Chapter 1 of the book Personal Learning Networks by Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli talks about different aspects of a learning network. It explains the shifts that are taking place in the 21st century, and why these shift are important. The chapter defines what a learning network is and how to obtain one, but most importantly it covers the benefits a personal learning network can have. This is the topic my blog is going to cover, because I feel it is the most important. Sure, it’s nice to know what a personal learning network is and how to achieve one, but when it comes down to it, I want to know if making the important shifts to create a PLN is worthwhile. Basically, I want to know if it works and what effects it has. In the book, it lists seven different beneficial effects having a learning network can have. The three I’m going to cover are the three I found most enticing which include:
1. “Students are better prepared for life and work in the 21st century.”
2. “Classrooms are more engaging.”
3. “Instruction is more individualized.”
The first claimed effect a learning network provides is that it preps student for life in the 21st century. Before I read this section I was hesitant to believe that a learning network could provide students skills for conquering life and the work industry, but as I read my thought process changed. The reason for the change is simple, our world really is beginning to be a technological empire and if you don’t become tech savvy now, you might as well move over and let others take your opportunities. Many jobs out there now involve the use of some sort of technology, like a computer, and by having students obtain a personal learning network their computer skills are increasing. A PLN would also provide students with one key element to be successful in life, and that is problem-solving. Through constantly surfing the Internet for information, they would have to decide what is factual information from what is not, helping to build their critical analysis skills. Furthermore, by having a PLN students would need to search to answer their own questions, improving their problem-solving skills. Overall, I agree that a learning network would offer students the tools they need to be successful in life.
The second argument of why learning networks are beneficial is that the classroom becomes more engaging. I believe this is true because students would be able to connect with others around the world to learn the information they desire. For example, if a student was asked to do a history report, they could blog with or video chat with an expert on the topic they are researching. In addition, the use of technology would allow students to become more active learners, rather than passive learns as described in this article on the effects of technology in a classroom. Not only would students benefit from this, but so would teachers. Teachers would be able to exchange ideas with other educators to help provide the best learning experience they can for their students.
The last effect I personally found interesting, was that learning networks would make learning more individualized. This is important to me because everyone learns at different rates, and not everyone finds the same topics interesting. Also, students learn in many different ways, so by having a PLN a student would be able to access the appropriate information explained in a way that helps them understand best. Through learning networks, a student wouldn’t have to rely on just the textbook as a source of reference because they would have access to numerous information, via the internet, about the topic they are learning about to help make the information a little clearer and easier to understand.