E-learning with web 2.0


PLNs2.jpgPLNs, or personal learning networks, are trusted digital networks of people (experts and peers) and resources (websites and tools) which serve as sources of support and information, and which may be enriched by reciprocal sharing. They can play an important role in continuing professional development and lifelong learning.

A PLE can be a subset of an individual's wider PLN in which focused learning occurs at a particular time, usually during a course of study. Like PLEs, PLNs are centred around a single individual. Again like PLEs, they don't depend on any particular tool or platform, but rather describe the principle of being embedded in a dynamic digital network you can turn to for support and information.

In practice, such networks are often set up through microblogging services like Twitter and/or social networking sites like Facebook. The diagram on the right, by Sue Waters, shows the services most commonly mentioned by her blog readers as being used to build their PLNs. A PLN may in fact consist of overlapping networks on different services, which are linked into a single network by the individual at their centre. Technological platforms for linking different services together include automated aggregators like Flavors.me and Symbaloo, also listed on the PLEs page.

White-25-400-pixels.jpgThe video embedded on the left, What does your PLN mean to you?, contains responses received by Joe Dale when he put this question to his Twitter-based PLN in 2010. To find out the extent of your own personal learning network, and to get ideas for expanding it, see Lisa Nielsen's interactive blog post How Strong Is Your Personal Learning Network? Consider sharing your score in the embedded poll!

It has been suggested that educational institutions should encourage students to begin establishing PLNs during their years of study, with a view to carrying these PLNs forward into their professional lives, where they can continue to draw on and add to them.

- ► more - For academic and journalistic references about PLNs, see the E-learning references page.

Credits: The image above right, which shows a Processing data visualisation, is available under a Creative Commons licence from Sue Waters' photostream on Flickr; the original can be found here.

Contact: There's no such thing as a finished wiki. Like all wikis, this one is a work in progress and there will be changes from time to time in organisation, content and links. However, don't let that stop you from contacting me at any time with comments, suggestions or questions.