Technology has allowed for 24/7 learning on-demand. I started building my personal learning network about 3 years ago. I have never been so excited about learning since it became so easy. I have access to thousands of individuals who share the same interests as i do. Many of these are professional contacts, but some are individuals with similar personal interests Ex: fly fishing, travel and the health/fitness. I check/communicate with my network many times throughout the day. I learn something new every time I do.
My network consists of the following:
A maintain a feed aggregator page. I use Igoogle and Google Reader. I subscribe to a number of blogs. Each time someone updates their blog postings i receive an update in my aggregator. I subscribe to blogs that focus on many topics. Primarily i subscribe to Educational Technology Blogs. I also subscribe to some that relate to my personal interests. This has probably been the number 1 resource in my network.
I am a member of Twitter. Currently my network consists of about 300 followers. I network with individuals who work in educational technology. I also follow espn, cnn and some other organizations that I am interested in. I must admit that i do not spend a lot of time on Twitter. I find it hard to find the time to stay connected. I do not use mobile technologies to connect to it. However, every single time I do interact with my network i walk about with at least 3-5 new resources, ideas or thoughts. I sometimes use it to throw out questions. It has been a valuable resource for me.
I am a member a few social networks. Primarily I am a member of NING networks. The most notable is www.classroom20.com. This is a network for educators who utilize web2.0 tools and technology in general in their classrooms. Recently they have reached 25,000 members. I could go on an on about the value here but i will leave it at " you have to join". I subscribe to updates in the forum in my feed aggregator.
I read a number of publications. Most of them I subscribe to in my feed reader. I can get a quick snapshot of the new articles. I can then decide which ones are of interest to me. It makes it very easy to stay on top of multiple publications without spending a lot of time. The best part is that it is free. A few that i read are eschool news, the journal, technology and learning and ASCD publications.
I maintain a social bookmarking account. I use www.delicious.com. This is a powerful tool. Social bookmarking sites allow you to save your favorite websites on a website. This means they are accessible from any computer with an internet connection. You add and access bookmarks easily by installing a couple of buttons on your internet browser toolbar. I have organized thousands of sites with tags (keywords that you apply to sites you bookmark). The real power of this service is the social aspect. You can search and share bookmarks with everyone that uses the service. I have networked with many individuals who share the same interests that i do. I am constantly reviewing their resources in addition to my own. It is such a time saver and a valuable tool.
Open courseware and video sharing are the newest addition to my network. www.academicearth.org, www.ted.com, itunesU, ustream, and other open course providers are some of my favorites. i can watch short videos or take complete courses on topics that are of interest to me professionally and personally. I can even take part in live workshops. I am really starting to take advantage of these resources lately.
I encourage you to start to develop your own personal learning network. If you would like to read my newsletter that discusses RSS feeds and developing you "PLN" you can view it here. I invite you to add me to your networks and feeds as a start. I will share my contact info below.