Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Non-ownership, Outcomes and Competencies

My latest musings regarding PLNs and ownership issues are related to the whole dichotomy between outcomes and competencies. I think non-ownership, outcomes & competencies are all interwoven.

I have been thinking about Kimberly Scott asking me (in the comments to my, October 12, 2013 The Curious Relationship between Ownership & Networks) “Do you think that your employer can rightly demand that you provide a list of the people who are in your personal/professional learning network?” When I pause to wonder why an employer would demand a list of people in a PLN I come up with the thought that the employer may want to protect their investment (of employee time and effort) in the PLN. The employer might feel that they “own” the outcomes. In fact they may even have stipulated outcome expectations in regards to a PLN developed while “on the clock”.

This thinking is antithetical to PLNs. I do believe that PLNs can assist people in achieving outcomes - this can and does happen BUT for me it falls into the camp of using a new technology as if it were the old technology and not capitalizing on the characteristics that make it new and different i.e. missing the point of the paradigm shift.

The strength of a PLN is that nonlinear interactions and engagement results in emergent competence that is distributed across the network. This sort of emergent thinking is, as David Weinberger says, “inextricable from—literally unthinkable without—the network that enables it”. (Weinberger, 2011) Or as William Cronon (1998) states, “More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections so as to be able to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways”. Siemen’s, Learning and Knowing in Networks: Changing Roles for Educators and Designers (2008) articulates much the same view.  So, I reason, outcomes are possible from PLNs but they do not represent optimal use of networks. I think that networks optimally support  competency acquisition!

To recap my thinking;
  • ·      PLNs cannot be owned
  • ·      Using PLNs to achieve outcomes is not maximizing the potential of PLNs
  • ·      PLNs greatest strength is to support the acquisition of competencies
  • ·      Employers benefit from increased employee competence
  • ·      Competence is not something organizations own nor can competence be delivered in a binder to the next person being asked to do the job

Cronon, William. (1998) 10 Qualities of a Liberally Educated Person. Retrieved from http://www.honors.ls.wisc.edu/SiteContent.aspx?prev=1&id=159

Siemens, George. (January 27, 2008).  Learning and knowing in networks: changing roles for educators and designers. presented to ITFORUM for Discussion Retrieved from http://itforum.coe.uga.edu/Paper105/Siemens.pdf

Weinberger, David. (2011) Too Big to Know: rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren't the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room Is the room. New York: Basic Books. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Maureen, I meant to comment on this a few days ago..I really like these ideas, and they have influenced my thinking about how organisational PLNs might work. I've been thinking about an organisationally driven PLN 'implementation' in the context of the #xplrpln 'problem' and pondering whether or not such a thing would even work - or even whether the idea of a CEO / org driven 'implementation' is actually at odds with the whole concept of a PLN, which is individually driven, and based on personally defined intentions.
    My concern - stemming from your previous discussion of ownership - is that a CEO / org driven PLN 'implementation' introduces perceptions of org ownership of the 'implementation' (> and the PLNs), and may lead to the expectation that individuals align their PLNs with org objectives, which seems at odds with the concept of a PLN - and may in fact kill the most valuable part of a PLN - the Personal bit.
    I think the concept of using PLNs to develop individual competencies is very intriguing - and will likely work, as long as those individual competencies are those that the individual also values and feels personally motivated to develop.