My latest musings regarding PLNs and ownership issues are related to the whole dichotomy between outcomes and competencies. I think non-ownership, outcomes & competencies are all interwoven.
I have been thinking about Kimberly Scott asking me (in the comments to my, October 12, 2013 The Curious Relationship between Ownership & Networks) “Do you think that your employer can rightly demand that you provide a list of the people who are in your personal/professional learning network?” When I pause to wonder why an employer would demand a list of people in a PLN I come up with the thought that the employer may want to protect their investment (of employee time and effort) in the PLN. The employer might feel that they “own” the outcomes. In fact they may even have stipulated outcome expectations in regards to a PLN developed while “on the clock”.
This thinking is antithetical to PLNs. I do believe that PLNs can assist people in achieving outcomes - this can and does happen BUT for me it falls into the camp of using a new technology as if it were the old technology and not capitalizing on the characteristics that make it new and different i.e. missing the point of the paradigm shift.
The strength of a PLN is that nonlinear interactions and engagement results in emergent competence that is distributed across the network. This sort of emergent thinking is, as David Weinberger says, “inextricable from—literally unthinkable without—the network that enables it”. (Weinberger, 2011) Or as William Cronon (1998) states, “More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections so as to be able to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways”. Siemen’s, Learning and Knowing in Networks: Changing Roles for Educators and Designers (2008) articulates much the same view. So, I reason, outcomes are possible from PLNs but they do not represent optimal use of networks. I think that networks optimally support competency acquisition!
To recap my thinking;
- · PLNs cannot be owned
- · Using PLNs to achieve outcomes is not maximizing the potential of PLNs
- · PLNs greatest strength is to support the acquisition of competencies
- · Employers benefit from increased employee competence
- · Competence is not something organizations own nor can competence be delivered in a binder to the next person being asked to do the job
Cronon, William. (1998) 10 Qualities of a Liberally Educated Person. Retrieved from http://www.honors.ls.wisc.edu/SiteContent.aspx?prev=1&id=159
Siemens, George. (January 27, 2008). Learning and knowing in networks: changing roles for educators and designers. presented to ITFORUM for Discussion Retrieved from http://itforum.coe.uga.edu/Paper105/Siemens.pdf
Weinberger, David. (2011) Too Big to Know: rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren't the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room Is the room. New York: Basic Books.