• K-12 Online Conference 09

  • Edublog Awards 2009

    The File Cabinet was nominated for an Edublog Award this year. I am honored!

  • Game Classroom

  • Top 50 Educator Innovator Award

    Top 50 Education Innovator Award - Online Colleges
  • Discovery Educator Network
  • Diigo

    diigo education pioneer
  • The future is not some place we are going to but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination. John Schaar American Scholar and Professor
  • Shelfari: What am I reading?

  • Advertisements

The Sum of the Parts

Over the past few weeks, I have been disconnected from my regular PLN (Personal Learning Network). For reasons that are difficult to explain, I had to bow out of an online chat group that holds many of my dearest colleagues, friends and greatest professional supporters. I knew my disconnect would be temporary, and I knew that I would miss this interaction. What I didn’t know was what we would all learn from it.


I think I can sum up what I learned by saying “The value of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” This seems contrary to the traditional phrase of a similar nature, but seems to fit more along the lines of real life. Have you ever noticed that you can eat way more of those mini-candy bars than you would if it were just one regular sized one? It’s the same idea. When I left my online group, even knowing that it would be temporary, I left a parting note that I hoped to continue conversations with each member of the group. The dysfunction seemed, at that time, to fall within the lurking and misinterpretation of the group as a whole. From the moment that I posted that note and left the group, I was inundated with emails, messages and other forms of contact from the same people that I interacted with daily. I was still in contact with many of the same people that enriched my personal and professional life, yet something wasn’t right. I was carrying on a series of meaningful, individual conversations, but there was no longer a group dynamic for me. I realized that the power of this group wasn’t in the individuals that composed it. It was in the collaboration that stemmed from the group interaction. The sum of each individual chat was less than the value of the whole group. To find the same value I was seeking, I wasn’t able to carry on conversations, no matter how meaningful, with individual members of my group. It has to be the whole, not just the sum of the parts.


My friend, Melissa, wrote about some of the fall out of the experience at her blog, Technology: Figuring Out How the Pieces Fit.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/4273913228/



14 Responses

  1. I share your thoughts. This past summer and early school year had me going in many directions. I had to let something go and it ended up being my PLN and Twitter time. I really missed it and felt like something was not right. As our school year unfolded, I have been frustrated and have turned to my virtual PLN for strength and motivation. It’s funny how a group of people I may never meet F2F can inspire me on the worst days.

  2. Hi, I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class and I am still not quite understanding the PLN. I guess the people you follow on twitter and follow their blogs are the group you are talking about. I can relate in a different way. I had a PLN related Mom’s group. I used to attend meetings and get together with other stay at home mothers. We would discuss the pressures of raising children and also study bible scripture that helped us get over the daily struggles of motherhood. Our children are grown and school age so we do not see each other much anymore. It is sad when I see one in the hallway at school and we just say “Hello, how are you?” Answer with “fine” then move on. We used to sit and talk and now life is too busy for that. Just the other day one lady contacted me on facebook. She left me a note about being able to catch glimpses of my life through facebook. It makes me sad to know that we are too busy to sit and have a cup of coffee and talk about life.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Steven W. Anderson, Kelly Hines. Kelly Hines said: New at Keeping Kids First: The Sum of the Parts https://keepingkidsfirst.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/the-sum-of-the-parts/ […]

  4. Kelly,
    I was trying to explain that part of a PLN to someone yesterday. it is the knowledge and power of the group that makes the conversations so much powerful. I love the candy bar comparison (maybe I should have used that one yesterday). I am glad you are part of my PLN!!

  5. Hi Mrs. Hines. I have once again enjoyed reading your post and it has left me thinking about my PLN. As an assignment in Dr. Strange’s class, all of us had to create a PLN. I was confused by this assignment at first because I had never even heard of a PLN. After contacting some people who are very passionate about keeping up with their PLN, I quickly learned how important something like this is when you are a teacher, or even just a student. This is one of the many benefits that I have gotten from taking Dr. Strange’s EDM class, and I am very grateful for it. Reading your post has simply reinforced what I have learned about the power of collaboration with people as a group. It is very useful and beneficial to be able to interact with people in this way, and I am so glad that I have been taught about this before I began teaching. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts- they are incredibly helpful to us who are on the road to becoming teachers! If you would like to, you can visit my class blog to see the comments that i leave about your posts.

  6. Hi Mrs. Hines! I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed this post! It was good to hear about someone who really benefits from their PLN. It’s encouraging to read about how much you learn from networking with other teachers. I agree with you about the sum of a whole being better than the sum of its parts. Working not only with a group, but as a group, allows you feed off each others ideas, which in my opinion, means you can work more efficiently. I look forward to reading your other posts!

  7. Hello Mrs. Hines,

    I really enjoyed this post. Before my EDM310 class I was unaware of PLN’s. They really are a huge help when it comes to teaching and just life in general. I agree with what Emily previously said, working as a group allows you to feed off of each others ideas. I realize now that when it is comes to groups I am A group, not IN a group.


  8. Hi. I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I’m also a tad confused but that’s because I’m still learning about blogs, twitter, and other social networking on the WWW. I’m not familiar with PLNs either. Thankfully, I’ve had Dr. Strange to corrupt my brain with everything!! I do find your post interesting and informative for little technological brains like mine!

  9. My name is Jessica Sanders and I am apart of Dr.Strange EDM310 class. I really enjoyed reading your blog.My next assignment is to start my own PLN for the class.I am very excited to see who I will connect with in the near future by using this new technological system.I look forward to using everything I learn now in my career !

  10. Hi Mrs. Hines! I am a student at The University of South Alabama and I am also in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class. I have so enjoyed reading your posts! You have such great ways of explaining things! I loved this post! I felt like I could connect with it. I am new to blogging and in the beginning, I was a little doubtful that I would get anything out of it. I was so wrong! I have learned so much and have learned to appreciate it because of the group interactions and responses. As a group, we are learning new things about technology and about our peers! Thanks so much for posting this! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  11. Hello Mrs. Hines, my name is Ashleigh Skelton. I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at The University of South Alabama. This week I had to update my PLN as apart of class work for the EDM class. I love my PLN,it is so easy to use. I love having things that I use every single
    day at my finger tips. The PLN is so amazing, it makes life so much more easier for you when wonting to go to something fast. ” Thats just my opinion”.

    In this class Dr. Strange has taught us so much about technology. He has encouraged us to use this new found technology. Which I would agree with him on that. The EDM class has opened my eyes to so much.

  12. Hey Kelly, my name is Jenna Baxter and I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I was assigned to read and comment on your blog and my summary will be posted to my blog.

    Let me say that reading about your PLN really helped me understand the whole concept behind establishing a PLN as an educator. Another assignment in Dr. Strange’s class was for us to create our own PLN. I know see how important they are and want to strive to make my PLN just as instrumental in my life, as yours seems to be in your life. I liked how you said that the collaboration between your group members is what made the conversation so important. What people can do as a group has so much more impact than someone working alone. Thanks again for the great post!

  13. Hi My name is Heath Morris. I am an Education major at the University of South Alabama. I really like your assessment of the situation you have found yourself in. Many times we find that it is indeed the whole picture that people forget about and are too focused on the little pieces that make it up. Being away from your PLN could really end up being helpful because it gives you a chance to gain your own perspective without it being slanted by others.

  14. […] View the original article here […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: