If I build it, will they come?

09 Sep

I’m a little fixated on this idea of a personal learning network (PLN).  Not because it’s new — as I wrote in a previous post, I’ve been building my network for years.  I’m fixated because I want it to be better!  I want it to be more interactive — less of me just sponging up all the information out there and more of me providing something useful to others.  I can’t really call it paying it forward, because I’ve got years of being the sponge to pay back first.

The idea for this post came from a weak link in my current PLN.  Two semesters ago, I ran across a presentation on SlideShare that fit perfectly with a project I was working on for ADLT 650.  I found the creator of the presentation on Twitter and decided to follow her.  For months, her posts would show up in my feed but not really resonate with me.  Then, this morning, two posts from her that reached out and slapped me across the face in terms of their relevance to my studies.  The first was a primer for open education.  The second was a TED talk by Dave Eggers on a tutoring program he founded for inner city school children with the help of his writers network.  Of what relevance is that to adult education?  Maybe none directly, but in the course of his talk, Eggers spoke of opening the tutoring center and waiting weeks before the first children came in for help.  That got me thinking about my PLN and how I built it but am still looking for the right tools to bring people to it.  To borrow from my current profession, I haven’t done a good job of marketing my PLN.

So how do I bring my PLN to life?  How do I get — as one of my classmates said — the connections that I reached out to to reach back to me?  Another classmate tweeted that all I needed to do was reference the boy band One Direction, and I would have an instant following.  In fact, just by tweeting that to me, she gained another follower!  (We’ll see if that holds true for this blog post!)  But she’s got a point… I need to write about stuff that other people want to read.  The internet may be the great platform of participation, but I need to find ways to cut through the clutter and be found.  I’m open to any and all suggestions!


Posted by on September 9, 2012 in ADLT 641


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7 responses to “If I build it, will they come?

  1. MelKoch

    September 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I am so excited by the One Direction mention! Holla! Also, I tweeted and used the hashtag #elearning and I got over 5 new followers. It’s interesting to find what catches people’s attention and what doesn’t.
    On my personal twitter, I have 300 followers (I know that is not a lot) but many of them are local people that I have become friends with through twitter. I don’t know how it happened–maybe they knew my husband or saw me at a concert–but it’s really built up my PLN. It’s organic. I think that you will just find your “thing”–it has to come naturally! You are already a good and consistent tweeter and an excellent writer so it’s only a matter of time.

  2. J Even

    September 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Thanks! After 3 years, Twitter finally clicked for me in the last 6 months… I’ll definitely keep at it. As for my new One Direction fans… no one yet. But maybe… 🙂

  3. Lindsey

    September 11, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I too have been thinking about how to expand my PLN but am not sure if I’m ready to use my blog as my main tool of interaction because I write it for me, and enjoy it’s anonymity outside of our program. I realize that could change at any time but I don’t want to feel like I’m writing for an audience, because then expectations form which catalyzes my inner nick-picking. Kudos to you for putting yourself out there! I’m interested to learn about the One Direction tag experiment 🙂

    I do want to push back on the comment you made about sponging without paying it forward. I think it is easier to recognize when we take, especially as students/learners, and we are less conscious about our individual contributions and the impact it can make for others. I personally feel you give often, especially in class and with your blog insights, and as I’ve gotten to know you am confident your wisdom extends to and enhances all of your networks.

  4. rhettwilcox

    September 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I’m so relieved to hear that I’m not the only diehard One Direction fanatic in class! Joking aside, your post has made me reflect on my PLN. Currently, my PLN is almost exclusively one way (information flowing towards me) or for my benefit and growth in this learning process. I haven’t approached it as a tool to share information/knowledge, choosing instead to use it in a somewhat selfish manner. I have definitely been a “sponge” you have described. I see the benefits of reaching out and bringing people to your network, with increased communication only benefiting the learning process. Just as Lindsey states, I’m not 100% comfortable with completely opening myself up to the world and approach blogging as a self-reflective practice, but realize there are certainly benefits to the process.

  5. sara

    September 17, 2012 at 12:42 am

    I found your post interesting because I never really saw my PLN as a two way process. It was more being on the end of getting information rather than giving. At the same time, I do believe that by putting yourself out there and giving to others, you not only help develop others, but also learn from the process. It is hard with the web b/c in order to be able to reach out, you need to be open for others. When you don’t know who exactly your audience can be, it is a little daunting.

    I don’t know how I really feel…. b/c it can also be more self reflective to a point but then there are elements of connections and giving. Do you keep it small? Expand out? It also doesn’t all have to necessarily be web based… it can be person to person connection.

  6. lsniestrath

    September 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Sometimes opportunities arise when we least expect them, like standing in line waiting for something to happen. I know that it’s difficult for some people to chat with strangers, however, use the situation as a topic of conversation if it’s uncomfortable talking about yourself. Our classmates are probably far more sophisticated then those we encounter on a daily basis. What we might consider to be of relatively little consequence, may be just enough to sustain another person. For example. when your chatting with someone and hear them say that they feel too old to go back to school, or that money and time just aren’t there the door now opens for a conversation about open courseware. Of course, if you haven’t actually taken one of the MOOCs, the information may not resonate as soundly with the listener. Just an idea, though.


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