Often you hear the term PLN, but don’t even know how to begin developing one. You have friends who use Twitter and say it is the perfect PLN solution. Others claim Facebook does it, still others proclaim educational nings put you in a readily built up PLN and then others point to blogs.
Building a PLN
- RSS Readers
- Online Live programmings (aka Edtech Talk, K12Online live events, impromptu Ustreams, etc
Now certainly these activities can immerse you in arenas filled with educators who stretch or challenge your thinking, and also impassion you to get in the mix, whatever avenue you choose. You do not have to use them all either.
My start in PLNs
When I think back to my beginning, I chose blogs as my entry into cultivating a PLN. I was reading a few blogs–not many. And they were definitely my content area focused–school libraries. I read almost religiously Joyce Valenza (back when she was using Edublogs as a platform) and Doug Johnson at his Blue Skunk Blog. But I just visited directly daily, checking for new content. As I read their posts and comments, my list began to grow of who to check daily. Why? The commenters often had blogs too, and I would click through to their blog to see what they had to say too. This is when I discovered an rss reader/feeds and the beauty behind checking one site (my reader) and no longer have to check daily by visiting those favored bloggers’ sites. The conversations going on captivated me, and soon I discovered I enjoyed commenting back to the blogger or the other commenters, and quickly began to recognize names–names that I grew to respect, names that I watched for on other blogs, names that grew to recognize my name.
Looking for more voices
I share all this because once I figured out what the RSS reader could do–manage my blog feeds–I began to search for and add other voices. I didn’t know many beyond my own focus area of school libraries. Then a few years ago (2005), one of those library focused blogs (JoyceValenza) won the Library Blog Category for the Edublogs Awards. Funny, I had not even realiezed nominations were goingon, but DID see a slew of listd blogs deemed as wonderful or “best of best” in their respective categories. Suddenly I had a voices to add to my reader, and they were not just school library focused. I very much enjoyed these new to me voices too. Many have joined the ranks of what consider to be my PLN.
Solution: The Edublog Nominations/Awards
Now each year, I wait for the Edublog Nominations. I throw my own picks into the mix, and have been pleasantly surprised to find some of my very nominations on the ballot. When the ballot is posted, I skim through, and link out to the blogs, especially the ones I’m not familiar with. In my reader I create a category/folder called Edublogger, and add the feeds for all the nominees. Then I sit back and read their content straight from the reader. If they do not appeal to me after a month or so, I unsubscribe. The remaining I move over to another category in my reader, like school librarians, education, administrators, etc. It’s a great way to get introduced to voices you were not familiar with before. Its also a way to get into the mix of interacting and discussing topics you are passionate about, and becoming friends (PLN members) with people you may never see face to face.
Check it out
Where is this magical site that helped me develop my now too full reader? It the Edublog Awards page, a blog in itself too, and now in its sixth year of recognizing outstanding blogs. Read all about the nomination process, and if you are a blogger and feel inspired, write a post nominating your own favorites. The categories are broader this year, and even contain an element of fun with a couple of Twitter categories. Don’t use Twitter? That’s okay. You don’t have to nominate for every category. Nominate for categories you feel knowledgeable about and have a passion for.
Passion behind the post today goes to….
I must also credit this post to Sue Waters, who held an Elluminate session tonight to discuss the award program, and freely answered questions that she could, encouraging those in the chat room to ask or offer insights, either via chat or microphone. While I could not “use a mic” tonight, I did get into the conversation there using chat, and it spurred my thinking right into a blog post. Thanks Sue.
Image: ‘RSS Diagram‘
Image: ‘Sue Waters and Blog‘