Personal Learning Network Plan

Below is my Personal Learning Network Plan for INTE 5665


INTE 5665 Project Three: Personal/Professional Learning Network Plan

Toddi Norum, Spring 2018

Section 1 – Thought Leadership Goals

Description of your current or planned professional area of expertise and influence, and your goals for establishing your web presence for thought leadership in that area.

My own perceived area of expertise is learning technology and its application. I have deep job experience implementing and evaluating technology solutions for learning and development in medium-sized companies and organizations.

I started down this path as the newly hired lead trainer for iRobot and the SUGV XM1216 robotics program in 2009, when distributed learning was in its infancy with respect to established standards (SCORM) for delivery and completion data recorded to learning record stores. Electronic learning was known as Advanced Distributed Learning among the DoD, and ADL was also a short name for a DoD organization tasked with rolling advanced learning technologies to its community and the commercial sectors.

While in this role, I developed live Instructor Led Training, but my primary delivery to the Army via its learning management system (AKO, Army Knowledge Online) was an Interactive Multimedia Instruction unit that was developed for sequential gated and branched delivery to students around the world, online.

My natural propensity to be geeky with respect to understanding IT delivery formats made me a natural for this role. I recall my work friend and mentor once referring to me as a someone who was “like a dog with a bone” when it came to learning development technology.

I was mentored at iRobot by a team of Boeing instructional designers, most were PhDs in education. Whatever pieces I didn’t know about or didn’t understand in the ISD process, they were happy to explain. It was during this time that the ADL also began to socialize and roll out the concepts of “Tin Can API” now known as xAPI, a small piece of software that can be integrated into learning technology workflows to capture learning data that falls outside of a delivery using a traditional learning management system. For example, in modern uses of xAPI, a corporation can capture learning that is done by a user outside of its enterprise walls, like watching a youtube video. This data collection, without context, could be irrelevant. But when viewed through the lens of business initiatives and goals, can be very valuable.

In my travels with DoD work, and as a consultant, have put me face to face with interesting learning development and delivery technologies, xAPI being only one of those. I’ve yet to take really deep dive into being able to practically apply the use of xAPI in one of my learning deliverables, but I’m working to better understand its use.

With practice and promotion, I’d like to become better known for my own experiential practices and thought leadership in learning technology, whether it be in the use of AR training (which I delivered to the Army for the SUGV) or in the use of xAPI to gather relevant data.

Ultimately, I’d like to develop a strategic mentality with a vision for how I can bring value to business operations with data in hand that may be gathered with xAPI. I recently heard it said, that businesses will never move because of what they know. They’ll move because of what they do with what they know.  Finding that relevant data is now possible because of new learning technologies.

Additionally, I’d like to start speaking on these topics among my peers and would welcome presentation and collaboration opportunities.

Outside of what I consider to be my wheelhouse, I would like to engage with others who can help me become better practiced and more knowledgeable on the agile design process that meets the learner with what they need to know. This is an area where I feel like I need to improve.

The uses for these technology innovations are not limited to adult learners. As a goal, I’d like to find ways to also use them to engage young STEM learners to further help them better understand technology, engineering and science concepts. We are only beginning to understand the power of the learning tools at our disposal, and the power of those that we have not yet developed. I remember in another UCD course (2 years ago) proposing that someday we would be able to “absorb” knowledge by simply contacting our brains with a device and “downloading.” In those two years, that vision seems to have become more probable than it did then.

Section 2 – Description of your Personal / Professional Learning Network (PLN)

Describe your personal / professional learning network(PLN) — your tribe/s — and how you will use your PLN to help you address your thought leadership goals. Related, describe the current social networking and media tools and spaces you use (and plan to use) to support your thought leadership goals, and how you are using those resources.

One thing led to another.

My personal and professional learning network started with my efforts to ramp up my LinkedIn connections starting in 2013 after I moved from full-time work with iRobot to contracting with innovative companies in Massachusetts, companies at the cutting edge like edX, RSA, edX and the Babson Executive Education Center. I met amazing thought leaders and innovators in those roles and made connections I’d only dreamed I would make.

I’ve also never been afraid to be who I am and to propose innovation in any role that I’ve been in, and that has afforded me opportunities to become a thought leader in the organizations that I worked with. I recall recommending to EMC/DELL/RSA that they consider moving their corporate VAR channel learning to the edX open source platform with a proprietary instance. That happened about a year later.

While working for BlueBottleBiz (a technical online book publisher) as a marketing and client relationship manager, I started an author podcast series, created articles for eLearning Industry, and moderated tweet chats that gained a lot of traction for me in my social media reach, due in part to a carefully executed content promotion plan that surrounded each activity. My work there (and outreach at live professional events) led to my ending up connected to other thought leaders in adult learning such as Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte and his team of personal analysts, which included Janet Clary.

Continuing with the idea that one thing led to another: during my tenure at BlueBottleBiz, I was “found” by my most relevant and current tribe in my Personal Learning Network, the TLDC, which stands for Training, Learning, and Development (Cast, Conference, Community, Chat). I presented a session on learner engagement with founder Brent Schlenker in the daily broadcasts’ early days (last year) and the rest is history. I joined the group as a member, attended their 2nd live conference this year, have presented panel discussions and moderated, and routinely help out by bringing in other thought leaders to speak on the cast.

The growth of my own Personal Learning Network since then has been exponential and truly authentic. We are a real live community of interacting learning professionals. Up to meeting the TLDC network, my activities consisted of “following” and participating in text-based groups online and attending unidirectional presentations that lacked the chat interaction that our TLDCasts have every day.

I’ve continued to more “formally” develop my Professional Learning Network by setting up my base camp on and getting more active in my TLDC Slack channel, which is our “Chat.” I also continue to heavily use my Twitter (@tnorum) as my professional network seems to “live” on there and regularly interact. I check my LinkedIn every day and regularly also interact with peers on that channel. LinkedIn is the primary place that I’ve encountered most of my new professional connections, and it has helped that I am able to reach out to other thought leaders to invite them to join us or present in a TLDCast. I write on LinkedIn at times but have not seen the results from that that I have posted interesting tagged photos there.

I have a Medium account where I sometimes blog. That site feels a little political and has become a place where I don’t feel as comfortable as I once did.

I’m also involved (loosely) in Google+ Communities, LinkedIn Groups and a Pinterest group dedicated to Learning Technologies.

I market my “expertise” to many of these communities but find that my Twitter account is where I get the most traction with content promotion despite some limitations on the platform.

I’ve published to Youtube but haven’t curated it in a way that has contributed much to my Personal Learning Network. Being a person who loves film production and who is knowledgeable about it, I know that I need to take steps to change that and use my passion to increase my PLN reach. I also recognize that using Youtube may be a perfect way to find my way into speaking more on this interesting topic. But producing a product that is filmed feels much more daunting to me than writing about it. It requires a more focused layout of the topic for coverage.

I’d like to be able to complete more “passion” projects (artifacts) in Learning Technology that I could share with peers in these channels. I watch those who actively engage large audiences by sharing their creations, whether those creations are projects, samples, or published work. I feel that I personally need more relevant “artifacts” to share to continue to engage new audiences. I hope that happens with my work with the WWII Aviation History Museum and STEM projects there.

Section 3 – Role of Base Camp Site and Networked Learning Space (NLS)

Describe the role your base camp site — including your blog — and networked learning space has and will have in realizing your thought leadership goals.

The Base Camp

The establishment of the Base Camp site has pushed me to do what I also told my marketing team at BlueBottleBiz to do, link back to all social media and published work to our branded site as part of a content strategy.

Before establishing the Base Camp, I had an anxiety with respect to creating a site online, an anxiety that stemmed from a fear that I couldn’t maintain the site and its contents to the standard I had used in my content promotion planning for BlueBottleBiz and our blog, where I was the primary blog editor and contributor on a rigid production and content promotion schedule. I still have that fear and know that to combat it, I need to do what I used to do for work, develop a content plan and content promotion plan to promote my own brand. I also need to get back into the habit of thinking like a producer and organizing content production like I used to for my work.

Section 4 – Strategic Plan for Establishing Web Presence

Describe your plan for establishing web presence in support of your PLN and thought leadership goals, specifically explaining how you will achieve the six SEO strategies described in Lowenthal and Dunlap’s ten strategies for SEO

To establish and amplify an online presence that supports my Professional Learning Network and particular goals to become a thought leader, I have determined that I need to pay more attention to steps that would help me achieve better SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as described in Lowenthal and Dunlap’s ten strategies for SEO

I have accomplished the first step, which is to establish the basecamp site. That site is a work in progress though and my gut is that I need to do more to help the searchability of the site, with tagging and headlines that are created to land searchers for known search terms.

For me, the second step is to create a content publishing schedule for my blog and stick to it, publishing original content or reposting (curating the content of others) on a regular more predictable schedule. I need to remind myself that my own site is a valuable tool for publishing long-form content, with social media posts (shortened) pointing back to it.

As part of the content publishing schedule, I also need to diversify the types of content (artifacts) that I am posting and get comfortable posting other forms of multimedia content such as videos, interviews, podcasts and digital samples and shares.

I’ve had a strong presence in social media for some time, with a robust profile on LinkedIn and Twitter. My profiles on Pinterest and Instagram feel more personal, as does Facebook. I started tracking some of my SEO and social media impact of my posts and shares on LinkedIn and Twitter, but need to develop a more targeted plan to track my statistics so that I can learn which posts and shares have the most impact.

I haven’t published academic research, so that’s a “yet to be done” task for me on the list of recommendations in the article.

I was named a “top value Tweeter in Learning and Development” two months ago by Ajay Pangarkar in an eLearning Industry article but that feels like just a beginning for me. I have seen evidence of the value of putting a comprehensive content promotion plan around new content releases, and feel that the best way to ramp up my SEO and numbers in social media is to be targeted. Beyond numbers and tracking,I feel that it is important to publish content of quality and value to the reader and community, academic and commercial.

I have published in other journals (eLearning Industry) but I’m not sure if those are considered open access journals. This feels like an area that I need to address in my content planning. I have tracked the traffic for my eLearning Industry pieces. I do have a SlideShare account and should be sharing content that I have presented. That’s another task that I need to accomplish as part of my intentional planning for the promotion of my content. Setting up a Google notification for my own name and keywords associated with my perceived thought leadership is a task that I am working on. I submitted a Google notification for my basecamp,

One area where I feel that I have improved in is sharing and reposting (curating) other’s valuable content. I think that sharing another’s content sends a clear message to them that their content has value, and encourages them to do the same for me.

Section 5 – Description of Privacy Concerns and Strategies

Describe the privacy issues of personal concern and your strategies for protecting what you wish to protect while still participating in and contributing to the online professional community of practice.

I’ve never had any big concerns about online privacy when it comes to social media sharing. I did recently encounter a request to post questionable content to my WWII Aviation History site on Google Communities, and it prompted me to change the name on my Google profile overall to TJ Norum instead of Toddi Norum. I hoped that making my name a little common might provide me a little more anonymity from “creepers” on the site.

On my other social media networks. my presence has evolved as I’ve become more fully engaged with others in the space. Most of those contacts have been developed through what I consider my primary source of connections in my Networked Learning Space, TLDC. My involvement with this group a year ago has boosted my online presence far beyond any other activity. We are a true community of trust and engagement, so I’ve had no worries about privacy in any of those interactions. On the contrary, the organization and community has allowed me to further develop confidence and define my value in my brand.

Section 6 – Next Steps with Social Networking / Media

Describe what you plan to do in the future to further use social media and networking in support of your PLN and to help you establish yourself as a thought leader. Also, share what social media and networking you are going to try out in future, and why.

I plan to more intentionally create, promote, tag and track content on my social media channels, with emphasis placed on the more consistent creation of multimedia content.

I’d like to try engaging more on Youtube with a video blog that supports my content planning and content marketing for my personal brand. I created a podcast series for my former employer (BlueBottleBiz), content which showed our strongest numbers ever there. I’d like to capture that momentum in my own podcast series with thought leaders. That’s most likely my next phase of implementing strong social media tracking.


Lowenthal, P. R., & Dunlap, J. C. (2012, June 5). Intentional Web Presence: 10 SEO Strategies Every Academic Needs to Know. Retrieved April 23, 2018, from