Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

Random Thoughts

Stages of PLN adoption

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

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]

Technorati Tags: , ,

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.

99 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. Pingback: Personal Learning Networks - finding the right balance « Lucacept - intercepting the Web

  7. 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!

  8. Pingback: “Personal” and Yet Not | Learning In a Flat World

  9. Pingback: Where are you? | Finding Common Ground

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. Pingback: On Board w/Twitter | Technology Wonderings

  13. 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.

  14. Pingback: Post #3 for my Summer CI 401 class « Cycling Through Ed Tech

  15. Pingback: SLJ Learning 2.0 » Blog Archive » Stages of Learning

  16. Pingback: jellybell

  17. Pingback: Scott Merrick

  18. Pingback: Stages of Personal Learning | The View From Here

  19. 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.

  20. Pingback: links for 2008-12-11 « The View From My Window

  21. Pingback: Same, Same, but Different- Another Blog about Personal Learning Networks « ToGa Learning

  22. Pingback: nashworld

  23. Pingback: February 3 – UR Instructional Tech Integration

  24. Pingback: links for 2009-02-04 « Donna Murray

  25. Pingback: Porter Palmer’s Blog » I Really Like Miguel, and Twitter is Cool Too

  26. 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

  27. Pingback: Jasper is a good example… | Integrating Life

  28. 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.

  29. Pingback: Jim Richardson

  30. Pingback: Alicia Anderson

  31. Pingback: Building a Personal Learning Network | Mr. Jackson's Blogosphere

  32. Pingback: Day 2 - 5/28 & 6/1 – UR Instructional Tech Integration

  33. Pingback: Look what I found! 06/06/2009 | a whole new dianne

  34. Pingback: Mitchell Squires

  35. 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

  36. 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.

  37. 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

  38. Pingback: Stage 3 of PLN Adoption « The BottSpot Blog

  39. Pete Caggia Reply

    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.

  40. Pingback: It’s Not What You Know, It’s WHO You Know « Impact2.0

  41. Pingback: The best thing about a PLN… | A102.5

  42. 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!

  43. Pingback: Chris Johnston 

  44. Pingback: Meg Heckman

  45. Pingback: Anne Mckague

  46. Pingback: D Draper

  47. Pingback: Giselda dos Santos

  48. Pingback: Mike

  49. Pingback: Sue Davis

  50. Pingback: Ruth Elliott

  51. Pingback: Ruth Elliott

  52. Pingback: Ruth Elliott

  53. Pingback: Joanne de Groot

  54. Pingback: m_panzani

  55. Pingback: Stephanie Cheney

  56. Pingback: Delicious Over 50

  57. Pingback: Rui Guimarães Lima

  58. Pingback: How to Use Twitter to Build Intelligence « emergent by design

  59. Pingback: Shelly S Terrell

  60. Pingback: Sean Banville

  61. Pingback: My PLN Experience « Education Stormfront

  62. Pingback: annehodg

  63. Pingback: Amber Teamann

  64. Pingback: Monte Tatom

  65. Pingback: anamariacult

  66. Pingback: Brandon Brown

  67. Pingback: hannah behrmann

  68. Pingback: Kelly Brannock

  69. Pingback: Reference: How to Use Twitter to Build Intelligence « Public Intelligence Blog

  70. Pingback: March 2010 « S.A. E-Learning Newsletter

  71. Pingback: (W2 u02a1) Personal Learning Networks @ Robyn’s Technology in Education Blog

  72. Pingback: Professional Development: With a Little Help From My Friends | Teacher Librarian 2.0

  73. Pingback: It may be the end, but it’s really just the beginning – Evaluative report, part b « Almost a Librarian…

  74. Pingback: It may be the end, but it’s really just the beginning – Evaluative Report | Almost a Librarian…

  75. Pingback: Stage #1: Here I am « Joey Stritt's Blog

  76. Pingback: Stage #1: Here I am « Joey Stritt's Blog

  77. Pingback: Technology Immersion « Kelsi's Insight on Education

  78. Pingback: Technology Immersion « Kelsi's Insight on Education

  79. Pingback: PLN in pics | TEFL and Tech by Smaragda V

  80. Pingback: My personal learning network/environment/ecosystem (Module 3 OLJ) « Communit-e-Learning

  81. Pingback: links for 2010-09-24 | MYAM's Blog

  82. Pingback: Daily Diigo Bookmarks from Steve Yuen 10/01/2010 « Learning Technologies

  83. Pingback: Personal Learning Network: What stage am I at? « The Information Socialite

  84. Pingback: Flat Classroom Certification: Communication | 21st Century Literacy Lessons

  85. Pingback: PLNs—Good for teachers, but are they good for schools yet? | edSocialMedia

  86. Pingback: Using Twitter and Other Social Media for Professional Development « Digital Substitute

  87. Pingback: My online personal learning network | Rambling journeys

  88. Pingback: New Personal Learning Networks – Stephen's Lighthouse

  89. Pingback: COETAIL Introduction Video | COETAIL Online Cohort 2012-2013

  90. Pingback: Open Online Experience

  91. Pingback: Personal Learning Networks/Environments (PLN/PLE) | RJHC

  92. Pingback: Educator, Learner | Talk, talk, talk - Educator, Learner

  93. Sandra Tomchak Reply

    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.

  94. Pingback: Personalised Learning Networks | Paul

  95. Pingback: Are You #Twitterpated? | COETAIL Coaches

  96. PLN and RSS use is brand new for me, as in just this past week! As a science teacher, I am already finding that I want more, more, more to share with my students. I’m in the baby stages of what this article explained: intrigued but overwhelmed!

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.