Monday, 30 December 2013

Defining 'Personal Learning Networks'

Image credit: mkhmarketing

I was inspired by a blog post written by Eric Sheninger (who tweets as 
@NMHS_Principal) where he defines what a personal learning network means to him:

"A PLN provides leaders with resources, knowledge, feedback, advice, support, friendships, and is a catalyst for self-directed learning.  The ability and ease to now engage in conversations with like-minded practitioners and world-renowned experts provides a meaningful and differentiated model for growth to improve professional practice.  For me, I love being able to ask a question on Twitter and then return hours later with an array of responses from all over the world. I also love being able to filter content based on my interests from a variety of information sources to one convenient location." 
I too have developed a wonderfully rich personal learning network; connecting with educators from all over the world. For me Twitter is the place to go to learn, providing links to a huge array of interesting topics as well as a space to engage in interesting conversations. Very often these lead to opportunities to collaborate and communicate face to face or via Skype or Google Hangouts. I also get great value from reading the blog posts of other educators. Discussions follow by using the comments section, providing the chance to question or indeed challenge viewpoints. Below are just a few I would recommend you take a look at:

The next most useful tool I would say is LinkedIn. I often hear people say that whilst they have a profile they don't bother updating this or look at the updates of others as they are not looking for a new job. LinkedIn is far more than a 'job site'. At the very least it is your very own 'rolodex' of professional connections.

Image source: Wikipedia

LinkedIn allows you to connect with individuals, join groups and follow companies. It is an excellent way to find and engage with topics that interest you. Equally it is another forum you can share with other your own work and research. Each time I present at a conference I upload my slides to Slideshare and then add the link to my LinkedIn profile. I also have a blog about Getting Started with Social Media and add a link to my latest post as an update on LinkedIn. For each of these, readers may and do leave comments, providing me with feedback.

Facebook also provides me with opportunities to learn. Whilst my personal space is somewhere I interact with family and close friends; the use of groups and pages has opened up many new channels I am constantly learning from. 

The social media tools (of which there are many) are wonderful spaces we can connect with others and share information and conversations. The very fact that this can be done both synchronously (real time) and asynchronously has broken down previous barriers of time and distance. The openness allows us to listen and learn from each other. The sophisticated search facilities each provide, enable you to discover so many interesting things you may never have had the opportunity to happen upon otherwise.

What are you favourite tools that connect you with your personal learning network?      

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