Thursday, October 17, 2013

20 minute blog post! PLN-thinking off the cuff

I'm currently doing what I tell my family is my "fake class" - an open learning opportunity through Northwestern's Master's Program in Learning and Organizational Change on Personal Learning Networks (PLN).

Through this experience I've come to the realization that my next learning step needs to be blogging, but I keep putting it off, so I'm challenging myself today to just jump in and put a draft out there. Here goes! Learning out loud. (thanks @sorokti)

This week we are working to try to define what in the world a PLN might be. The challenge item from our facilitators was to explain a PLN to your boss or your mom. Participants have also been challenging each other to explain PLN on twitter in 140 characters, in haiku, in images.

We've seen some great blog posts asking if people in your PLN have to be alive, or even have to be people at all. I also really appreciated a blog about to what extent your PLN needed to be online.

The question that I find myself coming back to is to what extent your PLN needs to be intentional. Does one need to have a clear agenda for your PLN?

My own bias is that I've stumbled onto my PLN because I spontaneously decided to sign up for a MOOC - E-learning and Digital Cultures from Coursera through University of Edinburgh. So my feeling is that my PLN was serendipitous. I took a chance and commented on a Voicethread, and met some great new people, but I'm still not sure what my intention is any more than what my agenda is when I engage in water cooler chat. To be completely honest, sometimes my intention is just to get some time away from my work with people I find interesting.

I really enjoy the fact that when I sign-on to Twitter or Google plus I get a variety of often unrelated bits of information - recipes, jokes, professional development. If it was all tailored to an agenda I think it would be less fun.

I also see that part of the purpose of the PLN is to mix-it-up, even if you have a goal for your PLN, maybe a PLN mission statement?, your interactions should hopefully bring some diversity and unexpected connections. I liked this chart from Harold Jarche in PKM in 2013.
I get that there needs to be some intention (sense-making), but I would argue that it can be very minimal. I'd also want to say that the reciprocity element can be minimal.

And now I'll have to admit that I went over my 20 minute limit because there was a work interruption, but I'm back in. Gonna wrap this up before lunch.

New goal is to add a bit about my thoughts on reciprocity this weekend and make some more connections to our fascinating readings that I am behind on!