Developing My Personal Learning Network: Processes, Decisions and Outcomes – A TTW Guest Post by Elaine Hall

Personal Learning Network – Presentation

“Developing”, as it pertains to my title of this blog, is defined as the ongoing development, utilization, and management of my personal learning network. It is not something that “is done” and then complete, it is something that will, with careful nurturing and management, follow me throughout the rest my learning life.

The journey began years ago without realization when I signed up for Facebook, popped on (and then quickly off) Twitter, set up a LinkedIn account, and checked out various apps via my mobile phone.  It wasn’t until taking Transformative Learning and Technology Literacy course with Dr. Michael Stephens that the potential of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) came to life!

My favorite explanation of a Personal Learning Network is by Anya Kamenetz who writes on her blog post titled 8 Ways to Build Your Personal Learning Network with Twitter, Google Plus, and More  that “no one learns alone”. The leads to the various discussions about transformative learning we have had in our course this semester – where learning is a transformative process from where we begin in our learning, to how where we end, and most importantly – the resources, tools, and people that helped us through that transformation. David Hopkins (2013) highlights this well in his own blog post when he said “I know my work and perception of my role has been transformed since I joined Twitter and other networks, and it has been because I wanted it to.” That’s the beauty of the PLN – we create it purposely so our learning can be transformed, so we can continuously expand and explore our understanding, and then share that understanding continuously with others.

In the attached “My Personal Learning Network” presentation, I present my PLN as it stands right now. As will always be the case, the network is not yet complete. For example, I have not yet explored or compared bookmarking sites, yet they are on my list of things to check out.  I need to revisit other LIS type social sites such as Goodreads and LibraryThing, both which I have explored before, to see if they should be added as well. And there are so many others. What news feeds will help support my PLN? What list serves should I explore?  What professional associations should I engage with online? What potential employers should I follow?  The process will be ongoing.

VIEW “MY PERSONAL LEARNING NETWORK” PRESENTATION VIA SLIDESHARE!: 

For those of you who do not have the time to view my presentation, I offer an outline below of my PLN development process.

My PLN Mission Statement: 

My PLN will…

  • be transparent and open for others to view, to participate, and to learn from
  • foster lifelong learning for myself and others
  • permit both creativity and curiosity
  • be used to share ideas, to play, to have fun, and to continuously explore.

Goals of My PLN: 

  • Commit to lifelong learning
  • Constantly add to my skillset
  • Develop professional identity
  • Curate information
  • Find a mentor – be a mentor
  • Foster balance between professional and personal life

Scope of MY PLN:

The scope of my PLN is to focus on issues and trends relating to academic librarianship and will include a strong focus on the following areas:

  • Academic Libraries
  • Information Literacy
  • Information Technology
  • Research Methodology
  • Reference Services
  • Online Learning
  • Assessment
  • Learning Environments
  • Social/Hyperlinked Media

Objectives: 

  • Connect
  • Contribute
  • Converse
  • Request

My Primary Networks: 

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Netvibes

My PLN Tools: 

  • Google Docs
  • Box.net
  • Slideshare
  • Mindmeister
  • Google Scholar
  • Flickr
  • Tumblr
  • YouTube

Maintaining My PLN: 

  • Contribute at least one blog post per week
  • Participate in at least 3 discussions per week
  • Connect/follow those I meet in discussions
  • Tweet and re-tweet daily
  • Connect by sharing personal interests as well as professional interests
  • Re-evaluate dashboards and collections at each life milestone
  • Review blogs every six months – weed out inactive ones
  • Network at live events, receptions, conferences
  • Introduce others within my network and ask to be introduced

Advice to Others 

BE PATIENT! 

  • Building a PLN doesn’t happen quickly
  • It takes time to make connections
  • It takes time to build relationships
  • It takes participation to determine the value of a community
  • It takes perseverance when you receive no comments or replies
  • It requires patience to build your social presence

BE AUTHENTIC! 

“Don’t try to game the system, worry too much about your online “brand,” or in any way cajole people into following you or responding to you. The more you reveal your humanity the more people will trust you, identify with you, and respond to your reflections and appeals. More importantly, the more you seek out the humanity in others, the more they will want to connect with you – and share with you.”    Wagner, 2012

PLN Success! 

The following items are examples of outcomes as a result of developing my personal learning network. These results happened naturally as I explored the potential of my PLN: what I wanted it to do, how I wanted to use it, how it could build my personal and professional networks, and how to not only participate in but also build community. It is evident by the immediacy of the results, that my PLN has only begun its potential as an essential tool to lifelong learning.

ACTION: Used Pinterest to do a search on PLN’s. Received numerous resources, suggestions, presentations, mindmap, etc. to reflect upon for my own PLN development.

RESULT: This led to developing my own Pinterest PLN board which has since been followed by others

ACTION: Inquired about favorite tools and resources from graduate students in a MLIS program via Facebook SLIS Students group

RESULT: over 13 responses with over unique 20 suggestions. Not only resulted as a tremendous resource for my project, but also resulted in shared file for future students to access the recommendations. 

Resources supporting both this blog post and the “My Personal Learning Network” presentation: 

Hopkins, S. (2013). Developing your own Personal Learning Network (PLN) #edtech. Technology Enhanced Learning Blog. Retrieved from: http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/elearning/developing-your-own-personal-learning-network

Inquisitive Learning: http://inquisitivelearning.wordpress.com

Howlett, A. (2011). Connecting to the LIS online community: A new information professional developing a personal learning network. ALIA 5th New Librarians Symposium 2011: Metamorphosis: What will you become today. Perth, Australia.

Kamenetz, Anya (2011). 8 Ways to build your personal learning network with Twitter, Google Plus, and more. Fast Company. Retrieved at: http://www.fastcompany.com/1770997/8-ways-build-your-personal-learning-network-twitter-google-plus-and-more

Rajagopal, Kamakshi, Joosten-ten Brinke, Desirée, Van Bruggen, Jan, And Sloep, Peter. “Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them” First Monday [Online],  17(1). Retrieved from:  http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/3559/3131

Wagner, D. (2013). Personal Education Networks for Educators. Getting Smart. Retrieved from: http://gettingsmart.com/2012/01/personal-learning-networks-for-educators-10-tips/

 

elaineElaine Hall is a MLIS student at San Jose State University studying and working in the field of Library and Information Science with special focus on research, academic libraries, and information technology.

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