To PLN or Not

As I shared in an earlier blog entry, sometimes a PLN is the equivalent of too much water for a plant that thrives in the scarcity of liquid nourishment. This idea was reinforced by a reflection by UserGenerated Education blogger quoted below:
Since, as I stated, networking is not within my DNA, I decided to watch the talk while more folks arrived for the #edchat  and began talking to one another.  The more I listened the more I became intrigued and excited about what he was saying.  I wanted to state loudly to the gathering crowd, “You need to listen to what this guy has to say”
As I listened to a Classroom 2.0 LIVE session this morning, I was surprised to hear Paula Naugle make the opposite point in reference to her experience at ISTE 2010 Conference--to paraphrase, it went something like this:
Having a Professional Learning Network in advance makes the Difference at a Conference or Learning Event.
Note: The capitalization is there because I'm including Paula's paraphrase in a presentation I'm doing next week.

For me, Paula's expression of this idea is an evolution of a blog entry she wrote reflecting on her ISTE experiences:
Having connections to a PLN is very important for helping me stay current and continue my learning. Members of my PLN are the people I will turn to first when I want to work on collaborative projects in my classroom. 
Obviously, networking works for some folks, and not for others. In UserGeneratedEducation blogger's mind, it appears that a PLN, "the crowd" can keep people from engaging with content available from a virtual speaker not in the room. For Paula, it appears that having a PLN in advance makes the difference, enabling her to put a handshake or hug, a physical presence, with the person they have been learning from all along:
I have created quite an online presence. I was looking forward to meeting members of my PLN and I thought I would have to find them. I didn't think that they would be looking for me. When Peggy George come up to me and said she was so glad to finally meet me face to face I was floored. Kim Caise did the same thing, and so did so many people I know online. It was great to hear someone say, "Oh I follow you on Twitter", as I was introduced myself to them.
On the one hand, listening to strangers share their knowledge from on high. On the other, "reuniting" with friends who are learning with us as we face challenges and work to overcome obstacles in our daily work and lives. In short, a voice on the tube vs a social media account matched to a real face.

Which do you prefer?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


PLNaugle said…
Hi Miguel,

I was surprised when I got a few DM's on Twitter directing me to your post. I am honored that you included some quotes from me in your thoughts.

Since learning about Twitter and building a personal learning network (PLN) I have grown by leaps ad bounds as an educator. I do professional development several times a week by following the links my PLN tweets out. I have learned about Web 2.0 tools and how to best use them in my lessons. I have connected my students to many classrooms around the country. Then I go to ISTE and meet so many members of my PLN face to face, and it is like meeting old friends. To PLN or not? For me it is a resounding DEFINITELY!
Paula, thanks for your sharing your opinion this morning during the Classroom 2.0 LIVE session. It was weird, but I had that running in the background as I skimmed blog entries in GoogleReader. Just as I finished reading UserGenerated Education's blog, you said what you did, and the opposing viewpoints immediately sparked a blog entry.

I have found a Professional Learning Network to be very instructive and I've learned much from my network. Thank goodness I get to continue learning!

With appreciation,
Terry Freedman said…
Great article, Miguel, which inspired me to write this one:


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