So a Personal Learning Network is something that is used for, well, learning. The idea of it is that one can continue to learn throughout their education, life, work, all of it about things they like, need, enjoy, or use often. Essentially it is designed by the person, in this case me, to be a network that is used to acquire new skills, find new ideas, and pursue new thoughts. It is not just someone’s social network, it is specifically designed for learning professionally.

The idea of Open Pedagogy is one that is wrapped up in the idea of “education is sharing.” The idea here is pretty simple, and it is true int he most basic sense. The primary way that people learn is through sharing. This could be textbooks sharing information, teachers, professors, other people sharing experiences, this could be really any type of sharing. I would argue this is not everything, for I also learn a lot through pain. I learn how not to hold hatchets through pain. I learned how to move while in rigging through pain. I learned how to do many things through pain and trails. But that is side to the idea of open pedagogy.

Essentially the idea is that instead of “learning through lectures” we are to teach each other by sharing. This is all fun and games until someone looses an eye. But in reality it is very difficult to try to learn something from someone who is also trying to learn something. Now there is a certain amount of this is that is not difficult at all. We can share and learn with papers, in study groups, through peer tutoring, etc. All of this is legitimate and acceptable, and arguably superior, so long as we still include the visual, auditory, tactile, verbal, etc types of learning.

The other side to this is Connected Learning. Connected Learning is essentially the idea that learning shouldn’t be controlled by fiscal means. Yes there are some things, like test tubes, and audio consoles, that cannot be duplicated for free. But the materials for learning should not be “an average of $900 per year on textbooks—26 percent of the cost of tuition at a public, four-year university.” I think we can all agree that is ridiculous, and someone needs to put an end to it. Now the idea of connected learning is essentially that if we all share with each other, cause remember that was the definition of learning from above, then we are all learning and connecting together for free. Well, for cheap at least, cause generally this required the internet.

 

Now this comes to the Personal Learning Network, and if it worked for me. The answer is a resounding no. In my field, of audio engineering, the majority of learning and networking we do professionally is through face to face engagements and through talking to each other. This seems obvious, but you cant do AUDIO engineering on twitter. Twitter is a word based format. “But Ben!,” I hear you yelling, “Can’t you add videos and audio to twitter posts?” To answer you yes and no. Yes you CAN add audio to twitter posts, but (and it is a massive but) not of any good quality. But beyond that, primarily Front of House mixers such as myself do not record all their mixes, because it might not sound good on an album. It might sound excellent in the hall, but that mix with those EQ and that Delay, and those things might not do well at all on the hard drive, even in 128K .WAV format. Let alone being able to ONLY share them in 44K .MP3, otherwise known as the bane of audio. Compressed audio formats are for Satan and Satan only.

Now in terms of networking, it has, to a limited degree, helped me out with seeing what is coming up sometimes before my counterparts, but I end up just talking about it and discussing it with them face to face already. So essentially, while there was limited success in this experiment, and it may have been tainted by the fact that I did not interact incredibly often with twitter, the primary outcome is that is did not work. It was very helpful for me to scroll through and find upcoming products. But that is it. All my work, meet-ups, and conventions have been found and talked about with people I know from outside twitter, most of whom don’t even have a twitter.

 

Upon reading some comments I am going to just speculate here and think about something that was brought up. What would an audio based social media look like? And the answer, clearly, is I don’t know. If I did know I would not be here making a post about it, I would be making it. But here are my thoughts:

An audio based social media network would look similar to reddit. There would be perhaps a picture and a slight title to help describe the post. But it would then play the audio file of good quality when the post is selected. There would of-course be profiles, where like facebook you can choose what audio files you want to be on the forefront of your page. But then the messaging of this site would of-course have the ability to send audio files, again of good quality. And it would mean that there would need to be some sort of well programed quality recording platform integrated.

This would also need some sort of quality testing program. Where it could determine the quality of the audio file, and discredit files less than 44K .MP3 or anything else, and any sort of compressed file it could label as such. This would allow people to have the knowledge before subjecting their ears to it.

The primary issue here, is that audio takes a large amount of data to save in quality. It is not something that can be very well recorded and saved in a little file. An hour of 64-bit 192K .WAV file is going to be about 11 Gigs, but if we compress it down to 96 bits, which is fairly average, it is down to roughly 42 Gigs. This is why there are these compressed formats. It would meant that the servers for this audio social network would be huge. This is why most people choose these “lossy” formats, these formats that compress down easily to more usable sizes, but they are not able to keep the same quality.

It would be difficult, but I think the technology is close to that, or perhaps there, and someone just needs to make it. I like the idea. And maybe that would work.

One thought on “Personal Learning Network, is it working?

  1. This is fascinating and thoughtful. I wonder what an audio-based social networking tool might look like. Something like Soundcloud? Or podcasts? Good food for thought here.

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