Hatching a PLN

This is a blog post version of my talk this morning at the Fleming College Spring Teaching & Learning Day. I spoke about how using Twitter can help you grow a professional learning network. And maybe a little bit about how PLN building is not a shmoozefest just for your own personal benefit. It can and should also be of service to others.

I only had 25 minutes, and I’m writing this before it happens, so here everything is in a more lasting format. What I hope happens is that we, the people reading this and those in attendance can hatch ourselves a nice, juicy PLN that leads to innumerable mutually beneficial connections.

Choose your own presentation Hatching a PLN with Twitter

For starters, here are the slides I used. It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure situation here. As I lay this out in blog format, I’m going to have to choose the pathway for us. I hope that’s ok.

choose your topic: sweet tweetin, twitter is a sauce, working the net, followship, no problems here.

I choose to start with “Twitter is a Sauce”.

You have chosen: Twitter is a sauce

What I mean by that is that if your PLN is a stir fry, then Twitter is the teriyaki. The protein and veggies are friendly, shary people, communities, and organizations. It’s also things like podcasts, blogs, sites, courses, conferences, events and more. Twitter helps them stick together and turns them into something tastier and more fulfilling.

We don’t even need to take my word for it. Here in this post by Sarah Wendorf, as part of her work in the Ontario Extend mOOC, are no less than 18 ways, with awesome examples, how she uses Twitter to make that stir fry for your heart and mind. And many of those ways are not for Sarah’s sole benefit. Most of them offer her own expertise and ideas and access to her PLN in service to others. Saucy!

Okay, we are ready for our next path. I choose to go to “Sweet Tweetin'”

You chose Sweet Tweetin'

The Sweet Tweetin’ section is your basic “what exactly can we do with a tweet” 3 minute tutorial on how twitter works. I tried to find a couple of tweets with a lot going on so that we could break it down and see what can happen. I found this one which includes an original tweet with an image and a link, a quote retweet, tagged people, likes, retweets, a reply. This gives us plenty to look at. You can do a lot with a tweet.

A second busy tweet to look at is this one which included a Twitter moment (which represented a conference presentation that was held ON Twitter), some hashtags, another quote retweet and tagged people:

These were just examples of the things you can do. It didn’t hurt that the tweets themselves were about things I hoped were of interest to the attendees to check out, hopefully serving as an example of Twitter being saucy.

I guess now would be a good time to see what the No Problems Here choice is all about. Is that a herring?

You have chosen: No problems here

I hope we survive this pathway.

You Died. The End.

Go check out slides 9-11 in the slide deck to see what happened there. It’s just a reminder that Twitter is not always sunshine and lollipops. Let’s go back and try again. “Working the Net” next okay with everyone?

You have chosen: Working the net

Working the ‘net’ is seeing what we can do with our PLNs. What can we get out of it? What can we make it do? For starters, we can ask it for help:

I once asked two people in my PLN directly for some Open Education Slide decks to work with. What resulted was this collection of slide decks from about 30 fabulous people and orgs that advocate for Open Education. There are probably 1000+ slides to work with in there. Nice work, PLN!

I also wanted to show how you can offer access to your PLN to others. It will still benefit you to find out what your PLN can come up with for answers to a question posed by a friend. This one just took a quote retweet:

Look through the replies and follow threads and you’ll see that now McMaster has like 30 awesome books to order for their Teaching & Learning unit and that I am now part of a book club with some awesome folks in Oklahoma.

Okay now we have no choice but to head to “Follow”ship. What’s that?

You have chosen: "Follow"ship

“Follow”ship is a short fellowship in following people, in order to kickstart a PLN, right here and right now. I started by going over a few things that I have found via twitter that I treasure. You can check those out in the slide deck.

you'll find things that you treasure.

There’s nothing left to do now but make our PLNs grow by attacking this twitter list – PLN Kickstart List – with a whole lot of pressing of the “follow” button. The link takes you to the member list, so you can follow the heck out of everyone on the list that you’d like. DO IT!

click all the follows that you like

The list includes any of those attending the talk in person that I could collect and anyone mentioned in any of the slides. I hope this list amps up a whole whack of networks. You want on the list, too? Ok! Pop your name in here.

I find that the PLN makes the work that we do less lonely, so I hope this talk and this post can serve to help you make some new connections that will work for all of us. I’m happy to connect with you.

Want to go deeper? Do today’s Daily Extend, today’s involves that same PLN Kickstart List and takes it a step or two further.

featured image credit:”Hatch!” flickr photo by chidorian https://flickr.com/photos/chidorian/173712147 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Reset, Reboot, RemOOC

Start a new game. Continue one you already started. Quit without even starting. These are your options when you enter a video game.

Ontario Extend is not so much a video game as it is a healthy lifestyle choice for your pedagogical endeavors, but we are offering up all three of these options for the #ExtendmOOC that we are currently running. (3rd option strongly discouraged).

It is currently Day 71 of 91 originally planned days spent in the EdX LMS for this particular iteration of the Ontario Extend professional learning experience. 13 total weeks, one week for an intro module and then a fortnight for each of the 6 proper Extend modules.

280+ people made it in to the EdX workspace. 280+ people whose work life during the winter term could possibly be represented by this GIF:


There are not 280+ people actively working in the mOOC today. Far less, I’m afraid to say. This is par for the course with MOOCs. But we want to see if we can do something about that.

We’re going with the most overused tactic for trying to accommodate and include learners in a learning experience: We’re going to give you more time. A lot more time. We’re nearly doubling it.

What does this mean for you?

-If you’re “behind” but have still been chugging along at your own pace, it means you keep right on keeping on. You are the ones who press the “continue” button.

-If you signed up back in the fall but never got started because winter term came at you like a wrecking ball, you can start over, with us still here to help facilitate your experience. We will “reset” to help you through in May and June. You are those who press the “start a new game” button.

-If you’re thinking “what the heck is Ontario Extend?” first of all, watch this video, then pop your name in here and I’ll email you the details for kicking off the remOOC at the beginning of May. You are most welcome to join us. You also are hitting the “start a new game” button.

-If you’ve been keeping up with us and are just sitting there wondering what all the fuss is, you just do you and finish up so we have your examples to learn from. You are the ones who never turned the game off. You are allowed to rest sometimes you know.

The only question left is, what do we call this experience? Do the poll to have your voice heard.


If you have any ideas for how to help everyone with interest new and old in this experience, please comment below or email me at tgreene@ecampusontario.ca.

Hope to see you in there!

UPDATE: We are holding a webinar about the Extended experience on April 24th at noon ET


Images created at http://arcade.photonstorm.com/