Sunday, September 15, 2013

Developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN)

What is a Personal Learning Network and why are we talking about it...?

Let us start with a definition from Wikipedia of Personal Learning Network as a start:   personal learning network is an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment (PLE). In a PLN, a person makes a connection with another person with the specific intent that some type of learning will occur because of that connection. Learners create connections and develop a network that contributes to their professional development and knowledge. The learner does not have to know these people personally or ever meet them in person. 

One aspect is that the learner contribute and derive knowledge in a PLE through various nodes. In this way, the learner chooses which mediums (digital, F2F, P2P,) and social media to build a PLN. Specifically, the learner chooses whom to interact with in these media and how much to participate. Learners enters the PLE with certain goals, needs, interests, motivations and problems that are often presented to the people they include in their PLN. Moreover, the learner will collaborate and connect differently with various members. The learner will establish stronger relationships with some members and have a low level of connection with others. Not all nodes will be equal. Some of the member roles include searcher, assembler  designer of data, innovator of subject matter, and researcher.
PLNs are becoming an important part of professional development in several fields with some businesses creating their own e-learning content and PLEs for their employees. In addition, PLNs have become prevalent in the field of education and are rapidly becoming adopted as centers for the diaspora of field related information (in this regard, they are also often referred to as PROFESSIONAL Learning Networks).
This is one of the best ways of using all available resources to improve and manage your own learning. Any network is about PEOPLE, PROCESS, and SYSTEMS (TECHNOLOGY).
PEOPLE:  Anyone you can interact with to help you learn. Friends, fellow students, family, teachers, mentors and coaches, and subject matter experts (SMEs).
PROCESS: HOW, WHEN, and WHERE do YOU LEARN and COLLABORATE. Is it digital, Face to Face (F2F), or Person to Person (P2P)? Do you learn during school (07:30 am to 2:15pm), at home during homework time, at work, or throughout the day? It isn't all about technology, sometimes you meet people to talk with them about things you want to learn. 
SYSTEMS (What Web 2.0 types of technology do you use?): Internet, Blogs, wikis, social media, etc. How do you use information technology to gain access to info about things you want to learn, to learn faster and more in depth?  Besides texting, Google search, twitter, and Facebook what Web 2.0 technologies do you know?

Developing a PLN will help you now as a student and in your future life as a professional, so lets get started!!  This will also help you in your Cadet Innovation Project....

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