In 2010, I read David Warlick‘s Gardener’s Approach to Learning: Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network. I liked the idea of cultivating an information ecosystem (it appealed to the permaculturalist in me) . After reading the book, I decided to map my PLN out. I found the exercise gave me a good overview of where I was digging, what areas seemed to be most fruitful for me and who my fellow ‘gardeners’ were. But change is as rapid in an information ecosystem as it is in the natural world; tools changed, needs changed, and I found my PLN was getting overgrown so I did a bit of weeding then remapped it. You can see it and what I wrote about it on my professional eportfolio here.
We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. (Marshal McLuhan)
The active conversation at that stage was about making sense of connected learning; making meaning of being part of a network. It made me realize that not only was my network changing (again) but that it was changing me and in all the hurry and infowhelm I wasn’t pausing to take in the lay of my info landscape or trying to make sense of it. The conversation also had me thinking that up until now my PLN was a pretty serendipitous affair, like one of those gardens with things that just pop up from seeds of previous plantings. Is this a good thing or should I be trying to plan my PLN a bit more seriously than that? I decided to update my map then compare the two, and look at the changes to perhaps gain some meaning from all that was going on. (Back to the Webspiration drawing board!)
There’s a link to my new PLN map here (better resolution)
In comparing the two and in reflecting on the map I noticed that:
- I’m being shaped by Google tools – they have more influence on my online experiences and PLN than in the past. (Is this a good thing or a bad thing?)
- my PLN input is leaner. (I recognize the need to continuously streamline what I subscribe to, and be ruthless about it.)
- I’m increasingly ignoring my feeds, twitter and Google + for days on end then trying to catch up. (sounds like professional FOMO, I need to learn to let go)
- staff at school are not part of my online PLN (an area I’d now like to focus on)
- I’m contributing/creating more content (authoring/creating digital media/presenting at conventions). Increased creation is squeezing out the amount of time I have for consumption. ( Is that a good or bad thing? Good I think)
- I’ve become increasingly interested in Digital Citizenship (and the bigger picture of SEL)and it is reflected in my PLN
- I’m shifting from following blogs on RSS feeds to following the blog creators on Twitter (Benefits – extra content, more interactive, more immediate.)
- I’m decreasing the places I go to for professional news/reading -consolidating on Twitter, Facebook pages, Google+ rather than subscriptions and rss feeds. Less time consuming.
- I follow an increasing number of people who are big picture thinkers, not necessarily educators. I’m widening my awareness, interested in the global changes and trends that are taking place all across the info landscape.