How to Develop and Benefit from a Personal Learning Network

From Chris P Jobling Flickr Photostream

My understanding of a personal learning network is that it is my own ability to venture out and learn from others. It is this network of connections with others, with an intent to learn and share, that helps define my personal learning network. Some seem to refer to this learning method as something new. We seem to be more used to the concept of having someone as a center of knowledge, such as a teacher, to educate us. Something as simple as having a networking or problem-solving event with peers, could be used as an example of a personal learning network. The ever-increasing number of communication tools, including the world-wide web, has exponentially increased the sharing of information and knowledge. The opportunity to efficiently expand our learning network into a global force is here.  We just have to learn how to utilize this valuable resource and intelligently manage such an overwhelmingly vast information source.

Researching for my Fundamentals of Interactive Media Design class assignment, I found the following blog entries and articles to be of particular interest to me. It turns out I have been utilizing and developing a personal learning network for quite some time now. The terminology is new to me, but in practice I have been utilizing some sort of personal learning environment for some time now. Whether learning from my parents, teachers,  or friends as a child; or from my more recent use of social media and open source education, it seems I have slowly began to develop a personal learning network that works for me. That doesn’t mean I have even begun to scratch the surface of the educational possibilities that abound. If anything, these articles have opened my mind to the lack of knowledge and experience I have regarding the many tools that are out there.

I like this first article because it gave me a good basic understanding of the topic.

This second find, introduced me to the concept of invisible work and helped me realize that I was already utilizing blogs to learn and collect information. As an added bonus it has a scene from The Big Bang Theory tv show.

To me, this blog entry, served as a reminder to reflect and benefit from the use of your personal learning network. It is important to have a goal in mind.

This last blog entry I want to share, provides two really insightful illustrations of an individual’s personal learning environment and internet usage.

6 Responses to “How to Develop and Benefit from a Personal Learning Network”
  1. spiderb says:

    Reflecting upon the informal learning networks I have utilized in the past, I begin to get a picture of my current personal learning network. Some of the online tools I have already been using in my arsenal include social media, information portals, open courseware, blogs, and search engines.

    My favorite tool by far is Google plus. I find the use of circles and filters to be an extremely useful content management tool. The content flow is also unmatched by other social media sites. It also helps that you have the ability to share and add someone else’s circle as your own. I also find the use of #hashtags to be a great tool. Among other social media tools I utilize are Stocktwits, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

    Another educational and networking tool I find invaluable is open courseware classes. There are many online community oriented teaching initiatives. I have enjoyed utilizing Open Courseware classes from MIT’s and Harvard’s led edX, Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiatives, Udacity, Khan Academy, and Codecademy among others.

    Websites I frequent, that I consider to be an important part of my personal learning network include TED, Lifehacker, and Alltop. I am currently learning about and adding WordPress and Power Searching with Google to my list. Interacting with others on message boards has also proven to be a useful way to answer questions.

    Though I have been using some of these wonderful tools, I have to start utilizing them in a web-design context. I need to gain access to a network of web designers and web design students. At the same time, I am extremely excited about learning new tools that are available for me to utilize and add into my personal learning network. More importantly, with such a complex web of knowledge, I will pay special attention to information management tools. After all, all that information will overwhelm me if I can’t figure out how to adequately manage it and use it to specifically solve my problems.

  2. ash says:

    I liked how you described PLE, “my own ability to venture out and learn from others. It is this network of connections with others, with an intent to learn and share, that helps define my personal learning network.” This definition helps me better understand what PLE is and how it can benefit me now and in my future career. I also liked how you stated that we have to learn how to sort through the vast amount of resources in a way that makes sense to us. It serves as a reminder that everyone learns differently, different styles and techniques. Learning how to make sense of information in a comfortable and efficient manner is what everyone strives for.

  3. I agree that teachers have been our center for education and knowledge, and its great to know that we have new and faster ways to increase our knowledge base. I am quite new to PLE’s and what they encompass as well, and its cool to see we share the same goals to expand our network in the web design industry

  4. emliy says:

    I agree that teachers have been are center for almost everything. I am not to familiar with PLE but i get that it can help you connect with people and help you learn things or help others also.

  5. bobmaclee says:

    Problem solving with others and interconnecting can be such a helpful way to reach our goals. Expanding our learning network globally is a very valuable resource and we need to find the best way to utilize it. I have also been utilizing and developing a personal learning network for quite a while but didn’t know about the terminology.

  6. madartbear says:

    I agree that the PLN’s are the wave of the future. It simplifies things for people from all walks of life from children, students, professionals, to stay at home moms. Thus, being able to ask someone how to accomplish a small repair on a car, or cooking recipe. It is a great resource to stay up to date on the latest in the field and also learn new things. I look forward to being involved in this world of information sharing, and ready to learn.

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