Mapping my own personal learning network (PLN) has been a helpful exercise. I have been able to visualise how I access information and to identify the people with whom I engage with and exchange information. Couros (2010, p.126) describes PLNs as having an important role in sustaining long-term learning. She explains that after a community of learning is built around a course of study for instance, the connections continue to exist and evolve well after the course has ended.
Below is a meme map of my own PLN.
In the stages of PLN adoption outlined in Utech’s diagram below, I would identify myself as alternating between stage 4 (perspective), and stage 5 (balance). After being forced to leave the network for a while due to work and family commitments, I found that my return lacked some of the urgency and a fear of missing out that I had experienced before where I felt that there was so much to learn, and so many new tools to explore. After trying out many new networking tools and signing up for many new things I now have reduced these back down to a manageable handful with the realisation that many are quite similar and that a deeper exploration of tools that I am already familiar with may yield the same results.
The Youtube video below gives a clear explanation of how and why to build a PLN and how an individual might use a PLN to take responsibility for their own professional development. In the video it is explained that it is not enough to simply listen and observe, that a PLN is a two- way street. This has enabled me to identify a gap in my own PLN, I realise that in order to grow my network I will need to contribute more, offer help, reply and ask and answer more questions.
Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. In Veletsianos, G (Ed.) Emerging technologies in distance education. Retrieved from www.aupress.ca/books/120177/ebook/99z_veletsianos_2010-Emerging_Technologies_in_Distance_Education.pdf
Utech, J. (2008). Stages of PLN adoption. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption on 7 September, 2013.
Via, S.(2010, June 10). Personal learning networks for educators [Youtube video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6WVEFE-oZA