Networking is High Maintenance

@horofraser thanks for joining our discussion so actively and great ideas! #aisrpl #aisrthinktank #thinktankchat

A year ago I might not have known what the above comment meant.  First of all, I would not have understood the symbolism. I suppose I still don’t really understand why # is used, really, but I know to use it to search topics or chats in Twitter.

Secondly, I wouldn’t have believed that the above comment would be describing me–typically quiet during a group discussion–being actively engaged and opinionated.  This comment was tweeted to me during a scheduled twitter chat that I happened upon during my Planning Time earlier this week.

Meant to be working on my COETAIL assignment for week 2, I initially felt guilty for getting easily sidetracked by random Twitter posts on gender.  I am a self-proclaimed feminist, and my husband will claim I tend to gravitate towards bias-supporting articles.  Yet, I was intrigued by the rather neutral title, Gender Gap in Education Cuts Both Ways.

After reading the article and chat questions, but before committing to actually participating, I checked over this week’s topic and assignment.   The Networking topic and loose reflection assignment about our changing thoughts brought me to the realisation that this was exactly the kind of thing we were meant to be doing!  This is the networking in the form of active online participation that is so powerful that I am meant to be reflecting on (and therefore blogging about). 

The public nature and digital representations of these relationships require a fair degree of maintenance.

Although this sentence comes straight from the article Living with New Media and actually refers to teens using social media to publicly manage and curate relationship tidbits, I thought it also applies to the development of an active and engaging online PLN.  I am more recently aware that in order to really learn, it takes more than simply connecting digitally.  Learning digitally (and publicly)  is effort and maintenance.  

So, I have been rather consciously proactive on Twitter activity this week, and I noticed that Andrew Grover, a fellow online 6 Coetailer had posted a visual map about learning communities.

Coetailer Andrew Grover's PLN Tweet

Coetailer Andrew Grover’s PLN Tweet

After hinting to him that I may very well borrow this fabulous idea, and reflecting that it nicely complemented my exploration of what modern day networking is all about,  I set about the task of creating my own mind map of my current Personal Learning Network.

Having earlier tinkered with Popplet  after an In-service session at my school, I decided that would be the tool I would use to map out my network.  Andrew’s original had created additional links, showing his University ties, but I decided I would only use current, or developing links, not severed links to the past…which sadly, is how I think of my university and early teacher training and professional development courses.  Quickly, I came up with this:

  (*Can’t seem to add a proper caption to  my “Work in progress PLN” above without the formatting going all wonky…so this note will have to do.)

Looking at the “finished” product, I realise I could have continued to branch out and be even more specific: listing specific twitter hashtags or google groups. I could have listed blogs I follow or podcasts I listen to, but as these lists are growing and my time this week is not, I decided to save those for later and anticipate revisiting this map in the future, as I am curious to see how it evolves.  

I want someone in my PLN who is going to give me constructive criticism and also accept it….I want someone who wants to learn, listen, and consistently share. I want someone who provokes my thinking. What I don’t want in my PLN is someone who is going to blindly re-tweet something I post.  -Andrew Marcinek

After reading “Help Students Use Social Media to Empower, Not Just Connect”  a blog post by Andrew Marcinek on Edutopia, I still feel I am my tweeting early years, and while I post the occasional blind re-tweet (with the full intention of referring to re-tweeted article when the more pressing need or interest arises)  I also feel I have already come a long way in making sure to learn, listen and consistently share, both on and offline.

4 thoughts on “Networking is High Maintenance

  1. Jennifer Coleman


    I couldn’t have come across your post at a better time. I was struggling with the loose reflection assignment about our changing thoughts without understanding that this was intentional. I remained stuck in the “how will I ever make sense of all of this chaos” rather than just diving in and checking things out.

    I really liked how you started exploring twitter with a topic you are passionate about (feminism). We see this with our students as well when generating project ideas and research questions. However, I have been so hung up on looking for some kind of structure that I am forgetting to embrace the interest-driven, connected-yet-nonlinear path of building knowledge.

    Your post also gave me the idea of revisiting the visual map I started in the Orientation Course. I also tried popplet, but switched to lucid chart (sorry…can’t seem to create a link in this comment!) since we have an account at our school. This will really help me wrap my head around my PLN and steps I can take to learn and share. I will let you know how it goes.

    So thank you for your post and your help! BTW, I have two daughters of my own and am interested in feminist resources. Have you seen the I’ve used this to get ideas for books, movies, etc. for both my students and daughters. Hmmm. I wonder if they are on twitter?

    1. Holly Fraser Post author

      Thanks for your comment Jennifer–sorry I am late replying. As soon as the weekend arrived, my twins’ needs took over, and not a whole lot of work got done. Also, I think I need to check over my comments settings–to make sure I get notifications, allow links, etc. Still learning! 🙂

      I love your apt description: “interest-driven, connected-yet-nonlinear path of building knowledge.” The hardest part about just getting down to writing it seems, is that knowing that when someone is reading it, they are doing so linearly.

      I hope your own PLN creation is working out. I will also have to check out Lucidchart…looks more complicated…I guess no matter what, our PLN is always a work in progress, for everyone.

      I have heard of amighty girl (seen ads, followed links)…just visited their website andI think I need to order the Wonder Woman socks…for myself. 😉

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