The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

I and a few other teachers are wrestling with this question.  How do we carve out time from an already busy day to actively seek out connections and contribute to a personal learning network?  

I'm thinking about this differently than simply a set of steps on how to begin a PLN.  Richard Byrne created a great little presentation on that, and I've seen many since.  

My question is more about how these pieces (tweets, blog posting, social bookmarking, etc.) fit into a typical day's work/play/movement of life.  Do you designate certain minutes of each day?  How do you fit these around commitments to your family, faith community, sporting interests, etc.?  Do you use your phone or just your computer?  I guess I'm looking for specifics, such as those in this helpful blog post by Lisette Casey.  

I'd love to hear responses from this community, and thank you all in advance!  

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I tend to do most from my phone. Twitter is a constant source of CPD which I dip in and out of regularly. I've built a great PLN there which provides me with support, help, encouragement and advice as I need it. For longer conversations and discussion I make the most of forums such as this and voicethread for educators where I'm building another strong community. Blogs, I think about a little more and post as often as I can. But you're right, it's hard fitting it all in!
Thanks for your observations! I appreciate your thoughts. It seems, in my own journey, that I'm feeling stretched a bit thin at times. From your comment it seems you limit your venues of engagement to a manageable number (this and voicethread for educators). Have you found that you naturally gravitate to one community or another? Has this changed over time?

More and more I'm thinking about levels of connections, and how to grow from a series of loose connections to a valued few deeper ones, prompted in part due to a video from D'Arcy Norman. I'll try to include it below.

Thanks again for your time and response!

How do you connect to people online? from D'Arcy Norman on Vimeo.

Hi Drew. Thanks for the link. Yes I find myself gravitating towards certain networks. This one seems the most active right now. I've a few others that I dip into every now and again but they don't seem to be connecting people in the way educators pln does. There's also the link to Twitter which is really handy. Twitter fir me is a first port of call, where the headlines and highlights are. If I want to dig deeper this route is usually well signposted.
Thanks for the good word for educators pln, Michael. This has been a network I've only stopped in to visit once or twice, and it looks like I'll need to hang out here more often. I'll add the RSS feed to my reader on my way out today. I look forward to seeing you around!
I think there is a balance to strike between the time plugged in and time spent enjoying other parts of life around us. I guess because of a lot of this learning is personalized and self-directed I remind myself that twitter (the tool I use most) is a stream not a queue and I can check out the info stream without the pressure to "catch up" on all I might have missed while not on. I also have not installed a lot of apps on my other mobile devices because I don't want to always be "plugged in".

Twitter has worked for me because the updates are concise and the time I invest in pulling resources I get back ten times in not searching for these resources. And I guess that would be my last thought - if used properly the PLN saves more time than it takes.
Good question though -

Thanks, Emory. I like your metaphor for Twitter. As a stream of resources, I like jumping in and out according to my time schedule. I appreciate this use, but I had hoped Twitter would be more of a back and forth community where discussion could occur. I've been noticing is that Twitter isn't always a great place to ask questions, at least not for me. Perhaps that's a function of the tool itself (140 characters makes it difficult to express opinions), or perhaps I need to use it in a different way. Have you had success building dialog through Twitter? Was that dialog with people with whom you have regular face-to-face contact? If not, how did you build that connection?

One tool that really seems to work for extended dialog is this forum. Thanks, again, for contributing to the discussion!
Hey Drew,
I think I'd agree with all your impressions of twitter. I've only recently found it useful for dialog (and even now it is limited). And I think you're right about the 140 limit and how it creates a challenge but I also think it is important to follow and be followed by people who will engage in some conversation with you. It is harder to grow that network - harder to measure. I do now have a small handful of people who will respond (if they are able). It is also nice to have folks who will RT your points or questions.
One my end, I've tried to see some of the opportunities for conversation and dialog - I'm pretty bad about using it mainly as a place to share resources. I'm hoping by responding to others in my network I'd inviting them to respond to me as well.
I do think this is a good post and a common frustration for folks who would like to use twitter as a platform for discussion and dialog.
So I've enjoyed your post.
Oh, also have you participated in an #edchat yet?
Thanks for your reply, Emory! I'm learning a lot from this discussion topic.

I'm glad to hear it's taken time to grow your network. Pardon me if I'm reading too much into your response, but it seems like you look for opportunities to respond to others and then try to maintain contact with those individuals who, maybe after a while, reciprocate by responding to or retweeting your updates. I've got 3 or 4 people in my network who regularly do this -- perhaps I'll try spending more time reading and responding to them.

I haven't participated in #edchat yet, though I've seen that hashtag around and wondered what it was all about. If you have time to include details here or have a link to a description, I'd love to hear more!
Yeah, #edchat is all about conversation (although at times because of the number of participants - it can be a bit busy). Every Tuesday #edchat runs at 12:00 noon and 7:00 pm - I think those times are right and the topic is determined ahead of time through poll.
It is educators responding the topic and including the hashtag #edchat to follow dialog and conversations.
@shellterrell usually moderates the noon and @kylepace is moderating the 7:00 pm edition. You should check it out - I've found interesting people to follow and add to network using #edchat.
I think this edupln ning might have been an product of the #edchat meetings.
Might be worth checking out.
Thanks, Emory! Sounds like something worthwhile. I'll try to fit one of these in soon!
Hi Drew,
I have to always out aside an hour during the day and some time late evening to scan through my Twitter feed and other social platforms I participate in. Most days all I have time for is to visit my favorite forums such as this.
Ajay (
Thanks for stopping by, Ajay. I appreciate the concrete observations about your time. It seems that if I set an hour aside it tends sometimes to last a bit longer than I anticipate. Setting aside some time in the evening might help me manage this a bit. Do you have a favorite tool that you use with Twitter, or techniques you apply? I keep meaning to get to viewing this screencast on managing Twitter through Tweetdeck. Perhaps you'd find it interesting! Thanks again!



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