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Journal of Public Affairs Education

Using Personal Learning

Using Personal Learning Networks to Leverage Communities of Practice continually with the contributions of many practitioners without the effort of going to each blog one by one each day. Individuals can manage information overload by terminating their RSS subscriptions to blogs of bloggers whose posts are found to be less valuable than others. Bloggers want subscribers and realize that their following by others depends on their continued production of valuable content. A reader is likely to unsubscribe from a blog if the marginal cost (in time and attention) exceeds the marginal benefit of continuing to follow. The vast majority of blogs are free, so the economics of information management are in terms of time and attention rather than money. Figure 2 represents a digital learning ecology (DLE) composed of (in this case) three PLNs subscribing (in this case) to a total of six blogs associated with Figure 2. Representation of a Digital Learning Ecology (DLE) Journal of Public Affairs Education 17

Using Personal Learning Networks to Leverage Communities of Practice CoPs and with the digital learning classroom (DLC) at the core. The DLC can be thought of as a specialized educational CoP. Because participants in the DLC (students plus their instructor) may not be ready to participate actively in professional CoPs, they subscribe to each others’ blogs (part of each student’s PLN) while also subscribing to the outside blogs of participants in relevant professional CoPs. Figure 3 is another representation of a DLE (this time with three students and an instructor) as a social network. In social networking terms, the three students and their instructor are a fully connected clique (and in the present context, they constitute the DLC). So, a digital learning classroom exists within a digital learning ecology; and from the perspective of a student, there is an “inside” and an “outside” perspective. Each student (and his or her PLN) is on the border between the DLC and one or more CoPs. Each student is a full participant in this DLC and a peripheral member of one or more CoPs. To be a peripheral member means to subscribe to the RSS feeds of the blogs of professionals without expectation that the professionals are Figure 3. A Digital Learning Ecology Represented as a Social Network Instructor Student 1 Student 2 Student 3 Professional 1 Professional 3 Professional 2 Professional 4 18 Journal of Public Affairs Education

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