Once it was the young couple’s dream to own their own piece of land somewhere…with a PLN website you can have your own piece of virtual land without the mortgage. (Rita Finlay, 2013)
So, I have been asked as part of my university studies to create a Personal Learning Network, aka, PLN. And therefore, it is a major part of my learning content and ultimately, my unit marking. So what makes a good PLN in my eyes? What am I after?What would I want people to see in my own PLN?
I have looked around at other PLN”s to see what catches my “thinking eye”. Those that belong to sportspeople, musicians, other students, corporate members, teachers and artists. And then tried to examine what makes me want to learn more from each one?
I initially thought it was the “fountain of all knowledge” concept that I was after. That is, I would read the PLN content on a blogs site and it would answer all my questions and I wouldn’t need to go further. But that has changed drastically. I am now finding that the PLN’s who allow me to engage in their development are the ones I am drawn to. The PLN’s that “permit me to come in” and ask a question. They are also the ones who allow themselves to be vulnerable and not always correct.
Then there are the PLN’s that show transformation in their thinking through “online conversations” and commentary. I am drawn to the PLN that can say ” I now think…” and go on to develop their thoughts in a new post. That, to me, does not show a “mistake corrected” but rather a deep unravelling of reading and thoughts. I salute this!
The element of “supportive, constructive thoughts” is vital I have realised in productive PLN’s. I realise that the person who writes a blog on a PLN is writing what they believe, in that moment in time, with their own experiences and insights. Therefore, a collaborative effort is needed by the readers to support “constructive development”. I believe there is etiquette in PLN commentary and it is not about being “nice” but by showing the author enough respect to allow for thoughtful conversation between reader and author.
The other “endearing” aspect of a “good” PLN to me is “effort” by the author to stimulate thought. I don’t want to live in an environment , real or online, surrounded by “I agree” comments, only. I applaud the”What about this…” comment or the “What would we do if this…” comment? Don’t get me wrong, “I agree” is an affirmation of your own thoughts and it “feels good to read” this sort of comment. Ridiculing or rude comments has no place, in my opinion, in a collaborative PLN environment.
Finally, it is the aesthetics of a PLN that drives me to return. I want the PLN website to feel like “reading a newspaper in front of a warm fire on a winter’s day”. I want to feel the author’s emotions about a topic, I want to read the insights that they share and feel comfortable to be a part of their insights.
Thank you to those PLN’s that allow me to do all these things!