Growing My PLN

Prior to this class, I assumed myself to be fairly technologically literate. I used many forms of social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep current on what was happening in my friend’s lives. I enjoyed using Pinterest and reading blogs to find ideas to use in my future classroom. I was open to including technology in my future teaching. While I assumed that I was technologically literate, I still hesitated when asked to build my Personal Learning Network. Why? I think my biggest fear was that I would be judged based on what I put out into the world, or that I would have nothing intelligent to contribute. Looking back, my reluctance seems silly. While the Internet can seem intimidating, it is a place where an abundance of learning, both professionally and personally, can take place. Through the use of Twitter and blogging, I feel like my Personal Learning Network has grown significantly.

I have had a Twitter account for over two years, and while I have always enjoyed reading my followers’ tweets, I rarely created my own. When we were first asked to use Twitter for this class, I knew that I wanted a fresh start. For this reason, I created a new Twitter account. This gave me the opportunity to change my attitude regarding Twitter. Rather than just reading other people’s thoughts, I started to create my own. After a while, it just became second nature for me to post on twitter any time I found an interesting article, or thought a certain quote was especially meaningful during lecture. Instead of being a duty, it became a way for me to share my interests with the world, and learn from others doing the same.

One of my strongest interests is disabilities awareness, specifically Autism. I am always eager to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, and therefore many of the articles and videos that I posted, such as this video on the Autism Resource Centre, and people that I followed were based on this interest. During seminar, Julie talked about how eventually what you post can influence others who you do not know to follow you. I had never experienced this before, until Autism Meetup started following me. Autism Meetup is a UK account, and is a platform for families, professionals, and volunteers to unite and “provide platform for helping our community.” I had never heard of them before, but it was just so amazing to me that they would choose to follow me based on my posts! This was the moment where I realized just how beneficial twitter could be. It is a place for people to connect and learn from one another, no matter their geographical location.

What I really enjoyed about using Twitter during ECS 210 was the sense of community it created within the class. In a class of over one hundred people, it would be easy not to get to know anyone or even interact with each other. Through Twitter I was able to read the opinions of people that I did not have the chance to talk to during lecture and seminar, and voice my own otherwise unheard opinions. For example, during lecture I often tweeted out quotes that I thought were important to remember, such as this quote from Bonnie Morton. I was also able to learn from the tweets of my classmates, including this tweet made by Curtis. Through this tweet, I was able to understand oppression in a way that I had not previously considered.

Twitter not only helped me better understand class concepts, but provided me with a space to voice any concerns that I had regarding assignments, and receive immediate feedback. An example of this feedback is this exchange between Katia and myself. I asked a question regarding assignment four, and within minutes Katia had the solution for me. Prior to this class, I had never considered how much using Twitter could teach me.

Another way in which my Professional Learning Network has grown is through my WordPress blog. When we were first asked to blog, I’ll admit that I was extremely doubtful. I had blogged for a class during high school, and it seemed like I just spent the whole time summarizing novels. I assumed that’s what I would be doing on my ECS 210 blog, and did not see how that could benefit me in any way. I am happy to say that my opinion on blogging has completely changed. I now understand that having a professional blog means creating posts based on carefully thought out opinions that stimulate thoughts and questions. By creating posts, as well as reading and commenting on others’ posts, I was able to fully reflect on the content of this course, and engage in meaningful conversation regarding the content. An example of this type of meaningful conversation is one that occurred between Christine and I regarding a post I wrote on standardized testing. Rather than just complimenting me on the post, Christine asked thought provoking questions on standardized testing that allowed us both to understand the topic more clearly.

While I really enjoyed blogging throughout this class, I found that I did not comment on others’ blogs as much as I would have liked. Between readings, assignments, blogging, and twitter, it often slipped my mind to not only read a large number of my peers’ blogs, but comment on them as well. In this way, I think blogging both helped grow my Personal Learning Network, while also keeping it at a standstill. It’s not that I do not think that commenting on others’ blogs is important; I just wish that I would have commented more often.

I am so thankful for this class for pushing me outside my comfort limits. Now that I have started my Personal Learning Network, I intend to keep on growing it. In order to do this, I plan to continue my journey through Twitter and WordPress. They have proven to be exceptional learning tools. I also plan to incorporate technology into my future classroom. Considering how much I have learned through the use of my Personal Learning Network this semester, I cannot even imagine how much my students will be able to learn!



2 thoughts on “Growing My PLN

  1. kfidelack says:

    I love how you mentioned that posting interesting resources on Twitter has become second nature – I feel the same way! Our PLN becomes a valued group of peers that we want to share these important and interesting things with.

  2. Julie Anne Machnaik says:

    Ashton, It’s so interesting to read your initial thoughts about sharing online. You wrote, “biggest fear was that I would be judged based on what I put out into the world, or that I would have nothing intelligent to contribute”. This feeling is shared by many (including myself). It takes a lot of courage & confidence to put opinions out for others to critique, challenge, question. You reflect and regret that you did not contribute to other people’s blogs – the great thing about all these amazing blogs is that if you didn’t have time to read & comment on other posts you can do it anytime. Each blog is so jam-packed with great stuff – it could be a summer full of exploration!

    Thanks for sharing your view on how Twitter helped to create a sense of community in the large lecture. That’s great to hear. How wonderful to learn from others in the same room even if you don’t know who they are. Neat how Twitter has become ‘second nature’ – guess we’ll be seeing you online! 🙂

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