I gave a presentation last week at the ARK Group, “eLearning and Instructional Design” conference. My talk was focused on the capacities of Web 2.0 and I spent some time on the topic, The world at you door, tools for developing your Personal Learning Network (PLN). The areas I covered included social networking/forum websites, blogging and micro-blogging. I mentioned applications/services such as Twitter, Yammer, Ning, Elluminate, Wikispaces, Wetpaint, WordPress & Blogger.
I told my own story with regard to the way particular technologies and applications had supported the development of my PLN (while I’m calling it a Network, the term Environment is also appropriate – check out Britt Watwood’s blog post where he reflects on his notion of a PLN and provides a nice graphic to explain it). To demonstrate the value and power of the Twitter aspect/component of my PLN, it was fun (and surprising to myself) to be able to say;
“It’s only because of Twitter that …
- I’m here talking with you
- I have an international network to draw on (immediately)
- I have become part of communities of practice
- I know @AnneBB (and others)
- I found a place to eat last night
- I’m having dinner with some tweeps tonight”
Some members of the audience may have thought to themselves that to be able to give these examples was all a bit sad, and that Twitter was running my life. It may seem that way, but Twitter has provided me with many opportunities to meet people face to face and enabled friendships to grow as well as develop my professional understanding of the way we might use the affordances of tool like Twitter for learning and teaching.
After all, I recognise that Twitter is still only one dimension of my PLN, but it is a very valuable one. I haven’t done the exercise, but with the traditional tools such as email, academic journals, and conferences etc. I’m sure my PLN would have taken years to develop, rather than months.
Now to do some evangelising and convince some colleagues to ‘get on board’. Any suggestions from you as to how I might do that?