Stages of PLN adoption

David Warlick wrote a post the other day about being able to zip up or turn off your Personal Learning Network (PLN). I too have been thinking about how one goes about starting a PLN, how do you monitor it, and how do you learn to shut it off. We all continue to push teachers to start PLNs if they haven’t already. Learning from the collective knowledge of educators around the world.

I have noticed an emerging trend of what one goes through when adopting a PLN for the first time. I myself continue to look at the stages I am going through in adopting this new way of learning, interacting, and teaching in a collaborative, connected world.

As I’ve helped others start their PLNs I have found that many of them go through these same stages. I am still trying to wrap my head around this but for now here’s what I see as emerging stages of PLN adoption.

Stages of Personal Learning Networks Adoption

Stage 1 Immersion: Immerse yourself into networks. Create any and all networks you can find where there are people and ideas to connect to. Collaboration and connections take off.

Stage 2 Evaluation: Evaluate your networks and start to focus in on which networks you really want to focus your time on. You begin feeling a sense of urgency and try to figure out a way to “Know it all.”

Stage 3 Know it all: Find that you are spending many hours trying to learn everything you can. Realize there is much you do not know and feel like you can’t disconnect. This usually comes with spending every waking minutes trying to be connected to the point that you give up sleep and contact with others around you to be connected to your networks of knowledge.

Stage 4 Perspective: Start to put your life into perspective. Usually comes when you are forced to leave the network for awhile and spend time with family and friends who are not connected (a vacation to a hotel that does not offer a wireless connection, or visiting friends or family who do not have an Internet connection).

Stage 5 Balance: Try and find that balance between learning and living. Understanding that you can not know it all, and begin to understand that you can rely on your network to learn and store knowledge for you. A sense of calm begins as you understand that you can learn when you need to learn and you do not need to know it all right now.

Personally I continue to struggle with balance in my life between being connected and being here in person. I force myself to put down the computer and pick up the guitar. I force myself to take Screen Free Week off and reflect (I write blog posts on paper…a very strange experience) and I almost enjoy going on vacation with no Internet access and being “there”. PLNs are very powerful, but they are not all there is to life…and I’m just glad I have a wife who reminds me of that from time to time. :)


I’ve created this image as a way to show what I’m thinking. I believe there is also a correlation here with learning. As you immerse yourself into the network your learning increases, the more you learn, the more you want to learn, the more immersed you become within the network. Until you reach a point that you understand the fundamentals of Web 2.0, the direction of Education, or whatever it is that interests you and you have in your PLN to begin with.

I also do not believe you have to go through all these stages. Some people jump from stage 2 to stage 5 or do not become so immersed into their PLN that they ever reach stage 3, that sense of having to “know it all.”

If nothing else I hope this helps to frame some thoughts in your head around your own PLN. I’m just throwing this out there as a starting point…what are you thinking?

[tags]PLN[/tags]

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20 Comments

  1. Thanks for the image Jeff as I am very much a visual learner. I have gone through similar stages and have seen colleagues go down ‘the road more or less traveled’. I would consider putting a fork in the road however. I find that a number of people will reach Stage 3 and then decide that it is all too much and drop their PLN altogether.

    I might consider drawing a ’roundabout’ as well since I find myself entering Stage 3, then 4, then 5 and then something happens and I’m back at Stage 3 then going on to 4, etc. I think it depends on what I’m involved with at the time as well. Some of the topics I’m interested in I might have reached Stage 5, while with others I’m in the Stage 3 area.

    BTW…GOOD LUCK w/ drawing that one! LOL

    PS…WHY have two words as verification with the 2nd word being TOTALLY illegible!

  2. You’ve captured the mania of PLNs. Somewhere between Stage 3 & 4, if we hope to make it to Stage 5, we must first admit we have a problem. That’s what it feels like–an addiction that can consume us. I’m glad to hear someone else’s spouse is fussing, reminding him that life does exist beyond the keyboard and glowing screen.

    Of course, finding balance–in every aspect of life–is the grail, which can sometimes seem elusive.

    • Yes, I agree that it takes a problem, even a crisis, for some of us to realize we must find a balance! After a stress-related hospital experience, I have resolved to keep all things, including my PLN and the ease with which it can take over my life, in check! There is SO much information out there now that we must simply set limits on how much of our time (at the expense of other things) we devote to our independent professional development!

  3. Wow–this is a good explanation of the PLN process. I agree with Nancy that there should be some type of a cycle because I do go through and repeat stages depending on what I’m interested in or learning about. Great job–I will be passing this on.

  4. Hola, Jeff.
    Interesting description of the PLN experience… The graphic made me think of that website that maps the interconnectivity from any one website to all others linked to it. What was the name of that site? You used it in one of your presentations to the HS kids at SAS last year…

  5. Jeff, achieving that balance can be a challenge.

    I liken it to a hobby of mine. I collect records by David Bowie. For many years I was attempting to collect “everything”. With the advent of the Internet and eBay I discovered that was impossible. New oddities kept turning up.

    I then decided to simply focus on the official UK catalogue from 1964 to the present. That is possibly achievable in my lifetime. This was a way to achieve balance and peace of mind.

    I have adopted a similar approach with the PLN. I am fine-tuning my network. I am not joining new groups.

    I focus on a few tools. Get to know them well. I am into blogs. I like to experiment with the blog. An occasional dabble with Del.icio.us, Twitter and Skype.

    With too many networks and tools one may spread themselves too thin. Pare it down and strive for quality as opposed to quantity (and rankings). [Twitter devotees, although, can benefit from a large number of followers if seeking advice or a resource.]

    Staying stuck in Stage 3 could be an indication of a mania or an obsessive compulsive disorder. What to do if you feel you are stuck in Stage 3? What are the symptoms?

    I have felt concerned about some of the teachers in my network. For example, 0 to 1400 Twitter updates per month in less than 3 months and prolific blog posts on top of that. Burn out can be debilitating, personally and professionally.

    John

  6. Great visual, although I think I’d switch phases 2 and 3–I found that “know it all” came before evaluation. It was only after I figured out that I couldn’t know it all that I started to evaluate where and how I should spend my time. And I agree that this should be a cycle of sorts that seems to depend on what new tools are available, what people are discussing and my own personal sense of burnout.

    Great stuff–thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi Jeff, really enjoyed this post. I agree with Michele and Nancy that there is movement between the different stages depending on what is going on in my own life, both personal and professional. Thank you, Sarah

  8. Hi Jeff

    I’ve kept reading your blog for a while and benefit a lot from your ideas. This post really helps me clear up some of my confusion in learning. I’ve undergoing the stages you mentioned and now struggling to find a balance. I also encourage my students to build up their PLE network and I am often asked the question of how to make the best of the vast sea of knowledge online. Sometimes I find it hard to answer since myself is not clear where the way of learning would lead to. Thanks for your clear graphic and i think it helps a lot when convincing students how PLE works.

    BTW, I’m an English teacher from China.

  9. Hi, Im a teacher from Spain. I am clear what is a Personal Learning Environment, but I would like to know the difference between PLN and PLE. Is Anyone can talk about? Thanks David.

  10. Jeff, this is great thinking. After considering where I am on your spectrum, I think I’m at a four. However, this has only recently happened. A month ago, I probably would have said stage 3, but I’m really trying to work on balancing my online world with my offline world. Stage four really sums up where I am and how I feel.

  11. Jeff,

    Very insightful; I think I’m kind of jammin’ through stages 1 (immersion) and 2 (evaluation) . . . then back to 1 . . . then back to 2. Then I kind of jump to stage 5 (balance). I mean, here it is, a little after 10:30 p.m. after a long (but good) day, and I don’t want to go to bed, yet. I want to keep jammin’. I just “found” eLearning Weekly, Twitter, Vimeo,Common Craft, Work Literacy–and that’s just today!

    It’s time for stage 5; I’ll just check my blog and iGoogle :)

    Thanks, Jim

  12. Your post brought a sense of calm to me, realizing that this is a normal response. :-) I wonder what, besides leaving the network for a while, helps you to bridge the path to stage 5? I realize that I can’t learn it all and feel I’ve found a sense of balance of how much time I spend learning. However, the desire to want to contribute and the sense of urgency to accomplish things I want to do can send me right back to the beginning stages in a heartbeat. Looking for a way to be more purposeful, find tools that will organize the process for me, and learn what it means to rely on that network.

  13. Hmmm. Web address was truncated. Try these….

    Consider the numerous question branches of the CROP model for question discovery, if you don’t come with a question built-in: link to bit.ly

    This suppose a deep digital literacy, but what does that mean? Consider link to tinyurl.com

  14. this is also visually descriptive of how i felt about diving into Second Life…it was an uphill struggle one that stubborness caused me to persevere those first few weeks (i don’t like to be a NOOB!) …once i “got it” i grew jaded…took a break and came back to it fresh a few weeks later..now i have balance. thank you SO much for bringing this up! Cheers!
    ~Gwyneth aka Capt_Red on Twitter/SL/Plurk/Flickr/Blogger

  15. I think that you also go through different stages with different tools. For example, I have several blogs, but now use one for gathering and archiving information while I have another for “conversation”. That conversation blog is my attempt to enter Stage 5. It really is, as Howard Rheingold says, all about attention and our ability to move back and forth through different levels at will.

  16. Jeff…

    This post continues to be a resource for me. I added a link today within our schoolwide Ning network that points here. A discussion on the boards led me to bringing up the post and discussion here.

    Excellent thoughts.

    Sean

  17. I like this. I think there is something missing at the beginning. I’ve done some training on PLNs and I think it takes a while for it to catch on with an individual before the are ready to immerse themselves in it. I know that I, personally, needed to see PLNs in action about four times before I decided that it was something that would work for me. I approach all my staff development this way and tell my participants that they’ll probably need some time to really jump in.

  18. I love this blog – your step by step to creating and living and breathing your PLN is so true – I have found recently that as my PLN is over so many time zones that my own life has began to work over these time zones too – sometimes my working day is broken and I get up earlier to talk to the Southern hemisphere – it is really bizzare but very fruitful!

  19. I liked your visual map, I am a visual learner and do better if I can read something and then visualize it. I really liked step #5, learning and living is very important, having that balance makes it so you are not stressed to the point that you want to quit. The more you learn the more interesting you are.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Personal Learning Networks - finding the right balance « Lucacept - intercepting the Web - [...] control it and allow himself time to so things like play his guitar and veg in front of the …
  2. “Personal” and Yet Not | Learning In a Flat World - [...] . [...]
  3. Where are you? | Finding Common Ground - [...] reading a recent post, The Thinking Stick » Blog Archive » Stages of PLN adoption, from Jeff Utecht, I’ve …
  4. On Board w/Twitter | Technology Wonderings - [...] coming together for me.  This is what Jeff Utecht refers to as building the Personal Learning Network, right?  So as I make plans …
  5. Post #3 for my Summer CI 401 class « Cycling Through Ed Tech - [...] Jeff Utecht - very interesting diagram [...]
  6. SLJ Learning 2.0 » Blog Archive » Stages of Learning - [...] Stages of Personal Learning Networks Adoption by Jeff Utecht [...]
  7. jellybell - Interesting post about learning http://is.gd/ZqB. I never heard of a PLN but I like it
  8. Scott Merrick - @vgloucester lol oh, articles. http://www.thethinkingstick.com/?p=652 is a very very good one thanks @juctecht
  9. Stages of Personal Learning | The View From Here - [...] I came across a blog entry from The Thinking Stick that intrigued me.  The post is entitled Stages of …
  10. links for 2008-12-11 « The View From My Window - [...] Stages of PLN adoption David Warlick wrote a post the other day about being able to zip up or …
  11. Same, Same, but Different- Another Blog about Personal Learning Networks « ToGa Learning - [...] reading a few of them, one showed her PLN in action; another laid out how to start a PLN; …
  12. nashworld - @mlcreal - here's betting this little article by @jutecht will make sense to you right now, eh? => …
  13. February 3 – UR Instructional Tech Integration - [...] Stages of PLN Adoption [...]
  14. links for 2009-02-04 « Donna Murray - [...] Stages of PLN adoption « The Thinking Stick (tags: pln professionaldevelopment resources blogpost) [...]
  15. Porter Palmer’s Blog » I Really Like Miguel, and Twitter is Cool Too - [...] his blog, Jeff Utecht identifies five stages of Personal Learning Networks Adoption. In December, I was in Utecht’s fifth …
  16. Jasper is a good example… | Integrating Life - [...] just watched a series of TED talks as part of my own PLN practices, I am compelled to view …
  17. Jim Richardson - Stages of PLN adoption http://tinyurl.com/5hcw53 from @jutecht (personal learning social network: immersion evaluation overload ... balance)
  18. Alicia Anderson - @jutecht Just found your "Stages of PLN adoption" http://bit.ly/14ypHT and am liking it better than trying 1 network at …
  19. Building a Personal Learning Network | Mr. Jackson's Blogosphere - [...] have had success with three web tools that, used in the chorus of an extended personal learning network, have …
  20. Day 2 - 5/28 & 6/1 – UR Instructional Tech Integration - [...] Stages of PLN Adoption [...]
  21. Look what I found! 06/06/2009 | a whole new dianne - [...] Stages of PLN adoption | The Thinking Stick [...]
  22. Mitchell Squires - Stages of PLN adoption http://tinyurl.com/5hcw53 from: @jutecht
  23. Stage 3 of PLN Adoption « The BottSpot Blog - [...] 3 of PLN Adoption After reading Jeff Utecht’s article on the stages of PLN adoption, I realize, embarrassingly enough, that …
  24. It’s Not What You Know, It’s WHO You Know « Impact2.0 - [...] Personal Learning Network, there is a process of evolution. Jeff Utecht describes it best as “stages of adoption” where …
  25. The best thing about a PLN… | A102.5 - [...] immediately fell into the immersion stage of PLN development. Since it was the summer, no teachers or students around, …
  26. Chris Johnston  - "Stages of PLN adoption | The Thinking Stick" http://j.mp/PEtcm
  27. Meg Heckman - Perhaps the greatest value of Twitter is bringing a PLN to the masses http://bit.ly/QeDvj
  28. Anne Mckague - RT @jutecht: @bethstill @ddraper Here's the Stages of PLN Adoption http://bit.ly/1AfTqQ
  29. D Draper - .@jutecht Thanks man, great post, pretty consistant with my experience, too. http://bit.ly/1AfTqQ
  30. Giselda dos Santos - Stages of PLN adoption http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption
  31. Mike - @kennedyjacque This is what I was referring to, from about a year and a half ago from @jutecht - - …
  32. Sue Davis - Reading: " Stages of PLN adoption | The Thinking Stick" (http://twitthis.com/tcqxjp)
  33. Ruth Elliott - @kenwilsonlondon Blog post re stages of Twitter use http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption (You might like)
  34. Ruth Elliott - @alacre PLN adoption post http://is.gd/4ZIfe from @jutecht
  35. Ruth Elliott - @shareski Have you seen this? Stages of Twitter use http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption
  36. Joanne de Groot - RT @RIElliott: @shareski Have you seen this? Stages of Twitter use http://bit.ly/hI7p2 #tldl
  37. m_panzani - Stages of PLN adoption | The Thinking Stick http://bit.ly/hI7p2
  38. Stephanie Cheney - RT @m_panzani Stages of PLN adoption | The Thinking Stick http://bit.ly/hI7p2
  39. Delicious Over 50 - Stages of PLN adoption - The Thinking Stick http://bit.ly/89Zzz0 education web2.0 FOF-12/18/09
  40. Rui Guimarães Lima - By @delicious50: Stages of PLN adoption - The Thinking Stick http://bit.ly/89Zzz0 education web2.0 FOF-12/18/09
  41. How to Use Twitter to Build Intelligence « emergent by design - [...] My initial Twitter experience was kind of like this: The 46 Stages of Twitter (here’s the educator’s version) [...]
  42. Shelly S Terrell - RT @janetbianchini: Excellent read on stages of PLN we all go through by Jeff Utrecht @ http://bit.ly/hI7p2
  43. Sean Banville - RT @janetbianchini: Excellent read on stages of PLN we all go through by Jeff Utrecht @ http://bit.ly/hI7p2
  44. My PLN Experience « Education Stormfront - [...] My PLN Experience Stages of PLN adoption [...]
  45. annehodg - @livesofteachers Darren posted great link re stages of PLN adoption/ right-sizing http://tinyurl.com/m6tlea ThanX 2 all 4 yr comments!
  46. Amber Teamann - RT @ShellTerrell: Excellent read on stages of PLN we all go through by Jeff Utrecht @ http://bit.ly/hI7p2
  47. Monte Tatom - RT @ShellTerrell: @janetbianchini: Excellent read on stages of PLN we all go through by Jeff Utrecht @ http://bit.ly/hI7p2 #fhuedu508
  48. anamariacult - Stages of PLN adoption | The Thinking Stick http://bit.ly/7ViP46 via www.diigo.com/~anamariacult
  49. Brandon Brown - http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption #stlpln
  50. hannah behrmann - RT @tfa123: http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption #stlpln
  51. Kelly Brannock - Stages of PLN adoption: http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption
  52. Reference: How to Use Twitter to Build Intelligence « Public Intelligence Blog - [...] My initial Twitter experience was kind of like this: The 46 Stages of Twitter (here’s the educator’s version) [...]
  53. March 2010 « S.A. E-Learning Newsletter - [...] Learning from the collective knowledge of educators around the world.”  This is a quote from Stages of PLN Adoption …
  54. (W2 u02a1) Personal Learning Networks @ Robyn’s Technology in Education Blog - [...] Utecht, J. (2008, April 3). Stages of PLN adoption. Article posted to http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption/ [...]
  55. Professional Development: With a Little Help From My Friends | Teacher Librarian 2.0 - [...] laughed out loud when I saw this illustration by Jeff Utecht about professional learning networks (if the graphic is too hard …
  56. It may be the end, but it’s really just the beginning – Evaluative report, part b « Almost a Librarian… - [...] professionally and personally, to supplement my current social bookmarking activities (Smith, 2008; Utecht, [...]
  57. It may be the end, but it’s really just the beginning – Evaluative Report | Almost a Librarian… - [...] professionally and personally, to supplement my current social bookmarking activities (Smith, 2008; Utecht, [...]
  58. Stage #1: Here I am « Joey Stritt's Blog - [...] recommended bloggers. One of the blogs, The Thinking Stick, posted an interesting blog titled “Stages of PLN Adoption.” I …
  59. Stage #1: Here I am « Joey Stritt's Blog - [...] recommended bloggers. One of the blogs, The Thinking Stick, posted an interesting blog titled “Stages of PLN Adoption.” I …
  60. Technology Immersion « Kelsi's Insight on Education - [...] has helped move me from the PLN Adoption- Immersion stage into the PLN Adoption-Evaluation stage. (Stages of PLN Adoption, …
  61. Technology Immersion « Kelsi's Insight on Education - [...] has helped move me from the PLN Adoption- Immersion stage into the PLN Adoption-Evaluation stage. (Stages of PLN Adoption, …
  62. PLN in pics | TEFL and Tech by Smaragda V - [...] left for me to say about PLNs but I recommend reading a post on Jeff Utecht’s blog “The Thinking …
  63. My personal learning network/environment/ecosystem (Module 3 OLJ) « Communit-e-Learning - [...] Of Jeff Utecht’s five stages of PLN adoption, Immersion, Evaluation, Know It All, Perspective, and Balance (though …
  64. links for 2010-09-24 | MYAM's Blog - [...] Stages of PLN adoption RT @tucksoon: RT @nlubrano: RT @web20classroom This is great! Stages Of PLN Adoption from @jutecht: …
  65. Daily Diigo Bookmarks from Steve Yuen 10/01/2010 « Learning Technologies - [...] Stages of PLN adoption [...]
  66. Personal Learning Network: What stage am I at? « The Information Socialite - [...] Jeff Utecht’s stages of PLN adoption I feel confident in placing myself somewhere in between the end of stage …
  67. Flat Classroom Certification: Communication | 21st Century Literacy Lessons - [...] more groups than I can keep up with. Perhaps it’s an indication of where I am on the “Stages …
  68. PLNs—Good for teachers, but are they good for schools yet? | edSocialMedia - [...] to them and other fans by creating your own Professional Learning Network (PLN). As Jeff Utecht suggests, adopting the …
  69. Using Twitter and Other Social Media for Professional Development « Digital Substitute - [...] Stages of PLN adoption [...]
  70. My online personal learning network | Rambling journeys - [...] updates from many people on many different sites. Too many, I think. Following Dave Warlick’s Stages of PLN adoption, …
  71. New Personal Learning Networks – Stephen's Lighthouse - [...] Filter. [...]
  72. COETAIL Introduction Video | COETAIL Online Cohort 2012-2013 - [...] The stages of PLN Adoption [...]
  73. Open Online Experience - [...] http://www.thethinkingstick.com/stages-of-pln-adoption/ [...]
  74. Personal Learning Networks/Environments (PLN/PLE) | RJHC - [...] Stages of PLN adoption | The Thinking Stick David Warlick wrote a post the other day about being able …
  75. Educator, Learner | Talk, talk, talk - Educator, Learner - […] on the other hand, shows everything. I can choose what to work with and what to ignore. I’ve gone …

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