Author Thomas L. Friedman first published The World is Flat in 2005. Friedman addresses personal learning networks by discussing what he coins, “Globalization” 1.0 to 3.0 (Friedman, 2007, p. 9). He continues with Columbus’ discovery of the “New World,” which validated the notion that the world is round, and also revealed how grossly inaccurate the size of the world was believed to be during that era (p. 4). Friedman goes on to explain that this sparked the movement, “Globalization 1.0,” where global integration of power and information—which extended to 1800—“shrank the world from a size large to a size medium” (p. 9).
Multinational companies further catalyzed globalization into “Globalization 2.0” from 1800 to 2000, during which the world shrank from a size medium to a size small (p. 9). Identities were being established and relationships formed between companies and nations. Suddenly, the roundness of the world argument that Columbus had celebrated years earlier was being reestablished as flat (p. 9-11).
And finally, we are experiencing “Globalization 3.0” today, which is true personal learning networks on a grand scale. Thanks to the unpredicted advancements that came about with the personal computer, fiber-optic cable, and work-flow software, the world has been “flattened” by empowered individuals (p. 11). Friedman discusses the idea of innovative individuals having the ability to influence many others at the touch of their fingertips (p. 11). And to think, this was eight years ago; so much as changed in that span.
I’ve recently begun building my own personal learning network, mostly with educators. Using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, as well as Voxer, I have been able to exchange ideas and feedback with members of our cohort, as well as my own district staff members. I’ve willingly subjected myself to constructive criticism and have maintained a growth mindset regarding my own teaching practices and ideologies. I have also been inspired to read more literature that pertains to education reform, and that has opened doors to even more amazing educators and their ideas.
I now fully understand the impact that personal learning networks can have on the world, let alone my own teaching. Each teacher, parent, and student may be empowered to evoke change and progress towards innovative education. These global networks can create a voice that scream for reform in public education, and I hope I can have my voice echoed by future generations of collaborators, worldwide.
Friedman, Thomas L. (2007). The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Picador.