Friday, 20 November 2015

Circles, Groups, Networks, PLN and the value of independent thought

I've started and stopped this blog a few times which is most unlike me and goes against my general theory of blurting it out.  Point is though it's a very touchy subject for lots of people.  I'm really keen on lots of great initiatives like working out loud (WOL) and the power of building relationships and working with others whether in a personal learning network (PLN) or community of practice (COP) or whatever else buzzes along.  

In the true nature of my collaborative blog I'm going to pause here... come back to where I was going with it and add some more... I'm going to get to the points about some big issues in the week such as the horrific attacks in Paris and some of our reactions to that too and how they can be related to all of the above... in the meant time feel free to add comments as I build this up... apologies if you were expecting a completed blog right off the bat... here's what I started writing last week on a sort of linked subject that just didn't flow right:

"Lots has been made of Personal Learning Networks or PLNs in the age of Twitter - but do they really work and produce learning or are they just another buzz in the world of social media?  PLNs build on the idea of connecting people together; social learning rather than learning in isolation if you will. Thing is that whilst this sounds great, the forming of networks can feel really artificial at times - there are people it seems that make a perpetual living on the 'conference circuit' and it seems more business development orientated than based in learning. This leads me to the question when is a PLN about anything and everything but learning?

Connections are 'collected' as notches on the belt
How many friends do you have on Facebook and how many of them are really your friends? How many times have you done a 'cull' on the friends that aren't really? How many newsfeeds on social media have you muted as the person doesn't say anything that you have any great interest in?  Twitter, FB etc allow us to build a large network and build it quickly, but if you're just a notch on someone else's belt then what actual value does that present to you?  Thing is that a network is just like 'real' friends in that it takes work to make it effective, you need to interact and do it regularly if you're really going to get the most out of it.  Social media is full of people who collect connections but don't really value them at all.

Connections are one-way streets

This is similar to the one above but rather than a volume of connections, the danger is the usefulness of them. Are you simply using connections to get something out or others without contributing yourself? There are certainly lots of people doing exactly this

When it's about patting each other's backs"

So, more to come...