As I get ready to present here at METC on how to enhance your personal learning network (PLN), I started to do some thinking about my own network and how it has exponentially grown in the past 18 months. On a semi-side note, I've been reading the book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, so that will explain how the mothership got to this point.
As a classroom teacher, I didn't have much of a pln. I had our district instructional technology facilitator (who's job I have now after she moved to ESU), but being the one person in a large district isn't easy (as I'm currently finding out). When she decided to move on, I thought I'd put in my application and see what happened...and wa-la! After getting the job I felt the need to start this little page of wisdom, which has reconnected me with old friends and helped to make new ones. My wife and I were fortunate enough to have very happy and healthy baby almost a year ago. Life has moved quickly in 18 months, and all for the better. The one thing that is lacking in my job is..another me. I was joking the other day that I'm not smart enough for the curriculum department and not geeky enough for the tech department. So I turned to an online personal learning network. What I've found in the online world is Twitter, Diigo, Google Reader and Nings. More than anything else, those four things keep me in touch with the outside world and push the limits of my knowledge and force me to question and justify my beliefs in education and technology. Because of Twitter, I met Michelle, who talked me into coming to METC. Because of Diigo, I have a vast array of websites, both mine and others, accessible from any Internet-connected computer. Because of Google Reader....I spend a lot of time questioning my beliefs and those of others, as well as learning about the latest in cool technology. Nings connect me with many people of common interests, a type of online cafe for us to meet and chat.
The opening of our presentation talks about the Stages of PLN that we stole from Jeff Utech's Flickr page. As I look back over the last 18 months, I see myself on that roller coaster. Last year I tried to immerse myself in all things pln, which boggled my mind more than you'll ever know. There are too many tools online for enhancing your pln. It's amazing. Which led me into step 2, evaluating my networks. At the time, I was "narrowed down" to more the four listed above. The quotes obviously mean that narrowing down translates to "I didn't sign up for EVERY networking tool or opportunity." Once I made it through step 3 of "knowing it all," I would like to think, especially since the little one came around, that I am in step 4 working toward step 5. I still have a hard time putting down the computer (or sometimes picking it up). I'm still a little "all or nothing" when it comes to either family life or work life, something I don't think is fair to my family or my work. But I'm not discouraged. In fact, I'm very encouraged with what I'm doing and how life is progressing. I have built and will continue to build my pln, changing as the tools change (it's the only thing that's stays the same, right?).
As I read back over this post, I see it's not as much for you as it is for me. It shows the steps that I've taken, both voluntary and otherwise, to get to where I'm at today (see, Outliers-style). As with most presentations, our planning was good, but I hadn't done much reflecting on it (man I sound like I'm back in grad school...ugh). Thanks for sharing this time with me. I'd also love if you'd share how your pln is changing you. If you type well and use good grammar, you may even get included in our presentation on Tuesday.