For the purposes of this post, I find it easiest to break down the article How to Cultivate a Personal Learning Network by each point in the list and then discussing my thoughts therein.
This is definitely an important point when it comes to the formation of a personal learning network. The author’s focus is that “[i]t’s not just about knowing how to find experts, co-learners, but about exploration as invitation to serendipitous encounter.” What this means to me, and to the author of the article as well from what I understand, is that the creation of PLNs will inevitably lead to encounters with information and viewpoints that are unfamiliar and maybe even to change in your own belief systems. I have taken this thought even further to mean that I need to be prepared to encounter information that I find disagreeable. These discoveries can be just as valuable as encounters with agreeable information as they teach me what not to believe and what not to do.
For this point, the author’s focus was that people can “[u]se Diigo, delicious, listorious, to find pools of expertise in the fields that interest you.” While these sites are definitely valuable resources, PLN builders should not discredit sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and others as they bring different styles of information sharing and often involve suggesting other people who post similar content to that which you find yourself being drawn to. Therefore, it becomes possible to find even more poeple to add to your PLN that can have a positive influence on your learning.
3. Vet Your Candidates
This point is a combination of the authors third and fourth points of determining the merit of each PLN candidate and whether or not they will continue to interest you. These are very good points as you would not want to add someone who made one rare good point among a slew of hundreds of very bad points or compromised their thinking in a way that does not fit your needs, and you would not want to follow someone you are not going to learn from. I remember having difficulty retaining information from teachers I found boring, so the same concept applies to PLN candidates.
4. Engage with the PLN Members
This is crucial as learning needs to be dynamic. Learning happens best when dialogue is present to flesh out and fine tune the lesson being taught. On top of that, learning should be a two-way street rather than a one-way as while you are learning from them, they could also be learning from you. Innovation and ingenuity is healthy and leads to amazing learning opportunities.
5. Engage with Your PLN Followers
As you learn and increase your expertise in a given subject, it is inevitable that people will add you to their PLNs. Therefore, you too need to be engaging and the best teacher you can be. Remember, you may be the person to make or break a person’s continued dedication to their goal.
Conclusively, I can feed my PLN in a multitude of ways such as social media and the PLNs of those I add to my own PLN. I have to remember that a PLN is first an foremost a cooperative learning community. I must always be willing to put in the time and effor to make sure that I am contributing my fair share to that cooperative learning community. Therefore, I need to be open to new sources of information as well as become proficient with the currently existent ones. The biggest challenge that I foresee is dedicating that requisite time around the obligations that I currently have on my plate. As such, I will need to make a conscious effort to balance everything so that I may continue to pursue this avenue of learning rather than being forced to abandon it for any period of time.