The PLN Pitch

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The PLN Pitch

A personal learning network for higher education

*Here is my own final learning artifact for Northwestern University’s Seminar Exploring Personal Learning Networks

*And my collaborative final learning artifact for Northwestern University’s Seminar Exploring Personal Learning Networks

*Useful information here: Exploring PLNs Collaboration Tools

At the end of the the five week online seminar, we were given a hypothetical case to consider….

Your CEO (or equivalent organizational leader) just heard about PLNs at a cocktail party and is excited about gaining a competitive advantage (or improving impact on mission) by leveraging PLNs for the organization’s success. But, she/he knows little about PLNs or what to do with them to support organizational success and strategy. Is the organization set up to benefit from and support PLNs, so it is more than just an individual thing? She/he is going away on vacation for one week, and upon return wants you to explain what PLNs are and to provide guidance for what to do. You have a one-hour meeting to facilitate a conversation.

Seminar participants grouped or paired voluntarily according to organizational type, industry or interests, and I joined a group for Higher Education. Our group debated whether the PLN pitch ought to be directed at senior management at a place of higher learning or to the faculty / teachers, possibly students and staff at the institution.

Some suggested readings by group members included:

Disruptive Pedagogies and Technologies in Universities by Terry Anderson and Rory McGreal

Stephen Downes on Connective Knowledge

Some key questions which arose from our G+ discussions and collaborative G Drive docs were:

1. Should institutions encourage  / manage PLNs or should the individual determine the nature and personal /professional use of a PLN?

2. How can connectivism or other learning theories be incorporated into this case study?

3.  How can educational participants be assisted in recognizing what they already do as part of a PLN? (professional associations, etc.)

4. How can one leverage acceptance of a PLN by showing the benefits of widening the existing associations to include other disciplines and fields?

5. What are the difference between Communities of Practice and Personal Learning Networks?

Our group decided to favor the individual agency-side, and our final artifact reflects this view. We subtitled our presentation “A Collaborative Sharing with our Colleagues” where we could potentially be sharing our ideas with administrators, faculty or staff members at an institution but leaving the creation and management of a PLN in the hands of the individual rather than pitching organizational oversight of personal or professional associations. This view seemed compatible with the spirit of academic freedom at a place of higher learning while possibly not compatible with legislative powers and entrenched institutional structures. One final seminar artifact submitted by a participant exemplifies the desire to maintain the ‘personal’ within a personal learning network.

We focused on the benefits of a PLN to faculty members. These benefits included….

  1. Opportunity for Global Collaboration

  2. Wealth of ideas

  3. Those who share get much more in return

  4. Connected knowing

  5. Interdisciplinarity, internationalization, information technology

  6. Our students are already doing this

  7. My story…

  8. Individual agency

  9. Professional and personal enrichment

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From a personal point of view, my professional PLN has formed and expanded beyond my university firewall as a direct result of my engagement in online communities using social networking platforms such as Google Plus, Twitter and a myriad of Web 2.0 tools. In one of the #xplrpln Twitter chats, I tweeted that I feel like a bit of a ‘gamer’ when I check my online communities  throughout the day using my Iphone, tablet or laptop. It has become very important to me to learn about readings, presentations, conferences, thoughts, artifacts -all related to the open education movement underfoot in higher education.  I value the daily discussions I have with my virtual colleagues; I ask and answer many questions. I am connected online in rich, open and fluid ways that are not possible at my institution where we rely primarily on campus meetings or email for communications. My horizons have been expanded, and I am grateful for the open sharing  and learning within my PLN.

My tweeted definition of a PLN

A free, fluid, online, de-centralized association of ppl lrng / tchng abt topics of evolving interests

Post seminar notes: I am currently reading Clayton Christensen’s “Disrupting Class” which is reinforcing my ideas about a PLN pitch to individuals within a higher ed institution. As Christensen writes, “An organization will never disrupt itself.”

Here is a sampling of the seminar’s blog posts, discussions and final artifacts on Scoop-it.

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