PLN Definition - Block 2, Activity 15

Personal Learning Network


Personal Learner Newbie


Personal Lemming Node


Personable Learning Nets

I guess ‘PLN’ as an acronym has a multitude of meanings and of course I admit it, I made some of them up ;-)

However, I think of these as being synonymous with regard to my meaning of PLN.

Here’s my formal definition:

My own dynamic ecosystem of integrated systems that helps me to learn. These systems include

  • personal relationships (friends & family);
  • relationships (acquaintances, normally professional but sometimes through my personal relationships);
  • local tools (things I can touch and ‘non-cloud’ software on my computer;
  • non-local tools – mainly ICT networks.

I don’t really see, or subscribe to the notion that there are qualitative differences between PLN’s and PLE’s (personal learning environment). In fact given my definition I think I prefer ‘PLE’ to stand for Personal Learning Ecosystem.

Everyone has a ‘PLN’ which is unique to them. How rich this PLN is, I guess comes down to how much the individual uses the PLN in a formal or informal way. What I don’t think is helpful is to classify PLN’s as being solely in the domain of the digital world. This agrees with a point of view by Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto, who states that ‘… the acronym is relatively new, but the idea is not.’ 

It denies how I use the digital world (in my case) to help inform and orientate me with respect to my other learning wells or sources of learning fountains. I might read or see something online and then go to a person whom I think has expertise in that area and say ‘You know, I saw this thing the other day on YouTube, what do you think?’. The ICT component has just afforded the possibility of expanding ones’ PLN to be far richer and wider that it was previously thought possible. 

It is like being stuck on one or two channel free to air television and then suddenly moving to another country where the channels are in the tens and sometimes hundreds to chose from. Actually that’s probably not a good analogy given that most people report that often ‘large choices in channels’ brings about poor quality (in television programming).

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.  -Will Durant