  You can jump in and out of conversations with other folks and its totally OK.  Voxer – is a little less open but allows people to get deeper with conversations.   I believe this can improve the relationships of the participants.  My first voxer group was MN Educators on Voxer and it took me some time to figure out the communication norms.  From what I understand – in my short 7 mos of true PLN voxer experiences – conversations may change from time to time – but everyone tends to discuss and contribute to the same topic.  Its very awkward when people randomly come into the conversation with topics outside of the scope of the convo.  I have been that random person – and its helpful to listen/read the past posts to know the topic at hand.  Check out these other Voxer Norms via Tammy Neil (@TG_Neil) Frequency of use – Daily, multiple times a day.  Mostly before and after work on my 25 minute commute.

I still am connected to a couple of email groups, I subscribe to Youtube content, have a LinkedIn account, and do follow great people and pin great things on Pinterest. From time to time – I will even pick up the old telephone or meet my PLN at a f2f conference or edcamp!  If I had to guess – all in all I spend an average of 7-12 hours each week on my professional growth.  Some weeks less – some weeks more.  Sometimes its a couple of minutes – other times it hours (like writing this blog post over the course of 3 days).  I am not saying that this is a good amount of time and effort spent on learning –  but some time towards my growth is going to be better than no time towards my growth.

While this is where I am today – I certainly have hopeful goals of where I want to be.  But that – is for a future post!

PLN Image

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