Exploring Our Personal Learning Networks

I think I found my new cMOOC hit.

After Educational Technology MOOC #etmooc, I searched high and low for a connectivist MOOC that could give me the same ‘highs’ as I had experienced with this one.  I was looking for a MOOC where I could apply what I learned to my work immediately, but also one where I looked forward to checking in the Google + community to see what everyone else is talking about and doing – and make a new friend or three.

The MOOC is called Exploring Personal Learning Networks and it was created by the team @JeffMerrell and @KGS_Scott Kimberly Scott who are also part of Masters Program Learning & Organisational Change at North Western University.

When I first saw the cMOOC advertised in Jeff’s tweet, I immediately registered in the Google+ Community as this was a topic of great interest for me in particularly, how organisations could encourage their staff to broaden their own enterprise learning networks or external learning networks for their own professional and personal development.

I saw an opportunity for me to bring the concept to life within our own organisation using the social networking tools we have available.  I saw it part of our future strategy for Learning and Development professionals to have their own networks and then to promote, encourage and support others within the organisation to find their own in their line of work.

I don’t have the answer for how I can do this practically, but my instincts tell me that if I’ve had such a wonderful experience connecting, networking and learning from my own global network through social media  – and with some of them, actually collaborating on projects – then Personal and Enterprise Learning Networks have merit and worthy to explore further.

Maybe it’s an untapped area of opportunity for organisations?

I just need to be able to define the benefit and value in hard tangible financial terms to my senior managers who may see this as just an excuse to socialise online.  But lucky for me, one of the tasks we have to do is to come up with a pitch to sell the concept of PLNs to our organisation.

In the first week, we were encouraged to do two things:

  1. Set goals that we wanted to achieve with our PLN
  2. Try something new

What are my goals?

A survey was uploaded onto the Google community and we were encouraged to submit our goals into this survey which collated the data.  The results are quite interesting – and you can see it here.

What really piqued my curiosity is that in the question “Which competencies are you focussed on developing” many of the responses were on confronting direct reports and conflict management.  My instant reaction was huh?

Lucky this result was balanced out by personal learning and innovation management as I was beginning to think that everyone was going to have the same issue I was having – namely, how do we explain and demonstrate the value of PLNs to our managers and stakeholders without being ready for some robust debate, discussion and maybe an argument?

My goals were mainly related to the following:

  • Continue to broaden and increase my personal learning network
  • Develop professionally and personally
  • Establish a freelance consulting business in the long term

A short term goal that had been brewing in my mind recently and which I wrote a recent blog post titled, Third Place in Company and Conversation: A Place Where My PLN Gathers was to establish a Meet Up group of Melbourne based Learning and Development professionals in all industries who are on Twitter or social media.  I established Third Place and we will have our first after-work social introductory drinks next Thursday night at the Royal Melbourne Hotel (if anyone is interested in coming along – see the website to join and and get details!)

I’m excited with Third Place because not only will I meet my extended Melbourne based PLN in person, but I will also create ‘assets’ or responses to weekly activities for the Exploring Personal Learning Networks MOOC using these people too (if they want to get involved).

Although it’s still an idea mulling around in my head, I’m thinking about creating a video montage of real people talking about how a PLN helped them in their role to state the case for PLN and advocate their role in an organisation.

Real people, real stories…that’s the pitch.

Try Something New

@AlisonSeaman tweeted a question asking if anyone had used the application Shadow Puppet.

Naturally, as a sucker for a new app, I downloaded it and played with it and immediately saw that I could have so many uses for it.  It’s a simple app that you record your voice to your photos and create an instant slideshow that you can share across Facebook, Twitter or email.

I loved it so much that I decided that I created an introduction for the PLN and here it is…


The feedback for this was quite positive and I think it inspired others to download the app and try it out for themselves.

(Just between you and me, I have used this app to create a slideshow for an internal job I’m applying for.  I’ll have more details in this blog soon but I put the finishing touches to it this morning).

Finally, I knew that this MOOC was the right one for me with regards to the buzz and excitement around a group of people who were meeting again in other parts of the internet in other chats….


Looking forward to Week 2!

Read the Story & See the Conversations:

About Helen Blunden

My unique super power is that I see learning experiences in everything I do. #alwayslearning
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5 Responses to Exploring Our Personal Learning Networks

  1. Pingback: Emergent thinking through conversation: week 2 #xplrpln | Explorations in learning

  2. Thanks Tanya much appreciated. ETMOOC was my first experience of a cMOOC and in a way, I’m glad it was. I think if it was any other where I didn’t really have much interest in the topic matter, I would have been lost, confused and overwhelmed. I believe that having a supportive network of people going through the same feelings, situations etc made us connect more. You only have to see how active the ETMOOC community is still going strong in Google +!

    I’m still putting some thoughts around the pitch. I’m thinking I will ask the PLN to brainstorm/solve a particular business issue so that we can demonstrate the value of PLNs with a real life problem. At initial thoughts, I’m in the new role of Capability Consultant for Role Based Induction and I’m thinking of going out and asking the PLN, “If you looked back when you first started in your organisation, what did you wish you had for your induction?” or something like that. This way, I can collate responses from a variety of people and then demonstrate that using social media basically opened up that question to the world for responses. We’ll see how it goes….still have 4 weeks to go for this MOOC, so I’ll plan it out…

    (It will also help me in my new role to get the ball rolling with role based induction).

  3. tanyalau says:

    Hey Helen,
    I’m pleased to hear you compare your #xplrpln experience with #etmooc! Because, ever since reading Jeff’s Moocing blog about his experiences with it (and others since then), I have definitely had “#etmooc envy”! (to borrow Jeff’s own catchy term…). From what I have seen, everyone who participated in it has raved about what an amazing, enriching learning experience it was. So, it’s good to be part of something now that compares favourably with that experience.
    Love, love your concept for the pitch. Love the way your creative mind works to find opportunities and links between ideas, it’s quite inspiring! : )

  4. Thanks Jeff, I agree that it was a good idea to include the survey because it made me think about what I wanted out of it. I’ve been cultivating my PLN for a while now but I need something tangible now to apply it back into my workplace and present it as a viable method of personal and professional development and to explain it to my senior leaders. In my experience, the term is new and I have mentioned it at work but it’s a foreign concept at the moment. Thanks again for you and Kimberly’s work in this and I’m looking forward to the coming weeks.

  5. Jeff Merrell says:

    Helen –
    Thanks for the kind words. I’m as excited about this as everyone else – the early activity has been incredibly energizing.

    On the goal-setting: I need to give a hat-tip to my partner in this effort, Kimberly Scott, on that one. The design idea was to give participants some structure and a tool to help them think through their goals (an effective design element in any course that depends largely on self-directed learning). The brilliant bit was the public sharing of goals – but in aggregate, without naming individuals. It IS an interesting read. And we received a few comments from people who are new to PLNs and open learning that this open-sharing-in-aggregate of goals helped them think about their own goals more effectively. And isn’t that the point? Kimberly has used this same approach in some of our traditional classes at MS Learning & Organizational Change. It was great to see it work here as well, on a larger scale and in a more open environment.

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