Who is in your personal learning network (PLN)? Or maybe we should first ask, What is a personal learning network? In this knowledge economy with every single thing having a digital footprint learning takes place everywhere and probably more out that in the classroom. So how do we keep up? How do we continue to learn what we need to know in order to get the business of living done to our satisfaction?
I recently gave my sister an MP3 player that I wasn’t using. I had the booklet and the earphones but not the charging cord. My sister lives in a rural area and does lots of driving and she loves music. She wanted the player to hold her music so she could listen as she drove the miles to and from work, and more importantly to and from the nearest shopping area – about 200 miles round trip. Now she could have waited for our 13 year old nephew to come up north to his family cabin, and clearly he would have figured all this out in about 15 minutes. It took her a bit longer, but she tapped into her own personal learning network and was able to listen to music as she drove the short 80 miles round trip to get her sewing machine serviced.
So what is a personal learning network – is it people or web sites? Is it a classroom or class web site from the local college? Are there teachers involved in a personal learning network? Is it a written manual or a company customer service site? Is it the local library in all its print and digital glory?
It is all of that and whatever you need to solve your learning dilemma. It is also the records you keep, journals and notes that you can refer to solve future problems. Joining online communities of interest is a way to keep immersed in the current conversations. It allows you to hear about what others are thinking about the direction things are moving. Beyond that a personal learning network gives you access to different resources. PLN’s give you space to ask questions about those things that interest and puzzle you.
Personal learning networks let you solve problems as practical as how can I get this darned thing to work? Or, to ask big questions about how to keep engaged in your own professional and personal development. Start exploring and creating your own PLN.