I and a few other teachers are wrestling with this question.  How do we carve out time from an already busy day to actively seek out connections and contribute to a personal learning network?  

I'm thinking about this differently than simply a set of steps on how to begin a PLN.  Richard Byrne created a great little presentation on that, and I've seen many since.  

My question is more about how these pieces (tweets, blog posting, social bookmarking, etc.) fit into a typical day's work/play/movement of life.  Do you designate certain minutes of each day?  How do you fit these around commitments to your family, faith community, sporting interests, etc.?  Do you use your phone or just your computer?  I guess I'm looking for specifics, such as those in this helpful blog post by Lisette Casey.  

I'd love to hear responses from this community, and thank you all in advance!  

Tags: PLN, socialmedia101

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It is something that we all wrestle with. I believe it is tidal in nature, with ebbs and flows depending on what is happening in our lives at the moment. I try to jump in first thing in the morning to catch up on colleagues from different time zones. If I can, between bites, I'll jump in during lunch (on school days). In the evening, after dinner as I'm checking email I'll do a little more exploring. I try to bookmark or favorite Tweets that I want to explore further over the weekend when I can devote a period of uninterrupted time to 'learning'.

I tend to use my computer 95% of the time, but if I wake up in the middle of the night & can't get back to sleep, I'll grab my iTouch and see what's happening in my PLN.

And for the sake of my family, my sanity, and my creativity I try to 'unplug' at least one day a week (though I am currently a closet Tweet-aholic -- it's soooooo easy, it's quick, you can scan it, and frankly it's slowly, but surely beginning to replace my Readers as my source for up-to-date information).

Hope this helps and gets the conversation going. I'll be curious to see what others have to say.
Thanks, Laelia. I appreciate your thoughts. Twitter has become that "default" for me, too. I tend to drop in when I have 5 minutes here or there, just to see what's going on. I've begun depending on my lists to answer questions like "what's happening in foreign language" or "what are the well-known people talking about".

Thanks again!
Oh, and I'm reminded of a post on Alec Couros' blog that had some interesting Twitter hints. Hope you find it helpful!
Totally agree, Laelia! For me, it's Twitter all the way... it is the best way to triage everything I need to / would like to know. Quick & easy!
Brenda, thanks for stopping by! In addition to gleaning from Twitter, I'd be interested to hear how you participate. I'm wondering about the human elements of PLNs - how professional relationships are begun, maintained, and grown over time. Your thoughts?

Thanks again!
Laelia described my experience pretty much except it took my exasperated wife to remind me I had gotten off balance with this. Morning before school, in the evening after my walk, and various times Saturday and Sunday are my times. We must all lead similar lives. Twitter is now my information/communication anchor. It is a better resource than Google Reader and even forums like this. I follow that stream throughout the day on my Blackberry. Frankly I am still learning how and when to manage the information overload. Also, I am not sure if my Professional Learning Network is very coherent. It is still building, if indeed it ever can or should become something formalized.

I think that PLNs are ALWAYS in a state of Beta. As your needs change, so too will your PLN (whether the people you follow or the actual apps that you use as part of your PLN learning).


Thanks for the specifics. A question for you: how do you produce for your PLN? We've been talking mostly about tools at this point, and I'm also interested in how people manage the back and forth nature necessary, I think, for a sustained PLN. For example, I'm keeping tabs on this discussion via e-mail and I have a personal commitment to replying to each person who takes the time to contribute their thoughts. How do you determine what to share or to whom you reply?

Thanks again!
Like you, I think it's important to contribute to your PLN just as much as take from it. I tend to rely on Twitter more than anything else because it's fast. I can scan the updates quickly, favorite those that stand out to me, and come back to them when I have time. I use my iPhone and my computer for Twitter equally. If I see a link that I like, I bookmark it in Delicious and tag it so that I will be able to find it when necessary. I also use Google Reader to follow blog posts. The majority of my learning takes place at lunch between bites and also anytime I'm waiting. In line, waiting for a teacher, etc.

Retweeting is a great way to contribute to your PLN, plus it really boosts the confidence of the original Tweeter. I use bit.ly to post links to my blogs that I keep up with and to post any great links I find as I'm developing lessons. If I'm at a conference, I take notes in Twitter rather than on paper. That way everyone learns from it and I can always access it through Twitter later.

In determining whom I should reply to, I usually just try to be courteous, as you are being with this discussion. For any new followers on Twitter, I DM them and say thanks. That provides the initial contact so we can begin to rely on each other. The same goes for a retweet. Determining what to share is not something I think about. If I find something that's useful to me, I share. Someone can surely use it. If not, they'll just ignore it. They have that option since we're an extended network.

This should go without saying, but not always - keep it positive. Many a people I have stopped following on Twitter because I felt like all they ever did was complain. It seemed as if they were being closed-minded. The morale of your PLN is absolutely as important as the morale in your office or building.
Thanks, Klista, for being so descriptive in your post! I haven't DM'ed followers in the past, but I'll be sure to add that to my pattern in the future. It sounds like you use a number of tools to process all the information you encounter via Twitter, and I really appreciate how you describe the way all the pieces fit together for you. Your points about building the morale of the "team" through retweeting, sharing, and keeping it positive are helping me understand what it means to engage people and not just tech.

Oh, and great blog post about PLNs for beginners! I'll be sure to share it with my class.
Being new to the PLNs and all the new technology out there that exists to communicate with one another, I really enjoyed reading Klista's article. I do not yet have a Twitter account, and I like how Klista included some information about it so I now know at least a little bit about it before we explore it in class. I agree that we need a balance between personal and professional and plan to keep my facebook account personal and classroom2.0 and Twitter professional. Also, I like the comparison Klista made about talking about "problem children" in the teachers' lounge then having to leave to go back to our separate classrooms. Maybe it will be discussed again...maybe not. But if we discuss it on a PLN, then we can revisit the discussion whenever we have free time and are able. We don't need to be face-to-face to work through the problem. This is a perfect example of how I am beginning to see how useful PLNs are and will continue to become in the future of educators.



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