What is a PLN?

Sunday, November 28th, 2010 | Personal Learning Networks, technology

PLN is an acronym for personal learning network.  Your PLN defines the network of people you’ve chosen and from whom you hope to learn.

The concept of such a network among educators is not new – teachers have had their networks all along.  However, the term PLN is new – as is the way in which technology is used to manage your network.

When you analyze each one of the words of the PLN phrase – personal learning network – you obtain a better understanding of it.  Let’s look at each word in turn.

Personal:  The P in PLN stands for personal and not professional – this emphasizes that the learning network is yours.  You define it; you make it the way you want it to be; you decide to whom you want to connect; you also decide how you want to connect.  This is a powerful concept since it allows you to take control of your own personal development.  Just like a tailor makes a suit or dress as a perfect fit for you, a PLN is tailor made by you to suit your needs.  It is not like formal courses where you have to search until you find the most suitable one.  In a PLN you include what you need, and exclude what is superfluous.

Learning:  In formal programs of study the accent often falls on attendance, leading to a diploma or some other qualification.  The emphasis in a PLN is on learning – learning that is defined by what you need to learn.  You shape your network accordingly to your needs and not by what others dictate.

Network:  Teachers need input from others in the education community for personal growth.  Perhaps you’ve been to workshops and conferences and on your return felt that the greatest benefit was derived, not so much from the presentations you attended, but from the networking that took place during tea breaks and lunch times.

Technology makes it possible for you to build a PLN with teachers, education specialists and other gurus around the world.  You can include the best brains in the world – authorities on any conceivable topic.  From the comfort of your home you can communicate with them, learn from them and share ideas with them – the results are mutually beneficial.

Learning is just a mouse click away.  Technology makes it possible for you to connect with the other nodes of your network wherever you are and whenever you want to do so.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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3 Comments to What is a PLN?

[...] PLN (personal learning network) could exist without the use of technology, but technology raises the potential of learning through [...]

John Thole
Monday, 29 November, 2010

Kobus, this is a good topic and it would be so good for all teachers to think about developing their own PLN. I follow the work of Chris Smith quite closely and it’s worth having a look at his PLN which can be found at http://www.shambles.net/csmith/PLN/index.htm.

With the world so centred around technology and also with communications so dynamic we should all probably consider the development of our own PLN and see it as our ‘virtual CV.’ The workplace is changing so rapidly that a PLN enables us to maintain the links and the experiences we need to reflect our personal as well as professional development.

[...] do I know where to find the information,” you may ask.  A personal learning network (PLN) is of great value.  If you’re involved in social networks such as Twitter or Plurk you will [...]

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