Facebook as a PLN. I’ve been using my Facebook page as a PLN almost exclusively since I started using Facebook. I didn’t set out to do this, it just happened that way. Yet here I am, again, in media res. It seems I always start in the moment, in the middle of things. Well, this time it would be helpful if I gave you some background.
Marisa Constantinides asked the following on her Facebook page:
Marisa: “Question to my teacher followers:
Has Facebook contributed to your Professional Development in any way? Please respond to this question as I will be talking on this subject tomorrow on the Reform Symposium and I would like to have some of your views on this.” (End of quote)
As I write these lines, Marisa has had 26 responses, some responding to her question, others responding to the responses already made.
That fact alone, 26 responses, from people all around the world, is enough to indicate that Facebook is a powerful PLN tool.
Wait a moment. I know that begs the question: What if the response is negative? If someone responds, “I’m not using Facebook as a PLN tool”, then isn’t that evidence that Facebook isn’t used for PLN purposes?
Yes, and No. Let me explain. First, the obvious.
No is negative. The individual who responds with a negative answer is not using Facebook for a PLN purpose. That’s pretty obvious. So how can I say that a negative response is positive? This isn’t Algebra where two negatives equals a positive. This is reality.
OK. Let me ask you some questions, OK?
1. Does Marisa work with the 26 people who responded to her question?
Maybe a few, but the majority of respondents, “No”.
2. Did Marisa ask a professional question, or a personal, casual, small talk, how’s the weather, Happy Birthday, social-related question?
Answer: She asked a Professional, PLN question.
3. How many people responded?
26 people responded. She received PLN-related, honest, relevant information for her PLN purposes.
What is the point I’m driving at?
Just this: Even people who claim that they do not use Facebook themselves as a PLN, can be mobilized to participate on Facebook for the benefit of someone else whom they have established a mutually beneficial relationship with (a PLN) on Facebook, even if they themselves profess to not doing so themselves.
This appears to demonstrate “connectivism”, a model of learning which Stephen Downes and George Siemens have described. Let me quote George Siemens:
“Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. How people work and function is altered when new tools are utilized. The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn. Connectivism provides insight into learning skills and tasks needed for learners to flourish in a digital era.”
End of Quote – The whole article can be accessed here:
To conclude, I would say that 26 people, located at very distinct places on the planet, were mobilized through a connectivist model of learning, utilizing Facebook, to provide professional, PLN-related assistance to Marisa, even if they did not consider themselves to be doing so as they participated.
As always, I am interested in receiving your Feedback. Respond by including your Reply in the box below. Do you agree with my conclusion? Is my conclusion not quite right, in some way? Was there something that I missed? Would you like to add a different perspective, or extend my conclusion in some way?
I look forward to having a dialogue with you, dear reader. Have a great day!