Although my blog may play a central role in my personal learning network, it isn't the only thing that does. I spend a fair bit of time cultivating my network. My network isn't just the people I connect with, it is also the tools I used to connect and learn. And my network isn't strictly virtual, as I connect face-to-face as well. So here are some ways I cultivate my personal learning network:
- Blogging. I use my blog to share my reflections, but also help me reflect. I'm delighted when I get comments, as knowing that others are reading legitimizes the process -it also reinforces and sometimes even challenges my learning. I currently maintain two blogs (rjh.goingeast.ca and goingeast.ca), and I'm working on a third mobile blog created and accessible with mobile phones (under construction – mo.goingeast.ca) with micro entries and more multimedia.
- Twitter chats. I regularly join in on two different synchronous tweet chats – #lrnchat and #phdchat. The first is a group of learning professionals that meets once per week to discuss learning related topics. The second is a group of Ph.D. students that meet weekly to discuss Ph.D. related topics. Both help me figure out what I think on the weekly topic and allow me to learn from others – I find the tweet chat process sparks creative thinking in me.
- Twitter hashtags. Unlike chats, hashtags are asynchronous threads that help me filter out all the noise in the twitter world. I primarly follow #mlearning, but at times I'll add others. I'm open to suggestions for other useful hashtags!
- LinkedIn. Whenever possible, I have connections to my professional contacts in LinkedIn. This allows me to keep track of my professional connects as they move between jobs.
- Lunch or coffee. I try to have lunch with my personal connacts at least once every six months. This allows for knowledge transfer in less formal settings – and ensure that I stay in connact with people. I make the effort to setup these connections on a regular basis.
- Classes. I'm currently taking face-to-face classes at Ottawa U. I use these as opportunities for learning and making connections with both my fellow classmates and with the professors.
- MOOCs. I attend MOOCs to help me spend a little time each week focussing on the weekly content, but also to connect with more like minded people. I virtually meet a lot of people through MOOCs and develop closer connections with a few, who I may collaborate with or participate in regular blog discussions.
- Outreach. I reach out to authors in areas where I'm interested in researching. This might be to ask for clarification on a statement they made in a publication or just to follow their blogs or twitter feeds. Sometimes this results in meaningful dialog – it even resulted in an academic supervisor for my Masters thesis! You never know until you reach out and try.
That's what I can think of at the moment. I'm sure I'm missing a few things!
How do you cultivate your learning networks?