Week 4: Finding your Digital Community

Reading & Review

We’ve spent a few weeks now thinking, talking, and blogging about what it means to take control of our own web presences, to become the masters of our own domains, but that’s only half the magic of the OU Create initiative. Being of the web, not just on the web, requires knowing how to find and make meaningful connections with others who can help you learn and grow as a professional.

The first reading this week, part of EDUCAUSE’s “7 Things You Should Know About” series, outlines what personal learning networks / environments (PLNs/PLEs) are, why they’re significant, and what the implications for teaching and learning are, among other topics. As you read this article, consider the networks you have built for yourself, both online and offline, and begin to think about the areas in which you could use more or different kinds of support.

Jeffrey Heil’s PLN guidelines provide a rubric for understanding what it means to be fully “in the matrix” in a variety of contexts. Where do you find yourself on this rubric? Many of us are just getting started, but even those of us who have been curating our networks for a long time can find areas to improve. Pick one space – reading, tweeting, bookmarking, etc – that you’d like to focus on, and begin taking steps to create or become more active in that area.

Part of your homework for Week 2 was to establish a Twitter account; this week’s article by Charlotte Frost provides context for why Twitter is a great place to build or expand your PLN. She also provides a few ideas for ongoing conversations you can follow using Twitter’s hashtags. Rebecca Hiscott gives a more detailed explanation of hashtags, including what they are, and where and how to use them (they’re not just for Twitter!). Use these two articles to find a couple of hashtags that would be helpful or interesting to you, and begin to follow those hashtags in the social network of your choice.

The last two readings, by Chuck Frey and Jeff Dunn, provide a number of tips and tricks for building and cultivating your PLN. Keep these ideas in mind as you decide where and with whom you’d like to engage via your PLN.

Other Work

Being part of a community means actively engaging with others who have overlapping interests. In addition to the decisions we’ve asked you to make (above), you should:

  • Blog about what you are deciding, as well as why you made the decisions you did.
  • Use the blog hub to find other participants’ blogs, read their thoughts, and leave comments. The goal is to make sure everyone has at least one comment on their blog post.
  • Check your own blog, and respond to any comments you receive.