The reading this week on personal learning networks (PLNs) has been interesting. I had not realized that the combination of stuff that has been feeding into my Google reader, or my always growing list of bookmarked websites, was in fact my own version of a PLN. The variety of resources that make up my reader and bookmarks, however, makes my PLN appear to be a semi-organized mess with no recognizable focus. Perhaps that is what learning is: a process of organizing concepts that may not make sense to begin with but after manipulating information and putting it together in different combinations it becomes of tangible value to the learner. As a PLN is personal this makes sense.
The networking aspect, though, is a bit intangible. I am networking right now, as I type this blog post that somebody may or may not read. If somebody does read it and/or comments on it then that networking has taken an extra step. If I reply: then another step.
But what does it all mean? I suppose I hope that somebody has something useful to add to my thoughts, or a different perspective because that is better than the alternative; my thoughts being published and then just floating off to nowhere. But simple affirmation of the existence of my thoughts is not what I am looking for. What I am looking for in my personal learning experience are ideas that I have never before considered; points of view that I never before would have conceived.
This need for informative feedback cannot happen spontaneously. It requires writing and posting those thoughts; reading and responding to what other people write. This in turn requires frequenting online places that will give you the sort of feedback that you want, or as our text states: “it’s all about the quality of the connections you make, not the quantity” (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, Kindle location 961). And how do you find these places except to go out and read and follow links and see where your curiosity will lead you.
This is where my curiosity led me today:
It will be interesting to watch this channel add content and grow, and it makes me wonder which other YouTube channels I should add to my PLM. I find the thought of adding more to what I already follow a bit daunting. I suppose it is time to start pruning.
Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.