Building Your Own Personal Learning Network

Although this has been up for a bit, I finally got a chance to read Tedd Curran’s guide to creating your own personal learning network.  This is a great guide for beginners – I highly recommend it if you are new to PLNs or are just not sure if you are doing everything you need to cultivate yours. I was reminded to set-up Google Reader folders by reading this – something I always mean to do but keep forgetting.

Hopefully in the near future, we will see more classes that have a guide like this for a huge chunk of the syllabus. Maybe there will be a few required items, blogs, etc to add to each student’s PLN, but a large part of it will be left up to them to find their own.  Class discussions and assignments could then be based on dynamic content online rather every student trying to figure out how to re-write the same information over and over again without plagiarizing what has been said a million times already.

Someday we may even see entire departments or schools that would have a PLN guide like this for their orientation.  Just like we now make all new students go through and set-up a school email account, some day they might also set-up a PLN.  Each course they enroll in would then have a set of resources to add as a folder to their PLN (or maybe it will be added for them).

The missing link that I see is the software – there needs to be something that makes it easy for instructors to share relevant parts of their PLN with students, as well as students to share good resources with each other. Well, something a bit more advanced than emailing links to everyone. Maybe Google Reader already does this and I need to explore it more?

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

2 thoughts on “Building Your Own Personal Learning Network

  1. Hi Matt–
    Thanks for your interest in my post and your thoughtful responses! (I’ve been a fan of EGJ for a while now, so it’s an honor to be mentioned!) I’m working on Part II of that post which deals with the issue you raise– the “output” part of the PLN. How do teachers and students share interesting learnings with their communities? What’s the best way to “show what you know”?

    Google Reader has a “Share” button that allows you to choose certain articles to share with your followers. It goes up onto a special public page (here’s mine: http://www.google.com/reader/shared/tedcurran). This page has its own RSS feed so you can feed your shared links into other places. I have the RSS feeding into a widget on TedCurran.net so people can see what I’ve been reading. (It looks like you do this with your Delicious and Twitter– same idea). These shared items also go into your Google Buzz feed automatically (if you have followers there). More info here : http://www.google.com/support/reader/bin/topic.py?hl=en&topic=12016

    It sounds from your post like you’re looking for a way to share all this learning within a small community like a class or school? That same desire led me to build http://www.InterLearn.us, a BuddyPress/Wordpress MultiUser-powered site for learning communities. Each member can have their own blog space, but there’s a central Facebook-style wall where every community member’s activity appears– blog posts, likes, updates, etc. It’s even possible (thanks to the Feed WordPress plugin), to have an RSS feed auto-post into your InterLearn wall so other community members can see. Anyone who’s interested can start an account, test it, use it– right now it’s community software without a community, so I’d be very happy to share it so it gets where it can help school communities collaborate.

    Thanks again and stay tuned for Part II!
    Best-
    Ted

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