I started to develop a PLN back in 2009, when I took SBISD's "23 Things" course. I located and followed edublogs, subscribed to daily "Diigo in Education" updates, and joined Nings such as Classroom 2.0 Ning and Elementary School 2.0. I was excited, because teachers from all over the world were sharing brand new ideas and were asking some of the same technology questions I was asking. What tremendous resources!
Harsh Reality:Information overload! It was like when I used to subscribe to Mailbox magazine, which was full of one wonderful idea after another. I soon had shelves full of magazines and was completely overwhelmed. I was surrounded by good ideas, but couldn't find any of them easily.
I am missing two vital ingredients that are needed to make an extensive PLN a success: organizational skills and time. I have difficulty reviewing and prioritizing incoming information quickly enough to keep its volume manageable.
Nings? Don't have time to visit them.
Diigo and edublog updates? Sigh! Delete...delete...delete. Gotta get rid of that "Your mailbox is almost full" message...
Technology publications? Ha!
I think if I were a full-time tech coach, I could swing it; but as a full-time classroom teacher, I'm doing well to answer all of my email messages by the end of the day . . . and then there are always meetings to attend, lesson plans to write, materials to prepare, and papers to grade.
Compromise:That being said, I DO understand the importance of establishing a PLN. Actually, that is the reason I volunteered to be my school's E-Trainer. It enables me to carve time out of my schedule that can be completely devoted to learning new technology. It frees me from that "Oh, I really ought to be grading that stack of papers!" guilt that is always hanging over my head. It surrounds me by people who are knowledgeable about technology and who are using it successfully in their classrooms. That is also why I try to attend every technology conference I can possibly attend.
My current PLN:
* I investigate ANY idea passed along to me by my technology mentor, Karen Justl. She has been guiding me through the massive sea of technology since her days as Frostwood's tech coach. She knows all of the latest and greatest ideas, and she has never steered me wrong!
* I follow just a few choice sites. Right now I'm following three Edmodo communities: Karen's Kollection, EdmodoCon Young Learners, and Frostwood Teachers. I follow one edublog: Tammy's Technology Tips for Teachers (which I learned about while hearing Tammy speak at TCEA conferences).
* I get great ideas from other teachers (especially E-Trainers) and try to attend SBISD technology courses during the summer.