How do you stay current in your field?

Often, teachers approach me asking if they should be on Twitter. I use it and G+ to find and follow people who can teach me new things. As opposed to Facebook where I stay connected to my personal friends, Twitter and G+ are places to group around shared interests.

Let’s turn the question on its head and ask how do you get good timely information about the things you care about? How do you keep learning outside of any formal professional development or education setting? In short, how do you take responsibility for teaching yourself new things?┬áHow do you stay current in your field? A personal learning network might help.

When forming a personal learning network (PLN), it’s best not to think about the technology first, but rather about reaching the people and content you want to connect with. Your PLN should be a collection of inputs (interesting media you consume) and outputs (your reactions, curations, and original content). The people in your PLN may come and go according to their needs, or they may become a hard core of devoted followers.

I’m a big proponent of using an RSS Reader like Feedly to follow the blogs and websites of people whose ideas excite me. RSS is great because it’s an open protocol that’s widely used and isn’t controlled by any one corporation. RSS Podcatchers (I use PocketCasts) are a great way of subscribing to video and audio podcasts to stay up on interesting shows and channels.

My preferred way of getting information OUT to followers is to post to my own blog (http://Ted Curran.net – Tips, Tricks, and Lifehacks for Online Educators) and then share my posts on G+, Twitter, Facebook, and StumbleUpon to reach different audiences. I also post directly to those networks to share things I’m reading or reacting to.

What do you do to keep your professional skills current? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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