The Current State of my PLN

03 Sep

I recently started to learn new names for something I have long valued as important — my network of contacts.  Last semester I was introduced to George Siemens and his theory of connectivism of which I was instantly a fan.  From my fondness for chaos theory to my interest in Eastern thinking, connectivism fit me.  Now, we’re talking about a Personal Learning Network, or PNL, that is the outward demonstration of what Siemens lists as one of the principles of connectivism — that nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to facilitate continual learning.

During a prolonged period of unemployment, I started in earnest to create my online presence, first by growing my connections on LinkedIn, as that seemed the most appropriate for my job search.  At first I connected with the obvious people, i.e., former co-workers and bosses.  But I also reached out to people with whom I had lesser ties (also called weak ties) and was surprised with their affirmative responses.  I joined professional organizations and sought out their online spaces for more resources.  I also started to explore social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.  Over the years, there has come to be a fair amount of overlap between my connections, such that I tend less and less to view them as distinct networks, but rather subsets of my overall network of contacts.  And now, as I seek out ways to blend my academic pursuits with my desired career change, I’m looking for ways to integrate some of my digital tools, such as my blog that has been exclusively tied to school, with my broader network.

I am completely on board with Siemens’ assertion that “the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill. As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses.”  Since one of the expectations for this class is that we will develop (or grow) our PLN, I wanted to put a stake in the ground here at the beginning of the semester so I can see how my PLN grows and changes during the next 16 weeks.


Post Script: At the end of the semester, I presented “My Personal Learning Network” with a graphic that depicted several different facets of my PLN that expanded, were added, were yet to be fully explored, or — in the case of my RSS feed — failed miserably during our 16 week exploration of digital media.  My PLN remains a work in progress.  I hope you’ll continue on this journey with me.


Posted by on September 3, 2012 in ADLT 641


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15 responses to “The Current State of my PLN

  1. bwatwood

    September 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I’ll be interested in following your progress. Your graphic is interesting…is LinkedIn only work or is it also personal? How do things like Google + fit in? Do networked conversations start in one environment and move to another? I look forward to hearing your thoughts as 641 unfolds…

    • J Even

      September 8, 2012 at 10:00 am

      I reposted that graphic at least 3x before I published the blog post and STILL I forgot things… like Google+ and Skype! LinkedIn in starting to merge more with school than personal (which is where all my dog stuff happens). I think I’m going to have to find another graphical way to represent my PLN as it’s already very confusing. But that’s the point, right! All the connections and interconnections. Thanks for continuing to follow my blog… I look forward to your comments!

  2. Jeff Nugent

    September 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I love the graphic. Seems like school – or the academic context – is a big driver. I have a similar experience and have always wondered if that was a bit artificial or a necessary driver for my development. I have also struggled with the neat boundaries between work-school-personal as they all seem to blend…

    • J Even

      September 8, 2012 at 10:01 am

      School, and esp. being in the technology track, has definitely been a driver in expanding my presence online. Funny you mention the “neat boundaries” because I was thinking how I should have drawn arrows between work and school and personal to indicate they DO overlap.

  3. Wally Wallace

    September 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I, too, love your graphic. I think you are much further along in building your personal learning network than I am but I am looking forward to doing some serious catching up in this class. I would venture to say I could learn a lot from you!

    • J Even

      September 8, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Just try dabbling in some of the networks (lurking is okay, it’s called legitimate peripheral participation) and see which ones resonate with you. I was on Twitter for years before it finally clicked for me!

  4. lsniestrath

    September 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    The one boundary that I struggle to integrate is Facebook. I want to guard my privacy and that of my friends and family members. I’m not someone with a large number of FB friends.

    I receive updates periodically to learn when Linked In connections make another connection. I would be interested in hearing how others in the class use this source for professional connections.

    I read the article, “I tweet honestly. I tweet passionately” for Adlt 650. It helped me to better understand why it’s important to thrown a bone out there…so to speak. It’s a new idea for me, one that I’ll struggle with for a long time, but will make attempts!

    On a personal note, I’ve found Ravelry-a source for knitters and spinners to be a new tool for creating weak links. I’ve reached out and contacted new members to a group and have received responses. One individual reach out and provide YouTube links and website addresses for support.

    • J Even

      September 8, 2012 at 10:05 am

      It’s the weak links that sometimes bring you the biggest surprises… like how I found my Dharma instructor. WOOF! 🙂

  5. boundlesscognizance

    September 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I love your graphic. Did you make that? I have no idea how to do that… I am totally impressed. I also think that your PLN is a wonderful draft and very well developed. Also, agree with you that networking is crucial in any field. It seems to me to make sense that academic would be a big driver for you at this point. It is sort of your spring board into a new area.

    • J Even

      September 8, 2012 at 10:09 am

      Yup, I created that in PowerPoint! Although as I continue to add things and make deeper connection, I might have to find a new way to represent it graphically. Already getting kinda confusing! And I love when I find connections between my current career and my desired path… helps me think it’s not quite as big a leap as I first thought.

  6. Debbie

    September 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Like everyone else, I love the graphic. I think it is a fantastic explanation of how you can start with the obvious connections — school and work — but once you reach out, can wound up with something totally different — giving and getting much more than you expect. The community we hope to build is connected, continuous, circular. In the end, it could be interesting to see if some of the connections that you reached out to are now reaching back to you.

    • J Even

      September 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      That’s definitely a goal… to become a resource to others to “pay back” all the help I’ve received. Better to give than to receive, right!


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