I signed up to LinkedIn last year and created a brief profile but did not use it or make any connections. Throughout this session I have been exploring LinkedIn as a possible tool to expand my personal learning network (PLN).
I now have 52 connections made up mostly of teacher librarians, librarians, CSU students and educators. I have fleshed out my profile a little bit but it still needs some more work. I looked at the profiles of my connections to get some ideas of what to include on my own profile.
I sent a LinkedIn message to fellow INF532 student and new LinkedIn connection Kathryn McGilvray and she kindly offered to have a chat to me about her experiences with LinkedIn using a Google Hangout. Although the hangout was to talk about LinkedIn we strayed to other topics and talked about our experiences studying online at CSU. It was wonderful to connect with another student and have a chat that was “face-to-face” but mediated by technology. Within Kathryn’s tertiary industry she finds different people on LinkedIn than Twitter. So far on LinkedIn I have connected mostly with people that I am already following on Twitter.
I have requested to join groups relating to school libraries and education but most of them are still pending weeks later. This indicates to me that LinkedIn may not be the preferred network for my sector. Teacher Librarians appear to be more active on Twitter. However it is early days for me and LinkedIn so I will persist and try and get into the habit of using it like I do with Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps in the near future these weak ties in my PLN (Pegrum, 2010) will prove useful and fruitful.
Encouraged by fellow CSU student Heather Bailie I participated in my first Teachmeet in July. The Melbourne Immigration Museum hosted the event where educators take ownership of their own personal learning and meet face-to-face to share their ideas, strategies and tools by presenting or simply attending. Presenters can sign up for a 2 minute or 7 minute slot. I co-presented with Heather on Ethical Participation in the Digital Environment, a wiki we collaboratively created along with Amanda Lucas and Glenda Morris for ETL523, Digital Citizenship in Schools.
Heather speaks about the benefits of participating in Teachmeets in this video.
Leading up to the Teachmeet, we did a Google Hangout to plan our presentation and kept in touch using Twitter. We both promoted the Teachmeet to our personal learning networks (PLNs) on Twitter and Facebook.
Teachmeet Melbourne uses a wiki to organise and promote upcoming events. Teachmeet Melbourne is also on Twitter as @Teachmeet Melbourne and uses the hashtag #TMMelb so that the community can continue to engage virtually. This is a great example of computer networks mediating communication and linking people (Siemens, 2008).
I was a bit nervous because I had not presented outside of my own workplace before but I need not have worried. Everyone at the Teachmeet was so welcoming and the atmosphere was informal and relaxed. Presenting at the Teachmeet also led to me being approached to be part of a panel of presenters at an ALIA Schools seminar in August (thanks to Heather recommending me).
These two presenting experiences have given me a new found confidence that what I know and can share is valuable to others. I met new people in person and will continue to follow or connect with them online and leverage these weak ties (people outside my usual social network) when I need them (Pegrum, 2010). My PLN is expanding and I am becoming more active by participating, sharing and connecting rather than just consuming and lurking.
Stage 1 Immersion:
Immerse yourself into networks. Create any and all networks you can find where there are people and ideas to connect to. Collaboration and connections take off.
Stage 2 Evaluation:
Evaluate your networks and start to focus in on which networks you really want to focus your time on. You begin feeling a sense of urgency and try to figure out a way to “Know it all.”
3 Know it all:
Find that you are spending many hours trying to learn everything you can. Realise there is much you do not know and feel like you can’t disconnect. This usually comes with spending every waking minutes trying to be connected to the point that you give up sleep and contact with others around you to be connected to your networks of knowledge.
Start to put your life into perspective. Usually comes when you are forced to leave the network for awhile and spend time with family and friends who are not connected (a vacation to a hotel that does not offer a wireless connection, or visiting friends or family who do not have an Internet connection).
Try and find that balance between learning and living. Understanding that you can not know it all, and begin to understand that you can rely on your network to learn and store knowledge for you. A sense of calm begins as you understand that you can learn when you need to learn and you do not need to know it all right now.
Which stage am I in?
I think I am currently experiencing stage 5 in my personal learning network (PLN) adoption. I have experimented with different connections and found the sources that suit my needs. I access certain parts of my PLN more frequently than others but have found a balance between my work and personal life. When I want to learn something new or have a question I have enough confidence to know where to look. I would like to develop more personal connections with people via social media. I mostly read and share resources that I find or seek out on social media. I would like to participate in more conversations.