Saturday, October 19, 2013

Keeping My PLN Organized

During a training recently I was talking about the blogs I follow and the people I follow on Twitter. The question was asked, "How do you find time to read all that?" The answer is I don't!

Currently I have 80 blogs across a variety of topics that I am following. I am also following 69 people on Twitter. Neither of these numbers are outlandish. I would even guess that they are anemic compared to many other connected educators. But that's still a lot of information to keep an eye on. In this post I'll share two apps that I use - one for blogs and one for Twitter.


Rather than go out to all 80 blogs each day to see if something has been posted, I use Feedly. Feedly is a RSS aggregator. It does the heavy lifting for me by going out to all my blogs and showing my headlines and summaries of the posts that I haven't yet read.

You can see from the screen shot to the right how I have my blogs organized into sections. Each section shows the blogs I'm following and the number of unread blog posts. I can choose to view all blogs in a particular section or on a particular blog. At a glance I can see the topics. If it sounds interesting to me then I'll read it. Otherwise I'll mark it as read and it will disappear from the list.

I don't spend hours and hours pouring through blog posts. I scan through them in the morning while I'm waiting for my ride to work and in the evening just before bed. Feedly is also available for smart phones and tablets. So if I have some down time during the day, I'm waiting at the doctor's office, etc. I can scan through my feeds and keep up with what interests me.


Twitter is a constant stream of information. To help me stay on top of it I use TweetDeck on my laptop and Tweetbot on my iPhone.  One of the first things I keep in mind about Twitter is that I don't have to read everything - if I miss something it will usually come around again because everybody is retweeting and favoriting. So I don't stress about having to read every single tweet.

Tweetbot is nice because I can see where I stopped reading. When I'm ready to pick up where I left off I just have to refresh the screen. Again I don't worry about reading every tweet, I just scan through and if something catches my eye or I start to see a trend I'll stop and read.

I like using TweetDeck because I can have multiple timelines open at the same time. Timelines are like conversations on Twitter. If everyone is using the hashtag #gra13, for example, I can have that saved as a timeline and view that conversation in real time, without the clutter of the rest of my Twitter stream.

With these two apps I can still keep track of all the information flowing to me without feeling overwhelmed or feeling like I'm spending too much time online and not enough face to face.

What do you use to keep organized while being connected?

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