A Personal Learning Network is made up of people, ideas and the connections between them. The process of creating such an online learning environment is one way to engage in ongoing professional development. Bethany Smith emphasises the importance of contribution and sharing as part of your PLN; I have been using both Facebook and my blogs for this rather than social bookmarking sites such as delicious; however Diigo has some exciting possibilities I think with the ability to notate pages!
Jeff Utecht's idea for “stages” of PLN adoption; “immersion, evaluation, know it all, perspective and balance” (Utecht, 2008) echoes some well recognised educational/learning stages (Dreyfus, 2004) and as such can provide some insights into the process. However as Utecht notes himself his stages are not necessarily consecutive and, on reflection, I feel that I have experienced elements of different stages at different times. My early exposures to Web 2.0 were very immersive as I grappled with learning new technologies and sought out gurus to follow. As I moved from my career in educational technology into information studies my network of friends and mentors in the profession made recommendations of who to follow in the field ; people like Meredith Farkas (http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/) and Stephen Abram (http://stephenslighthouse.com) amongst others. I underwent a second “immersion” following many blogs and subscribing to many industry newsletters and group discussions discovered via LinkedIn . Many more than I could regularly read! Like many others I am missing the “at a glance” sense of perspective that iGoogle, Google Reader and RSS feeds afforded me (Webb, 2014) but find that a combination of email alerts, reminders and Feedly are coming close.
If I were to nominate a stage it would be that of perspective. Whether it is because I am still studying or if it is something inherent in “lifelong learning”, I find that as I encounter new concepts that interest me I add them to my collections and then refocus. As each study session ends I begin to regain my perspective and then re-evaluate the new concepts and ideas. This refocussing is a constant thing and I think that these stages could be revisited again and again as circumstances change (such as changing jobs!).
Dreyfus, S. E. (2004). The five-stage model of adult skill acquisition. Bulletin of science, technology & society, 24(3), 177-181.
Smith, B. (2009). Creating an online personal learning network. [Presentation]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/bethanyvsmith/creating-an-online-personal-learning-network-presentation
Utecht, J. (2008, April 3). Stages of PLN adoption [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption/
Webb, A. (2014, February 18). How to curate content with Feedly and Google Alerts [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.spiderworking.com/blog/2014/02/18/curate-content-feedly-google-alerts/