PLN: PLaNning Ahead

Building a Personal Learning Network that Works for You

Resources for you from Shannon Steimel and co-presenter Jennifer Gosnell, John Burroughs. Presented at METC 2016.

Hungry for professional learning? Pick & choose what works for you.

There is a smorgasbord of options out there for keeping up to date on the latest trends in education and building your professional learning network. The key is to find the right mix that works for you! Click here for an overview of delivery and curation tools to build your PLN and read on for Shannon & Jen’s personal menus for professional learning.

wp-1455300626299.jpgShannon’s Bento Box of Professional Learning

My “go to” PLN tool is Twitter. I used to follow a lot of ed tech blogs through RSS & via email, but now my preference is to follow the creators of those blogs in Twitter. Why? Instead of just seeing their blog posts, I can see other articles & posts they find compelling. I can also interact–retweeting, asking questions and responding. I organize the people I am following in lists and follow certain education-related hashtags using Hootsuite. I also participate in educational Twitter chats such as the #moedchat Thursdays at 9pm CST. Twitter lets me connect with like-minded educators near and far. Please follow me @ShannonSteimel and see below for ideas of who else to follow to build your Twitter PLN. To learn more about getting started with Twitter, check out this great blog post from Ms. Edtechie. Classroom 2.0 and Pinterest are also on my menu for great professional learning.  The thing I love best about Classroom 2.0 is the discussion boards and the online events they offer. If you are looking to connect more locally with ed tech professionals and educators, check out the link below for some organizations you should know. Pinterest is great especially when you are looking for visual ideas. As a librarian, I am constantly looking up ideas for displays and upcycled book projects. I love that I can search by tags in Pinterest and even look for mashups of several tags at once to quickly find what I am looking for. It is also very easy to curate what I find by pinning and organizing the ideas into boards. For taking notes during professional development or conferences, I love Keep. I have it on my phone for to do lists and appointment reminders already, so it is super easy to make a new note and share it syncing between mobile and desktop. Finally, a WordPress blog is where I pull together my thinking about edtech to share out what I learn with others.

Jennifer’s Bento Box of Professional Learning

My “go to” PLN resource is Google+. Why? I have tried Twitter over and over again, but for me it can be overwhelming and hard to decipher. When I do use it I am more likely to view it in a browser window or through an aggregator such as TweetDeck, which allows me to follow particular hashtags. Twitter is also a great tool to use at conferences to grab a bunch of useful links.

Anyway, I am a fan of Google+ because it is built right into my GAFE account, allows me to follow, organize, and reshare information I find there, almost all of the people I follow and organizations I belong to use it to broadcast information, and the visual layout is a bit easier for me to follow and read. You will find that the best people in edtech make a point of publishing to multiple platforms, so it is just a matter of your preference to decide which way to receive the great information they are sharing. I do have a blog where I share out to my colleagues, and always cross-post it to Google+. I make a point of using Blogger, as it is the tool affiliated with Google.

When I find a great new source online or from someone else, I always try to save it to Diigo. I am a librarian by training, so I am a fan of “cataloging” information for later retrieval. Diigo lets me make collections, use existing tags or create my own, share sets to others, and generate link rolls or tag clouds to embed on a website or blog. I can use a Diigo browser on a mobile device or an extension in Chrome to make one-click saving a snap!

I follow a mix of library and edtech resources. People I follow include: Alice Keeler, Richard Byrne, Doug Johnson, and Jennie Magiera. Some people I follow who are here at METC include: Greg Lawrence, Bill Bass, Julie Smith, Gina Hartman and Nikki Robertson. I regularly check in to see what is being published on Edutopia, Edweek, Macworld, Teaching in Technology, Google for Education, Library Journal, and others.

Whom to Follow

Click here for a table where we list some of the educators whom we follow, along with their contact links for their blogs, web sites, Twitter handles, or any other links to their online presence.

How to Network

Click here for organizations that provide great opportunities for professional learning and networking. As you become more involved with the organizations that interest you, you will start to get a good sense of who the movers and shakers are in a particular educational area, who is a good source for your style of professional development, and what sorts of things you want to learn for yourself, as well as share with your colleagues,


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