My Online PLN

To be perpetually learning is to be perpetually growing; an in-between transformative state of knowledge seeking that renders one to be always becoming, liminal. This is an aspect of the personal learning network (PLN) that I find intriguing because it renders one as a work-in-progress allowing for change. A person’s PLN is an organizational system that absorbs multitudinous sources to aggregate content to aid facility and expedience. Yet, considering the PLN as a container for diverse information modules makes me think of the compartmentalization requisite for the human brain to process new learning. Might this be why PLNs have proven themselves to be so useful and seemingly congruent with our learning styles? Learning about ways we process new learning is fascinating!

As a self-directed learner, I am compelled to always be learning. Books were once my primary knowledge source; however, despite their vitality and usefulness, they are now but one tool I employ to seek information. Organizing my PLN allows me to see all the ways I glean and dabble and indulge and delight in new information. Though, sometimes I feel like an information glut wanting to rapidly accumulate information, and other times I feel inundated, overwhelmed, and avoid screens. By curating my knowledge base to incorporate my most useful resources, I can help mitigate this overload.

I organized my PLN by using Symbaloo to create a “webmix”: a personal desktop with colorful, moveable tiles that link to resources or other webmixes. I divided my webmix by sectioning off tiles in terms of their usefulness and purpose to my PLN and future career as a children’s and teen librarian.

Goals Statement:

My online personal learning network will serve as a bridge to continue my LIS education after graduating this month, and prepare me for a career as a public librarian serving children and teens. My main goals are to learn more and gain practice with current and emerging technologies to reach out to teens that do not currently use libraries, as well as to best serve teen patrons. By shaping and honing my PLN, I am allowing myself a space to maintain and update my skills and resources after graduating, which also provides a much-needed morale boost and encouragement upon reflection of the work I have completed to date with my PLN.

Defined Scope:

As a transplant from New York and California resident for over 10 years, I hope to work with children and teens in Berkeley, San Francisco, or Oakland. All three of these libraries have vibrant teen services and programs, and incorporate many current and emerging technologies to facilitate the many roles of teen life.

Resource Network:

I organized my PLN and resource network using Symbaloo. I was drawn in by the personal desktop feel and the colorful tiles. Yet, I think NetVibes may have been more suitable for this project in hindsight, and am unsure whether I’ll continue to use Symbaloo as a central resource management tool. We shall see.

My Symbaloo:

The two upper rows from left to center include my personal mail, social media sites, and blogs. The four tiles along the top row, left to center include four of my main information sources: Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. My Gmail account is used to (among other things) manage various LIS-related discussion lists. I use Facebook daily as a content aggregator for info about libraries, politics, local events, and to stay in touch with friends, and currently have 420 friends and follow 66 organizations of interest to my future as a librarian. I am also Facebook friends with a number of fellow library students and librarians, including Sarah Houghton-Jan. Admittedly, I do not use Twitter very much since I already spend too much time on Facebook. Although, I do follow 233 people/organizations, many of whom are fellow library students, librarians, and well-respected library organizations.

The following is a list of LIS-related organizations I follow on Facebook arranged by subject and usefulness:

Libraries I love in Real Life that have great Teen Services and Programs:

Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
The Loft Literary Center
Implementing Emerging Technologies and Media-Based Learning in Libraries:WiredTechCrunchLearning Games NetworkMIT Media LabThe New Media Consortium

Free Technology for Teachers


Library Renewal


Libraries Thriving: A Collaborative Space for E-Resource Innovation

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative

Magazines and Journals:

Chronicle of Higher Education

American Libraries Magazine

VOYA Magazine

School Library Journal

Library Journal

Professional Associations:

Freedom to Read Foundation

Banned Books Week

American Library Association

Library & Information Technology Association

Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California

Society of American Archivists

The Library of Congress

California School Library Association

California Library Association


Bay Area Librarians

Public Library Association (PLA)

National Digital Information Infrastructure & Preservation Program

Save Libraries

Student Organizations:

Students and New Archives Professionals (SNAP) Roundtable

Information Professionals Social Club (IPSC)

ASIS&T Student Chapter: San Jose State University


ALA Student Chapter (ALASC), San Jose State University

Internet Archive



I use Gmail to organize my discussion lists. The following are an assorted variety of LIS-related interests I have acquired throughout my academic career.

YALSA-BK: – YALSA discussion group for YA Librarians and teacher-librarians to share ideas for teen programming and services

SNAP (Students and New Archives Professionals) – – SAA discussion group for SNAPs to ask questions about the archiving field/internships/employment opportunities

Archives and Archivists:  – SAA discussion group for archivists to discuss processing and preservation issues among other conversations

PUBLIB : – Discussion group for those employed in public libraries to discuss the myriad attendant issues and concerns including patron queries and tech problems.

ILI- – ACRL discussion group for academic and public librarians to discuss information literacy instruction. Seems most applicable for IL and Reference librarians to share ideas and concepts related to Ili.

InfoLit: – ACRL discussion group for academic and public librarians to discuss information literacy issues and concerns as well as patron queries.


LinkedIn is a resource I explored more fully as a student in LIBR282: Marketing Your Skills in a Networked World. There, I updated my profile and discovered new means of promoting my skills and resources to future employers through LinkedIn. I joined several LIS-related discussion groups worth mentioning. They include: This Week in Libraries, LIS Career Options, and Librarians in the Job Market.

My Blogs:

The second row links to several projects I have worked on either independently or collaboratively. My WordPress tile links to the Project Connect site our team created for Four County Library System in Binghamton, NY. My Weebly tile links to my newly-completed electronic portfolio of my myriad accomplishments throughout the last three years of my MLIS candidacy. The Blogger tile links to my personal blog “out of the shower” which I infrequently update, but continues to be a valuable resource for aggregating my blogroll links. My blogroll titled Libroarians compiles 60+ LIS-related blogs and resources that I regularly visit to further my knowledge base as a future children’s and YA librarian.

I chose two key professional associations to guide my career endeavors as a future children’s and/or teen librarian: ALA and YALSA. They are located in the third row from the top. I regularly use them for professional development. In the row beneath are Radiolab, The Digital Shift, and Mashable: three sources I regularly use for library-related podcasts and emerging tech trends. Following that in the second row from the bottom are magazines and journals: American Libraries, Library Journal, and VOYA: a “leading journal” for YA librarians and patrons. Beside VOYA moving right is the beginning of my catalogs and archives section despite its proximity to the magazines and journals. The OAC (or Online Archive of California) “provides free public access to over 200 contributing libraries, archives, historical societies, and museums throughout California”, and has been a delight to explore. The SJSU reference databases have also been an amazing resource that I will be sad to leave behind when I graduate this month L My bottom row includes several catalogs and archives as well as other resources like The Free Dictionary. Notable catalogs and archives include the Minerva Project (the Library of Congress’ Web Archives), LibGuides (a resource database for myriad subjects compiled by librarians), Calisphere (an archive of primary sources collected and arranged by the University of California), and OCLC (a universal library catalog or the “world’s libraries connected”).

In the top right hand corner are my most-used and well-loved bookmarking sites and RSS feeds like Instapaper, Diigo, Google Reader, and Pinterest. I use Instapaper to save longer articles to read later, whereas I bookmark items of any length on Diigo to save for future library research, teaching, or creative projects. I have aggregated tons of bundled content in my Google Reader but cannot train myself to visit that page. I usually opt to scroll through live feeds on my blog’s sidebar to scan important news items. I use Pinterest sporadically to learn more about how libraries use Pinterest to reach YA and children through promoting reading and reader’s advisory.

Here I have also included LiveBinders, Zotero, and Scoop.It despite my intermittent use of these resources. While I use daily and subscribe to a few curated “scoops” about  Information Literacy, I do not currently use Zotero and LiveBinders. I hope to explore them more fully in order to instruct older teens about their usefulness for research assignments. GoodReads is a resource that I use daily to learn about new YA titles, and I plan to continue to use it to reach teens as a YA librarian.

Also included in this section are two of my document management systems: Google Docs and Dropbox, which I use daily to manage my research and creative projects. Both of these will also prove vital to collaborative projects with children and teens.

The bottom right hand corner includes most of the tools I currently have in my tech toolkit that I either currently use or hope to employ in working as a children’s or YA librarian. They include: Wordle, SlideRocket, Jing, BrainPop, SchoolTube, TED talks, Glogster, and VoiceThread.

Two more collaborative tools I have included in this section are: wikispaces and schoolibswiki. My aim is to offer these tools as means of managing collaborative group projects for high school students seeking instruction or assistance at the public library.

To stay abreast of emerging tech trends and learn insightful new ways to integrate various technologies into my pedagogy and instruction with teens in public libraries, I have included Free Tech for Teachers, Library 2.0 (also for their upcoming conferences), and Classroom 2.0.

Problem-Solving/PLN in Action:

Sometimes I feel like a Facebook Reference stalker offering answers to friends’ library or resource related questions, but it’s too fun to discontinue my unpaid services as a FB Reference Librarian. One specific example is when my friend Jennifer was seeking information about graphic design firms in the Bay Area, and I referred her to QuestionPoint which proved very useful to her search. I have also alerted many people through Facebook to the virtual reference databases available to them through their local public libraries. As an ardent advocate for libraries, I also often use Facebook to inform friends from my past about the many ways libraries have changed over the years.

Network Maintenance Plan:

I will maintain my online personal learning network by using it regularly as a personal desktop to remain connected to each and all of these resources.  I plan to adjust it as resources become outdated or defunct. Since compiling and organizing resources can be quite meditative (to my mind), I am also considering either augmenting my webmix by interlinking to new, subdivided webmixes specifically allocated to either YA Lit, Children’s Lit or Teen Tech Toolkit, for example, or compiling another PLN using NetVibes since it looks like a great platform to explore. The possibilities for gleaning and learning and discovery abound.

Personal Learning Networks: A Context Book Report


Our current educational systems follow a traditional instructor-led learning model despite myriad technological advancements and numerous studies that prove the value of implementing collaborative classroom environments. In their book Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education, Richardson and Mancabelli lay out a step-by-step transitional process for schools and other learning environments to begin designing and implementing curriculums around networked learning. The authors assert that as individuals practice and participate in a culture of networked learning by utilizing various emerging technologies, educators and learners have greater potential for diverse and pluralized teaching and learning capabilities due to global and unlimited connections.

As we contribute to the perpetuity of the cycle of networked learning, we all continue to glean and gain knowledge. This kind of radial learning emits from the center, and appears conceptually sustainable due to a strong infrastructure. In this pivotal time for education, it is evident that current students are less satisfied than ever with rote learning and seek more active models of engagement. Driven by technology, today’s learners have evolving skill sets that match the impulse to flow with tech changes.

One critical argument purported in Richardson and Mancabelli’s (2011) text is the need for educational models to match student needs in preparation for a future that will undoubtedly rely heavily on advanced systems and technologies. They assert that implementing networked learning will help prepare students for “life and work in the 21st century” as well as “make classrooms more engaging”, facilitate student responsibility, and “individualize instruction.” (p. 27) The authors refer to Tony Wagner’s “seven survival skills” claimed to be essential for today’s learners in tomorrow’s world. They include “critical thinking/problem solving, accessing and analyzing information, collaboration/leading by influence, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, and finally, curiosity and imagination.” (p. 27)

While it is clear that immersion and active engagement with transmedia literacies is critical to ensuring future successes in business and learning environments, it is also a great concern to envision a sea of blank student faces staring at their computer screens waiting for permission to proceed to the next task instead of interacting directly with educators. One might argue that the difference is negligible but I wonder what happens to humanity as younger and younger learners are taught to fear and revere their electronic devices. Concurrent with this risk is the predilection for heavy tech users to maintain “continuous partial attention” as purported by Linda Stone. (p. 26). Will this detract from a learner’s ability for deep focus and concentration on assignment or self-reflexive tasks? Will learners become so dependent on groupthink and collaborative knowledge that they will be less able to solve problems and independently assess situations? Educators will need to consider the divisiveness and possibilities for alienation inherent in the continuous use of technologies, and direct students on how to utilize these learning tools advantageously to avoid these risks.



Richardson, W. & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Image attribution:

Connected Learning

This idea of connected learning seems idyllic. The inherent tension in the lines between my PLN and yours. The lines interconnecting. What is omitted? What remains to be cataloged or discussed in these networks? If all experience is potential source material for gleaning, appropriating, learning, instructing, and implementing, what would a PLN comprised of heartbreak or anxiety look like? The interstellar neural pathways that constitute how the brain uses and shapes information to learn.

Hearkening to tribal language, to the call for connection in an isolating network of HCI. As communication increasingly involves various technologies, we want to dream the invisible wires gives us direct access. Do they?

The possibilities for global communications are unprecedented and expansive. Do we feel connected?  According to Jenkins, “the core of connected learning [involves] three values: equity, full participation, and social connection.” Typically, these principles guide us in our individual knowledge pursuits as autodidacts navigating and augmenting our PLNs. We cull and curate and consume and create; we build a tower of Babel; we build a circus of content.

What fun to engage in a collaborative practice of sharing these ideas and interests. To develop networks of life-minded individuals is an aspiration. What happens when schools, museums, libraries, and archives unite to promote a new model of learning rooted in these collaborative principles, and reject the traditional model of greed, debt, and competition? Maybe I’m having a hard time separating the two, but it seems connected learning allows for a transformation not just of learning environments, but of whole educational systems.


Jenkins, Henry. (2012). Connected Learning: Reimagining the experience of education in the Information Age. Retrieived from

LiveBinder tools for building your PLN

image attribution:

New Culture of Learning


There’s a buoyant and palpable joy communicated through the writings of Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown in their book A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. It seems like an opening, like permission to create and learn through play whatever, wherever, whenever. It’s like Homeschooling for Library Dummies or something.

While I am typically resistant to the current zeitgeist of “Books are bad, m’kay” and thinly veiled critiques of the limitations of the tradition of books as critical technologies disguised in writings about the benefits of current emerging technologies, I found myself opening to the concept of a “reading practice” that incorporates and integrates various media to teach, to convey, to convene, to connect.

Facilitating learning through any media necessary is the surest way to encourage curiosity in the learner, which subsequently promotes greater aptitudes for lifelong learning. Agency is the key. We know that rote regurgitation on standardized anything does not promote cognitive transfer or recall. Intrinsic motivation does. As such, learners that become truly engaged desire more knowledge, become immersed in the knowing of a thing.

With a little ingenuity, libraries can be makerspaces, workshops, laboratories, and reading rooms. Libraries that seek to integrate traditional and emerging tech to foster discovery environments for their collectives and communities convey that they promote access to all while also meeting a plethora of learner needs. Why go elsewhere if users can create, share, learn, play, read, and also engage with peers? Joining with an active and participatory community to create and share “content” allows all to collaborate in new ways of learning.

image attributed to:

Teaching Tech

LIBR 281_Week 4 DT _Wordle for Blog Post

Teaching and learning are necessary compatriots, and I’m excited to learn alongside our group’s Learning 2.0 program participants at 4LCS. While I see my role as more of a program facilitator than teacher, I recognize how this program potentially catalyzes greater understanding of various tech tools, in part because of peer-to-peer and collaborative learning opportunities.

Also, I’m thrilled to have a justifiable excuse to play with tech tools like Zotero and Instapaper. Instapaper is shaping up to be my new favorite. Despite its seeming innocuousness and lack of tagging or labeling conventions, it presents information junkies like me with something more useful: a single source for myriad pages of variegated content from everywhere and all wheres to retrieve and read later. This simple concept allows users to gather and store articles, tweets, posts, and links, while otherwise working online without fear of falling down the Facebook rabbit hole to realize another hour has passed. Freedom, indeed.

This attitude appears to be the source of my hesitation to embrace too many “emerging” technologies. Balance is key, and every so often I need to look people in the eye without twitching from staring at a screen all day. Purposeful and meaningful tech appropriation allows me to catalyze new learning, and engages me to consider new ways of thinking about design and best practices in meeting user needs.

Gleaning (into it and up, up)

gleaning – v. “1. To gather (grain) left behind by reapers. 2. To collect bit by bit”

“Gleaning grows out of a willingness to become an active and interested sponge…” (Booth, 2011, p. 26)


The eye sees light. The eye considers gleaming and radiance. Knowing the definition does not change the way an eye catches a word to make it of the body of knowing. To glean is to learn fractally from others, to integrate new knowledge into our “frames of reference”, to make meaning from it. (Mezirow et. al, 2000, Core Principles of Transformative Learning Theory).

As people influencing one another in unseen and immeasurable ways, we have the capacity to glean so much from others if we are open to it. To absorb this as light, whether we learn from people or places or learning objects. This is my understanding of gleaning.

To learn from my environment is my daily goal. My preferred method of documentation is jotting notes in my notebook to aid memory of any fleeting observations or thoughts or situations I’d like to retain, remember, reuse. I like to make word clouds when hearing poets read their work, and later use those word clouds to make poems. I like to visit museums and galleries and notate techniques, mediums, styles, or ideas I find interesting so I can later research them and possibly use them to inform my photography.


My tech tools include the following:

Facebook  – use daily as a content aggregator for info about libraries, politics, local events, and to stay in touch with friends

Twitter – former use included finding information about political demonstrations and actions; currently use sporadically for info about libraries, conferences, and tech trends.

Gmail – use daily for document storage and accessibility as well as communication

Google Docs – personal and professional collaborative use

Dropbox – use daily for document storage and accessibility

Delicious – I used to love bookmarking sites with the nifty “save to delicious” browser button, but have fallen out of favor with it due to new interface. Also, was irked by the scare of them going away, and migrated to Diigo but don’t use that either. Would like to try Instapaper but feeling a bit taxed and spread thin among so many platforms and tools. When I have time to properly research how to migrate from Delicious to Instapaper, I will give it a try.

Google Reader – I have aggregated tons of bundled content in my Google Reader but cannot train myself to visit that page. I usually opt to scroll through live feeds on my blog’s sidebar to scan important news items.


I’ve downloaded both Evernote and Zotero out of curiosity, and will make time this semester to try out these two discovery tools.

The possibilities for gleaning abound 🙂



Booth, C. (2011). Reflective teaching, effective learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators. American Library Association Editions: Chicago.

the free dictionary. 2012. Accessed September 12, 2012 from

Mezirow, Jack & Associates, 2000, Learning as Transformation, Jossey Bass, San Francisco.

Reflection: Flexibility

Flexibility is key to engaging learners and their myriad learning styles. As a poetry instructor team-teaching a workshop designed for underserved youth, I learned firsthand how rigidly adhering to a lesson plan impeded student learning. The element of surprise, while often appreciated in the line of a poem, is especially useful when teaching a room of bored teens looking for a way out.

“Differentiating instruction” can help keep learners engaged by incorporating that element of surprise. (Booth, 2011, p. 50) By choosing to incorporate both procedural and conceptual (direct and discovery) instructional techniques, teachers can engage multiple senses and intelligences and promote transfer and retention. By remaining open to the highly diversified needs of a classroom environment, teachers are privileged and challenged to listen intently for new ways to best serve learners.

As Booth (2011) suggests, thinking about learning as a continuum instead of hierarchically allows the mind to consider the nonlinear ways we can grasp new knowledge. In changing the visual model from a laddered to a lateral approach, learners can begin to grasp how what we know and what we learn continue to blend and recontextualize to make new learning. One way this is done is by anchoring new knowledge to previous knowledge. This method of cognitivist instruction can be paired with other instructional methods e.g. behaviorist and constructivist to meet various student needs.

Booth, C. (2011). Reflective teaching, effective learning: Instructional Literacy for Library Educators. American Library Association Editions: Chicago.