I like brainstorming with a pencil and paper. Digital tools are great, but I think I will always like the feel of a sharp pencil and clean sheet of paper when I’m quickly jotting down ideas. This week I was tasked with creating a mind map to represent my
personal learning network. As my brainstorming progressed and my scribbled arrows on my paper increased, I was surprised to acknowledge that I have a pretty large network of resources I can tap into to support my personal and professional learning goals.
Before I could create my masterpiece, I had to answer “What’s a learning network?” Connectivism is a theory of learning that emphasizes learning as a process through which we find connections between our many personal learning sources – especially technologically supported resources. “Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network and then continue to provide learning to the individual ( Elearnspace, n.d.). As we tap into the networks at our disposal and share our information with others, we are “cross-pollinating” the learning environments around us (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).
When I examine my interconnecting web of bubbles and arrows linking the various resources at my fingertips, I first recognize that I am very fortunate to have such a wide array of learning possibilities. Also I’m pleased to note, it’s clear that within my own personal network there are several obvious relationships that share information back and forth supporting the “cross-pollination” of learning. For example, one of my personal connections is my Church and one of my internet connections is the use of Pinterest. I regularly search the pins I place onto my Pinterest Sunday School and VBS boards to help me find activities that I can use at Church. I often share links I find with others at my church. The flow of information is dynamic as it flows to me as I’m learning and out as I share my new knowledge.
Creating my learning network mind map reinforced the importance of using the resources and connections available to us. These connections support our lifelong learning goals. Our responsibility to ourselves as well as our many connections is to support our collective intelligence as a society. When I’m in need of new knowledge, these are the first places I’m going to go to seek out my answers. Many of the bubbles on my mind map are filled with connections using the many technology tools at our fingertips – Pinterest, Blogs, Google docs, Facebook groups and messages, email, texts and more. The Internet is now more easily accessed than ever as Wi-Fi and mobile devices allow us to stay connected virtually 24 hours a day. As I think of how my learning network has grown through the years, I recognize as I’ve added more internet resources and connections, I’ve increased my ability to maximize my learning and my ability to easily share my new knowledge. Learning has never been easier and our potential is limitless.
So, what’s the take away lesson?
You want success? Boldly maximize your current learning connections and actively seek to add new ones. Take your knowledge to the next level by deliberately sharing your experiences and watch the interconnections between your learning connections intersect and guide you to a limitless future.
Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Connectivism
Elearnspace, learning, networks, knowledge, technology, community. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/