The Personal Learning Network – Not Just for Students

Last week when I wrote about Students and the New Personal Learning Environments, the topic of students now contacting experts directly came up. One major component of students’ Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is the Personal Learning Network (PLN).

The new social networking tools allow students to more easily find, connect and interact with experts and other students from around the world learning about the same topics. Educator Wendy Drexler, who presented last week’s video, wrote and produced this Common Craft-inspired video a year earlier (December 2008):

Asking others about what they know and looking for expertise within our own personal networks is not new. We do it frequently now, asking someone down the hall or one of our friends if they know something that will point the way to help us find the piece of information we need.

The question is how to facilitate these connections inside our organizations, make expertise apparent so we can find it more quickly. Joel Alleyne wrote about it here on Slaw back in August 2008 (“Expertise Management and Networking – an Emerging KM Challenge“) and I recently wrote about some practical techniques for finding expertise for FUMSI (“Finding Expertise Inside an Organisation“).

But note, as stated in the video, “the tools themselves are not as important as the connections made possible by them.” It is a brave new world, in which people are now talking to each other, sharing and collaborating where previously we worked with head down in our individual offices. The ability to build our own personal learning networks is going to become increasingly important. So, it is the “literacy” of building and maintaining relationships that are useful to us, and using them as a resource is one many of us will need to develop.

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