Over the past year, I have grown to understand and appreciate the idea of connecting, sharing, and learning. I have wrestled with the time and necessity of having a Personal Learning Network. However, these three core ideas (connect, share, learn) are at the heart of leadership. A PLN, while not the only way, certainly enhances and easily allows one to connect, share, and learn.
I have only begun to connect with other educators, but I have certainly found educators through my PLN that I wouldn't have otherwise found. Just as important, I get to hear and read from highly respected educators and organizations on a regular basis instead of at a conference once a year, or an article here and there, or a book written every two years. These same educators and organizations also frequently highlight other peoples' work that I wouldn't otherwise know about.
I had a professor in college who harped on not just absorbing information, but instead "mining for gold." This phrase is more important than ever because of the amount of information being shared and not necessarily is it always quality. It is also easy in our Social Media Networked world to only get the information that meshes with our current philosophy/ideas/paradigm. As a result, we need to actively search out information that pushes, questions, and contradicts. The constant learning that can occur is amazing and has certainly added to my traditional methods of learning.
I am still working on consistently sharing original thoughts or at least a new perspective as well as (re)posting interesting articles. The hardest part is thinking that you have something important, new, or original to share. Another difficult task, but no less important, is to leave comments through blogs, articles, and twitter discussion. There is a wealth of information out there, hopefully we can all add to the conversation.
So get out there to connect, share, and learn with your PLN.