Like any educator, I love a good acronym.
Like any user of social media tools, I love a good acronym.
Here's one that's really popular - PLN. Stands for Personal Learning Network. Gets bandied around a lot by educators using social media tools. Myself included.
We all think we know what we are talking about when we refer to our PLN.
Well, I do, at least. Not too sure about some of you others out there. Here's what I personally think my PLN is:
- infrequent or frequent use of social media tools of my own personal choice like my blog, Twitter, Reader, Slideshare (I could keep naming 'em) to read, view, communicate, write, talk, learn with other social media users on topics of my personal interest.
- nodes on my personally constructed compiled network are people who are serendipitious discoveries, linked to in a variety of ways via comments, blogrolls, twitter lists as I trawl my way through my social media connections.
- my PLN is a bunch of frequently travelled highways, deserted dirt tracks and narrow one-way alleys to other people's thoughts, opinions and ideas.
- I have nodes that respond to me as much as I respond to them, some who don't know or even care that I exist, and those who I'm blissfully unaware of that read my dubious collection of posts, tweets, comments and random digital utterances.
A PLN is a notoriously hard beast to accurately describe and I know that my take is not a universal notion. I like a lot of the thinking that went into defining the differences between groups, communities and networks a while back - especially from people with deeper thought processes than mine. So, with that bit of digital history on my cerebral back burner, here's a few things that I think a PLN is not:
- a one stop shop where all great educators come to drink from the common digital watering hole. Because not everyone on my PLN is an educator, not everyone reads and links to the same group of thinkers. Beware of Nings advertising themselves as such - they may be a Learning Network, but they are not, in my mind, Personal.
- possible to assemble in one spot at one event in time, not even virtually. Diversity, controversy and civilised disagreement are the seeds for pushing boundaries of thinking. Some echoing in the chamber isn't a bad thing but you don't everyone singing together like a well honed choir.
- not fixed. Sources can be dumped and replaced as I see fit. You can do the same with my posts, tweets etc. Flick 'em if they are just adding to the digital noise.
So, I'd love to read some challenging of people the next time they trot out the PLN acronym. Semantics is an important element of any popular turn of phrase used in varying forms of communication and my own personal will vary from many other points of view. By all means, challenge me and my admittedly flawed thinking. What exactly do others mean? And do they believe that their particular interpretation is the only one going?
And if any readers can come up with a more entertaining alternative explanation to the PLN acronym than the one I've used in my title, please let everyone know in the comments. After all, PLN could mean Pretty Limited Nonsense.