Week 2 of Exploring Personal Learning Networks To Help Me in My Job

This second week of the Exploring Personal Learning Networks cMOOC was about defining Personal Learning Networks – and let me just say, there were LOTS of definitions.  So much so that in all honesty, it confused me because I was getting bogged down in the details trying to grapple with everyone’s definitions, explanations and reflections.  Luckily, however Jeff Merrell then asked us:

“How will you define Personal Learning Networks to your mother?”

Phew. That’s what I needed. Someone to take my hand and pull me out of the murky depths and make it simple enough for me to understand.

Then I had some anxieties.

Crikey, I’d have to explain it in Greek for her to understand.

But then, maybe that’s a positive for me as my Greek isn’t so good.  I’d have to really take it to the basic level of definition.


This is how I think my definition would have transpired…

All mirth aside I decided to use my PLE to solve a little problem that I came across this week at work.

The intention was two fold:

  • I wanted to get some ideas for the actual project (more creative ideas I would never have thought of myself; and lack of time to develop anything new from scratch – besides I don’t like to do work work on weekends and I had to have my brief to my manager in by 0830 Monday morning)
  • I wanted to use this as an example of a “real life organisational problem and how the PLN added value” for the MOOC assignment where we have to pitch to the CEO.  (I needed real life examples, hard data, testimonials, figures, results…you know ‘tangibles’ )

I was tasked to provide some recommendations around an induction (onboarding) program at our work.  I was not involved in the original brief and the team who had created the induction program were not subject matter experts in learning design or development.  In fact, I got handed the whole induction pack and program and was told to “finish it off and get it out there as quickly as possible” by the client.

The hairs on my arms stood on end when clients tell me this.

I don’t like taking orders.

Luckily my manager supported my view of that we critically review and assess their program and provide recommendations for how it could be improved. We could then seek their support and approval to redesign and develop it in the way that we saw best for the organisation and for the new employee.

When the client describes their working environment and current induction as, “survival of the fittest” I don’t know about you but for me, alarm bells start to ring. She was desperate for this to change – why wouldn’t she be!

But this got me thinking about induction stories and whether there were people in our organisation who had experienced a great onboarding program somewhere. What made their induction memorable? Why?

So I posted the question on Twitter and got a few responses with some links and leads to companies who do it well.  (Thanks to Joyce Seitzinger for mentioning about iPads in induction as I threw an offhand remark about this idea in the meeting about this and they stopped short – you could see their minds thinking about it).

I did a search on Google + and found the same question was asked by Harold Jarche in his post New Hire Practices back in 2011 and there were some great resources there that I could use.  Finally, I put the same question up on Yammer, our internal social networking tool expecting little or no response, but I got 11 responses within the first two days.

One person helped me out even further (and he’s a member of my PLN no less) also did a Yammer tag search on #induction and come up with another 38 different responses when the question was asked two years ago by Simon Terry and posted it up on Yammer for me to see.  So within the space of 2 days, I had an abundance of personal stories, links to companies who do it well and some wonderful ideas to include in the induction program!

Now if that’s not proof of a PLN working to solve a small issue or answer a question, I don’t know what is. There would be no way I could have got the same amount of responses any other way without doing some formal survey and taking a lot longer to design, develop, roll out and collate responses…and not as personal.

This week I also asked a few members of my PLN to create short videos (less than 2 minutes) on how their Personal Learning Network helped them in their role and provide specific organisational examples.  I’ll collate these responses as part of the final assignment pitch and put it up on the blog at a later date.  They form part of the ‘testimonial’ side of the pitch to the CEO because let’s face it – I want to make it personal and social because it’s not always about the numbers and hard data anymore.

About Helen Blunden

My unique super power is that I see learning experiences in everything I do. #alwayslearning
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11 Responses to Week 2 of Exploring Personal Learning Networks To Help Me in My Job

  1. Pingback: How To Pitch The Value of Personal Learning Networks to a CEO – Wise or Folly? | Activate Learning Solutions

  2. Thanks for your reply and greatly appreciated! I’ll check out your blog too, thanks for letting me know about it.

  3. shalineemattoo says:

    This is a great example of “applying” the concept of PLN. Thanks for sharing. The most interesting part was to see how both your internal and external networks proved to be great sources for your learning and research.

    This becomes important when you will pitch the idea of PLN to your CEO. Because presenting the importance of both networks will ensure that the companies think over the big picture. Although, I am sure there will be negotiations to keep the networks more internal.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. shalineemattoo says:

    This is a great example of “applying” the concept and I think everyone can benefit from this. I really liked to see how your internal and external networks helped you figure out so many details within 2 days.

    This actually makes me think that while pitching the PLN to the CEO, it is important to emphasize exposure to external networks as well as creation of internal networks. Although, I am sure there will be negotiations to keep it more internal.

  5. Thank you once again to both Tanya and to you Helen for assisting in moving my thinking forward. Over and over we come back to relationships both online and in person. I am thinking that reciprocal mentorship (initiates who often have advanced computer skills working with senior staff who have savvy and connections) to build PLNs.
    The organization I work for is well on the way to making this a reality. This helped solidify some of my thinking.

  6. tanyalau says:

    Just had a thought (although you’re probably already considering this…!) Since getting to know people in the organisation is such a key (and often difficult) part of induction, perhaps making part of the induction about helping new hires develop their own organisational PLN (which might include external as well as internal contacts) would be an effective way to set them up for success – so they are able to resource what they need to know through the right people rather than (as most inductions do) throwing a whole lot of information at them and expecting them to either remember it all or refer back to a 200 page folder full of crap that in reality, they never look at again.
    Love how you’ve put what you’re learning into practice in a very real way.

  7. Renchick says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing! (@jessb1999…I haven’t set up a blog for this MOOC, but have been participating in the twitter chats so you might recognize my twitter handle 🙂 ) If you clicked on my gravatar, you would find my personal blog so I thought I would identify myself.

  8. Thanks Maureen, I had been reading about the power of stories and thought that simply presenting hard data, facts and figures to a CEO was going to be necessary. However, the personal element was missing. In a social world, I thought that by having real people talk about how their PLN helped them in their role would make more of an impact.

  9. Thanks Helen, much appreciated. I thought I’d give it a go with applying what I was learning on XPLRPLN to an actual project I’m working on. I was surprised with the result (in a good way).

  10. Helen, I had never considered having testimonials as a component part of documenting a PLN! Brilliant & completely appropriate idea.

  11. crumphelen says:

    Cracking example of a PLN in action. Thanks for sharing. It’s inspiring.

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