My Online Personal Learning Network

This assignment was more reflective than I expected it to be.  It became one of those, who I am and where I am going, moments.

My Online Personal Learning Network

Goals Statement

My online personal learning network (OPLN) will enable me to remain relevant in this ever changing information and technology centered world, and to share this competency with others.   My goals will be achieved by: keeping current on emerging information literacy and technology trends and tools; evaluating those trends and tools; utilizing the selected tools in the library or for personal enrichment.  Overall I wish to foster an environment of learning and creativity in my personal and professional life.

Defined Scope

I currently work part time as a reference librarian in an academic library.   This job is satisfying in that I am able to share what I know with patrons, and it also allows me to build upon my knowledge base as every patron and reference interview is different.  I have also created a few learning objects which satisfies my desire to create items that promote learning.

I see myself eventually in the future as an online/embedded librarian.  I think that the development of online courses will continue to grow, and that the need for librarians to help students in these online spaces will continue to grow as well.  As an online librarian I hope to promote online spaces that foster not only learning but also a social component that allows students to feel comfortable enough to share ideas with each other in a meaningful way.  I believe that collaboration in online learning environments is particularly important as my experience as an online student has shown me that it can be isolating at times.

Resource Network

The following items are a few components of my OPLN:


Google Reader – this is my primary method of organizing and receiving my resources.

Pinterest – is something that I am only dabbling with right now.

Scoopit – I see potential in this resource and will continue to cultivate it.

Blogs and Websites

The following are only a sample of the websites I follow.  I seem to add to my list of blogs and websites at a faster rate than I discard them.

Dangerously ! Irrelevent:  Technology, Leadership, and the Future of Schools is a blog where the author likes to throw statements that seemed to be crafted to illicit a response from his reader; not necessarily positive in nature but the posts are thought provoking.

The Daring Librarian is a blog that I only recently began following and what drew me in was her blog post Transparency is the New Black, because I find the idea of online transparency to be intriguing and frightening.

Free Video Lectures is a blog dedicated to providing information about free online learning resources.

Internet Archive is an online archive that has links to many types of media some of which are public domain or have a creative commons license.  Please check each individual artifact for the type of license it has.

Library 2.0 is a group blog that is interesting to follow because there are various authors which means that the blog posts are different in writing style and topic.

Library Journal is a publication with articles and reviews on issues relating to librarianship.

Merlot is a website that shares educational content like videos and tutorials that can be utilized depending upon the license of each individual artifact.

Quantum Progress is a blog by a science teacher who muses on the state of education today and on how he thinks it could be improved.

Seth Godin’s Blog is great just because he makes me think.

Springshare’s LibGuides Community is a great way to find out what other librarians are doing with instruction and new web 2.0 tools.

Stephen’s Lighthouse is a blog that I was told to follow from my first semester of my MLIS program and I have not regretted subscribing (except for keeping up with the overwhelming number of posts that the author likes to post).

Tame the Web is a blog I have been following for a while now with posts and guest posts on trends and technology in the library.

Teach Paperless is a collaborative blog that discusses technology and the classroom.

The Cloud and Crowdsourcing

Google Docs is a great tool to use for collaboration but I didn’t realize how far reaching it could be until one day I noticed that I had a few Docs in my list from authors I didn’t recognize.  Two of these turned out to be presentations created by Tom Barrett that are open for anybody to modify or add to.  The third turned out to be Seth Godin’s free ebook.  Apparently I had clicked on these links at some point in surfing the internet and these documents were somehow added to my Google Docs.

103 Interesting Ways to use an iPad in the Classroom


Using Facebook to follow the activities of webpages is a good alternative to an RSS reader.  A problem with using Facebook is that information tends to get lost in the feed especially if the page owner does not actively update the status.  The parent websites tend to be more detailed and links to these can be found in the “About” section on each Facebook page.  Below are the information related links that I follow:

Edudemic is described as “a community of teachers, education professionals, and hundreds of other people interested in the intersection of education and technology.”  This resource discusses new and popular online tools and offers links for further investigation.

Lesson Planet: “award-winning search engine enables teachers to easily find and share 400,000+ teacher-reviewed curriculum resources within an online, professional community.”

Libraries are Essential posts links to a variety of library related links and information for marketing.

The Library of Congress provides information on the LOC digital collections.

Save Chicago Public Libraries and Librarian Jobs is interesting for the fact that it illustrates the difficulties associated with funding public libraries.

This Week in Libraries “is a weekly internet video show that brings libraries around the world up to date with the latest trends in libraries.”  The video shows are vlogs hosted on Vimeo and feature interviews with library professionals in various parts of the world.


The links that I subscribe to, plus others that are available, can be found at:   Section Discussion Lists on the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) website.  I subscribed to the first two listservs as a resource to use in my search for full time employment, and for insight into real life concerns of academic librarians.  The Instruction Section was chosen because I am interested in a position as an online librarian.  I have found these resources to be an interesting glimpse into real day to day concerns of working librarians and while I find the number of emails that I receive to be a bit overwhelming, I am going to continue to utilize these resources.

CJCLS Community & Junior Colleges (CJC-L)

CLS College Libraries (COLLIB-L)

IS Instruction Section (ILI-L)


I have been on Twitter now for a little while but am still relatively new at using this resource.  This is on my list of things that I need to become proficient at using.  I follow friends, family, classmates, and education/library/technology oriented tweeters, here is a sample of those I follow:

Buffy Hamilton @buffyjhamilton is a librarian who loves learning and literacy.

Michael Stephens @mstephens7 is an educator, librarian, blogger and posts content relating to all three.

Pete Cashmore @mashable is good to follow to keep up on news and technology.

Phil Shapiro @ philshapiro tweets and retweets a lot of education related posts.

polly @pollyalida is a library consultant who tweets and retweets technology information relating to libraries.

Slashdot @slashdot has an interesting mix of popular culture and technology tweets.

tombarrett @tombarrett is a technology oriented educator.


Harvard University has many videos relating to a variety of educational subjects.  There is also a list of featured channels to the right of the screen.

The Teaching Palette has to this date 37 uploaded videos.  I found this collection when looking for a Pinterest tutorial and liked her other tutorials and educational videos.

TED-Ed “is TED’s new education initiative” and contains 23 videos at time.  The TedEd website has more videos, as well as other content that compliments the videos.

US National Archives has a variety of videos on its site relating to archiving, history, and preservation.

Problem-Solving/OPLN in Action:

Attempting to backtrack to discover which of the resources in my network that I’ve used for particular class assignments or personal enrichment is problematic.  Problematic because often times one of my resources will offer a link to another source that I might use, or an idea might cause me to conduct a search of the internet or a particular database to find out more about a subject.  As a consequence what might have been my initial resource may not be what is used for the final result.

One example of where I used resources specifically from my network was in the Pinterest module I created for the Create +8 project my group produced for a public library based on the 28 things model.  I found articles from two of the blogs in my resource network: Stephen’s Lighthouse and Edudemic.

Network Maintenance Plan:

Judging by my current resource network and the number of items that I weeded and added while drafting this OPLN I think that maintaining my OPLN will be an ongoing process.  As it is I still have a lot of weeding to do and think that I must come up with a better way of judging the difference between what I can use for future use and what I should just read and discard.  I currently use Google Reader, Facebook, and Twitter as my main methods of following websites. Those websites that are not RSS capable I will add to my bookmarks.  I have tried a few other methods but either have not been happy with the results or have not been consistent in my use of them.  Pinterest has thus far failed to inspire me although I do intend to continue to use it due to its current popularity.  Scoopit on the other hand seems like it could be a viable, and visual, way of curating interesting articles and I will continue to develop that resource.  As I enjoy trying new software I will continue to look for efficient and appealing ways to maintain my OPLN.

I expect my OPLN to change over time, especially when I consider how my interests have changed from the first semester of my MLIS program until now, in the last semester.  How it will change I don’t know because I’m not there yet, but I do look forward to the journey.

Signal to noise ratio

The Networked Student (Drexler, 2010), Chris P. Joblings Photostream, Flickr

The reading this week on personal learning networks (PLNs) has been interesting. I had not realized that the combination of stuff that has been feeding into my Google reader, or my always growing list of bookmarked websites, was in fact my own version of a PLN.   The variety of resources that make up my reader and bookmarks, however, makes my PLN appear to be a semi-organized mess with no recognizable focus.  Perhaps that is what learning is: a process of organizing concepts that may not make sense to begin with but after manipulating information and putting it together in different combinations it becomes of tangible value to the learner.  As a PLN is personal this makes sense.

The networking aspect, though, is a bit intangible.  I am networking right now, as I type this blog post that somebody may or may not read.  If somebody does read it and/or comments on it then that networking has taken an extra step.  If I reply: then another step.

But what does it all mean?  I suppose I hope that somebody has something useful to add to my thoughts, or a different perspective because that is better than the alternative; my thoughts being published and then just floating off to nowhere.   But simple affirmation of the existence of my thoughts is not what I am looking for.  What I am looking for in my personal learning experience are ideas that I have never before considered; points of view that I never before would have conceived.

This need for informative feedback cannot happen spontaneously.  It requires writing and posting those thoughts; reading and responding to what other people write.  This in turn requires frequenting online places that will give you the sort of feedback that you want, or as our text states: “it’s all about the quality of the connections you make, not the quantity” (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, Kindle location 961).  And how do you find these places except to go out and read and follow links and see where your curiosity will lead you.

This is where my curiosity led me today:

TED Ed – Sharing the Spark of Curiosity

Behind today’s TED-Ed launch

TED-Ed’s YouTube Channel

It will be interesting to watch this channel add content and grow, and it makes me wonder which other YouTube channels I should add to my PLM.  I find the thought of adding more to what I already follow a bit daunting.  I suppose it is time to start pruning.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Following the breadcrumbs

The question this week is if Learning 2.0 supports and aligns with transformative learning and I think that the easy answer would be yes, however…..

Learning 2.0 is a set of tools used in an online environment for the purpose of teaching and learning.  These tools may be utilized to their full potential, or they might only be used enough to get by.  Everything depends upon the user (teacher and/or learner). If the user decides to do only what it takes to get by, then the transformative aspect of learning is not undertaken, or maybe it is undertaken but just not to the length that it could be.  Transformative learning it seems must involve a conscious effort to take learning to the next level.

This insight comes from the multiple readings from this week, which was prefaced by our esteemed instructor Michael Stephens who stated in his Panopto lecture that we should, “…not feel overwhelmed about that part…” which of course I expected to be anyway, because in my case reading does not just involve reading something through from beginning to end.  In many cases I start at the end or the middle or skip around to different sections but for some reason I cannot just proceed in a linear fashion.

I also tend to stop what I am reading when I have a thought and run over to do a Google search or browse the King Library databases to see what else I can find.  This inevitably leads to other ideas and new searches and before I know it I have multiple tabs open and am then faced with the task of following the breadcrumb trail back to where it began.  The fun thing about this is that by the time I make it back to the beginning my question might have changed, and this is probably because the answer I found was totally different from what I expected.  Or it could be that I found something more interesting and went on a totally new tangent.

So if you made it all the way through my train of thought in the above paragraphs then congratulations!  You have an idea, somewhat, of how my mind works.  This also, I think, describes one way that transformative learning might look like while in action: a process of questioning and searching and questioning again; a process that might seem to lead in one direction but could instead veer off course into an entirely new one.  Or perhaps an idea could branch off into several new ones in which case you have too many thoughts going on and you need to reign yourself back into one.  Or maybe two.

When applied to Learning 2.0, transformative thinking could be seen as a process of taking learning tools apart to see how they work and also how they do not work, and then applying those tools to real life situations.  People might have an affinity for one tool over another which is to be expected considering that we are all different, and thinking processes are unique for each one of us. This is not enough however; one must continue to use such tools (provided they are useful) otherwise one might end up with an arsenal of shiny new learning tools that become dusty from lack of use.  Or outdated learning tools that might leave you in the unenviable position of looking, I won’t say old, but out of date.

Christmas Dinner: Breadcrumb-stuffed tiger prawns by Kitchen Wench at Flickr Creative Commons

This is where one trail of breadcrumbs might lead...attributed to Kitchen Wench at Flickr Creative Commons

Booth, C.  (2011).  Reflective teaching, effective learning.  Chicago:  2011.  Kindle edition.

Mezirow, J. (1997).  Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. Retrieved from

Wallace, S.  (n.d.).  Core principles of transformative learning theory – Mezirow & others. Retrieved from

Wallace, S.  (n.d.).  Peer learning – Lyle Yorks & Victoria J. Marsick.  Retrieved from