In my previous blog post, I discussed my reasons and motivations for beginning my Personal Learning Network (PLN) journey. One month later, inspired by a creative make task, as part of a Master’s unit in Connected Learning, I am reflecting on what my PLN looks like and how it has grown and evolved. Through this process, an image of a flower blooming came to mind. A flower bud slowly starting to unfurl its petals, is symbolic of how I see my PLN slowly starting to develop into something beautiful.
During the last month, my PLN on Twitter has started to bloom with an increased number of followers resulting in greater interactivity on my posted tweets. I have worked hard to become a participatory member of my PLN, through the sharing of useful articles and information mainly focused on my targeted area of interest – the promotion of a reading culture in school. This targeted focus has assisted me in narrowing my focus, in order to filter information and connect with people who have similar learning interests to myself. My connections with people have also increased through liking, commenting and participating in conversations with my PLN. The image below shows how the visibility of my tweets in the PLN has grown.
A critical incident that occurred during this time also assisted with increased interactivity and engagement with my PLN. In early May, I shared a blog post on the promotion of a reading culture which included tips and useful resources for educators. This tweet resulted in the highest engagement level with any of my tweets so far. I was both surprised and delighted to receive likes, retweets and comments on both my tweet and personal blogging. Since then I have also gained new followers and noticed continued interactivity with subsequent tweets. Comments on the blog tweet, regarding the role of the teacher librarian in the promotion of a reading culture in schools has also caused me to further reflect and has sparked ideas for a new blog post. Suddenly it seemed, the petals of the flower were beginning to open.
Feeling an increased sense of confidence, I have expanded my PLN through establishing an Instagram account. The use of this social media platform has seen a different side of my professional identity emerge. I have used Instagram to further engage in creative and amplifying practices through sharing images and tips from my daily practise as a classroom teacher, as well as new found knowledge from my teacher-librarian studies. I find I am remixing and distributing the information gleaned through Twitter and my own research in a different way to meet the expectations of an Instagram audience. As a result, I am enjoying experiencing how Twitter and Instagram support my PLN and learning needs in both different and complementary ways.
As my PLN begins to bloom, a challenge I am facing is managing my time in order to further develop my PLN, as well as effectively deal with the vast amount of information appearing in my social media feeds. Currently, I identify with the practices of a self-directed sharer in my interactions with my PLN. I enjoy self-directed learning and sharing my knowledge with my PLN, colleagues and students. However, due to my busy lifestyle as a part-time teacher, Masters student and mother to four sons, I need to become more of a time manager and implement effective strategies to manage the flow of information and the time needed to further develop my PLN. This is something I look forward to exploring in order to see my PLN bloom into the beautiful flower it has the potential to be.