I'm out the door, but wanted to share this. Jeff Utecht has come up with a nice graphic depicting the stages of developing a personal learning network (PLN) that I think captures the different phases of using social media for learning. You can see the graphic here. (I'd share, but his Flickr license is All Rights Reserved.)
Jeff's stages are:
"Stage 1 Immersion: Immerse yourself into networks. Create any and all networks you can find where there are people and ideas to connect to. Collaboration and connections take off.
Stage 2 Evaluation: Evaluate your networks and start to focus in on which networks you really want to focus your time on. You begin feeling a sense of urgency and try to figure out a way to “Know it all.”
Stage 3 Know it all: Find that you are spending many hours trying to learn everything you can. Realize there is much you do not know and feel like you can’t disconnect. This usually comes with spending every waking minutes trying to be connected to the point that you give up sleep and contact with others around you to be connected to your networks of knowledge.
Stage 4 Perspective: Start to put your life into perspective. Usually comes when you are forced to leave the network for awhile and spend time with family and friends who are not connected (a vacation to a hotel that does not offer a wireless connection, or visiting friends or family who do not have an Internet connection).
Stage 5 Balance: Try and find that balance between learning and living. Understanding that you can not know it all, and begin to understand that you can rely on your network to learn and store knowledge for you. A sense of calm begins as you understand that you can learn when you need to learn and you do not need to know it all right now."
This has been my experience, although I'd reverse stages 2 and 3. I found that I first tried to learn it all before I began evaluating my participation and trying to decide on the right networks. And I agree with a few of Jeff's commenters that the stages might best be represented as a cycle that people move through several times.
Right now, I think I'm between Stages 4 and 5, still trying to find that ever-elusive balance. What about you? Where are you in this process?