Emergent thinking through conversation: week 2 #xplrpln

What has stood out for me so far in #xplrpln has been the power of participation and conversation.

Coming into this event, I’d already discovered the potential of blogs as a means of connecting with people and exploring ideas – in fact I originally came across Jeff Merrell (one of the event coordinators) through commenting on one of his blog posts. That comment led to our discovering we were interested many similar topics, which eventually led to Jeff tweeting me about this event.

As  result, I’ve been quite intentional about commenting on other people’s blogs, and participating in Google+ and twitter conversations, with the mindset of putting forward, and exploring ‘half baked ideas’ (as inspired by Jeff).

Some of the conversations that have led to new and emergent thinking for me in weeks 1-2 included:

The nature of PLN connections – transience and the impact of f2f connections: Matt Guyan’s O week blog post

Matt's O Week post

Matt’s post and comments on it raised questions around the transience of some PLN connections and how existing personal and face to face relationships might impact interactions your PLN. Emerging threads and questions I found interesting included:

  • What are the factors that influence how PLN relationships develop or evolve? (weak > strong ties and vice versa)
  • Are connections that originate through face to face relationships (or that later involve face to face meetings) qualitatively different to those that originate (and only ever exist) online?

Ownership of PLNs: Maureen Crawford

Maureen Crawford - Ownership of PLNs

The question of ownership of PLNs was another major thread that emerged from Matt’s post, leading to Maureen Crawford (@jmc3ualberta) to question the notion of ownership in networks. The subsequent thoughts on Maureen’s blog changed the way I viewed PLNs – and I’m inclined to agree with Maureen that whilst an individual creates, develops and maintains their PLN, the concept of ‘ownership’ is actually (semantically) irrelevant when we’re talking about a series of relationships.

(….although I’d add that this doesn’t necessarily stop organisations perceiving ownership, or individuals feeling a sense of ownership of PLNs they develop and maintain > and this is where the tensions between individuals and the organisation may emerge in the irritatingly illogical Real World in which we live).

The tension between individual and the organisation (+ the impact of personal connection): Helen Blunden G+ conversation

Helen Blunden G+ convo

I had a really interesting and personally engaging conversation with Helen Blunden in the #xplrpln G+ community off the back of her week 1 #xplrpln post. It started with a comment from Helen on the importance of PLNs a seamless part of an employee’s workflow. This is a thread I picked up on as I also recognise it as critical (but also one of the biggest challenges). In the conversation that ensued, we covered broad ranging themes including organisational openess, trust & transparency, organisational restructure, management support and barriers, the impact of organisational culture and systems on org change, and fear. But – perhaps the best part – in the process, Helen also related some of her personal experiences of open sharing, and the tensions it created between herself and her organisation. Parts of her story did have an emotional impact on me, and perhaps this element of personal connection may have spurred the conversation further than it otherwise might have.

So, (again) from this, I’m considering questions like:

  • How does personal connection impact reciprocity in PLNs?
  • Is personal connection a critical factor for strengthening ties within PLNs?

Reciprocity in PLNs & what motivates people to reciprocate: Ess Garland @essigna twitter convo

EssGarland_twitter

This is perhaps my favourite #xplrpln conversation so far – not just because it was one of the most thought provoking conversations I’ve had on twitter, but because it was spontaneous, incidental, serendipitous. It was a Friday evening, and I was going through the #xplrpln twitter chat that had occurred earlier, picking out threads and thoughts that I found interesting, and responding to them. I wasn’t expecting a response – but to my suprise, got one. From @essigna – who hadn’t even been part of the original conversation I’d responded to.

But she picked up on a theme that had been buzzing in the #xplrpln community all week, and one which I was also wrestling to come to a position on: whether reciprocity was a necessary and defining feature of PLNs (e.g. could former authors / influencers be considered part of your PLN? > as suggested by this excellently articulated post by Bruno Winck).

And so Ess and I actually had a thought provoking conversation. Spontaneously. Serendipitously. On twitter. This is pretty significant for me, because although I think twitter is an amazing tool for discovering content and people, I’d never really had more than what I’d describe as simple exchanges.  I don’t really count tweet chats, as these feel more like broadcasting thoughts and reactions. A conversation, for me, is a one-one focused interaction.

I also love that this was pure serendipity; we were simply both in the same (virtual) place at the same time, and the same headspace. Seriously, what are the chances? It certainly doesn’t happen often (as far as I can tell).

And, what’s more, she raised some really interesting points and questions, that are still influencing my thinking, and promoting the emergence of related questions:

  • What motivates people to reciprocate in a PLN?
  • What is the impact of online experiences like MOOCs in developing PLN relationships?
  • Do events like MOOCs act as catalysing events for developing stronger, long term PLN ties?

Disclaimer:

There are actually many other conversations and interactions that I’ve participated, and blog posts I’ve read in over the first two weeks which have influenced my thinking and had an impact on me.  But in the interests of brevity, these are probably the four that have had the biggest.

Now week three is just about over…it’s actually been a little quieter compared with the first 2 weeks, but certainly no shortage of interesting thoughts emerging. Might save for the next post though…Really gotta get to bed!

4 thoughts on “Emergent thinking through conversation: week 2 #xplrpln

  1. Jeff Merrell says:

    I honestly find all of this fascinating. Nodding my head “yes” a lot as I read your post. Especially around these questions:
    What motivates people to reciprocate in a PLN?
    What is the impact of online experiences like MOOCs in developing PLN relationships?
    Do events like MOOCs act as catalysing events for developing stronger, long term PLN ties?

    The last one is particularly interesting at this point in my “open” career – in that I begin to see people I know, regularly, at different open events. I know there is a danger there of living in a small world of like-minded enthusiasts, but I also think there is something fascinating about how your PLN helps you broaden your participation in different events like these as well. As a excuse to “get together again” and experience the learning lift we got in some previous event, are we also helping each other explore new areas, that we possibly wouldn’t have, were it not for our PLN?

  2. tanyalau says:

    Hi Jeff, sorry meant to reply to this AGES ago – just been TOO engrossed in all the xplrpln activity!!
    I have actually been finding the whole process of participating in this online experience fascinating. I’ve always been interested in how online presence is built, and how people collaborate, interact and build engaging & constructive relationships online. So part of my interest in this has been to look at what and how we’re communicating with each other, and how rapport is built – mainly through the lens of my own participation (as I clearly can’t speak for anyone else > although I think it would be absolutely fascinating to do use this as a platform for qualitative / research on interaction and collaboration in MOOCs via exploratory interviews of participants’ experiences…hint hint! ; ))
    The other thing that I have definitely noticed – especially since (loosely!) following a twitter streams of number of other cMOOCs that were going on concurrently (#DS106 headless, cicMOOC, OOE13…) was that there WERE a number of common participants, or participants who seemed to know each other from previous open online experiences. I think that’s great – and just goes to show the effectiveness of these experiences in building sustained engagement and community. I get what you’re saying about the potential for it to become a closed world of like minded enthusiasts and it’s something that occurred to me also. However, one thing I think you did very well was to draw in newcomers (I’m an example! And there seemed to be others from xplrpln) – who no doubt will pull in others…so maybe one day it will reach that critical mass where experiences like this become the norm for education (wouldn’t that be awesome?!).
    Thanks again for an amazing experience…I’ll be reflecting on it in more detail in a further post – hopefully soon!

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