Going through the process of creating a mind map for my own Personal Learning Network (PLN) I became acutely aware that my networks were predominately online and it was not until I mapped out my PLN with people, organisations and social networking sites that I also saw how interconnected my network was. When creating the mind map I was originally going to link the different networks using arrows to highlight the links but this would have made it difficult to read because of the multiple connections and interconnectedness of my PLN. To give an example, I use Twitter personally and professionally across organisations. I have my own library Twitter page which I use to network with my school and share the tweets across platforms (such as Facebook and Youtube) as well connecting with the wider profession, organisations and to widen my knowledge and understanding on a wide number of topics, with a focus on literacy and learning.
Utecht (2008) discusses the stages of progression he went through and a possible model for others to consider when reflecting on their PLN. The first stage ‘Immersion’ refers to when collaborations and connections begin. When I started my work as a Teacher Librarian (TL) six years ago I was at this stage. I was often quite undiscerning about what tools I adopted and connections I made as I was exploring the benefits of a range of networks. I then went to the second stage’ ‘evaluation’ , when I started being more selective about how I would connect online. I’ve certainly been through the third stage ‘know it all’ when the I’ve been trying to keep up with all my connections (and failed) and then fairly quickly to the fourth stage ‘perspective’ . This happened for me when I left my Library Twitter for 6 weeks while on summer holiday and found that nobody had noticed I had gone and that it really had little impact on my life overall and I was able to pick it up again but at a slower and less intrusive pace.
It is now that I am trying to reach the fifth stage of ‘balance’. It is very hard to reach this stage at present especially with the nature of my current MA and profession where inertia is not an option!
Smith, B. (2008). Creating an online Personal Learning Network [slides]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/bethanyvsmith/creating-an-online-personal-learning-network-presentation
Utecht, J. (2008, April 3). Stages of PLN adoption. [blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption/