Imagine a coffee house that’s open 24 hours a day. In one section there are tables where you can sit and chat with others who have interests similar to yours. There are books and magazines on a nearby bookshelf and they are all focus on subjects that interest you. You can drop by whenever you like, listen and read, and if the spirit moves you, you can jump in and participate in the conversation. If you don’t show up on a regular basis, no one scolds you. When you do show up, you’re always welcome.
This is how I envision my PLN (Personal Learning Network). In an age when global connections are possible in just a few clicks, we each have the opportunity to gather together the people with whom we want discuss our favorite topics and share our favorite resources. This comes as a welcome opportunity because, I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard fit everything in.
Developing an online PLN is manageable because I can spend as much, or as little, time participating as I want. And I can do it anywhere, anytime. The tools I use are Twitter managed by Tweetdeck, Google Reader, and Diigo. There are other tools available for this purpose, but these are the ones I’ve limited myself to. What is gathered for me with these tools is focused around my personal interests. It is admittedly far more than I could possibly read each day, but I don’t let that worry me. When I walk into a library, I don’t fret over the fact that I can’t read all the books in it. A friend gave me a good piece of advice: Think of your online PLN as a stream of information. You can go down and wade in the stream, enjoying what your find there for as long as you like. It will always be there for you to enjoy, so don’t worry about not getting it all at once.