Building and Maintaining a Personal Learning Network (PLN)
Can a modern educator operate effectively without a PLN? It may be possible. However, - with advances in multimedia technology and the revolution of social networking posturing as a disruptive technology - a wise educator will seize every opportunity in learning to integrate the benefits of social networking with new teaching paradigms. Consequently in this research, a review of historical developments is provided as a foundation for understanding the implications of PLNs. Then an example of a personal professional profile is shown to indicate the typical personal data items that can be made available to members of a social network. After a public presence has been established, you then need to add resources to your network. Therefore, in the closing sections examples of resource groups including advice on how to search for the specified resource has been provided. Finally, a summary of key points is provided in the concluding remarks.
An Evolutionary View of PLNs
The transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 ushered in major paradigms shifts in the software industry. Software evolved from being a licensed product to being a subscribed web service. Development efforts slid from the tight control of specialists, for example systems analysts and programmers, towards a collaborative project between end users and technology experts. Learners are now required to teach themselves and teachers are there to facilitate the learning process. The dissemination of knowledge and wisdom would gravitate away from the puritanical filters of rigorous scholastic scrutiny towards a mashed-up crowd sourced assembly such as Wikipedia. Personal websites would now encompass a social networking section and be ceremoniously rechristened as blogs. Links and hyperlinks would maintain their absolute position but considered as static and thus must observe the dynamic repertoire of the social phenomenon of RSS (Rich Site Summary) feeds. Updates from blogs and social networks can then collated using an RSS aggregator. The meteoric rise of social networking tools and related web offerings has carved a pathway into the workspace of modern educators. The response demands the creation of a PLN.
There can be no universal definition of a PLN as its structure and content is driven by the learning needs and requirements of the individual host. A PLN is not an opportunity to tap into the collective resources of Internet, while not providing anything of value in return to the learning community; collaboration needs to be practical and the learner is required to first develop their own personal knowledge base (Beach, 2012, p. 12). Personal online learning is a form of self-directed learning that is anathema to a person that does not have the technological skills, discipline, patience or mindset to engage in this type of continuing professional development (Cooke, 2012, p. 8). The zenith of scholastic achievement is...