As our world changes, technology and social media have become inconceivably important. We have developed abilities to connect worldwide with taps of our fingertips. As we continue to go in this direction, networking is becoming more and more important. Networking isn’t only useful for getting jobs, but allows us to connect with like-minded individuals to further our learning and share our own expertise. A PLN (personal learning network) is personal; you can create, design, and adapt it to fit whatever YOU want. A PLN involves learning; you can share knowledge, resources, really just about anything you want or need. A PLN is a network; you can connect with anyone anywhere in the world with any academic or professional background to expand your knowledge in any way you’d like. A PLN provides opportunities to learn, share, and grow. It empowers students to take control of their education and pursue what interests them. It also allows driven students to connect with each other and learn/work together. In my first IDS class, my PLN was exclusively through my use of Twitter. I used it in a rigid and diligent way. This semester, I decided to let go a little bit, and be a little bit more fluid. I used Twitter, LinkedIn, and even found myself using the Instagram page I created for my applied project. In the past, I thought as the PLN as a school assignment, but this semester I used it more as a tool for myself (not just for class). Through Twitter, I connected with fellow IDS students, through LinkedIn, I connected with professionals in my field and in fields I’m interested in pursuing, and through Instagram I connected with a much wider audience (all the way from family/friends to yoga clothing brands). I learned through experience that a PLN doesn’t have rules to follow; you can cater it to what you want to do and your needs. I learned to do what seemed to speak to me. I didn’t want to do random tweets if it didn’t feel right anymore just to get something out there, if I wasn’t feeling it one day, I wouldn’t engage on my Instagram page. If I felt drawn to use LinkedIn instead of Twitter one week, I would do that and skip tweeting that week. By approaching the PLN this way, I was able to connect with others on multiple social media sites.
On LinkedIn, I was able to market myself and share some of my accomplishments, as well as find people in the field I am interested in. I reached out to some of these people and businesses, but unfortunately, I have not heard back from them. I was, however, able to share some accomplishments and find potential jobs.
On Instagram, I engaged with a larger population. I shared with family and friends as well as strangers as my page grew. I was able to find people running accounts with interests similar to mine, and I was able to get people to engage with my posts about health and wellness. I even connected with a fitness clothing company who wanted me to be a sponsor for them.
Overall, my more adaptive use of the PLN this semester allowed me to engage with a larger audience of people. Not only did I network with students and faculty within our program, but I networked with other academics/professional and even the wide world of Instagram. I believe that my use of the PLN this semester was more useful to me on a personal level, and still has potential for helping me on a professional level.