As I look forward (in a linear-time sense and not entirely a enthusiastic light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel sense) to graduation in an ever-dwindling number of months, I wonder what will come next.
As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, my career plan since leaving high school and entering college has been to work as a public librarian. It’s still my plan, currently, but it’s also the plan of a person who is weathering the choppy waves of the existential ennui of young adulthood.
Meaning, I’m just as likely to run off to Washington state and become a beekeeper as I am of actively pursuing librarianship. Both are interesting. Both are important to local and global communities. Both somewhat terrify me.
Sometimes you just have to remind yourself to breathe and focus on the task of the present moment.
(I’d make a Welcome to Night Vale reference but I’m so far behind on that podcast that I’d just be a poser.)
So. Personal Learning Networks.
Chuck Frey’s article “How to cultivate a personal learning network: Tips from Howard Rheingold” provides some incredibly useful pointers for not only starting but also cultivating and tuning one’s Network.
I love that word in this context, “tuning.” The glory of the digital sphere is that it is dynamic rather than static, but there will come a time when you must tune the dial of the Network to clear up the bad static. Someone you loved following might drop Twitter for a number of reasons, or your own interests or career paths might change. And that’s okay. That’s a natural, fluid aspect of not only the digital realm, but also life — there’s a reason most of us aren’t friends with everyone from our high schools anymore, for example. Tuning means removing and adding folks as needed, and not being afraid to do so. Hence why we’re all following at least 100 people now; over the course of time it will become clear who becomes most relevant and interesting, who else we should follow, and who might not be the best to follow at this point. We’ve all got plenty of room to grow, and that’s exciting.
Since it is my career goal, my PLN consists of librarians, library students, and library organizations. Even if I do wind up beekeeping, libraries and technology and various areas of literacy will always interest me. That’s why it’s a personal learning network: I can shape it in whichever way I choose to do so.
And I think this is what’s going to keep me fed after graduation. Learning doesn’t stop once school is done. Discussions, exchange of ideas, and topics to ponder and wrestle with can — and do — continue.
A “lifelong commitment to learning” is the key component of digital literacy, after all.
Here’s one of my favorite tweets from my explorations: