This week we were tasked with researching what a PLN is and then creating one. Through this, I learned that personal learning networks are not only communities for people to learn from experts in that field, but they also become places for people to teach others as they too become relative experts in that subject matter. Another thing that I learned is that a person can build a personal learning network for any subject or even create an original network for cross-curricular learning. For instance, if someone wanted to create a graphic novel version of a myth or legend then they would need to have a personal learning network that fed into their need for artistic learning and historical learning. Therefore, they might build a PLN made up of historians, anthropologists, artists, publishers, writers, and other professionals to learn from as they needed to. Following that, the completion of such a project may influence others to begin similar projects and then they might build a similar PLN but they would also have the creator of the original project within the pool of people to learn from.
Turning to my own personal learning network, I plan to build more than one based on the things that I want to learn about. There will definitely be a personal learning network built around my educational endeavors, there will be a personal learning network built around ideologies that intrigue me so that I may learn more about them, and there will be personal learning networks built around my interests and hobbies. To my mind, not only is it important to learn from others in your professional life, but you are also capable of learning from others in your personal life. Many individuals who plan on becoming parents or are expecting a baby make it a point to learn from people who have not only had children but who have had similar birthing ideologies, medical needs, and child-rearing goals as them. While this may seem rather extreme, the same concept applies to smaller goals and projects. I plan to start building mine through the social media sites that I am most familiar with which are Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Within these sites, I have actually the stirrings of PLNs from a time when I had no idea what a PLN was. Therefore, it is really only a matter of fleshing those groups out and focusing my intent.
Here is a tweet from an individual that I added to my teaching/education PLN:
— Margaret A Powers (@mpowers3) June 24, 2016
I have discovered that when I really put my mind to it, it is not at all difficult to find people to add to my professional learning network. However, this does pose a challenge in that I find myself needing to vet individuals so that I have a more focused and streamlined PLN rather than a large and unwieldy one. Another discovery that I have made is that sometimes people in a PLN will spark ideas within you that you would have never thought of without that influence. They make you expand and alter your perception so that your mindset is more multifaceted and even help you to simplify and put into words abstract thoughts and feelings you may have had about certain subjects. As such, the learning extends beyond just furthering your thinking but can also spur thought and action.