What is a personal learning network? It is “the entire collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information…” (Klingensmith, 2009). However, I would include the word ‘artifacts’ in the definition, because we also get information from other resources that are not people. The concept of personal learning networks really made me reflect, because I have always been part of one. However, I was never aware of it. According to Klingensmith (2009), personal learning networks have always existed. My network has always been made up of family, friends, school (teachers and classmates), colleagues, the library, television, radio, the shopping center, and the list goes on.
However, the big difference now a days is that my network has expanded exponentially because of the Internet and new digital technologies. This has truly affected how I gain information whenever I have a question. Thus, now I am able to link up to any resource, subject expert, institution, or business with the click of a button. Most of my questions can be answered in real time or almost in real time. Before the Internet and digital technologies, this was not possible. When I was a student in high school (1979) and had a subject specific question, I usually had to wait until the next day and ask my teacher, or I had to go to the library and find out the answer. Now (2011), I just go on the Internet and get the answer with the click of a button, or I can text message a friend and get an answer in minutes. However, since the Internet has so much information that is readily available and updated constantly, it is becoming more difficult to keep up to date. George Siemens states that since information is so vast and changes so rapidly it is vital to stay current and to work well with others through networking. (Laurete Educational Inc.)
When I think of digital tools, I believe YouTube is one of the best means to get practical, visual, and immediate information. As an adult learner, I need the visual component and the immediate access that YouTube offers. “Everything is now. Knowledge flows in real time…The world has become immediate…Leaders must know what happened five minutes ago, not only what happened yesterday” (Siemens, 2006). Since the world has become so dynamic, we all have the need to get information instantly. Current technology can satisfy our need for instant feedback on our inquiries.
Especially in the area of using computers and the Internet as a means of networking, connectivism is the foundation for my personal learning network. I am constantly developing special skills to deal with constant and abundant new information, and I am learning to filter information that is relevant. “We must develop real-time processing tools, so we can make sense of the unabated flow. We must develop skills to select what is important, store what is needed for the future, and ensure our decisions are based on knowledge that is current. Interpretation and decision-making need to happen in the same speed and spirit as the knowledge flow” (Siemens, 2006). If we don’t develop these capabilities, we will drown in our own learning networks. Too much information changes too fast to be able to apply efficiently.
Klingensmith K. (2009). PLN: Your personal learning network made easy Retrieved from http://onceateacher.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/pln-your-personal-learning-network-made-easy/
Laurete Educational, Inc. (Producer). Information processing and problem solving [Video podcast].[Dr. George Siemens] Retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=4744625&Survey=1&47=8301286&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1
Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. n.p.: George Siemens