I’ve spent some time this summer taking stock of my online habits, including the ways in which I’ve established and engaged with my personal learning network. Bud Hunt recently shared his own reflections about this, describing the intentional shifts he has planned and the ways in which he intends to study them. His process intrigues me because I’m hoping to make some purposeful changes in how I engage online as well. This should come as no surprise, given my commitment to seeking balance this year. Here’s my issue: I’m attempting to balance a whole lot! Right this very minute, I’m a parent, a wife, a friend, a writer, a teacher, a literacy coach, a consultant, a business owner, and the executive director of a non-profit. Also? My garden is a wreck, I need to refinish our floors, and my youngest daughter just made the travel softball team. All of this makes my head swim, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Determining my new priorities was something of a challenge, but I’ve had the summer to think and plan. Ironically, peace was achieved only through a practice that tends to stir up quite a bit of heated debate online: assessment. First, I re-evaluated my purposes for engaging online. Then I assessed the return on my investment of time and energy in certain online spaces against that greater goal. I should say that mine is hardly a perfect science, but after a year of devoting most of my online energies to the creation of posts and the establishment of a personal learning network through Twitter, I’ve decided to change things up a bit. Wiser minds have studied this with far greater depth, and experts have established strategies and challenges and handbooks that provide priceless support to folks like me. Go read them. I did, and their experiences and suggestions have helped me set these priorities for the year:
- First, I plan to continue tweeting less and engaging in conversation elsewhere online a bit more. Don’t get me wrong: Twitter provides me access to countless brilliant minds and an endless stream of tools and resources that people I respect value. I plan to check in and stay connected to my network there each day, and I’ll keep sharing what I learn there as well. BUT I’m finding that commenting on posts, sharing the thinking provoked by those posts here, and engaging in deeper conversation on ning (particularly this one) is richly rewarding as well, and I didn’t devote nearly enough time to that last year.
- Next, I plan to blog more purposefully. In fact, I created a framework for what my next year of blogging might look like. I’ll be exploring fewer topics with greater depth this year, and I’m using evidence captured from three different sources to guide my decision-making around post topics and approaches: a needs assessment of the teachers I support as a literacy coach who visit my blog in search of resources and added support, the stats that suggest which posts are my most popular and which topics are most often searched by readers, and a survey of those who come to this blog seeking specific kinds of information or potential solutions.
- Prioritizing in this way will allow me to post on a regular basis and on a more predictable time-table as well, making this whole venture a bit more manageable. I plan to post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings this year rather than every single day. This will provide me more time to read and engage in conversation elsewhere online. It will also free up some time for me to pursue a few other writing projects that I’m excited about.
- Finally, I’ll be making some other changes around here as well–moving the WNY Young Writers’ Studio content onto its own site by mid-fall, and posting additional information and resources that might be helpful to my readers on additional pages here.
Assessing my own needs as a learner and defining what my true purposes are for engaging online is helping me shift my practices with greater intention. How do you define your needs and goals as a networked learner? How have your purposes and priorities shifted over time? How has that influenced your practices? I’m interested in any experiences or suggestions that you are willing to share!