Personal Learning Networks

It's at the digital water cooler where I interact with and learn from other people. This is my PLN

It’s at the digital water cooler where I interact with and learn from other people. This is my PLN

“All of your knowledge won’t amount to much if you don’t have a network of people to share it with and enough compassion for the people in that network to understand that your success is a direct result of their success.”

Tim Sanders, Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo

I’m in education because I want children/young adults/students/professionals to be able to think for themselves. I believe that I’m working to a point where the locus of control should rest within them. Yet, when it comes to my professional development needs, this locus usually resides with an obscure subcommittee that arranges meetings, invites a speakers, a lecturer or guru and assumes that the co-hort of attendees will learn, grow and return to our classroom inspired and “professionally developed”. What a silly notion.

A person that loves learning, is looking for guidance, wants wisdom, requires answers to questions and has experience to share does not need sit through presentation after presentation, discussion after discussion in order to become a better educator. Training programmes are not going to improve their teaching. A network of educated people that are willing to talk with other educated people is required, not a panel of presenters.

Managements’ obscure faith in officially sanctioned lectures, in-service training courses or educational conferences is being shaken by free-form, dialogic user centred learning concept called a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Skeptics of top down training programmes are using the Social Networking and Web 2.0 Technologies to create an alternative platform to communicate, accept and dole out advice, coach and be coached and interact with a huge range of interesting people. Sharing and social applications on the ‘net have facilitated user-centered learning opportunities, where the training agenda is made up by the attendees, not the speaker.

So if you are tired of being told what meetings, conferences, INSET days you should attend, but are interested in engaging with similarly minded professionals (in a mediated public space), if you are comfortable with being part of a community and are looking for some form of mentoring or coaching, then maybe you’ll be interested in developing your own Personal Learning Network. Search Twitter for the term “My PLN”, and you’ll find thousands of people using electronic tools to connect with and share their knowledge. Or join me, and my AV / Ed Tech class and create a digital identity where we can explore new ways of learning in an unplace, where control rests with the teacher, not the talker. Expect peer to peer learning, some social engagement and reflective thinking. Who knows where this conversation will take us.