Week 3 in the Exploring Personal Learning Networks seminar has us looking at PLNs and Organisations. In some ways it’s dto ifficult to see where the overlap comes between the two. PLNs by their very nature are personal. They evolve and grow as a result of the interests and passion of the person involved so I’m struggling with how they fit with organisations. There is however no denying, that organisations can and do benefit from the very strong PLNs of their employees. My major concern is that, as so often happens, trying to fix something that isn’t broken can lead to smashing the very thing you valued.
Over the last few weeks of the seminar many of the participants have been grappling with defining PLNs and after a fashion we have come up with our definitions but they’re personal to each of us. This makes it very difficult for an organisation to ‘adopt’ PLNs in my opinion. For each persons definition of a PLN, there is also a set of tools which helps them to connect with those in their PLN. This can involve entirely virtual connections to entirely ‘in-person’ and everything in between! I think it’s fair to say that for most people it’s probably a mix of the two especially in this connected world we now live in. I know it is for me.
The biggest challenge for organisations as they look at adopting PLNs, is that there are so many ways for people to connect, that it can be difficult to be supportive without being specific about the tools which people could or should use and the manner in which they could and should connect. What works for one person will not work for another when it comes to their PLN. If we look at four of the many tools which can be used to facilitate connections: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. For me personally, Twitter is my go to place. I love the brevity of the 140 character message as it forces people to really focus on their key message. I also love the open nature of Twitter, as, for the most part, you can dive into a conversation without even following those involved in the conversation. Yet for others, Twitter is their worst nightmare! I don’t see Facebook as part of my PLN for the most part. I have an account but keep it mostly for personal use with most of my contacts on Facebook personally known to me. Yet for others, Facebook is where most of their connections are fostered. Google+ hasn’t lit the same fire in me as Twitter as a means of connecting with others. I find the lack of brevity more overwhelming and find that I have to work harder to find the information of interest to me. This has been helped with the Communities option but I worry that this is narrowing the focus as mentioned in my previous post. Yet, for a growing number of people Google+ is becoming their go to place for connecting. Finally LinkedIn for me is just somewhere to have my digital CV of sorts but I haven’t leveraged the power of the discussions and so many other aspects of this networking application that so many others seem to use to their advantage. What I am hoping to illustrate is that when it comes to PLN’s
So maybe the challenge for organisations is more to do with supporting the many different ways to connect rather than adopting PLNs …..
image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birgerking/4731898939/