Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) are becoming more popular for connecting with niche communities and keeping up to date within a professional field. As an information learning technology student and instructional specialist, I have taken my first shot at creating one of these communities.
Health Communications Potluck Google+ Community
In my current work environment, I am exposed to health communications and behavioral intervention research. This subject is slightly different from hard, lab experiments and the research community is surprisingly smaller than I initially perceived. A professional learning network for health communications seemed like an appropriate tool to create.
Upon first thought, this community was aimed at connecting experts with non-experts, professionals with students, and researchers with community workers. After a brief discussion with a Senior Scientist in Health Communications, Barbara Walkosz, I realized this audience was far too broad.
Based on this realization, I chose to focus on experts in the field. This is a group of people that serve a small niche, are likely connected with each other, and are good at networking. If the membership gains traction, it could be self-sustaining.
In designing this PLN was directed by goals and objectives, which kept me aligned in designing the content. Writing objectives for this an open-ended learning environment is somewhat of a challenge. I found I had a hard time wrapping my head around what I wanted the community members to be able to do as a result of using this PLN. In the end, my objectives were as follows:
- Expand on Health Communications solutions and methods for research.
- Collaborate in Health Communications solutions for a research community based work.
- Gain perspective on community membership benefits of participating in the network.
I believe these objectives gave me direction on what to include as posts within the Google+ medium.
So why is someone like me creating this network for a group of people that isn’t the target audience? The answer is easy; I saw a need, had exposure, and took a shot. There is no guarantee it will work or even be useful, but I will learn regardless. If it doesn’t work, I’ll have more background knowledge to use in my next try.
For more project information, visit my Portfolio Websites page.
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