Monthly Archives: May 2018

Chetter’s Storytelling Personal Learning Networks

Personal Learning Networks (PLN) can only enhance one’s growth to become better and more proficient at your talent, trade, or profession.  Storytelling is no different and in the blog below, are ten social media accounts that can be considered as this storyteller’s circle of excellence when it comes to being a (PLN).  There are several benefits for these ten being chosen as the primary sources for a (PLN).  However the main benefit is that as this storytellers journey continues to move forward, I will focus more on motivational and personal stories that inspire others.  In doing so, I have chosen the most credible and reliable sources that I feel will aid in that journey.  This is  specifically with regards to connecting to a variety of storytelling communities, where there are opportunities to showcase in areas that have previously had no exposure either regionally or nationally. But before we discuss specific (PLN’s), here are answers to three specific questions about (PLN) as well as the importance of two social media platforms.

  1. What is a PLN? Why is the careful selection of resources important to establishing your PLN?

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach says,  “Personal learning networks help you leverage deeper connections and relationships, and from those networked relationships, you grow a community of connected learners and leaders” (Nussbaum-Beach, 2012, para. 6).  As for this storyteller, a (PLN) is a collection of like-minded individuals in an online environment who share the same interest in a subject and wish to increase their knowledge by collaborating with others  who have similar or more experience, that will benefit their personal and professional growth.  These resources are important and need to be both credible and reliable as well as current.  If they fall into these criteria, then the likelihood of the (PLN) being successful is greater than not.  Also, having a diverse group of people as part of ones (PLN) is equally important.  Understanding that while it is typically composed of like minded individuals, there still needs to be a variety sources to address the multiple views that permeate among members of the network.

  1. What role do Twitter® and LinkedIn® play as social media tools? How can these channels benefit your professional development?

Social media is now as necessary as having a hammer, nails, and duct tape in your home toolbox.  Two of those that are essential for many businesses are Twitter and LinkedIn.  Each has its benefit for the type of connection that one is seeking, and professional development needed.  Larry Kim offers 6 reasons why we should use LinkedIn like Twitter.  They are as follows:  exposure, better branding, endorsements, accolades, more content sharing, website traffic, and visibility on best content (Kim, 2014). Whereas Twitter is more geared toward updates and listings such as professional events, LinkedIn is more of an online career resource center.  It focuses more on connections that will benefit professionals looking to change or advance in their career.  It is also a place to find supportive groups of individuals whose goal is to pool resources on potential employment options and future connections that will benefit job opportunities for the future.

  1. Can a PLN take the place of formal classroom training? Explain your response.

In some instances, they are an acceptable substitute for a formal class.  However, overall, they are better suited at complimenting rather than replacing formal training.  For example, in a traditional class, one may get the background and theory necessary which can be skewed or inaccurate, if you are only exposed to learning in a (PLN).  The (PLN) may also be inconsistent at the training it provides and thereby have opportunities missed that increase the learning gaps of  people even further.   Also, a Personal Learning Network may not work for all individuals or may simply be something that they only want to participate in periodically and subsequently miss out on pertinent information if it is the only option as opposed to an alternative of formal training.

Do Tell:  10  potential STORYTELLING  Personal Learning Network Sources:

  1. David Joe Miller Presents – David Joe Miller is a Storyteller, Workshop Facilitator, and Storytelling Events promoter in Asheville, NC which is a  well-known eclectic arts  community in  western North Carolina.  He is also  the founder of the Jonesborough Storytelling Guild in the storytelling capital of the world, Historic Jonesborough, TN.
  2. East Tennessee State University Storytelling – East Tennessee Storytelling University (ETSU) is known for its Masters in Storytelling Program founded by retired educator Dr. Flora Joy.  Its annual summer storytelling institutes are conducted by national and internationally known storytellers who also facilitate classes for the program.
  3. Portland Story Theater – The creative duo of Lawrence Howard and Lynne Duddy founded this platform to tell personal stories before a live audience after a six week intensive workshop.  The focus is on personal stories with many themes and workshops to get to the core of why the story is relevant and needs to be told.
  4. National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS) – African American storytelling organization that is the authentic voice of black storytelling and provides information on all aspects of African and African American stories as well as those indicative of the African diaspora.  It was founded in 1982 by storytellers Mother Mary Carter Smith and Mama Linda Goss.
  5. Risk – Founder Kevin Allison created this show as a place where very risky or taboo stories of a personal nature  could be told that otherwise would not dare be shared in public or in front of even the most intimate audiences.
  6. Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers – Founded by Satori Shakoor, this organization has monthly storytelling programs featuring personal stories, with a podcast, and a live stream from Detroit, MI.  This one of a kind organization is a first with a primary focus on African-Americans telling personal stories as well as well known actors, comedians and others in the entertainment industry.
  7. Southern Order of Storytellers – This is a regional organization of storytellers with various cluster groups in the greater Atlanta region featuring personal storytelling events such as Stories on the Square, Stories on the Edge of Night and the annual Peach State Storytelling Festival.
  8. The Moth – This personal storytelling platform  has a 20-year history with a blog, podcast, live events, and workshops, was created in 1997 by novelist George Dawes Green.  It can be considered as the granddaddy of many personal storytelling programs that exist today.
  9. TEDx Atlanta – This is a local self-organized event to promote the theme of TED by the sharing of ideas to spark engagement and initiate action in the greater metro area of Atlanta, GA and its surroundings.
  10. Toastmasters International–  This  is a well known international organization focusing on leadership skills that can be developed through competitive speaking has been around for almost a century with various chapters throughout the country.

Once Upon a Blog!

The most common definition for a blog is that it is a “web log” (Marketing Terms, 2018). It can also be referred to as an online diary or discussion of events, in addition to being a source of information for researched topics.  Over the years, its definition  has expanded into covering a multitude of subject matter including anything from literature to politics.  Additionally, blogs are places where like minded individuals have the opportunity to discuss and debate topics that are relevant to them in both their personal and professional  lives.

An advantage to using blogs in training environments is that unless they are removed from the internet, then the information contained in them is always accessible as a point of reference for a specific time in history.  That information can also be measured as to how well it continues to be relevant with current events.  A disadvantage of a blog is that many times they are a reflection of the writers opinion, and are often biased and not objective.   This can affect one’s research if it is being used as a reliable source of credibility.  The credibility of the bloggers material as well as it being a  reliable source will adversely affect how well they are received in the community of their peers and fans.

By using blogs as training tools, this allows individuals to capitalize on people’s strengths and enhance their opportunities. Depending on where their best abilities lie, micro blogging on platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr,  may be appropriate for someone who is more visual and can express themselves more creatively.  On the other hand, a  traditional long form blog may be best suited for individuals whose strengths and skills are in writing.  The combining of both provides a winning hand where each type of learner has an opportunity to improve in areas where their counterparts excel.  Blogs also provide an electronic journal of discovery and revelation in addition to stories that can be applied to future learning and training environments.

The five blogs below are excellent resources for educators, leaders, or trainers  who are using  storytelling when facilitating workshops and its techniques to reach a wide variety of audiences.

  • The International Storytelling Center  – The International Storytelling Center provides monthly information about storytelling around the world and how the center itself  plays a role in preserving the art form in this blog.  The topics vary but mainly show how stories are used to connect with the international community.  The center is located in Jonesborough, TN where the art form experienced its revival over 40 years ago and has been responsible for the rebirth of storytelling since the first festival in 1973.  While comments are permitted the blog is primarily a reflection of experiences from the International Storytelling Center Staff and its director and how storytelling impacted those experiences.

  • The National Association of Black Storytellers –  This blog focuses specifically on African American storytelling and its continued importance and relevance to the black community.  It also discusses the significance of the passing down of stories from one generation to the next.  The organization has been around for over three decades and one of its founders is still alive today.  Each year in November the organization produces a festival featuring tellers from around the world who specialize in the art of telling stories from the African diaspora.  Many topics of discussion from that Diaspora are the focus of this blog which makes it unique from other storytelling blogs in that it highlights ethnic storytelling.  

  • National Storytelling Network –   The National Storytelling Network blog covers any and all aspects of professional storytelling from boardroom to class room and front porch to the stage.  It is done monthly on the many facets of storytelling including the business of storytelling and storytelling in business settings.  Occasionally, followers will contribute and share their experiences.  The longevity of the blog and its consistency is due to the status of the bloggers who contribute and are well respected in the storytelling community.  This is an excellent resource for any professional looking to incorporate storytelling into their training with a number of blog posts relevant to many subjects.

  • TEDBlog –  TED Talks are respected around the world and have a track record of producing quality education & informative talks on a number of subjects.  Likewise, their blog is equally impressive.  Entries are made throughout the month for followers to engage and interact with the posts. There readers will find topics of discussion  pertinent to a training environment which include:  storytelling, digital storytelling, leadership skills, communication and  collaboration.  Each is in line with the tagline of TED Talks which is the sharing of great ideas.  The search engine is very comprehensive and leaves no shortage of interesting and educational blogs to explore.

  • Training Mag –  Training Mag has monthly tips for training professionals such as learning from seasoned individuals and training the next generation.  Other topics covered include recruitment, retention, leadership skills, and learning theories.  This is a credible organization with history of being in forefront of  the training and development field for decades while partnering with reputable industry professionals. In addition to management and HR regulations, it covers best practices and strategies that are considered new and groundbreaking techniques in the training and development industry.

For individuals who are new to blogging, here are a few tips to assist with getting started.  First, take interest in a subject or hobby where  you have a true passion.  This will encourage reading and research of the subject which will enhance the blog that you are  planning to create.   Secondly, look for blogs that have a consistent longevity of credible posts as well as comments. This shows that there is an effective dialogue taking place between the blog writer and the reader.   A third best practice is to look for a blog that stands out and is different. The same can be said if you are starting a blog.  Ask these questions.  What is a trademark that will separate your blog from others?   What information in the blog can readers not get elsewhere?  What makes it special or unique?  Does the blog have a brand attached to it?

If starting a blog for the first time, look for a user-friendly platform where you can add, edit, and change easily without getting frustrated and in need of constant technical assistance.  In addition to these basic tips for beginners, there is a comprehensive list of 30 best practices as well as a beginning blogging guide by well-respected blogger Matt Banner (Banner, 2015). In it, is covered everything from topics to discuss, to the incorporation of videos, social media and beyond.  The list though done in 2015, is still applicable today and is a must have fort anyone serious about blogging.