Previously, a PLN was a “Professional” Learning Network: a somewhat fixed group of people that you join or are asked to join for your professional development. Now PLN is being used instead to indicate a “Personal” Learning Network: a very personal (individual) set of people you choose to follow or communicate with for your professional development, usually outside of any formal requirement.
Today’s Mightybell, like many of the other ones, consists of something that I have done somewhat naturally without necessarily doing it with the explicit purpose of building the network. The main point of today’s exercise was using the RSS feed in order to subscribe to various blogs and websites, and then using some sort of service or tool to aggregate this information. I actually do use both Google Reader and iGoogle to gather and organize my RSS feeds and information. iGoogle is my tool of choice because the layout is more appealing and I can pick and choose what I want to read much easier.
I also use RSS to subscribe to various podcasts and use iTunes or another open source program like Banshee in order to subscribe to podcasts. Podcasts are actually slightly better for me because I often find my reading time at a real premium.
In fact, te single biggest complaint or concern from fellow Mightybell travelers is pretty much the same: having too much information and sifting through it all. I almost always get behind on all of my subscriptions and end up only reading or listening to a fraction of what I have coming in. I’ll talk a little more about this overload in the next exercise, but it really is a concern even though I am not even using all of the tools available. I have lots of interests, it is just a matter of managing them all!
For me there also has to be some balance between reading and writing. Reading more makes me a better writer for sure, but I need to find a balance in order to continue to be part of the network and environment that I choose to participate in. The two go together for me, so the PLN is a crucial piece.
The biggest weakness for me, at least at present, is how to leverage this network into something that has a more tangible benefit professionally. I have interests and enjoy pursuing those through reading or writing. But it is only recently that I have been concerned about these pursuits having some sort of monetary value. I have always seen the reading and writing as a sort of sideline hobby, but it IS something I enjoy doing. I still scratch my head when I consider that people would actually pay to read something that I write. The Thinking Person’s Guide To Autism is at least a step in helping me see some potential in that direction. But generally the biggest satisfaction for me is derived from helping other people which is what I think underlies most of the content and people in my PLN.