Building My PLN: Who to Follow?

In considering what I want to learn and how I want to develop there are many ways I have used to find people to include in my professional learning network or PLN.   In this post I will look at the process I used to find two individuals and some of the tools I have used to organize my PLN.  Before looking for people, blogs or other resources, it is good to consider your areas of interest.

Areas of Interest

My list grows and changes as I learn more, but at the moment I would say these are my areas of interest – with some sub-categories:

  • Instructional Design
  • Faculty Development
  • Online Learning
    • Quality
    • Course Design
    • Delivery
  • Technology for Learning
  • Just plain cool technology
  • Teaching
  • Learning
  • Visual Design

So, now that I have some general areas, the question is how do I go about finding people, blogs and resources to add to my PLN.  Here are two ways that I found key people in my PLN.

Just in Time Answers

One of the first places people use to find answers is “Google.”  In the process of working on various projects, I will use this same process to find solutions to problems I encounter.  In the searches, I will often discover a  blog that consistently has great answers, suggestions and solutions.  This is the type of resource you want to include in your PLN – one that consistently has answers to the questions you are asking.   For me, this resource centered on designing learning experiences.

The eLearning Coach

The elearning Coach blog is written by Connie Malamed.  Her background is in design and her blog post usually focus on the implementation of a strategy, tool or technique, making them perfect answers for questions.  In addition to following her blog using Feedly, I followed her on twitter and connected with her via LinkedIn.

Who are They Following?

After adding several people with practical answers like Connie Malamed.  I started paying attention to who they were following on Twitter, whose posts they retweeted and who they referenced in their blog posts.  Through this process I found someone who makes me think.  I enjoy when I discover a new idea or a new perspective.  It is important to include people that make you think and bring alternative perspectives.

Howard Rheingold

Howard Rheingold is one of those people that brings new ideas into my thinking.  I do find that I agree with much of what he says and he does bring practical ideas to my attention.  But he is also one of my resources that pointed out that you need to include multiple perspectives.  You don’t want a PLN that constantly agrees with you – you don’t get new ideas that way.  I find that his principles in NetSmart are good guidelines to follow.

Tools for PLN

In building my PLN, I have found the following tools most helpful:

Feedly

Feedly.com allows me to follow blogs, put them into categories and easily access new posts from one location.

Twitter

I use twitter to see what people are sharing and talking about.  I have also looked up hashtags for conferences I cannot attend to follow the backchannel.  WordPress also allows you to automatically send a tweet when a new blog post is published – allowing me to easily share what I am exploring.

LinkedIn

Along with individuals, LinkedIn also has groups.  I have found some valuable people in the Instructional Design and Moodle groups who I have followed on Twitter and added to my Feedly account.

So there you have some guidelines to help you in building your PLN.  Who will you find? What tools are you using?  Feel free to share in the comments so we can all build our PLN.

 

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