I know that when I started blogging, I was primarily concerned about getting a huge number of followers. Maybe that it’s that I don’t post regularly enough or perhaps it is that my interests are pretty specific, but I’ve never really gained a huge following. That’s fine. I’ve discovered that the real value in blogging is in the thought process involved in writing the blog. What blogging does for me is that it forces me to think through an issue more thoroughly, come up with an opinion and articulate it. This is the most powerful phase of my Personal Learning Environment. Like most people, I spend an awful lot of time reading tweets, blogs and articles. I often skim the words and glance at the images, but don’t really digest everything that I come in contact with. When I blog, I’m taking ideas from a single, or a number of members of my PLN and actually digesting them. This is the missing link in many people’s time in social media.
Having said this, I was thinking about ways of helping my students build meaningful PLNs and it struck me that a blog post is a great place to start (those students participating in this project should take this as a not so subtle hint – THIS IS AN ASSIGNMENT!) What if we wrote a blog post about 5 members of our PLNS that are particularly influential to us. This would allow us to build our PLNs to a point that we could select a “top five.” This is a good first step. The writing of the post serves to share back with our PLNs some useful information about people that others might like to add to their PLNs. And, with luck, the folks that are being written about may just turn around and follow our blogs or follow us on Twitter becoming a more active participant in our own learning.
This concept also allows beginning bloggers an opportunity to think about the audience that they want to write for rather than the audience that they currently write for. The participants in this project didn’t, for the most part, have a blog before yesterday. Their audience right now is each other. This is fine, because we are all learning about the power of PLEs. But each member of the group has different interests and therefor their PLNs will end up being quite different. By writing about top members of their PLN, they are thinking about the kinds of topics that they are most passionate about and writing to others that share that passion, whether they are reading or not. Over time, the collected writing on the topic will be found and gather an audience that will form a deeper PLN.
Has anyone outside the project written this type of post in the past? I know that I’ve seen them, but they don’t seem to be all too common. What are your thoughts?