“A group of people, any people, that can help you develop and learn. I think it‟s very important to stress that a PLN is people, because so much talk about PLN gets tangled up in technology and websites etc, but at the heart of PLN is the concept of people who connect together to help each other grow and learn” ◦ - Nik Peachey, British Council‟s Teaching English website, February 2011
Spend a few minutes chatting to the person next to you about what you understand by a PLN? how do you think you can build one? what tools are there?
A PLN is nebulous. It lacks structure and there is nothing definite about it. Members in any network are not constant. It changes shape and expands as more contacts are made. A PLN allows you to learn anything, anytime, anywhere with anybody you choose!Image: Bev Novak A PLN allows you to decide for yourself what youhttp://novanews19.word want to learn or focus on. A PLN can be developedpress.com/ for any interest area, with a range of communication tools used to stay in touch with like-minded peers, experts or anyone who shares an interest. A PLN makes active learners of us all. But building a PLN requires some thought and making the right choices. It also requires some effort to set up and maintain the connections that are made.
A great way to start is to join Twitter and start following people. Social Networking sites include ones especially for teachers, such as classroom2.0. Starting and maintaining a blog is also a valuable tool which you can place at the heart of your PLN.
Just like anything else that involves human experience or interaction, the act of learning does not happen in isolation. It is at the intersection of prior knowledge, experience, perception, reality, comprehension, and flexibility that learning occurs. Other traditional learning paradigms of behaviorism, cognitivism, and more recently, constructivism have been the benchmarks against which the learning process has been measured. At the heart of a PLN comes the idea of learning through connectivism. According to George Siemens: “Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired and the ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. Also critical is the ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday” (Siemens, 2005).
Connectivism is not the same as Constructivism, which is alearning theory which was developed before the modern„digital age‟. Learning theories, including Constructivismare concerned with the actual process of learning, not withthe value of what is being learned.In a PLN or „networked learning environment‟, the verymanner of information that we acquire is worth exploring.The need to evaluate the worthiness of learning somethingis a meta-skill that is applied before learning itself begins.When knowledge is abundant, and often untrustworthy, therapid evaluation of knowledge is important. In today‟senvironment, action is often needed without personallearning – that is, we need to act by drawing informationoutside of our primary knowledge. The ability to synthesizeand recognize connections and patterns is a valuable skill. Adapted from George Siemens. http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm
Principles of connectivism: Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions. Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources. Capacity to know what is more critical than what is currently knownWhat do you Nurturing and maintaining connections is needed to think of facilitate continual learning.connectivsm Ability to see connections between fields, ideas, andas a learning concepts is a core skill. theory? Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities. Decision-making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision. George Siemens. http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm