Thursday, January 29, 2009

Make Time to Develop your Personal Learning Network (PLN)

This past week has really been good for me professionally. I have started to broaden my PLN and as a result, I've learned a lot, and more importantly have become re-inspired. It is so easy to get bogged down in the daily task and lose site of the big picture and the goals you set at the beginning of the year.

I started telling one of the teachers about the Educon2.1 conference that I participated in virtually over the weekend. I told her about the conversations, the back channel comments, the Twitter conversations and everything else that happened, and she looked at me and said "who has time?" We all have time. We just have to make time.

Teachers really need to be life long learners and learning can take place outside of the school building and in informal settings. That is where your PLN comes into play. So let's look at some of the ways you can develop and grow your PLN.

How I started developing my PLN. (I took it slow.)

1. Blogs: I started with blogs. I searched for blogs related to what I was interested in. I started out by looking in Google Blogs and Edublogs. I did a search on topics that interested me. After I found some blogs of interest that were being updated regularly, I subscribed to various blogs using Google reader. I began to read and follow the blogs. Some I stayed with and still read, and some I stopped subscribing to when I saw they did not fit my interest.

A word of caution. At times the number of blogs coming in can be overwhelming. You do not have to read everything.

2. Twitter: Now I will admit I was slow to jump on the twitter bandwagon. But right n0w, I love using Twitter. I started out on Twitter following people whose blogs I was reading and then some of the people that I have heard speak at a conference or at district workshops. For a long time all I did was follow these people and read what they had to say. My interaction with Twitter really picked up when I participated in an online webinar. There was a back channel conversation going on, and from that people began to follow me, and I followed more people. My PLN was growing. But now that I was being followed, I needed to be active and participate in my PLN. I was learning from others and I'm sure there were some things I could help them with, so I started using Twitter to learn and to share.

Ning: I found out about Ning by reading the blogs. I set up a Ning for our AP kids at school. I joined a couple of organizations like Classroom 2.o.

All of these have helped me develop my PLN. Does it take time? Absolutely. Is it worth the effort? I think so. I have learned more in the past month than I have in a long time.

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