At the ISTE conference, I attended a session on Personal Learning Networks by David Warlick. The session intrigued me because it took an age old idea of learning from others and wrapped it in technology. Every generation has shared knowledge by passing ideas through their families, friends, teachers, experts and masters in a field or craft, etc. In his presentation, David Warlick explained how we can harness technology to expand and map our access to knowledge. He described how blogs, wikis, social networks, and virtual worlds can be used to access ideas from around the world on any subject of interest. He also discussed how to mine what he calls the “conversation” using tools like twitter search and google blog search.
I think Mr. Warlick has made a great point that technology has opened the door to learning. Our Personal Learning Networks no longer need to be confined to our neighborhoods and schoolhouses; they can be vast avenues for accessing knowledge and opinions from around the world.
I would love to see this philosophy of a Personal Learning Network to become part of our culture of learning. I often think our students and maybe even many adults think that the Internet and social media are for entertainment only. It would be great if we could teach students that there is another purpose for the knowledge living on the Internet. As we teach them to create their own Personal Learning Networks, we also need them to think critically of the information they are accessing and to act respectfully when they share their opinions and thoughts with the masses. Technology has a lot of rewards, but also a lot of responsibility.
To read more about PLN by David Warlick, visit http://davidwarlick.com/wiki/pmwiki.php?n=Main.TheArtAmpTechniqueOfCultivatingYourPersonalLearningNetwork.