I realize this is ironic seeing where I was just quoted in Will’s new book with the same title, but I really feel like its time for me to retire the phrase “personal learning network” from my lexicon.
It was a bit more than two years ago when I made the very real and deliberate decision to open myself to the world not only through this blog, but twitter, facebook, Linked In, and flickr among other spaces. At first, I purposefully kept my personal friends and my professional colleagues quite separate. For example, I used Facebook as the way I connected with my friends and Twitter as the way I connected with other educators.
But recently I’ve noticed that it is harder to discern my friends from those whom I learn from. In fact, I think they are so intricately woven that I can’t tell the difference between the two. I first began to think about this after ISTE11 when I wrote,
My greatest post ISTE take away? My personal learning network IS my social network. My network is comprised of my friends and my friends comprise my network. I used to distinguish between the two, most notably in my use of twitter (professional) and facebook (personal), but that has since changed. The two are so interwoven now, it is difficult for me to determined where the learning stops and where the friendships start.
This past weekend I made my way down to Boston to have dinner with Pat Larkin, Steve Gagnon and Shannon Miller. At one point during dinner, while we all commenting on how great it was that social networks had brought us together, Shannon said,
You know, if we all went to high school together, we’d all be friends.
She’s right. Networking isn’t just personal and it isn’t solely about learning. Sure, I have control over my network and I can fashion in a way to meet my needs, but as my network grows, the more I realize that it is as much about establishing new friends and socializing than is it about the learning. So for now I’ve decided to retire the term “Personal Learning Network” and start using the term “Social Learning Network”.