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EdTech Update




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And the PLN survey says...


I received 513 responses to my informal Professional Learning Network Tools survey I sent out last Tuesday. A very good and fast response. By no means a random sample and I am sure flawed in many statistical ways (as I note below), but to me interesting nonetheless.

You are welcome, of course, to view the raw data - here's a link to the spreadsheet. (To view charts, select "Show Summary of Responses" under the Form menu). But here are a few observations that are my main take-aways.

  1. Three most used tools: social bookmarking sites (used by 81%), webinars (used by 86%), and blogs (used by 89%).
  2. The three least-used tools: Google+ (not used by 63%), LinkedIn (not used by 60%), and Nings (not used by 68%).
  3. Three tools getting most increased use: blogs (70%), webinars (66%), and social bookmarking (61%). (Remember that other tools that are not being used at all won't show an increase in use. Look at raw number increases too.)
  4. Three tools declining most in use: state e-mail lists (31%), LM_Net (27%), and national e-mail lists (23%) (Remember that other tools that are not being used at all won't show a decline in use. Look at raw number increases too.)

I was taken to task for a number of things about this survey. The biggest objection that respondents had was that some tool use was static and I didn't give them that option. (Sorry, that was intentional.) A number of people commented that they would use more of these tools if they were not blocked at school. Some people thought I should have asked about just information sources, not tools that help one find those sources. Others wanted traditional sources of professsional networking and information included such as F2F conferences and professional journals. PLN mean different things to different folks...

My sense is that we don't always have a good definition for something like "social bookmarking tools." While I see as the poster child for this, I also see Pinterest fitting this category, but others may not. I see RSS feed readers/ews aggregators not just as Feedly and Old Reader, but ScoopIt and (Quite honestly, I really don't KNOW all the tools being used out there and how to categorize them. See the list below of things I seemed to have missed.)

I had anticipated e-mail list serves were perhaps waning in popularity and the survey seems to bear this out - but there is still a huge base of users. I thought Twitter would be much more popular. The good job some of our library rock stars are doing with webinars shows up in this survey, I think. 

Anyway, it's nice to know we are connected and those connections, while perhaps changing in some ways, are getting stronger overall. 

I'd be interested in your perceptions of where PLN might be headed.



13. Please list any other online resources that play a vital part in your PLN.

Personal email or text conversations with trusted colleagues or interest groups
Google News groups
Protopage with RSS feeds
Listserv in my school system, university, region, or city
Product user group lists
Education Week
Accumulating RSS feeds in Outlook email.
SLJ Online
Evernote and Google Drive both for curating and organizing information.
Edmodo (2)
Conferences do wonders for my PLN by identifying people to follow online
ALA Newsletter
Digital Newsletters
TED talks
Professional Journals online
Skype and other video conferencing tools
Independent school listservs (AISL, ISS, GBCLA)
Bookstore websites
SlideShare, Flickr
Discovery educator network
My Big Campus
Virtual conferences
Teachers Pay Teachers
INFOhio 21st Century Learning Commons and KBC (Knowledge Building Community)


Respondents by type:

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Reader Comments (3)

Thanks for this, Doug - an interesting result although I was one of those who would have liked the constant, static option simply because once we subscribe, monitoring is a daily task and use depends on the traffic level. Why did you choose to leave that option out?

I also agree that PLN clearly means different things to different people and each of us has a different purpose. Is it where we go to keep our own professional learning curremt, or is it what we use to seek information for others or for collection building or something else? Obviously, our purpose willdefine the sorts of tools we use.

It would be interesting to read what conclusions you draw from this, apart from the fact that we are a connected group.

Two observations that I would make from very recent personal experience...

Firstly, there was a debate about whether our state list shlud move to a Facebook group and it was very clear that people wanted the email list version we courrently havem, becauase, apart from the fact that FB is blocked in many schools, for those who had access they did not think it looked very professional to be using FB during school hours, regardless of what the focus was.

Secondly, Australia, far more than the US, suffers from the tyranny of diatance and just last week, when a group of us established a network for TLs in regional, rural and remote locations (we might call ourselves The Three Rs) the overwhelming desire was to have email-based links primarily because of the convenience of having the notification right there in your inbox and the functionality of email clients like Outlook allows filtering so emails can be directed to a specific folder.

From the responses though, it would seem that while others may be catching up, TLs are still at the cutting edge of embedding ICT into their professional practice.

December 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Braxton

Great list - I hope to be able to use this post in the near future. I have been unemployed since the end of August and hope to start a new position in January. Most of the positions are either tech support or curriculum design, and you have a number of outstanding pieces that explain information much better than I.

I hope you are taking some time off for Christmas, even though I will miss your insight and wisdom...

December 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Barbara,

I didn't give people a neutral option since I wanted them to think about what tools they are using more and using less. Even if the move is slight, I thought it might be telling. Most of us only have a certain amount of time each day to devote to PLNs and as some tools rise, others, therefore fall.

I do think the death of e-mail and listservs is not eminent - especially among those in our generation of educators. The younger folks I see moving to other social networking tools, but there are still a lot of 40-60 year old educators out there.

Anyway, thanks for the comments. This is an imperfect instrument for sure, but I was just personally curious.



Hi Kenn,

Good luck with job search. Anything I can do to help, let me know.

The wife and I heading to Tucson for a few days to thaw out and then spend time with family.

Hope you have a great holiday as well,


December 16, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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