I’ve been on vacation this past week, enjoying the sun and fun of Tampa, Florida with my family. It’s truly been a vacation as I have tried to stay away from work as much as possible – which really means that I have been avoiding email. However, that does not mean that I have stayed away from my Professional Learning Network (PLN). In fact, I have really engaged my PLN in a much more personal, and meaningful way, so much so that it has evolved into my Personal Learning Network just as much as it has been my Professional Learning Network. And, by the way, it should be noted that this has occurred almost exclusively with my iPhone and several Aps that I have downloaded – so while this post may evolve into a commercial for the iPhone – conceptually, what I am writing about is hardware independent. Here are some examples of how my interaction with my PLN has become very personal this week:
1. Flickr & Facebook– I love the fact that I can take a picture with my phone and post it to either my Flickr photostream or my Facebook page immediately. Here’s an example of a picture I posted directly from my phone while on vacation. (Note the use of tags along the right side of the page! Tagging only takes a few minutes and it allows me to organize my photos using keywords.) The best part of doing this is not only sharing my life with others, but also the immediate feedback I receive from my friends. (BTW: Students crave immediate feedback too, its one reason why gaming is becoming a big player in the education field.) I posted this photo on Facebook while riding the Skyride over Busch Gardens and I received feedback from a friend before we were done the ride!
2. Foursquare – Okay, some people find this Ap useless or annoying and some people are concerned that you are posting to Twitter, and/or Facebook that you are NOT at your home, but I have found this Ap to be a nice way to make connections with others. Basically, Foursquare allows you to check in at your location, see where your friends are, and read tips from other Foursquare users about what’s nearby. In my case, when I check into a location, Foursquare sends a tweet out automatically announcing my location (along with any other information I want to add). This means that anyone who follows me on Twitter, can see where I am whenever I check in. Yesterday when I Foursquared that I was at Kennedy Space Center, my good friend @micwalker replied back to me and advised that I check out the Shuttle launch experience. So we did – and it was awesome! Thanks to Foursquare, and @micwalker‘s recommendation, we enjoyed something we may have missed otherwise.
3. Runmeter – Okay, so this one is exclusively and iPhone Ap and I have just learned about it this week. When used, it will track your run, noting distance, time, pace, etc. using the GPS feature of the iPhone. There are a number of Aps that do that… but here is the really cool feature, and how it personalizes my PLN. When I start my run, it changes my status on Facebook and sends out a tweet announcing that I have started my run and that any comments/replies will be “spoken” to me. It was the coolest thing when I was running for my music to mute, and a woman’s voice to say, “Tweet from @snbeach, You’re amazing, Tony. Run like the wind.” and to hear a man’s voice say, “Comment from Ashley Page, Run, Forrest, Run!” Both comments came when I was struggling with my run, and at a time when I needed a little pick me up.
These examples are just three of the ways in which my PLN has become a very personal part of my life. While some may question why I mix my personal and professional lives, I have found that the personalization of my PLN has led to deeper connections which have led to richer discussions, more meaningful relationships, and a truly valuable network of friends and colleagues.