Followers, PLN, and Tribe


So, a couple of days ago, I shared this wonderful sketchnote from Sylvia Duckworth.

It had the usual effect – no comments from visitors to the blog but lots of sharing and folks visiting the blog and comments on Twitter.  So, it did strike a chord with others and I always like that.  It’s a confirmation that there are others thinking along the same lines, or differently, but aren’t afraid to come forward.

As far as Tribes go, I was forced at one point to participate because “we are going to do Tribes”.  I’ve seen others who have had to go the same route – forced training certainly can fall off the professional learning track but that’s OK.  You can learn some things from that as well.  As you look through the points in Sylvia’s sketchnote, you’ll notice that it takes a special group of people and their attributes to let you know when “you have found your tribe”.

In my mind, it’s that very special subset of colleagues that make it work and it’s not something that you can do by taking a group of educators and “dividing them up” although that’s often the way that training happens.  The best professional learning happens when it’s authentic and people actually want to participate, grow, and learn.  In my mind, it’s a big difference.

So often, we hear about why it’s important that teachers are on Twitter.  “It’s the best place for learning” is often the phrase you see and it’s tough to argue against that.  But, just as with any quality professional learning, it doesn’t happen immediately in some sort of magical, mystical manner.  It’s actually tough but satisfying work.

As I followed the interactions to the announcement of that particular blog post, it was interesting to see some of the comments.

There was a tangent that started with an innocent observation.

Tribe = PLN

I raised my eyebrow just a bit because it certainly wasn’t what I had expected and not what my takeaway from the concept is.  In my case, it couldn’t be further from the truth.  I follow a lot of people and things on Twitter where this conversation took place.  I follow for a variety of reasons – learning, announcements, updates, and a few just because they’re jerks and I’m entertained by their silliness.  Here’s the link if you want to figure out who’s who.  I also learn a great deal from Ontario Educators but I don’t follow them all; instead I have them as lists.  I think we all have our own ways of managing things.  That’s mine.  So, while I do a great deal of learning, I wouldn’t necessarily consider them to be in “my tribe”.  There are, indeed, a few that I hang on every word and have interactions for all the reasons in Sylvia’s sketch.

It was comforting to know that I’m not alone.  @iamDrWill, a gentleman I’ve never met but regularly has wise advice summarized his thoughts in a couple of messages that mirror my thoughts.

It extended the conversation considerably.

I think that this extension of conversation really puts it into perspective.  I know that, when I’m thinking Computer Science, I have my go-to folks.  When I’m thinking Learning Commons, I have my go-to group there.  When I’m thinking of digital literacy, I have a go-to collection as well.  When I want a laugh, I know where to go as well.

The whole discussion makes so much sense to me.  Maybe it’s the real message that needs to be shared when encouraging all educators to get connected.  There are three levels:

  • Followers – Everyone you care to follow;
  • PLN – A subset of the Followers that contribute to your ongoing learning;
  • Tribe – A subset of the PLN that meets all of the criteria.
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OTR Links 06/24/2015


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.