A personal learning network (PLN) is a brand new concept for me and something I never would have thought of creating for myself. However, after doing some research into the subject, there is so much value and potential into establishing a PLN for personal and professional growth that goes beyond what only participating in social networks can provide. Alison Seaman (2013) states the “currency of the PLN is learning in the form of feedback, insights, documentation, new contacts, or new business opportunities. It is based on reciprocity and a level of trust that each party is actively seeking value-added information for the other.” A PLN allows an educator to access a global learning community of peers to discuss, exchange, and share resources and ideas, which can be utilized towards professional development. Whereas a social network is mainly a tool for communicating with family and friends, joining interest groups, posting photos and videos, and sharing discussions and resources. Social networks are just a small component of personal learning networks, which can include other platforms such as microblogs, professional profiles, wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, and online conferences or webinars (Patnoudes, 2012). The two personal learning networks I discovered and felt had a high potential for professional development for myself were The Student Affairs Collaborative blog and Twitter.
The Student Affairs Collaborative blog is a site for student affairs professionals in higher education to come together to share and pool together their ideas or thoughts. There are numerous blog posts sharing stories, insights, and new concepts in student affairs issues, as well as academic advising, which fits right into my specific field. The site also features the top five (most read) blogs from the previous month right on the home page, a Google doc directory of all participating student affairs professionals/advisors and interest areas, and it hosts a weekly chat via Twitter that enables all participants to simultaneously converse with one another and build upon their PLN within student affairs. This PLN provides me a large archive of blogs written by my peers to learn of their experiences and lessons, which I could apply in my work. The weekly chat forum is also another way I could actively interact to connect with others and develop my knowledge and skills.
The other personal learning network that would be an invaluable asset for me in regards to professional development is Twitter. It represents a collective database of knowledge by creating conversations in an “open space” for anyone to participate, listen, observe, and learn (Lalonde, 2012). Eric Stoller (2009), the Student Affairs and Technology consultant/blogger for Inside Higher Ed, simply states the follower/following aspect of Twitter creates a connection with other student affairs administrators, academic advisors, professional associations, librarians, teaching faculty, higher education web personnel, and more by simply posting a question and within minutes, receiving several reliable answers. I can connect with several other professionals in the student affairs or academic advising field, and learn how they integrate technology into their services, maximize resources with a limited budget, and even learn about new advising programs that may fit our own office goals/mission. The hashtag feature will also enable me to follow certain topics like #acadv and #advising (for conversations on academic advising), #sachat and #satech (interests on student affairs and technology), and #highered (to stay up-to-date with current issues in higher education). The personal learning network of Twitter increases my opportunities for collaboration, connections, learning opportunities, access to the collective knowledge of peers, engage in discussions, debates, conversations, and participate in collaborative projects whenever and wherever I like. At the same time it pushes me out of my comfort zone a bit by having to go beyond the traditional means of professional development and experiment with new ways of learning/communicating through the social media networks.
Web 2.0 presentation:
E Patnoudes. (2012, October 1). Why (and how) you should create a personal learning network. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/2012/10/build-personal-learning-network/ (Rating: 4)
E Stoller. (2009, August 16). Student affairs practitioners and Twitter. Retrieved from http://ericstoller.com/blog/2009/08/16/student-affairs-practitioners-and-twitter/ (Rating: 3)
Lalonde, C. (2012). How important is Twitter in your personal learning network? eLearn Magazine. Retrieved from http://elearnmag.acm.org/archive.cfm?aid=2379624 (Rating: 5)
Seaman, A. (2013). Personal learning networks: Knowledge sharing as democracy. Hybrid Pedagogy: A Digital Journal of Learning, Teaching, and Technology. Retrieved from http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/files/Personal_Learning_Networks.html (Rating: 5)