Adopting a PLN: where are you at?

Further to my last blog post about the concept of a Personal Learning Network (PLN), I thought I’d look at the stages through which we tend to go through in adopting a PLN to be part of our ongoing learning and development. Stages of PLN adoption by Jeff Utecht on “The Thinking Stick” provides a resonating model particularly for library and information practitioners and basis for reflecting where we might be directing our professional development energies.

Where are you in adopting an PLN? CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by Jutecht via Flickr
Where are you in adopting an PLN?
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 by Jutecht via Flickr

You can find a more detailed (and perhaps less comical) explanation of this model with an earlier post I wrote as part of my PLN research project. But here, I’ll walk you through each stage as I’ve experienced them:

Immersion

  • oooh! Twitter!….oh wow! There’s so much cool stuff here!
  • oh, hello! Tweet up! I guess we’re friends now, right?
  • oh no! Wait! I haven’t seen Twitter in over two hours! What have I missed?! *frantic Twitter feed loading proceeds while completely ignoring boyfriend at dinner*
  • Hey? What? I don’t know this. I NEED TO KNOW MORE!
  • oh dear, I’m a hopeless information professional. I don’t know much at all.

Evaluation

  • still ignoring boyfriend at dinner time….proceed to retreat to Twittersphere to soak up more information and hang with my PLN peeps, see what they’re up to – reading, tweeting, writing. Nothing else exists right now.
  • meet new people at events….must follow on Twitter
  • hey, that’s an interesting blog….I’ll follow that too.
  • okay, so who follows me? who do I converse with? who is awesome at passing on information?
  • madly try to keep up with self-imposed blogging schedule….must finish….one more….right now (even though it’s 8pm on a Sunday night)

Know it all

  • cool! I know stuff about this…and that, and little here and there. There’s too much to know!
  • how on Earth am I to put all this knowledge together in my head so it makes sense?!
  • still lots of cool stuff to know and do in the profession – spoilt for choice!
  • I LOVE IT ALL! And I won’t be an awesome information professional if I don’t know ALL THIS STUFF.
  • Wake up. Twitter. Get to work. Twitter. More Twitter. Looking through Google Reader. Comment here. Twitter with a side of lunch. Draft blog post. Twitter.

Perspective (or intervention)

  • geez! just leave it for a day! *self-imposed Twitter-free Saturday*
  • hey, this ain’t so bad. hi, boyfriend!
  • there’s so much to learn in my new job! oh wow! the experienced professionals around me, and just a chair glide away!
  • hey yo PLN peeps! what’s doing?
  • progressively coming to realise that the ‘need to know’ stuff will be circulated time and time again. not missing too much if I spend some time away from it all.

Balance

  • currently moving into this phase – Twitter? I’ll catch up tomorrow. Today’s Sunday
  • interested in this and that and only these few things to keep my development focused
  • realising I can’t know everything all at once. need to integrate what I know with experience and practicing it
  • re-connecting with PLN after Masters degree and contributing where I can – I hope that’s cool with everyone
  • know more about myself and my needs as a professional and where I can reasonably dedicate time to professional involvement (and not at the expense of other roles I play in my life)

It has become easy to feel overwhelmed with the information available and the generosity of others’ support within the library and information practice community. As a newbie to the profession, I wanted to know everyone and all the ‘cool kids’ from which I could learn the most (and still do).  The difference between then and now is a journey of discovering the kind of information professional I’d like to become, understanding my career development needs and striving to attain a balance between the info pro me and all the other ‘me’s. Knowing when and where to direct energies to professional development activities, including participating in a PLN, can be assisted with a personal professional development plan. Learning heaps while in a new role? Don’t stress if you’re not checking Twitter as frequently or blogging so often. A personal professional development plan will identify where you’re learning is happening right now.

The trick I’ve found with professional development and in particular, progressing through the stages of PLN adoption is to be okay with where the energies are directed. Set priorities and keep them as reminders near your workstation or study area. It took me a while to realise I can’t do all the things at the same time. Nor will I be an awesome info pro straight off the bat. Striking a balance with participating in a PLN and contributing to the profession is necessary to prevent feeling overwhelmed by what becoming info pro is all about. There is enormous respect for each other within the library and information practice community making the PLN a wonderful experience (and I thank you all for this).

Let go. Roll with it. Be okay with where you’re at. Don’t stress. ‘Tis all good. (*repeat to myself*)

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