Tools of the trade

I was quite impressed by Joyce Seitzinger's Professional Learning Environment (PLN) model that she presented at Deakin University in Melbourne this week. The first slide on the left shows a quadrant model in which she has used a work/office metaphor to define four discrete functions of a PLN. The first, the Staffroom is quite public, calling on high levels of communication and high profile, and involves the use of microblogging tools such as Twitter. This will work provided the user subscribes to a requisite number of other relevant user accounts, and can share their ideas and converse freely. It will fail if the user does not follow or is not followed by enough other subscribers to enable the benefits of the network effect.

Joyce calls the second quadrant the Filing Cabinet, because essentially, it is low profile and low in terms of the efforts put into communicating with others, and it provides a repository for the user (and their PLN) to store, categorise and possibly share content they think is important to them. Social tagging sites such as Diigo and Delicious can offer this kind of filing cabinet organisation, but so too can wikis and other collaborative tools, which would I imagine, raise the level of engagement and profiling of individuals who organised and shared their content in this manner.

The third quadrant is the Newspaper, which again Joyce sees as low profile and low in terms of communication. I assume that this is because most of the tools she identifies as falling into this category of PLN deployment is push technology (RSS feeds, Google Reader etc). I would imagine that if Joyce placed blogs into this category, (and in the model's present form I see no reason why they shouldn't be there), then a higher profile and higher level of engagement between user and PLN would ensue.

Yet she leaves blogs and other authoring tools to insert into the final quadrant, the Portfolio. This is the quadrant in which a lot of high profile activity is conducted, but I would argue that it is also high in engagement. The question still open to me is whether this model would change from it's current form to represent Personal Learning Networks. Or is there any real difference between these and Professional Learning Networks?

It is worth noting that only the first quadrant of this PLN model is actually performed synchronously, that is, in real time. That may give some a clue as to the latent potential of tools such as Twitter to connect people powerfully and instantly across the globe and to give all of us access to a worldwide network of experts and enthusiasts in any subject for which we have an interest. Everyone should have a PLN, because in today's connected world, without it you are not fully equipped as a professional.

Images courtesy of Joyce Seitzinger

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Tools of the trade by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Lenandlar said…
Very interesting view. The actual representation does not suggest "4 faces" but ONE face. Perhaps each quadrant is an instance of that face

Also 3 out of 4 "faces" are "low communication".One would like to think that the plethora of communication tools available and the increasing use would shift the level of communication to the higher end. Or may it is a case of more communication happening in quadrant 1 when compared with the total of all of the other 3 quadrants.
Lenandlar said…
One other thing that immediately comes to mind is the location of my email.

Perhaps it is in both Staff Room (q1) and Filing Cabinet (q2). And i believe it will be a touch more than "low communication".
Anonymous said…
Does email even qualify to be part of a PLN these days? It really is fairly low level mundane stuff. More like paperless correspondence than a meaningful way to develop an information network.
Our Mark said…
I think email is important enough. On a day to day level, it is the most prominent form of internal communication with many schools. Also, every one has an email, but not everyone has the other tools.
Our Mark said…
I think email is important enough. On a day to day level, it is the most prominent form of internal communication with many schools. Also, every one has an email, but not everyone has the other tools.
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks for your comments Grant. I think we need to take care not to exclude any tool or technology from the mix. We are after all talking about *personal* as well as professional learning networks and many people still prefer to use email to communicate.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for sharing this, along with your (as always) provocative questions! Joyce's model is very interesting. I suggest that the "high communication" in the upper-left quandrant could be also called "conversation", with all of the informal, immediate engagement that term implies. In the other 3 quadrants, the level of communication (low to high) really depends on *how* someone is engaging, and to what level. For example, I've only recently started using and am impressed with the level of engagement with others, even in just a few days. So for me, this tool (which I suppose would go in the lower-right quadrant) certainly promotes "high communication" -- as do many blogs. Such as this one.
greyrab said…
Thanks for sharing Joyce’s PLN model Steve. A neat metaphor. How we relate to it or ‘use’ it will be different for different individuals and their needs in their specific environments.

One can easily drop in – or out – personal PLN tools as required in the quadrants of Joyce’s model to customize it to suit one’s own preferences.

Wonder if we really need the constant flow of models and diagrams – it makes for productive debates I suppose…and feeds academic theories. Can’t we just go about with regular use of our PLN components without concerning ourselves what type of model or metaphor they may relate to?

Do people really stop and consider which PLN metaphor/model they are conforming to as they go about their business? In the corporate world senior management also seem addicted to diagrams/models, but the hands-on workers out in the various workplaces and spaces just get on with it.
Mary Ann Reilly said…
It is an interesting model, but I think it is flawed as it superimposes a web 1.0 model of communication on top of web 2.0 world. As such I would question the stability of the categories and that they remain so discrete. The quadrants belong to another time and do not show the overlaps, blurs, or lines of flight that occur as one negotiates meaning through social tools.
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks for your comments Mary Ann, but I'm not sure we can question the validity on anything that is based upon a contested construct such as Web 2.0/Web 1.0. Many would argue that this is a false dichotomy and that Tim O'Reilly was wrong in making the distinction.
Karyn Dowty said…
Great post!, some awesome tools in here

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