Thursday, September 23

Personal Learning Networks - What's in a name ?

Has the PLN become the PLE or has the PLE become the PLN

Corinne Weisburger's slideshare presentation "How To Create Your Personal Learning Network For Professional Development And Research" helped to clarify somewhat my understanding of the nature of PLNs and demonstrated strategies which could be used for customising that network. 
"....PLNs are deliberately formed networks of people and resources capable of guiding our independent learning goals and professional development needs.... "

Learning via a PLN may be connectivist or constructivist in nature(depends on which hat one wears and I'm not sure which suits me yet, then again perhaps I'll tend towards the constructionist by the end of the journey), multiple rather than single user generated. Then again, will a PLN by any other name smell as sweet? An interesting take on "What's new in the world?raises the point that:
.......Personal Learning Networks are all the rage at the moment. As with a lot of “modern” things, they’re existed for a long time but have now got a snappy new name. It used to be called “advice from friends and colleagues”. But in the era of social media the word friend has taken on a new meaning. Social media has provided me with a lot of friends who I’ve never met and never spoken to. I’ve exchanged a few tweets with them, commented on or received comments on a blog article, or maybe read a few forum posts, and as a result these people are, in Web 2.0-speak, friends........     
It may simply be a case of 'everything old is new again'. Having been an educator for over 35 years now, I've been witness to the rebirth of many techniques and philosophies, each with a new glossy jargonistic name. The process, not the name, is what has ramifications for the learner, who becomes part of an increasingly global learning community.  This concept is not new, the global perspective is. With the advent of the Web 2.0 paradigm, and the accompanying digital explosion, the learning network has taken on a far greater significance, its value lying in its future potential rather than its current reality in many closed MLEs which fulfil institutional rather than individual needs. 
I enjoyed John Spencer's perception of a PLN as being a mindset not a 'thing' or a 'process'. Interestingly the author stated that he created it while doodling and feeling bored to death at a professional development meeting. I speak from personal experience when I state that professional development meetings are out of bounds for me. It's been many many years since I actually learnt anything of professional significance in one of those environments. They follow the same format: gratuitous long winded introductions; minimal input from the 'experts' who have been provided at great expense; the compulsory brainstorming sessions, followed by workshops and group presentations. Once the general consensus is reached with the lowest common denominator prevailing, gratuitous thanks are delivered and the obligatory, (again gratuitous), evaluation sheet distributed. Call me jaded, but I'd rather play polo with Genghis Khan than 'network' at one of these meetings. I believe we all should resist the sabotaging of our learning environments in such fashion, personal or otherwise.

I view the network as being ‘Janus like’, with one face representing the individual and the other, the group which provides the stimulus for looking at another perspective. This is of benefit to both the individual and the group. 
Discovered a most amazing widget "Garys Social Media Count" created by Gary Hayes (an Aussie resident) Just had to share !



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