Starting Your PLN!

I recently read good advice from what I would call a professional PLN monitor, David Warlick. From page 12 of Learning and Leading with Technology in the March/April 2009 issue David Warlick has an article “Grow Your Personal Learning Network” with New Technologies That Can Keep You Connected and Help You Manage Information Overload. A professor at Clarion University of Pennsylvania introduced Warlick’s article to me, very insightful!
According to Warlick, “Keep It Simple”, and you can’t go wrong. If you have a tremendous amount of information on your PLN and within your PLE then the probability of reading it all or even accessing it all is slim. So keep it simple at first. As in any endeavor start small and grow wisely, it will feel better and run more smoothly. Enough small talk, here is David Warlick’s suggestions.

                Keep It Simple

Personal learning networks may open up new

worlds, but the technologies that extend our

personal and professional learning beyond our

immediate proximity can be difficult to

understand and control. Here are 10 tips for

creating, cultivating, and pruning your PLN.

  1. Start small and limit the number of blogs

you subscribe to.

  1. Organize your subscriptions by topic or

job function.

  1. Organize folders in your aggregator

based on how frequently you need to

read them. Call one folder “Everyday” and

place in it blogs and other RSS feeds that

you need to see every day. Call another

one “Once a Week” and another one

“Once a Month.”

  1. Give yourself permission to switch your

PLN off every once in a while. While your

computer is off, take a break and go for a

walk or a bicycle ride, visit a neighbor, or

tend your garden for a few minutes. It is

also OK to ignore parts of your PLN when

you need to.

  1. Scan! You may need to read only one in

10 of the blogs that come through, but

that one will make you a better educator.

  1. Your aggregator can grow temporary

limbs. If you are teaching a new unit, find

sources that will help you prepare for it

and subscribe to them. When you’ve

learned what you need, sever the lines.

  1. Realize that your network is much larger

than it seems. You are not just reading

my blog, you are reading all of the blogs

that I read and all of the blogs that those

bloggers are reading.

  1. Invest some time, but don’t fret that it will

take up all your time. According to David

Jakes, it takes only 15 minutes a day to

learn something new.

  1. You do not need to subscribe to dozens

of educators’ blogs to learn how they are

using VoiceThread. Instead, conduct a

Google Blog Search for voicethread and

subscribe to that search’s RSS feed.

10. Some bloggers are very good connectors

and filters. They read lots of information

and then blog the gems. Excellent

examples are SEGA Tech from Georgia’s

Southeast Regional Educational Service

Agency and Stephen Downes’ OLDaily.

Now that we have that out of the way, let us refresh a thought or two. Although David has inspired us to keep it simple I still believe that more is better when it comes to education. You really do not have to flood your website with links to everything from bread to butter but remember if you have found an article, book, quote, magazine, photo, or document that says or shows something you found of interest and possibly might want to read or look at it again, then by all means a link on your webpage or in a blog would be wise!

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