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Using The Power of Personal Learning Networks to Transform Education (Book)

February 24, 2017 
The featured book for this week is Richardson and Rob Mancabelli's  "Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education ".  This is  absolutely a great read with illuminating insights on the educational potential of digital technologies and social media.  Will Richardson and Rob Mancabelli make a strong case for the necessity of embracing digital technologies and social media networking within schools . The authors corroborate their ideas with a wide array of studies and academic researches. They also back up their arguments with anumber of key  examples of how engaging in personal learning networks have empowered individuals to perform and achieve better.

After setting the scene with a detailed account of the impact of internet on human life, the authors go ahead in their argument that the rate of the digitally-enhanced changes is accelerating at a spectacular speed and that unless schools catch up with it, students will ultimately lose complete interest in them and will end up seeking knowledge somewhere else, a thing which they have already started doing through virtual online spaces . As the authors stated :
Our children are connecting outside the school walls, using technologies that most adults are just getting used to and that most schools have not implemented. Today’s kids flock to Facebook, send hundreds of text messages a day from their cell phones, and stay ubiquitously linked to their friends in ways many adults have little context for. Research is showing that their interactions in these social networks are a different yet important part of their development, shaping the way they think and see the world
 Ito et al., (2008).  (p. 6)
Learning networks according to Richardson and Mancabelli are "a rich set of connections each of us can make to people in both our online and offline worlds who can help us with our learning pursuits." (p. 21).These learning networks have become the norm in knowledge dissemination and exchange of expertise. Their importance is well documented in several studies and here are some examples the authors advance in support of the centrality of PLNs in today's education:
  • 'Online learning networks allow us to create our own global classrooms and collect teachers and other learners around the topics we want to learn about.
  • They allow us to self-direct our learning in exciting new ways, ways in which schools are going to find it increasingly hard to compete with.
  • As authors Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner (2010) assert, networks “provide people at every level, in every nook of the organization and every corner of the globe, a way to reclaim their natural capacity to learn non-stop” (Kindle location, 319, cited in Richardson and Mancabelli, 2011, p. 22).
In the rest of the book, Richard and Rob talk about the different ways to implement a networked classroom and provide some interesting tips for ensuring success of learning network adoption in schools.