Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ten Tips for Growing Your Learning Network

1. Start big and small. People with smaller networks are more likely to interact with you. Do a Technorati blog search on a topic you are interested. Look for blogs that have authority below 50, these tend to be people newer to the blogosphere who are more likely to interact with their readers.

2. Check people's blogrolls, find some one you like and then check their blog roll and so on and so on.

3. Go to and look at the education feeds. Again, don't limit yourself to people in education.

4. Join Twitter or Plurk and look at followers and fans, check out the bios of the people you follow and take a look at their blogs and Websites. If you are new to Twitter and/or Plurk be sure to add a bio before you start following people.

5. Check out the education related groups on Ning. Try Classroom 2.o, Library 2.0, Ning in Education, and Global Education. Check out the Members page. Look at individual pages for people who share your interests.

6. Attend some conferences, be brave and say hello to people. Introduce yourself to presenters after the session, look at the conference Website and check out the attendee's page. Attend K12 Online and follow the links to the presenters blogs and Twitter pages.

7. Use your social bookmarking network. When you find a link you like, tag it and look at the other people who have tagged that link, then check out their bios, add them to your network.

8. Set up an aggregator. I use Google Reader to keep my network in one place. I subscribe to blogs, bookmarks, news, podcasts, and Twitter.

9. Listen Live to EdTechTalk shows and participate in the backchannel chat.

10. Participate, don't just lurk, you have to give to get. Don't be afraid to share your ideas, comments and links. We are all both leaders and followers. Let your voice be heard.

Thanks to Lisa Thumann for inspiring this post!

Image Source: Power Law of Participation From the Flickr photo stream of Ross Mayfield.


Anonymous said...

I have found to be an invaluable tool for attending professional development sessions from around the world. A couple of weeks ago, from my office in a tiny town in West Central Florida, I was able to attend a conference in China, later that day, attend another session in Pennsylvania, then the following day, another in California. How amazing is that??!!!

Anonymous said...

Nicely done. I'll definitely use this. Thanks.

David Truss said...

Fantastic advice for the beginner, and for those that want to launch themselves into a meaningful, networked world!

Here are 3 people that deserve a bigger audience:

Teacher Jan Smith

Principal David Maclean

DPAC President Heidi Hass Gable

So now is your chance to get started... dare to comment!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post Liz. Another important one that came out of my PLN survey was start slowly and find a few mentors to help you. Having people who mentored me was really important and now I mentor others so see how important it is to them in setting up their own PLNs.

Anonymous said...

Some good ideas here, I hadn't thought of checking who else tagged the same bookmarks!

Another great Ning group to check out is Work Literacy - Web 2.0 for learning professionals (

K. Shelton said...

Excellent points and I agree with all of them. The network is the most important tool an educator can have and using the techniques/strategies you outline here can help one build, maintain, and expand theirs

bob bradley said...

great advice and the chart works on several different levels. Modes of personal publication are, as i humbly submit: text audio video and image. this asset (engagement chart) works well as an example of image, which can then be unpacked.

it's old school critique, but it's also peer review when guided like an information system. that system's product is knowledge, which is engaged process. products naturally occur with 'value-added' of intrensic motivation which, one hopes to assume, is more likely to result when the collaboration design is balanced with guided design

many thanks for the work in on this site..

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Great post! I saw a link to this post on Diigo. I now am following you on Twitter, Bloglines and Facebook. Cool.

Anonymous said...

I need to carry around a "Pocket Liz" to pull out when I have trouble putting my thoughts into a concise format - you are a real pro at that - I admire that in you.

I have been working with many educators in NJ on building their PLNs based on their professional interests. I'm happy to say that so many more educators are getting to the point that they are willing to share their thoughts, ideas and resources.

As you wrote, you have to give to get. Lurking is a start. But being a participant is so much more rewarding.

Thank you for the list.

Anonymous said...

Liz, great post and perfect timing. I'll incorporate some of this into my PLN session at MEX-TESOL in 1 week. It was also fun participating in your twitter pole answering this question.

Also want to mention that one of the more important sources of my PLN now comes from Second Life. In SL not only can you participate in fantastic professional development workshops and talks, but,you can also collaborate on projects and creat content, including entire worlds. Super engaging, and studies show that through one's avatar learners take on greater challenges and risks and participate and collaborate more than in real life ( RezEdREPORT ). I find that fascinating.

There is a huge and varied PLN crossecting a rich and immersive offering of connective nodes in virtual worlds, such as Second Life.

If anyone needs a mentor in Second Life, I am "Salty Saenz" and I have a training facility for teachers and 2 homes in Second Life. I can help you to get your sea-legs in shape and get you started with your PLN, from Discovery Educator Network (DEN) to International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to EguBloggers' Cafe .. it is all there.


Frank (SL: Salty Saenz)

Liz B Davis said...

Jerry - Thanks for bringing up Ustream. Yes - attending conferences virtually is a great way to get connected (and learn a lot).

Dean - I am a big fan of yours. Thanks for reading my blog.

Dave - Thanks for sharing.

Sue - Yes a good mentor makes a huge difference. They can be hard to find in real life. I often feel alone in my quest. My Online network has been so helpful to me. I couldn't do it without them.

mfubib - Thanks for sharing. There are so many great nings out there. They are hard to keep track of.

mindmachine, bob and cloudscome - Thank you for commenting. I'm glad you found the post helpful.

Lisa - Thank you for inspiring this post. I can't wait to hear how your session goes.

Frank - Thanks for bringing up Second Life. I have only briefly explored SL and I really do want to do more. I will probably be taking you up on your offer to mentor me there. That is my next frontier.

loonyhiker said...

Thanks for a great post! I referred to this post in my own blog today!

IMC Guy said...

Liz, this is a great post, even for people who feel they have a pretty good network. I'll be keeping many of these in mind down the road.

Beals said...

I totally agree with all your advise. Today's techniques of learning must involve the teaching and involvement of a PLN. I just wish many more would adapt your teaching methods. Thanks for the great article.