In creating the visual representation for my Personal Learning Network, I stumbled upon a slightly different way to examine my situation. It was so tempting for me just to list the websites and apps I used most frequently this semester, but I soon realized that it’s not enough. Yes, it was valuable for me as an ONID student to utilize Diigo for references, Twitter for information and connections, and Gmail for communication, but I felt I couldn’t have a true network without including more. The platform on which I accessed these websites and software felt just as important. No longer was I stuck in one place using my desktop computer. With devices like my smartphone and iPad, I had the freedom to access my most valuable websites and software anywhere. The same idea of freedom applied to with whom I was sharing ideas and content, and with whom I was participating. As my PLN began to take shape, I noticed a pattern:
Website and/or Software + Device + People = Personalized Learning Experience
To give you a few examples from my own PLN:
- Diigo + Smartphone + Cohort = sharing resources with classmates while waiting in line at the DMV
- WordPress + Google Chrome + Laptop Computer + Instructor = editing a blog entry at the Library
- Google Drive + Tablet + Colleagues/Friends/Cohort = monitoring Google Docs survey results without having to turn on and log in to a computer
With so many combinations to choose from, the number of learning experiences available to build my PLN is seemingly endless! More options mean greater opportunity for me to personalize when, where, how, and with whom I learn. Curtis Bonk describes this as a participatory and personalized culture in which “we assume radically new perspectives of ourselves as learners and what it means to participate in the learning process (Bonk, 327).” Now, instead of following some cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all education, my PLN empowers me to individualize my pathways of learning.
These pathways have the potential to become increasingly more significant as I begin to transition to a career. The connections made via my PLN as a student can help me develop myself as a professional. People and tools that were once used for study can easily become partners and platforms used for sharing my own professional content. In the mean time, the best thing I can do to prepare myself for this transition is to expand my Personal Learning Network and explore new ways to personalize my learning experience.
Bonk, C. (2009). Learning at Your Service. In The world is open: How Web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.