Personal Learning Networks – nacho mama’s network

 In education

The teacher trainers are clustered in a corner.

“I’m thinking,” says Ashley (yin teacher, vibrant, killer hair, nerdy in the best way), “that we should hold a potluck, a dinner, to bring everyone together. You know, talk about these issues that are coming up in their teaching as a group.  Collaborate and share experiences. I’m getting so many requests for individual coffee chats. I want to be a resource, but it’s hard meeting individually.”

Lisa (soulful, wicked smart, luminous eyes) puts her hand on Ashley’s arm gently and interrupts,  “I know where you’re going here. I had such a similar vision when I started.” She shakes her head, somewhat sadly, “We think, it’ll be so great, we’ll get everyone together, it’ll be this massive community.” She sighs, “I tried it. It just doesn’t work. It’s way too hard to get everyone together physically. They just fall away. That’s why online is such a potent forum.”

I pipe in, “Oh my god, I was just reading about this last night.”

The ladies look at me, “What?”

I plunge in, “Reading about social networks…see, community has changed.” I lean in, getting excited, “Rather than social networks being situated around groups and communities, now social networks are personal. The individual is at the centre. So I connect to you,” I point at Ashley,” and then I connect to you,” I point at Lisa, “and maybe it’s a comment on a blog, tag you on Twitter, whatever, but the communities we create are like overlapping webs. We’re not on the same web anymore.”

Ashley laughs, “I’m so old-school. I want the old group, the same people.”

“Right!” I nod. “The locus has changed. Our groups are so different.”

“Diffuse,” Lisa nods slowly.

“Yes,” I say.

“So,” Ashley tilts her head, “In the old days, we’d sit down…have a face to face and a hug, and now I comment on a blog post and that’s the same thing?”

I shake my head, “Not exactly. These authors posit that people who socially network actually have more face to face meetings. It’s just that now we have other layers of connections too. It doesn’t replace the face to face, but it adds to it. We have different webs now.”

Lisa is now nodding. “Yes, yes. I have professional colleagues and we admire each other from afar and online – we know what the other is doing – but then we also connect and say, ‘oh, we have to have coffee, I want to hear about that thing you were doing.’  That kind of thing.”

“Exactly.” I grin.

And then I turn away, because I want to finish writing my Twitter post.

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