Wednesday, 14 September 2011

PLN - Is it a personal learning network or a professional one?

personal_social_networkOver the past week I attended the outstanding eLearning expo at the Gold Coast Convention Centre. I was lucky enough to be presenting a session with Arlene Smertherst on some work we did on our poetry unit within my classroom which was an outstanding success. The conference ran over two days and due to my family situation it was not possible for me to go down on the Sunday night. I drove from Brisbane to the Gold Coast on Monday morning and left on Tuesday afternoon (before the outstanding closing key note address from Jess Oram and Adrian Greig) and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.

As stated in an earlier blog post, I journeyed into the world of Twitter just over 12 months ago and first heard about this term PLN. It really excited me that I could colloborate with educators from all around the world. Last year I was relatively new to the world of PLN and walked around the conference like a deer in the headlights. Over lunch I didn't network with anybody but tweeted a whole bunch. As I entered my final session with Shane Roberts and Jonathon Nalder I sheepishly introduced myself and was pleased to find out that they knew who I was and were warm and welcoming. My next experience with 'face to face' colloboration was with Joseph Perkins, when I had the oppportunity to go up and visit his 1-1 laptop program.  I was also pleased to find that he was a 'real person' and not just a figment of my imagination. 

I was really jealous that some of my PLN got together on the Sunday night before this years expo and was hoping to meet most of my PLN and made sure that I registered for sessions that some of them were running.  Shane came strolling past me early on Monday morning with Kathleen MACCOLL , Tanya SUTTON and Jodie Reik.  After the inital introductions, I felt very comfortable and we started talking like old friends.  It was actually a really weird experience and one that I enjoyed.

But as the two days progressed a key question entered my mind: was I have a professional learning network experiene or was it a personal learning one?  Or was it a combination of them both?  I problary am learning towards the second one.  I 'hung out' with my PLN over breakfeast, lunch and dinner but our converstaions over lunch about learning and pedagogy and it was stimulating and thought provoking.  I personally wouldn't have changed it for the world.  Actually I would have.  I would have made a firm commitment with my PLN about on ongoing commitment to each other (it sounds like a wedding proposal) and our professional learning journey together.  As Tanya put so elequently in her latest blog post, networking allows for so many more fantastic learning and professional experiences to occur. 

Just remember people - a colloborative marathon people will go quicker than an isolated 100m sprint!

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