Step 1 is an overview of the meaning of a PLN. A PLN (personal or professional learning network) is a way for educators to connect with each other and to share ideas and/or resources. PLNs have many benefits as they allow people to connect through multiple media and interests. They allow people to globally connect and have access to information all say all the time. I did learn that PLNs are not a one-way avenue, the educator has to be active in sharing their ideas and research to continue to make a PLN function in its more functional form.
In step 2 the section is about making connections and what avenues are available. Social media is a great tool to use in regards to making a connection, with Twitter being the most popular tool with the use of 53%. Twitter is not the only social media available as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+ are great tools as well, 84% of people use multiple sites. Time must be invested in creating a footprint as a connected educator and if that time is not given a barrier can be made. Educators have to go out and get the information and not just sit and wait for it to come to them.
Step 3 is an overview of how to use Twitter in building a PLN. Since Twitter is the most popular of social media in regards to educators it should be an integral focus when starting to develop a PLN. The section then delves into the history of Twitter and the anatomy of an actual tweet to really dissect the media for people who have never been introduced. It is explained that Twitter is not just for fun but can also be used for personal development with like-minded peers, as long as you are able to reach out to already established professionals. The true key to all of it though is once you have created an account is to stick with it.
Step 4 went over hashtags and how they function and could be used as well as Twitter chat. Hashtags allow tweets to be categorized and allows followers or others to easily find your posts. Hashtags are not created by Twitter but by its users to allows for searching as well as to see what is a “trending” event. In the event of creating your own hashtag, the teacher should come up with something memorable and then see if it is already being used by searching it before implementing it. Tools such as hashtagify.me can be used to find trending hashtags to help your posts be seen by a larger audience. Twitter chats use hashtags to allow people to meet at a certain time and chat among another using tweet and referencing the hashtags to allows the rest to see. They usually use a moderator to keep the conversation moving and on topic.
Step 5 goes away from Twitter and explores one of the other avenues a teacher can use to expand their PLN, a blog. A blog is a website that continually updates information but in reverse chronological order, allowing its users to always see the most updated post first. Blogs usually have an option for its readers to comment, allowing them to speak their opinion on the subject to spark conversation from like-minded readers or to ask questions to the writer to gain a better understanding. It is not all about creating a blog thought educators have to be active in reading other educators blogs as well, this keeps them inspired with new ideas as well and get the vision of another educator from their point of view. Reading the blog is nice but there is once more step forward that must be taken in order to take advantage of this avenue and that is commenting. Just as you would like seeing a person commenting and communicating on your blog a reader has to do the same and reach out with their opinion and questions to make it a full experience.
Step 6 is an overview of curation which is a sifting of all information to find the most relevant and respectable resources and topics. This is a necessary chore as the internet is overloaded with as much useless information as it is with useful. An educator with good curation skills can find the source of true information and share it to others making their PLN stronger as people will keep coming back for more knowing it is correct. The basic steps when curating is to read, editorialize (find quotes or connect it with other work), and then share it. The article then shares tools that are available for educators to use when curating such as wakelet,nuzzel, pocket, and diigo.
Step 7 is all about taking the information that was gained from each step and implementing it to not only start creating a PLN, but to also make time to continue it. To make sure the educator does not get overwhelmed they must start small and try to compete with a more established PLN. An educator should find their niche and approach it with their own point of view. An educator should then set a routine and goals that they can meet to keep them posting and adding to their own PLN. It is easy to get away from using this tool due to the work but if you put a small amount of time each day it will allow a much more satisfactory experience for yourself as well as readers. Above all never give up.
What did I learn? I learned through these steps that building a PLN is not just starting a twitter and sharing posts. It takes research to make sure what you are posting is reputable as you are responsible for what is shared as much as the person who wrote it in the first place. In creating a PLN Twitter is not the only tool to be used as blogs and other social media can be just as useful and should be used with Twitter. A PLN takes work but it well worth it to be able to exchange ideas and share an experience with people in the same profession to keep up with what is new and used in the field.
What did I do? In step 3 the article gave people on Twitter that an educator should follow to increase their reach on the social media platform. I followed all individuals listed involved with elementary school or technology in school. I hope to see the articles or experiences they share and tweet, and also how much they post, to get a more detailed understanding of what it takes to run a successful PLN.