As a professional educator over the years I have spent time and energy building a network of people I can reach out to for help, support and knowledge. In recent times I have helped others to discover the importance of communicating with other professionals to broaden their perspective to enhance their teaching and knowledge of current issues within their industry areas.
For me I have personally used Twitter for a number of years. It started sitting at work one day and I asked my colleague the simple question “Do you use Twitter?” The blank look said it all. As we were the source of professional development I knew that I had to start building wider and stronger networks to keep me informed. So I chose Twitter to start reaching out to the big wide world and have never looked back. I encourage others to reach out and follow other educational and industry professionals.
One of the key reasons to create a personal learning network (PLN) is to stay connected, and I love the opportunities that social media gives me. The vast majority of my tweets are work related, what can I say I like to compartmentalize my social media streams. Upon saying that this past week my work persona on Twitter collided with my personal life when a fellow student tagged me in a FB post crediting my tweet she reposted into a CSU Facebook page.
ENGAGE and PARTICIPATE are the key, starting slow reaching out to people who are known then slowly building, exploring asking, answering and experimenting has been the key. I have long been a champion within my government agency of social media, including the need for writing a robust policy around how employees can use social media on behalf of the agency. It is nice to finally say that my PLN is robust and helps me to learn and explore different concepts and thoughts daily.
I have to say that as I have had to redefine my work and move to new job roles due to restructuring I have had to learn new skills, my PLN helped save my bacon, oh and my job numerous times over. Without the new ideas, thoughts and encouragement I would not be as effective with my work as an educator that I am. I chose Twitter to start my PLN journey with the wider world and have since branched out into Facebook and Google+. I can say that no matter the medium I know that my PLN is there for me to support my life-long learning and in turn I am there for my PLN.
Rheingold, H., & Weeks, A. (2012). Participation power. In Net smart: How to thrive online (pp. 111-145). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Online full-text available via CSU Library
Nesloney, T. (2013, September 23). My PLN saved my career. Nesloney’s adventures: Thoughts from an elementary teacher . Retrieved from http://nesloneyflipped.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/my-pln-saved-my-career.html