If there is one thing I have learned about Personal Learning Networks, PLNs, it is that they require effort.
I say this with mixed feelings.
Should you have read my previous post, you will recall I am part introvert. The thought of having to reach out and interact with people I don’t even know, is daunting for me. I suppose this would be partly because building a PLN is a new experience for me.
However, I know the benefits of an effective PLN. I realize that having a community of people to go to for ideas and who are consistently available to me would be excellent, especially as a new teacher. Thus, I call upon my extrovert part.
Anyway, back to the effort required. According to Chuck Frey and his article, “How to Cultivate a Personal Learning Network: Tips from Howard Rheingold,” in order to ensure your PLN is effective, you need to continually update and fine tune it. His article includes 8 tips on how to improve your PLN.
One of the major tips given centers around feeding your PLN. This means making sure you are giving your followers valuable and relevant information and ideas worth their time and attention. Feeding your PLN is all about finding and then sharing resources your group will find relevant and useful.
Also, it is mentioned that the importance should not be on sheer numbers but quality. Your PLN will only be helpful if your people share your interests and care to share ideas which pertain to your field.
It takes time to sift through the other random posts and resources online to find relevant ones, just as it takes time to sift through people to find those who will contribute to your group. (Please enjoy the above image of a diamond in a pile of gummy bears as a visual analogy for finding the real winners in the midst of the real not winners). However, I do think it will be worth the effort later down the road.
Another main point I took from Frey’s article was the importance of connection. A few of the given points highlighted engaging with those in your PLN. Just as you filter the people in your group, they are doing the same. Thus, I go back to feeding your PLN because if you want to play an effective role in your PLN, you have to give your group good stuff to read and use.
I think it is important to note that new resources are a great way to go. The way I think about it, eventually most of the resources out there will be found and shared to the point that they are not new anymore. I think in order to keep things interesting, it is important to share the new ideas you have, even if they didn’t exactly work for you because they may work for someone else or they may have suggestions for how to adapt them for the better.
In my field of education, specifically early childhood, there is always a new way to teach a concept. Children learn in different ways because no child develops at the same rate or is the same. Thus, teachers are always getting creative and thinking of new activities and lessons. The great thing is, most of them are willing to share those ideas and this what helps contribute to building a cultivated PLN.
Finding those who will contribute valuable and relevant resources is key to ensuring you build a cultivated and effective PLN. But also making sure you are doing the same because PLNs are a two way road.
Leaving you with a tweet I found some motivation in, hope it does the same for you!
A Teacher on a Mission to Enrich her PLN