I've been doing a lot of thinking about how to use social learning and the concept of building a #PLN as a way to introduce an #ESN . Thanks to +Keeley Sorokti for inspiration. I'd like to see features built into social tools to explicitly support these activities. Here is an idea I've put together for such a tool to support a network of school teachers. +Helen Blunden  +Tanya Lau +Maureen Crawford +Kate Pinner +Helen Crump  +Essa Garland +Bruno Winck +Paul Signorelli +Jeff Merrell  I'd love to hear your thoughts on the value of such a tool, suggested features, and how/whether you think it could support learning in an organization. Please invite others to comments as well!

Personal Learning Network Support Tool

Purpose of the tool:
Maintaining a diverse network of strong and weak ties helps you learn, advance, and build social connections, and develop a stronger identity.  The personal learning network tool helps you visualize, grow, and learn from your network.

Key features:
Displays a visual diagram of your contacts taken from email, social media, contacts, calendars, and information about organizations with which you’re associated (e.g., schools, work places, volunteer organizations, etc.). The diagram illustrates strong and weak ties based on interactions with each person. Data can be manually manipulated to account for offline interactions. The diagram updates automatically so it shows a picture of your network ties at a specific point in time. You can also review the history of your network to see how it has changed.

Analyzes the diversity of your network including number of strong, weak and very weak ties, number of contacts extending across structural holes, and affiliations, skills and interests of your contacts. Makes recommendations based on this analysis for expanding your network or renewing ties. Recommendations include suggesting specific interactions, such as “ following” someone on social media, commenting on a post the person has written, or attending events. Also alerts you to relevant activity based on your current interests.

Allows you to enter a question and uses network analysis to suggest people who could best help to answer it. For example, “How do I handle bullying in the classroom?” “What skills do I need to transition from teaching kindergarten to fourth grade?” Or “Who has worked at XYZ school?” For questions posted on the ESN, recommendations can come in the form of suggested @mentions or #hashtags to draw the attention of the right people. You can also search your network by keyword to find contacts to reach out to directly.

You can enter status updates on current projects, learning goals, etc. (i.e., respond to the question "What are you working on?"), which will cause relevant content (blogs, status updates, etc.) from your network to be surfaced. This is similar to a customized content feed, but it also alerts others to your interests and matches you with like-minded users so you can both learn from and contribute to the existing conversations.
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