My overall experience on Twitter while building my PLN (personal learning network) has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. At times, I’ve found it hard to dedicate time to connecting with new people, but whenever I’ve forced myself to step out of my shell it has paid off immensely.
Regarding blogs, this course has pushed me to find better resources to share with my PLN. However, it’s been a challenge to find someone precisely in my situation, which is specifically someone who works in IT but is working to combine that field with education. I have seen a few professional development blogs, but they’re typically from a corporate standpoint, not higher education.
Creating my own blog posts have worked relatively well when I have created content that is tailored toward IT professionals. Creating content for educators is a little bit tougher as I don’t teach every day, and especially in the realm of K-12 instruction since, I’ve been removed from that setting for decades now. I hope that as I explore education technology topics, and proceed through the education technology master’s program, I will begin to see how my content expertise can complement the field, and I can find myself a niche.
Building out this website and connecting with others on Twitter has been helpful in creating my professional online presence. Previously, I have been somewhat guarded about sharing anything about myself out of shyness and a fear of oversharing sensitive information. However, I’ve been able to balance what I have shared, and I feel that it can only strengthen my understanding and career as I continue to develop my PLN.
Keeping the momentum in developing my PLN has been challenging especially when having to fulfill my normal job duties. The past two weeks, I’ve been working fifty or more hours, and finding time to post Tweets, write blog posts, and communicate with others just hasn’t been possible. I feel that prior to this, I was making many connections in a short amount of time, but it’s seemed to tailor off as my work has grown busier. However, I’m going to try to not see this slowing of growth as a negative, and instead understand that our PLNs grow in bursts more often than a continuous upward trend. As I have time, I’ll do my best to motivate myself to connect with others whom I might be able to help, and with others who can help answer difficult educational questions.
Another challenge has been organizing my content for two different types of viewers. As someone who is IT-centric, I want to share study materials and how-to-guides to serve that sort of visitor. However, as I’m also looking to connect with those who are educators and not on the technical side of technology, that content is probably irrelevant to those viewers. So, my challenge has been to create a website that tailors to my content area as well as generally covering pedagogical application with the use of technology. This last week, I’ve done some work to split my resources section into two parts to make it easier for visitors to find what they need, but it some ways it serves to make website more complex in its menu tree. I need to think on what the best way to go about this will be, and then try to find some tools that might allow me to better organize. If I can find someone in a similar situation, I may be able to get some ideas. The alternative is that I simply build two different websites to serve each’s specific purpose. However, the latter seems to be a management nightmare.
I plan to continue growing the blog on this site as I have time. Currently, I’m building a new network at my employer that has been two years in the making. What started as a refresh of our core switching turned into a complete network overhaul and redesign as we began to see the limitations of our network. Over the course of these two years, it’s taken some considerable convincing to get all parties on board, and I credit my manager and director with spearheading that front. In short, the project has been a significant undertaking for our small department, and I feel that cataloging the process in my blog might help others in a similar situation. I could foresee the whole story taking 7-10 blog posts.
I also want to keep refining this site’s efficiency and usability. I use Elementor for many of the pages here that have more complex arrangements, but I feel that the free version misses the mark when it comes to organizing lots of data. I need to find some plug-ins or third-party integrations that can deal with sharing resources at scale.
Following many of the education-focused professionals in my PLN made me realize that most of them are successful because they continually reflect on what they’ve done and where they need to go in their careers. Sharing their stories are a great encouragement to their followers and others looking to follow in their footsteps. The next time I start working on another certification, I’m going to catalog my progress in my blog. I think it could be a good way to keep myself focused and will also make me more accountable to sticking to a study schedule if others are following along. I’m also going to work on following not just those at the top of their fields, but others who are still growing like I am. I think it’s often helpful to see those who are just starting out, or in the process as they might be going through similar challenges.
Here are some of the folks I followed on Twitter this week. In some cases, I’ve used their study materials to prepare for certifications, but I hadn’t gotten around to following them on Twitter.