Professional Learning Communities versus Personal Learning Networks

Interesting post here on Professional Learning Communities versus Personal Learning Networks by Lorraine.

Choice and options are important in networked learning as shared in my post

There are differences between Professional Learning Communities and Personal Learning Networks. Professional Learning Communities are more aligned with the FORMAL COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE, and there may be mandates as to how it would be sponsored, organised, and coordinated, with definite role definitions for community managers (principal, head teachers, counselors etc.) and other community members.  Those are rules based COP with definite outcomes, and sometimes could be running under a committee structure.

The PLN are more aligned with the Social Network approach where learning is emergent and thus would allow for more personal autonomy.  Previous researches (from our CCK researches) have revealed those observations by Timothy and many other networkers, in their various manifestations of blog postings and forum discussions.

These tensions always relate back to the choice, power and decisions, often associated with communities and networks.  The group versus networks discussion throughout the CCKs would be relevant here.


#CFHE12 #Oped12 MOOC Emerging as Landscape of Change and Learning Platform Part 6- A Network Ecology

Stephen Downes relates to this post on MOOCs as networks.

Stephen says:

What gets me is that he apparently has *no idea* that we’ve been doing MOOCs as networks for 4 years, and indeed that MOOCs *originated* as networks

Hi Stephen Downes

You have mentioned it in 2007 as I had cited in my post here  in that MOOCs as networks, and YES, indeed that MOOCs originated as networks, and “we” continued as networks with networked learning.

What surprised me is many educators are still looking for MOOC as a “group” and “team” with a shared and agreed common goal, which is where xMOOCs are situated and appropriated. Ideally, a team approach towards learning would likely achieve the vision and mission as set forth, based on the strategies set, and strategic actions development and action.

What might be overlooked in such way of group learning is they are addressing the simple and complicated scenarios of learning, and not the complex and chaos scenarios of learning (and education). I would like to attribute you in pointing out those important properties of networks (in MOOCs), and George Siemens for experimenting with the MOOCs that helps in revealing and validating those principles of network, and Dave Snowden on the framework on Complexity.

I think it may take years, or even decades before x MOOC educators and researchers would fully appreciate that group based learning will scale to a certain level, and that when it comes to huge networks, complexity and chaos principles must be applied in order to make it work. I don’t have all the empirical data to support my argument, as I haven’t got those data from x MOOCs.

However, the evidence collected from cMOOCs supported the networking approach towards learning, and group approach towards learning may be more appropriate under an institutional based, constrained and standardized curriculum, like the current xMOOCs.

The challenges with such xMOOCs are many.

How would an institution communicate its vision, mission and goals and strategies across participants of xMOOC – with hundreds of thousands of them? That is simply not possible. The participants would join xMOOCs as “networks”, form into groups or clusters (some may do it themselves, whilst others may be organised by the professors, TA, or other peers in the areas etc.). Such groups may then continue if there is sufficient bonding among them. Then it would be network-group-network etc. cycle, especially if group members have completed their assignments or discussion. Such pattern would be repeated which would likely be similar to that of learning post CCK08, provided that there are some enthusiastic learners and educators who would continue in practising their Network “leadership”. Is that the fate of xMOOCers and x MOOCs?

Finally, I have also shared in my previous post that such network approach towards learning with MOOCs would develop into a Community-Network-Cluster ecology, where participants would engage and morph along multiple networks, communities and clusters of networks or groups (within and outside institutions).