Creation, collaboration, and sharing are the true value points of a PLN. It’s not what it does for me, but rather what I am now able to do with and for others.
Being connected, without creating and contributing, is a self-focused, self-centered state … there is never a good time to be a lurker. Lurking=taking. The concept of legitimate peripheral participation sounds very nice, but is actually negative. Even when we are newcomers in a network or community, we should be creating and sharing our growing understanding…
… But you don’t need to run an open course with large numbers of participants to make an impact. An open course for five people is just fine. It’s the act of giving, not the subsequent impact, that is most significant.
A few excerpts from George Siemen’s blog post of Dec 1, 2010.
…and from Rodd Lucier (the Clever Sheep):
To that end, what are you doing to create the next EDUCON, MOOC, or TEDx? Are you modeling risk and reaching beyond your comfort zone? How are you contributing to the evolution of our professional learning playbook
These are strong statements against ‘lurking’. I agree with the sentiment that a person should get involved, share & create. I do think, however, that there is place for the lurker, for example, when someone is just starting out, I think a period of looking, exploring, learning the ropes so to speak, is acceptable. Yet this cannot and should not go on forever. Siemens states, in the quote above, that the value of a PLN is the participation, the sharing with others. As educators, we aso have the responsibility to model appropriate use of the medium, as Lucier points out in the second quote. In my own case, I have found value not only in learning from others, but in joining conversations, sharing and, yes, I can actually help others too! One of the responsibilities of an educator, as I see it, is to share: knowledge, ideas, questions … if you are embarking on building a Personal Learning Network, then, sure, experiment, look around, explore – but also push yourself to take part and contribute!
Do you watch from the sidelines or do you participate?
(I originally started this post on December 1 – I participate, but it sometimes takes awhile!)