Although most articles I find and read concerning social media illustrate the negative consequences that have resulted since their creation, they are certainly here to stay. I found the topics covered in Net Smart: How to Thrive Online particularly refreshing as Howard Rheingold pointed out the ways in which these applications have progressively advanced our society as a whole. Especially captivating was the idea of personal learning networks (PLN), defined by the organization TeachThought as “a way of describing the group of people that you connect with to learn their ideas, their questions, their reflections, and their references… It is personal because you choose who’s part of that group; you choose if you want to lurk–just check out what people are saying–or if you share; because you choose when to do so, and how to do so.”
In essence (and in the most basic sense), all of us take part in PLN’s everyday by being active on social media applications. Take Facebook for example. Everyday we read our personally curated network’s status updates, “digest” their content, show approval by liking certain posts that catch our fancy, engage in dialogue by commenting on posts and sharing our own content to our followers. Through this, we learn from others and the society around us. Through this, we may offer value as others learn things from us through our personal updates and comments. However, by being a bit more direct in our intentions, it is possible to cultivate personal learning networks that enable us to find information about topics of interest far more efficiently, become more knowledgeable in the process and finally to gain the ability to impart our wisdom to others in the network.