Institutionalising Personal Learning Networks #xplrpln

Week 1 – Exploring Personal Learning Networks

Well – it’s been a while. But I may be back here for the Exploring Personal Learning Networks online seminar coordinated by the folk at the Masters Programme in Learning and Organisational Change at the Northwestern University.

I am a couple of days too late to formally register but as it looks like it has a fairly open format I will try to keep pace from the sidelines. So let me tell you why I am here – and, as the organisers suggest, specify some learning goals.

How did I find my way to this experience? Well – through my PLN of course (I blame twitter again – and @crumphelen in particular;)

I have been experimenting with the magic of personal and professional presence in the digital realm of social media over the past year or so. The cMOOCs were more than helpful in getting me started (as you may see from the other posts in this blog) – #etmooc, #edcmooc, #moocmooc were particularly satisfying experiences here:) I have to say that the open and apparently connectivist format of this seminar also bodes well.

It is not just a personal whim (although this plays a part too) – it all speaks to my professional interest in elearning within the context of postgraduate distance education. I am interested in how the networked paradigm we are working within in the internet era is influencing the way learners and teachers interact. How can we use it to capture students’ interest and provide them with support networks, and equip them with relevant digital literacies? How can I and others involved in HE use it for our professional development?

There are many benefits here but there are also things which make me feel uneasy. One is the question of whether entanglement of students’ private online identities (and indeed their PLNs) with those they may chose to present to the institution and the classmates is too high a price to pay for a participation in the institutionalized course.

Until I have read the rationale behind this seminar I have not really thought about the institution wanting to capitalise on my own PLN – or use my own online digital identity or presence to its own ends. I have to say it sent a bit of a shiver down my spine. Perhaps just as a student might feel if we put similar demands on them? Being of no faint heart I decided to explore the topic and my feelings around it further. I may even come away with some strategies to protect my own privacy and online space while working with the institutions to capitalising on my PLNs for our mutual benefit?

Obviously – I would also like to get to know some more people through this experience (and deepen some old encounters) – after all, a PLN does not grow itself:) Off to look around your intro posts and start on Week 2 readings!


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