My understanding of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) prior to reading B.H.Sakamoto’s article, ‘What is a PLN, anyway?’ (2012), was simplistic and pulled together piece-by-piece using schema;
Personal – well, clearly this idea of a PLN is one that varies considerably from person to person, depending on their profession, likes, dislikes, life experiences, etc.
Learning – ok, so this personal space is one in which we learn from. That would most likely include the process of gaining new knowledge from people with a similar profession or characteristics as mentioned above, and also sharing personal understandings with these sources if possible; that is, if they talk back (i.e. not a book!).
Network – to think of this concept visually, I imagine a complex web of lines, coming from different directions but interweaving and connecting with one another in the congregation towards an overarching goal. Hence, the learning, as stated above, is very much a social process, and when paired with the personal aspect, is it specific to each contributing individual.
After looking at each word and how they contribute to form a whole, I came to a basic understanding; bearing in mind that if I had been face with the question, what is a PLN?, as opposed to the expanded acronym, I would have been at a complete loss! Reflecting on my understanding after reading Sakamoto’s (2012) article, I came to realise that I had not included any indication of where a PLN actually occurs. A part of my mind still very much thinks of a social process as one that requires face-to-face interactions. However, Sakamoto (2012) reminds us that we cannot afford to neglect the Web 2.0 programs that exist today and their role in facilitating and expanding the possibilities of PLN’s; particularly for educators.
Therefore, my revised definitions now reads a little like this;
A Personal Learning Network thrives on the idea that learning is a social process occurring in, but not limited to, different contexts/learning spaces. Motivated by interests, both personal and professional, and driven by the learner’s engagement, PLN’s facilitate the exchange of information between a collection of people that are generally ever-changing and expanding.
Personal Learning Networks promote lifelong learning, something that we as educators should be actively modelling to our students.
Sakamoto. B. H. (2012, January 3). What is a PLN, anyway? Message posted to http://www.teachingvillage.org/2012/01/03/what-is-a-pln-anyway/