Liz Davis talks about Ten Tips for Growing Your Learning Network in her blog post and it made me think about whether I do these things and if I had any others to add. I think the main point I got from her tips are that in order to grow a learning network, you have to be actively engaged in doing so. You can’t sit around hoping that it will come to you. Here are things I did to grow my learning network and if you have some you would like to add, please add them in your comments. I love learning new things to build up my network.
I read blogs about education by other people. I tried to pay attention to what I liked or didn’t like about the blog. I try to see any similarities in the blogs that I read. What made me keep coming back?
I signed up for a Google Alert for education topics that is sent to my email each day. I then read articles that were thought provoking. This saves time so I don’t have to search individual articles myself.
I began my own blog to clarify my thoughts, discuss the articles and blog posts that I read, and to share my ideas with other. Blogging takes time and energy but it is well worth it. I have met new people through blogging and I have enjoyed ideas that other people have shared with me about the topic. It is a lot of fun to get comments too. Not all people will agree with what I’ve written but it is nice to hear encouragement from the ones who do agree.
I joined Twitter and Plurk. I met other educators that I could interact with. The discussions really help me to stay on top of current issues. I also learn so many new things from my friends. Links to useful resources abound in the conversations and I love exploring these new territories. Any problems I have are usually easily solved by my network because someone out there has encountered the same problem at one time. If you do join, I suggest you stick with it for at least 2 weeks before you decide if you like it or not.
I attend some conferences. It can be online or face to face but this is very important. I attend the state and national Council for Exceptional Children conferences each year. I also attended my district’s Technology Conference. After joining Twitter and Plurk, I have been able to attend many free professional development sessions/conferences. You have to experience it yourself in order to really see how the power of your network can help you and actually experience it as it grows.
I use delicious and diigo to bookmark many useful resources. I also add others to my network on these pages so I can see what other people are bookmarking. It really saves a lot of time and when people add tags to their bookmarks, it is easier to find resources that you might need.
I use Google Reader in order to aggregate all the blogs I read. Then I don’t miss any updates of my favorite bloggers. I look forward each day to seeing what has been written. Sometimes if the topic doesn’t interest me, I can skim right over it. By aggregating my blogs into one place, I’m able to save time instead of constantly going to individual blogs to see if they have updated.
I listen to education podcasts. The discussion helps me see different sides to different issues. It helps me decide on what I think is important to me. People recommend podcasts that they listen and I like to check them out. I love to hear about projects that people are involved with, the process they are going through and how to get involved if I want to.
I join in the conversation. For a long while I just lurked in the background. I realized that to get the most out of my network, I had to add to the conversation. I had to be able to share my thoughts and opinions because what I put into this is what I would get out of it. If I just sat around waiting for everything to come to me, I would be sadly disappointed. I think that is why some people have trouble with networking. They are willing to put time and energy into its development and then wonder why it isn’t happening.
I feel these things have helped me develop a successful network and I hope that some of these things will help you. I think the most important thing to remember is to get out there and join in the conversations! See you there.