Personal Learning Networks: Impact of Other People

This is the first I’ve really heard of PLNs as a solid concept, which really surprises me.  The more I read about it, the more I would have expected it to come up in other classes. However, though I didn’t necessarily have a name for it, I do have a list of resources that would certainly be the start to a PLN.

The idea of learning as something that can be networked makes sense.  Learning is far more than simply picking up a book or reading an article.  It’s interactive and involves many different platforms and individuals. The Rajagopal article discussing the idea of PLNs and learning within the context of the impact connections with other people have on them made an especially good point about how much of an impact other people can have on our learning.  There is the obvious way, of course, that of someone we learn directly from in either an official or informal instructor/student relationship.  Another way, however, is less obvious, sometimes even to the learner:

The second observation is that the effects of networking are not limited to face–to–face interactions with the contacts: even when others are not present, their words, messages and perspectives can influence the reflections of the learner.

This effect would be even more pronounced in the online world where both direct and indirect interactions can occur between a large variety of people.  Reading a blog, participating in a message board, watching a video lecture, etc. where you are exposed to the knowledge and viewpoints of others can impact later reflection and learning. Individuals who are able to acknowledge that fact will be not only better able to use networking contacts as learning contacts, but find the ability to learn almost anywhere even if what is being discussed isn’t completely relevant to their current situation.


6 responses

  1. It’s funny but I never thought of all of the blogs and websites I’ve been bookmarking and subscribing to as being part of a PLN but I suppose they are. Now organizing all of it seems to be a different story 🙂

  2. I am in the same boat Kim and Wendy. I did not know that what I have been doing for years, bookmarking resources and learning from blogs and other informal sources, was creating a Personal Learning Network. I am doing the e-port right now and comp J is information seeking behavior. I came across a description in the Rubin book (p. 276) where he summarizes a point made by a researcher named Krikelas – that people engage in information seeking to satisfy an immediate need (like writing a paper) and information gathering to satisfy deferred need. Gathering is the type of information seeking we do when we read blogs, bookmark things, save videos for later, that sort of thing. We are digesting information and learning but for a somewhat ambiguous future use. But we know where to find it later (hopefully). All information on the web can serve a deferred purpose then. What does this mean for how we librarians organize and present information and knowledge? Does it change how much we focus on immediate, reference transaction needs versus having information available for when somebody should need it? We serve both purposes but maybe we should look at things more in terms of the “gathering” aspect? Maybe looking at it that way changes things and maybe it doesn’t…that is for someone smarter than me to figure out.

    Rubin, R. E. (2010). Foundations of library and information science (3rd ed.). New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

  3. Oh, I used that same quote for my comp! I identified with the points made in the Rajagopal, Brinke & Sloep reading that indicated the reality of PLNs with the activation and reactivation of people in your networks — it goes along with information satisfying the need. Keeping the lines open to people so you can tap in when you need it is a skill that takes a lot of interpersonal knowledge to do well.

  4. Shannon Sedell | Reply

    I love the quote you included. It is a great reminder of not only how we learn and where we learn, but how we connect to new ideas and people. Online participation makes this both easier and strangely isolating. One can hope that online interactions and participation can lead to face-to-face. Thank you for your thoughtful post.

  5. Nice discussion about the comps!

    I appreciate all of your words above – I was happy to frame this class in part with the concept of the PLN. When I did my dissertation on librarian bloggers in 2007, I didn’t know it but one benefit of blogging could now be called access to a PLN.

    “The Pragmatic Biblioblogger Model describes multiple types of librarians who share similar desires: to comment, to connect, to create community. The pragmatic biblioblogger model describes a librarian who authors a professionally-focused blog beyond the scope of their job to constantly find, share and offer advice to others in the LIS profession. Constantly scanning via the tools of continuous computing, the pragmatic biblioblogger seeks to redesign library services in an era of enhanced technology. The pragmatic biblioblogger opens comments and engages with other bloggers to discuss and examine events, new technologies and the LIS profession with a common goal: improving libraries.”

  6. Boy, I so agree. With this whole discussion. It seems we’ve had, so many of us, a similar kind of “aha” moment. I think there’s something powerful in naming something. It gives us an organizing principle or tangible concept around which to formalize that which we have done naturally, now to continue toward an outcome model.

    And it’s not just this. I kno;w for me something like Char Booth’s named concept of WIIFM was a small powerful aha moment, something I could hold onto and bring forward and apply.

    And the sense of shared group zeitgeist here has been personally fulfilling, and as one of the folks here who will be graduating this term the notion of the PLN couldn’t be timelier, as I am already going through withdrawals as the prospect of losing my sense of SLIS community and courses with smart interesting people. The sense of communal sharing on course boards and such. I am thinking, how can I create a sort of surrogate for this using the social media tools that I use, PLN, be part of that community? I really am not sure how, just now, but I know I am going to miss what happens in LIS courses such as ours, the shared work and the active community.

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