Personal Learning Network

August 8, 2011

Photo Credit: Martin Weller

I came across an article on Fast Company on how to build your Personal Learning Network and while I have been building mine without necessarily focusing on it,  it made me realize just how important it is, and how much more I can still do to improve it. Anya Kamentz cites these places to help build your network:

  • Family and friends
  • Real-life classmates & teachers,past and present
  • Twitter
  • Google Reader, Delicious, Digg, Diigo, or Reddit or another social bookmarking service.
  • Facebook or Google+. Most of your Facebook friends probably don’t belong in your personal learning network, but you may have a few who consistently post links that connect with your interests, or start interesting intellectual debates. That’s who we’re talking about here.
  • Experts whose classes you watch on open courseware sites, whose books you read, blogs or YouTube channels you follow, or whose ideas you connect with in another way.
  • Conferences, meetups, bookstore events, or other face to face events.
  • Special interest online forums like StackOverflow, for programmers, Vimeo for filmmakers, and many more.
While many believe Facebook is the be all-end all for social networks, I can safely say that I now use it the least compared to all of my other information channels. Many professionals that I have had the opportunity to speak with have emphasized that to be good in a certain field, you need to know absolutely everything you can about that field, and that’s where your personal Learning Network comes in. As far as my Personal Learning Network, here are a few of the big ones:
  1. Twitter – It is unbelievable how much great information you can extract if you know who to follow and where to look. I used to swear I would never get into Twitter, but I could argue it’s now my most valuable Social Media resource. 10 minutes on Twitter is equivalent to spending 2 hours searching newspapers and online publications for news.
  2. Google Reader – While many have their own favorite ways to consume their RSS feed, Google Reader is my weapon of choice. With the help of a fellow Sports Business professional, I have put together a massive RSS feed list and a 15 minute scan in the morning  of my Google Reader feed allows me to absorb nearly half a days material and save time from scanning dozens of different blogs.
  3. Google Alerts – If there is a topic or field you are especially interested in, I would recommend setting up Google Alerts straight to your Microsoft Outlook or Inbox. For example, I currently have three that go to my Outlook: “Sports Business, Sports Marketing and Sports Sponsorship.”
  4. Family and Friends – Simply bounce ideas off of as many people as you can, you never know where you are going to get a hold of a great perspective that might help you out in the future.
Bottom line, while the Personal Learning Network is very helpful to get ahead professionally, it can also go a long way in your personal life and I would suggest that undergraduate students all the way through seasoned professionals continue to push their Personal Learning Network to greater heights.

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