OLJ 08 – Module 3 – Online Personal Learning Network

As an ‘early adopter’ I have been actively involved with the Web 2.0 world since 2004. With a Bloglines aggregator I subscribed to many blogs that set me on a fast-paced learning journey that astounded me. I revelled in it and did not need to undertake the later 23 Things training as I had already acquired that knowledge and skill set.

Online tools have come and gone as quickly as the terms surrounding them. Where is MySpace now? Google Reader replaced Bloglines and now that too is doomed to the e-archives. Amazon has just purchased the popular GoodReads platform. It is a constantly moving landscape, so don’t get too comfortable.

I have observed people get obsessed with the tools to such an extent that their relationship with their screens and text-buddies dominates their life to the extent that their ‘real life’ and ‘real life relationships’ are neglected and suffer. For me, as a lover of technology, art, literature, ideas, media, learning, and a free mind, I have always realised the wisdom of balance. A walk in the outdoors, looking at nature, talking to your parents, children, spouse, dog, going to watch a game of footy, going cycling, doing yoga, meditating, etc, etc, are all important and not to be neglected. So in terms of where I find myself on the graph offered by Jeff Utecht on his blog The Thinking Stick in 2008, I am at Stage 5 which is ‘balance’. (Utecht, 2008)

The power of the Online Personal Learning Network is harnessed by capturing your chosen resources into one online location and the aggregator is a perfect tool for this. Here you can link to your favourite resources and get the updates displayed as they are available. Google is making a big mistake getting rid of its Reader, IMHO.


It is not just blogs, but podcasts, video, news, photos, and so much more, all delivered shiny and new to your Reader. I have exported my collection of RSS feeds (that needs trimming/curating) to Feedly. But it is early days for Feedly – so we’ll see how it goes.

So in considering my Online Personal Learning Network with a holistic view, I can see that my ‘gap’ is in the sharing part of this experience. Beth Kanter suggests three parts to this process: seek; sense; share. (Kanter, 2011) I have no trouble in sharing my knowledge in the real world in discussions with colleagues around me. But I do hesitate to share and connect with people I don’t know in reality but only see or hear of online. This is to do with trust, knowing people, and the process of building relationships. I am also very aware of the discrepancy in personal character and integrity as seen in reality compared to what is portrayed online. Many people are wordsmiths and able to craft their thoughts cleverly online, but fail to live up to their online persona when you hear them speak in the real world; and vice versa. How to process this gap and build trust is an issue for me that leads to my reluctance to engage fully online.


Kanter, B. (2011). Using social media for professional learning: Seek sense and share. Retrieved from http://www.bethkanter.org/seek-sense-share/

Utecht, J. (2008). Stages of PLN adoption. Retrieved from http://thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption