Networking is HARD. Maybe I am being dramatic, but I suppose it is the idea of putting yourself out there for the world that is hard. Sharing your work is hard when you have been confined to hidden workspaces on Moodle or Blackboard. Interacting with academic professionals twice your age is scary. Vulnerability is intimidating. Taking the first step to creating a personal learning network might have been hard, but the 735th step…not hard.
A personal learning network (PLN) is one of the most interesting, intriguing, and beneficial tools a student could develop. PLNs expand learning outside of the classroom and across countries. Following, liking, retweeting, and tweeting about current information from academic domains and professionals in your field of study- all on a free platform….priceless. There is no way I would have believed anyone that said they use Twitter for academic purposes. It sounds so silly. Yet, the quality of information and support I have received from my PLN has been astonishing.
Building a quality PLN takes a lot of time and dedication which can be hard when you simply want to unplug for a few days. There were days I simply did not want to go on Twitter because I knew it would suck up so much time scrolling through all the information, but I was always glad I did. The constant feed of relevant and sometimes irrelevant allowed me to sift through exactly what it was I wanted to be sharing about myself, my interests, and my beliefs. I follow a lot of accounts, but I also unfollow a lot of accounts. It is a process for identifying sources of material which you truly value because there are a lot of mainstream media accounts posing to be more than they are. But most importantly, through my PLN I found resources for continuing education after graduation, I found professionals with work to follow, and I found support in individuals who take the time to read and share my work.
Take a peak at My 2017 PLN Summary!