Global Networks and Geo-Diversity:Re-Presenting My Professional Learning Networks (#CCK11)


Geodiversity in My Professional Learning Network

Geo-Diversity. A geodiverse network of professional learners. The more diverse, in terms of global coverage, the stronger the likelihood of having access to some of the most brilliant minds in the world within my professional interests, namely the teaching of English.

In a previous post I contrasted my networks. I found them to be of two types, resonant and non-resonant.

A resonant professional network is one in which the members all share a common, almost defining, interest. In the case of my Facebook network, that has been the teaching and learning of English.

A new dimension that has recently been added is my membership in the #CCK11 Facebook group. What brings us together is our common, defining interest in sharing all things of potential interest to those people who are interested in delving into the new learning theory of Connectivism.

Stepping back, then, my resonant behaviour on Facebook has been guided by my love of being a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language on the one hand, and on the other, by my desire to learn theoretical knowledge which I hope to transform into practical benefits, not only for me personally, but more importantly, for my students.

Yet both of these motivators have to accept its non-diversity status. There are obvious benefits to learning from the best in your field. Likewise, there are clear benefits to learning with and from people who share the same passion toward a particular learning theory, connectivism, as I do. There is no doubt here.

My Facebook Network: 95% Teachers of English as a Foreign Language

The one charge that the naysayer, or Devil’s Advocate, could bring here is that we are “feeding on ourselves”. This has the characteristics of an incestual relationship, that sooner or later, will bring forth ill-formed, or incomplete, genetic fruits. Let’s go to the extremes and call this a potential monster, a Frankenstein.

If I accept this, then it follows that I don’t desire incomplete genetic fruits, much less giving birth to a personal Frankenstein. So what then, is the logical conclusion, in terms of my networked behaviour?

Facebook: Connecting the world (Credit: Ben Parr)

Yes, it’s logical, isn’t it? The answer: a compensatory, non-resonant professional network, which has as its guiding principle only one factor: shared humanity.

For me, it’s the equivalent of being a four-year old on a playground and a new kid comes on the playground. What’s the criteria for friendship? 🙂 Right. We’re both kids. And nothing else matters. The adult parallel criteria is equally simple. We’re both human. And nothing else matters. This then is the guiding force behind how my Linkedin professional network came to be what it is today.

Interestingly enough, my Linkedin network is twice as large as my Facebook network. It seems there are more people on the planet willing to be friends with me than there are Teachers of English as a Foreign Language waiting for an invitation from me to be my friend. 🙂

Still, as I revisited the concepts of resonance and non-resonance, I felt that there was something I didn’t know. And one day, today, as a matter of fact, I realized what it was. My Linkedin network looks like a vortex, with me in the center. It truly covers the world as completely as I believe possible, in a geodiversity sense.

My Linkedin Networks - A Global Matrix

And so I turned my attention to my Facebook PLN. I was able to generate a Geo-Diversity map which pinpointed the locations of my networked colleagues. (use a Facebook app called where my friends are on a map) It is clearly evident, looking at the map, that there are significant gaps in my global coverage of Teachers of English.

To remedy this, I need to pay more attention to those existing possibilities to establish connections with Teachers of English living in areas of the world that are underrepresented in my present Geo-Diversity map. In a year’s time, I hope to present a truly complete map of networked Teachers of English, spanning the globe. It likely means to expand my networking tools to accomplish this, but it is doable, accomplishing this beautiful networked vision, of that I’m sure.

A Connected World (Credit: Ocean Flynn)

Now, why would that be a good thing? To have a network with truly global coverage would be good for me because I would be certain, not to, (Quote: Ruth Demitroff) “…waste a single brain.” (End of quote). Especially not the brain of this little boy in India…

Best regards,
Thomas

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About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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2 Responses to Global Networks and Geo-Diversity:Re-Presenting My Professional Learning Networks (#CCK11)

  1. Jaap says:

    Ha professorbaker,

    I am struggling with social networks and thinking/learning networks in a connectivist view. Your professional network is a social network, and a social network is about people. In a social network the nodes are people or institutions, and the connections are ties between people. In a professional network information will be transferred. A connectivist network is about connections. In a connectivist network no information will be transferred. (source: Downes)

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    • Hi Jaap,

      Firstly, thank you for taking the time to stop by and make your valuable contribution, and to interact with me. You have my gratitude for the opportunity it provides me.

      But before we go further, let me explain the origins of my “nick” and email name, “profesorbaker”. I am a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language, who has been living in Santiago, Chile, South America, for the past 10 years. I met my wife here, a Chilean, and am quite content with life in this beautiful country. I am originally from the United States.

      In Chile, most students refer to teachers by using the Spanish word, “profesor” (note there is only one “s”). And yes, it does get shortened to “profe” as students begin to warm up to you.

      When I decided to change my email address, several years ago, around 2004, to something more professional-sounding, I briefly considered using “teacherbaker”, yet rejected it on the grounds that it sounded too much like its literal translation: someone who teaches people how to be a baker. 🙂

      “Profesorbaker”, on the other hand, is a culturally-situated linguistic practice, namely, students and even teachers use the term “profesor” to refer to a teacher.

      Here, my purpose is to remove any doubt that you or anyone else might have in regards to my academic qualifications. My full CV is posted on my Slideshare account, “profesorbaker”.

      You can access it by clicking on the link labeled, “2011 – CV Thomas Baker”. It’s on the bar to the right of this commentary. Again, I take this precaution to avoid any unintentional misunderstanding.

      Returning to your comment, I have to declare my interest, or share what exactly I’m pursuing by my participation in this course. I’ve been quite consistent, I would hope, that I’m looking for a personal understanding of connectivism that would allow me to transform that knowledge into a practical use, which would ultimately be for the benefit of my students.

      That brings me to what you have shared with me today. I can accept it almost fully, without comment on my part, if it were not for the last sentence, namely: (Here I reference your quote) “In a connectivist network no information will be transferred.” (End of quote)

      In pure definitional terms, I would have to say that It appears to be debatable, whether or not information is transferred. However, when I return
      to my stated interest, gaining knowledge that results in a beneficial practical application, then I realise that I am more than capable of living with the ambiguity.

      I do not place a burden on connectivism to be a perfect theory of learning, but a perfectible one, capable of evolving to become, and rightfully so, in my opinion, a powerful theory of learning for a digital age, with practical application. For an eclectic teacher like myself, accustomed to availing myself of bits and pieces of competing theories to serve the needs and interests of my students, in an individual, holistic manner, yes, for me, connectivism clearly will bear fruits for most of my students.

      I remain cognizant that it may not serve all my students. In other words, it may not be the “be-all and the end-all” of learning theories, despite its ability to embrace other learning theories ina complementary fashion. For example, it appears to me that parts of constructivist thinking, here I refer to the social aspects of it in particular, are actually potentiated by connectivism, resulting in learning that is greater than the sum of its parts.

      As you can see, my friend, I too am still grappling with connectivism. By defining what I wanted to take away from this exercise, I am able to direct my efforts and energy to what I hope will be a satisfactory end result for my investment of time and energy.

      At this moment, my interaction with you here, enriches me in a way that would not have occurred had I not participated in this course. In this wider sense, (the human connection) I owe you a debt of gratitude, and again, express my appreciation of your time.

      You are helping me to achieve my goals, and I hope that you have also managed to benefit from me, even if that benefit is simply deciding that the path I have chosen is not leading where you would like it to, and can veer off, in a more promising path of inquiry, according to your needs and interests, should they be divergent to mine.

      Jaap, quite simply, I thank you.

      Best regards,
      Thomas

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