Interestingly enough, there is still a lot of language around PLNs that harken back to the one-way dump. This comes from instructors seeing new technology in terms of the old technology (e.g. the internet is a library). A PLN should not just be a place where one goes just to consult "experts." A true PLN requires participation and engagement. A PLN is a practice and a discipline just like traditional scholarship: it requires you to read, think, and create. In order for your PLN to be effective, you need to do four things:
- Link to others: Find the other participants in your field. Some will be "experts" and some will be participants just like yourself. If you are in education, for instance, there are many lists of educators in twitter. Link to people with opinions and ideas different from your own.
- Ask questions: Post questions. The wider your network, the wider variety of answers you will find.
- Share: Share ideas that you have found in your network with others. Share your bookmarks in Delicious and what you are reading on your blog. Share other people; let others know about your network and and recommend people and sources of information.
- Answer questions: Offer solutions or help others find the means to answer questions.
In the right-hand side-bar of this blog is are some links to the HIM 101 class that I co-taught with Charlene Gore at Tacoma Community College. It includes a map of how we used Twitter in the class that I think represents an interesting use of Twitter as a PLN.