Taken from a painting of Kapiti Island at Sunset.
by Sonia Savage.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Making Time to build Your PLN.

When we are starting out to build a PLN the idea and task can be a little daunting.  It did to me at the beginning.  And really I still am at the beginning!  It does take time, but it doesn't need to be a lot of time.

In the most recent Edublogs PLN challenge Sarah Poling mentions the idea of spending 15 minutes a day, which will over a period of time make you very competent at what you are learning. For myself I then take this and say well I will spend some time most days.  Sometimes it will be more and sometimes less.

Brick Layer BrickLayerphoto © 2010 Eric Lockheart | more info (via: Wylio)
I started out in a small way and joined the classroom Edublogs blogging challenges run by Sue Wyatt, for the last few years.  I didn't realise at the time that I was beginning to build a PLN.  I thought I was just getting into the world of classroom blogging and it was away to connect with other teachers and classes. My eyes were opened to the learning going on in other classrooms and I wanted that for my class too.  At this time I was introduced to the use of Google reader, firstly to follow blogs in the challenge, then my student blogs and finally I now use it to follow teachers who I want to learn along with.

Earlier this year I joined the Edublogs Teacher blogging challenge and through that I found more teachers, learned along with them, or was amazed at what some of them were doing far beyond where I was.  Through that I became aware of some of the webinars that were available from such sources as Techtalk Tuesdays and I have joined in occasionally with those.  Recently I could not be at the live webinar but I connected in later to listen to an Evernote webinar.  Afterwards I spent some time setting up Evernote to track my students, as I had seen suggested my Richard Lambert on his blog.  He had presented a webinar on Digital Storytelling, I attended that, have since bought his book and want to start out on that particular journey.

During the Teacher Blogging challenge I decided to join Twitter.  This came as a result of seeing how teachers in the blogging challenge were using it.  I have started very small.  I usually link into it quickly a couple of times per day.  I am still learning the conventions of Twitter.  I was working with a student recently, and was having to remind her about putting in full stops.  During our last session she said, "Right now I put in a full stop." Then  had to be reminded again later.  I thought to myself why can't she do this all the time.  However I was reminded of that little thought later in the evening when I sent off a tweet without the hash-tags it needed. I had used them properly in another tweet, but forgot again.  I then understood where we both were in our learning steps!  It helped me be far more compassionate towards both of us.  Today I have been learning about the Structured Overview of Learning Outcomes (SOLO) and the experience made even more sense to me.

As you may be able to see, I think I am building a PLN in a way that is particular to me.  I am finding that as I  participate in something I am meeting up with people I have met up before so I am deepening links with some people.  It is then leading to something new, joining up with something new.  And so the journey goes on.  One thing leads to another. I want quality rather than quantity. So my goals for building my PLN are:

1.   Spend some time on it each day.
2.   Comment on people's blogs that I follow.
3.   Spend a little time surfing through the latest updates on Twitter.
4.   Click on links that interest me in a tweet.
5.   Connect with others on Twitter as I see the opportunity.
6.   Each day spend time with one idea gleaned.  Explore it and decide it I am going to depth it.
7.   Recognise when I have a sense of fullness, small bites will be enough.
9.   Track how gradually my PLN and my own skills and knowledge is growing.
      (For example my New Zealand contacts have grown as I have consciously set about to develop this.)

Time Fliesphoto © 2010 Hartwig HKD | more info (via: Wylio)

So what about actual time?  Sometimes in the morning I spend a little time glancing at my Google reader or Twitter. In the afternoon/evening  I might read on Twitter or engage in blogging. The weekend sometimes gives me some time as does school holidays as well. However I have less time for reading, watching TV, chores, and in person people time. It’s rather like budgeting with money, if you buy this then you can’t buy that..

To some extent what I choose is governed by what is going on around me or within me.  However I find that whatever I am passionate about time isn't a big factor.  I just need to remember I can't have it all.  We are time bound creatures!  However we have the gift of choice.   


  1. Kathryn,

    Whenever I read your posts, I always feel a sense of calm and purpose. When you set your mind to something, you do it, but you don't seem to get overwhelmed. What a great accomplishment! You are so right when you mentioned the more time you spend on the computer, the less time you have with chores, reading, and face-to-face time. Right now I have laundry to do, but at least I got the dishes washed! Time, and what we do with it, is important.


  2. Hi Kathryn, I'm pleased to hear how much things like the Student Blogging Challenge and Teacher Challenge has helped you. And you are right so many of the teachers have built a strong PLN as a result of the Student Blogging Challenge.

    But on a totally side issue your use of Evernote really interests me. I really haven't taken the time to learn enough about it. If you are ever interested and wanting to share how you use it we would love you to write a post about Evernote for the Free Tools Challenge.

  3. Hi Kathryn,
    I enjoyed reading your post. I just joined Twitter and I am having fun using it to find educational resources. After reading your thoughts, I think that I need to join a news reader and start following some good educational blogs too so I can make the most of the time that I have to spend on my PLN.
    Tina Schmidt

  4. Excellent point that you need to think about your purpose in building a PLN Kathryn. Something I need to reflect on in the future.

  5. Theresa
    Thank you, actually I think of you in that way! I only pursue what makes sense to me. I don't follow everything, because after all most of the day I am on my feet teaching. However my light reading is 'suffering'. Must remedy that this weekend.

    Yes Edublogs has been my leading light. You do a fabulous job with it. The day I joined Edublogs was the day my journey online really began. I will take time to explore Evernote a little more then I may be able to write a post for the Free Tools challenge.

    Thanks for dropping in. I hope you enjoy Twitter and yes Google reader is a handy little tool.

    Yes actually I hadn't thought of that directly but now you mention it I guess its important!!


  6. Thanks for your post! I have been thinking about goals but more goals about what I want to learn from my PLN. I appreciate your list of actual goals of how you hope to build and maintain your PLN. You have a great perspective! Thanks for the links and I look forward to learning and sharing more with you!



  7. Hi Kathryn,

    Nice post! I want to echo your comment back to Sue Waters about how much Edublogs Challenges have helped you. It's the most amazing PD because it builds PLN into it, it's self paced, deliberate, and on-going.

    I am currently taking an online class, one that I signed up for because I knew a few other teachers were going to take it in preparation for piloting blended learning next year. I am not so eager to engage in it because it doesn't fill me the way the Edublogs Challenges do. I absolutely love the culture in the learning community that Edublogs fosters and nurtures. It also allows me to meet people such as you.

    Kind regards,

  8. Tracy
    All so true re Edublogs, Sue and her team have done a wonderful job in upskilling us and bringing us together from all round the world.


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