To me it is the network I am creating with my online presence. It is the many people who have decided to follow me on twitter and those I have decided to follow. It’s the really cool teacher from Wisconsin that liked my blog and keeps in touch. It is my wiki, my network is becoming a part of my everyday living. It helps me stay informed and it helps me to learn. The constant rate at which I am receiving information that is of interest to me and it’s all great. My network allows me to expand my thinking and better yet, when I am unsure of something or need an answer, I can go to my network. These many people who comprise my network are experts in many fields and have many answers and resources that they are more than happy to share. Thank goodness for my network, because with technology evolving so quickly I just can’t always keep up.
For students and schools this network could be such a valuable resource. It will help them to find relevant information quickly, it will allow them to make connections with people and content and allow them the possibility for other points of view. As teacher’s we really can only teach so much, we only have so much time and knowledge. Does it not make sense that personal learning networks would benefit our students immensely? They are learning from other people, they are blogging and getting many different takes, thoughts and ideas to expand upon. Learning does not essential end, but continues. Students could make connections as well as know exactly where to go to get the knowledge or content that they need. PLNs can only increase our student’s knowledge, it is one of the most powerful resources we could teach/ give them.
For an interesting read on personal learning networks and communities, check out “Learning Ecology, Communities and Networks; Extending the classroom” by George Siemens. The article is dated five years ago but is still quite enlightening in comparison with the other articles, blogs and podcasts I have found on the subject. For a great podcast, check out Professional Learning Networks; Online Professional Development by Jeff Utecht.