One of my linchpins or mentors – Jeff Utecht, launched a new book, Reach: Building Communities and Networks for Professional Development. While the book will be available for purchase in a bound version, Jeff has made the PDF version available to anyone in his network for FREE until Friday, June 19th. As of last evening, there were over 1200 downloads of this book. I know that these numbers do not represent the number of readers of this volume, since Jeff has made this volume available to distribution via a Creative Commons licensing. I have sent this to five of our academic leaders on my campus alone. Using this multiplier effect, Jeff is going to “reach” potentially thousands of potential readers.
I found the book very informative. Less so for myself, who has transformed my professional practice by building my own Personal Learning Network, but for those administrators and teacher/learners who have not yet undertaken this shift. It give concrete steps on how to begin to build the network via RSS and other social networking tools.
There were two items which piqued my interest in the book. The first was returning to the conversation Jeff wrote about in August 2009 on the differences between Digital Literacy and Networked Literacy. I still struggle with my definition and then how to provide opportunities and then measure progress for networked literacy. Secondly, Jeff’s definition of the six stages of personal learning network adoption was a great definition of the journey that many feel while on the path building a personal learning network. I believe that I have successfully reach stage six, balance. I am not on Twitter 24/7, I make my visits to the networks less frequently and I am trying to focus on energy and attention not on developing my brand within the echo chamber, but rather to make a significant difference in the lives of student teachers who are local.
This volume is worth more than its price. While not currently paying for it, I will be buying one or two copies to lend to teachers and administrators who are not as digitally savvy and prefer to read printed material rather than print a PDF of of the screen or via a small mobile device. I also hope to run into Jeff at ISTE and make a personal contribution and perhaps buy him a beverage.