Knowledge Sharing as Democracy*

In searching for OERs for an assignment and appreciating the sources shared by class peers this week I began reflecting on the value of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) at a time when we are faced with drinking from the fire hose of information on a daily basis. PLNs can help us make sense of too much information by setting out signposts that guide our journey as we explore uncharted territory in a massive global network.

Alsion Seaman’s (2013) blog post, Personal Learning Networks: Knowledge Sharing as Democracy, provided insight into the workings of a PLN and I am coming to understand how incorporating a PLN into daily practice can advance knowledge by leaps and bounds. Tapping into the wisdom of the knowledgeable crowds is a remarkable thing. Two ideas in particular reverberated for me:

“It takes time and a level of humility to come to terms with the idea that knowledge is no longer contained solely “in [our] skulls, books, and libraries” and is instead constructed from knowledge distributed across networks and on the Web” (Para. 3) and

“It’s also important to include a range of voices in a PLN. Incorporating individuals with diverse opinions avoids the risk of the network becoming an ‘echo chamber’, where dominant opinions are ‘echoed’ back to network members. This can obscure alternate viewpoints and prevent learning from taking place” (Para. 10).

The idea of opening up to a diverse range of people and ideas is critical to developing mature perspectives. It is only in considering alternate viewpoints that we genuinely learn and grow.

Seaman, A. (2013).Personal Learning Networks: Knowledge Sharing as Democracy