Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Building a PLN

For a few years now I've been hearing all about building my own Personal Learning Network. And the concept seems terrific. Even the actuality of it has been good. But it has also been a struggle.

Take this blog, for example. I know I'm not writing anything earth shattering. I'm sharing basic resources and tips. But does ANYONE read? Google tells me that I've had over 1000 page views. But I've had less than a dozen comments. So who is reading? Am I just not sharing anything worthwhile?

And then there is Twitter. I follow a bunch of folks. Good folks who share tons of great resources. And some folks follow me. But when a presenter at a conference tweets to his/her followers and suddenly dozens of responses pop up on the screen, it seems like a trick. Sure, that person is a keynote speaker day after day, has written books, is well they can throw out a question and gets dozens (hundreds?) of answers. It doesn't work that way for your average guy. I can throw out a question and get one response. Or no responses. Cause I'm not so well known. And after seeing how Twitter worked for them, that feels like a failure.

So I'm still struggling to develop a better PLN. One that not only brings resources to me as a passive participant, but one where I'm more active. Where there is more conversation and collaboration.

In an effort to get there, I'm participating in the new Edublogs Challenge - 30 Days To A Whole New PLN. Let's see if this kickstarts some new learning for me and some new ideas about participating in a more effective manner.


  1. Hi Emil,

    You are so right that PLN takes time to develop, and I completely agree that it is frustrating to not have any responses. I quite honestly didn't even know that I was part of a PLN, I was just enjoying contributing to conversations and was learning so much.

    That was the key to it though, I interacted with those that I was learning the most from & those who were learning from/with me, and through those interactions, I made connections. The Edublog Teacher Challenges for Blogging is what helped me think through certain steps that are part of the process of building PLN. I didn't even realize I was doing it.

    Kathleen Morris blogs/Tweets about it a lot, and I just keep asking her questions about it. She is so helpful and makes it easy for the newbie to understand, because that is definitely where I'm at. I'm a newbie.

    I look forward to learning with you.

    Kind regards,
    Tracy Watanabe

  2. Hi Emil. Thanks for leaving a comment on my PLN VoiceThread, and for your honest reflections on your experiences.

    I must say that the development of a PLN takes time, as it's value lies in the connections you form and grow.

    For example, my blog readership exploded after I participated in the Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge earlier this year, and actively started tweeting blog links using Twitter hashtags, such as #edchat #ukedchat.

    EVERY teacher has something worthwhile to share. I understand fully the frustrations of being unknown. Start some conversations, respond to other people's questions, and try to get to know people.

    Maybe find a mentor - e.g. @clivesir, @whatedsaid, @kathleen_morris.

    Maybe try attending an online conference & share your Twitter contact - most of my online friendships began during the online Reform Symposium Conference in Jan 2011. (The next one, RSCON3 is coming up 29-31st July).

    Anyway, please don't give up. We're here to help. Feel free to give us a shout on Twitter as well - I'm always up for a chat.


    Michael (@mgraffin)

  3. Thanks for the feedback! It was great to hear from Tracy and Michael. I look forward to learning more as we go...and I'm definitely following you guys on Twitter! :)

  4. Hi Emil, I noticed that there was a problem for the link to this post on the Teacher Challenge so I've now fixed it for you. Sorry we didn't find it sooner.

    I hadn't thought about how as a presenter when you ask lots of people to respond on Twitter how it might make people feel when they are starting out and not getting lots of responses.

    Responses is directly related to the number of people who follow you, whether they like the question you ask and the time of day.

    Personally I think it has become a bit harder nowadays to get responses compared to what Twitter used to be like. The key really isn't any different on Twitter than on any other social network. You do need to build relationships. This is why the people that Michael mention do well on twitter as they focus on relationship building and helping others.

  5. Hi Emil! I am pretty new to this PLN concept so I understand some of your frustrations. I tend to move pretty fast and jump right in so when the feedback doesn't correspond to the level of motivation and effort, it can be a let down. I agree with the comments above, building relationships, helping others, and giving it time. I don't know if you have had the chance to participate in a live twitter chat yet but that can be a great way to learn about what kind of tweets get good responses as well a chance to practice in a setting where everyone is asking and responding in real time. Check out #edchat

    Thanks for sharing and look forward to working together on the PLN Challenge!

    Take care,

    Sarah @sarah_wg