Reflection: Building My Personal Learning Network

It was just over a year ago that I started working to build my personal learning network and get more connected with other educators around me. At the time, I was just starting to attempt blogging again. I was also just learning about using Twitter more, as well as #wvedchat. What amuses me most is that I was so excited about the concept of a PLN that I even submitted a session idea for the West Virginia Statewide Technology Conference
to talk about. I knew what it was, I knew it was great, but I wasn’t actively using it myself.

One year later, and things are quite different.

The desire to build my own network got me through the summer, and the conference. I presented on my topic, and I did well, but I couldn’t really add much personal experience. I simply wanted to share this great concept. I knew that my humble start was a good idea when I had my best conference ever, and connected with others I had only known online. I was actively socializing and talking with people, and I didn’t feel alone at all, even though I had traveled by myself and was staying by myself.

As the new school year started, I slacked on blogging. I didn’t keep up with it, and I didn’t try to. I simply let it fall by the wayside, though I tried to keep up by reading other educator blogs. I used the Newsify app to keep up with my reading, which synced with my Feedly account. For that time, it was good enough.

Even though my blogging slacked, my social networking improved greatly. I wasn’t just using Twitter, I was actively participating, and trying to do the same with others I met online. I began being an active member in the biweekly #wvedchat sessions, and still am, unless I’m sick or have a prior engagement. I eventually found a chat for Minecraft in Education, and joined that one as well. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with both, since
they run the same days and times, but I make it work. On the days that both chats are running, it’s often a race to keep up and respond to both, but I’ve done so, and feel accomplished for it. I did host one of the #wvedchat sessions, and I would happily host another if I had a good topic and could come up with a good set of questions for it.

January came, and with it a desire to be a better blogger. I had plenty I could share, right? Every educator does. It just takes some time to brainstorm ideas and get them written out. I started actively posting again, and made it my goal to keep up with my blog. I wanted to be able to post at least once a week. Sometimes, I’ve even gotten lucky and been able to make 2 or even 3 posts in a week. I started a Word document to jot down ideas that I could possibly write about, and check it every now and then to remind myself. It’s hard to remember everything, and sometimes I get inspired, but not motivated to write, so I tuck the idea away in that file for another day.

To make sure I spread my postings out over a period of time on my blog, I track posts by time sensitivity and not. If a post is time sensitive, I’ll make sure it’s posted that very day it’s written, or I’ll get in posted in the coming days. Any other kind of post will be scheduled for a future day, sometimes a few weeks out. I do love this because sometimes I feel really inspired and write a lot, and other times I don’t. It provides consistency to my blog and my readers, and keeps the blog from not being updated for weeks on end.

Finally, I share Twitter transcripts from the chats that I participate in. I know that it can be very hard to keep up with the fast past of Twitter chats, so having a transcript is helpful to let others read the information, and view the information shared. It also provides an easy way for me to go back through my blog and see what chats I’ve talked about.

Building a Personal Learning Network isn’t easy or quick. It takes time and dedication, but the payoff and benefits are well worth it. I’m hoping to discuss more of the “Behind the Scenes” in a future post.

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