The focus today is on a Personal Learning Network (PLN): a web of an individual’s personal and professional connections. With the vastness of the Internet today, it’s usually quite simple to use free tools to assist in projects and assignments, so I chose to use Text2MindMap to make a PLN instead of manually creating one. MindMeister and Coggle are also PLN tools with a similar layout.
Why did I choose Text2MindMap?
For me, the simple but bright colors of the Text2MindMap attracted my eye more than the other tools. I initially just liked the use of color to separate the categories, but after creating my map, I liked it even more because I can easily see which color dominates my PLN (more about this later). I also chose to use Text2MindMap because even though most the tools were free, this one didn’t require me to enter an account. I’m still trying to organize all the other online accounts I have, so not having to add another to the list was a plus in my mind. Another nice thing about the tool I chose is that it allows me to move the categories by just clicking and dragging the title.
My main PLN categories
Academic: The last four years of my life have been very centered on my education, so it wouldn’t make sense not to have an “Academic” category. As a current undergraduate student, I am also not surprised that academics dominate my PLN. The sub-entries include my connections through my major, minors, advising departments, research project, leadership position, and previous study at a different campus. All these links are related to my academic career and provide me with a strong foundation for future endeavors.
Personal: I am happy the PLN includes people from all aspects of life. My friends and family definitely fall under the “Personal” category. In addition, I included soccer and adoption because I meet and communicate with people in these sub-categories, but I don’t consider them as close as friends and family. While making this section, I was reminded that everyone—whether it’s a close friend, a colleague, or a stranger you meet while waiting in line—can be a motivator or introducer of an opportunity in life.
Online: The “Online” category seemed necessary to be separate from the other ones because all the different applications online seem to open new doors for communication and connections in all areas of networking. Online networks can be personal and professional while also being separate experience altogether, so I wasn’t quite sure how to handle communities like Facebook and WordPress.
Work & Volunteer: “Work & Volunteer” is definitely a category I hope to build, especially with my graduation approaching in May. This PLN has been helpful to show me what areas I am really invested in and what areas I need to consider more, especially for future aspirations.
Some of the challenges
Creating this PLN has helped me better understand relationships with other people in my areas of interest and my experiences. Some of the difficulties I had in making this map was deciding what to put underneath the main categories and how much detail I wanted to include. For example, in my personal web, did I want to include that my mother is a nurse with medical connections? Did I want to include that my friend is from the University of Wisconsin – Madison? How far can this network stretch? Am I going too far? There was also a matter of privacy, like whether or not to include names. I’ll have to look more into what a PLN should look like and of course, revise this draft. And like a working resume, this PLN will change and shift according to my experiences.
Thanks for reading!