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Is the PLN Dead? The Reality of Networks in Education

Session 3
Alec Couros, Dean Shareski — University of Regina, Discovery Education

For many years, the development of personal learning networks has been touted as an essential activity toward the improvement of teaching, learning, and professional development activities for educators and students. Subsequently, professional development events are abuzz with educators touting the value of Twitter often sharing rich anecdotes of connection and collaboration. Yet, the landscape around social networking services has changed dramatically. As more people come online and accumulate followers, there is often more noise than there is signal. Additionally, algorithms employed by major social networking services create filter bubbles and alter the nature of our activity streams. Network fatigue and emerging new services make it more difficult to "ask of the network" and there seems to be fewer success stories as compared to the golden years of the PLN. In this session, we aim to guide participants in interrogating their successes and failures with social networking tools and methodologies in their educational practice. Through this conversation, we hope to uncover the reality beyond the hype and work towards a new paradigm for the use of social networking by educators and students. If the PLN is truly dead, this session will allow us to move forward and reimagine the role that ubiquitous social technologies have in our professional and personal lives.

Conversational Practice

This conversation will begin with a short historical overview of growth and hype cycle of personal learning networks. Then, through a focus on personal storytelling by the participants, we will collectively begin to develop a framework (or frameworks) for a renewed vision for networks in education. Such concept development will certainly rely on a number of recording, diagramming, and charting tools, but more so, on the creativity of the participants in co-developing and sharing their ideas.

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