Category Archives: Personal Learning Networks



Starting new at university after 20 plus years is not easy especially when my days at university were incredibly different to today. On-line learning…what is that?

My days at uni were all still about learning obviously but “back then” I thought a professional looking assignment was the one that I submitted after typing it out on a typewriter with built in liquid paper!

So, as I ponder what units I will choose to study next semester I spent some time looking at some of the key elements of this unit. That is, my first university study after all these years…no wonder my head hurts!

I remember my lecturer saying to us at the beginning of the unit “I don’t want to inundate you with everything in one go”. How busy could it be, I thought? I am sure, with the “wisdom of age” behind me I would be ok…hmmm…

Well, I started to mind map my unit and look how much we have explored, and probably a lot more I have missed out on here…my head can’t think past these.

It was an interesting exercise because what I thought would be a unit of physical “Learning Spaces” turns out to be so much more…so much more!EDFD459mind map



Filed under 21st Classrooms, Communities of Practice, Curriculum, Learning Environment, Learning Spaces, mind map, mind mapping, Personal Learning Networks, roof top playgrounds, Slideshow, Taxonomy, WEBQUESTS

What Makes a “Good” Personal Learning Network?

ImageOnce it was the young couple’s dream to own their own piece of land somewhere…with a PLN website you can have your own piece of virtual land without the mortgage. (Rita Finlay, 2013)

So, I have been asked as part of my university studies to create a Personal Learning Network, aka, PLN. And therefore, it is a major part of my learning content and ultimately, my unit marking. So what makes a good PLN in my eyes? What am I after?What would I want people to see in my own PLN?

I have looked around at other PLN”s to see what catches my “thinking eye”. Those that belong to sportspeople, musicians, other students, corporate members, teachers and artists. And then tried to examine what makes me want to learn more from each one?

I initially thought it was the “fountain of all knowledge” concept that I was after. That is,  I would read the PLN content on  a blogs site and it would answer all my questions and I wouldn’t need to go further. But that has changed drastically. I am now finding that the PLN’s who allow me to engage in their development are the ones I am drawn to. The PLN’s that “permit me to come in” and ask a question. They are also the ones who allow themselves to be vulnerable and not always correct.

Then there are the PLN’s that show transformation in their thinking through “online conversations” and commentary. I am drawn to the PLN that can say ” I now think…” and go on to develop their thoughts in a new post. That, to me, does not show a “mistake corrected” but rather a deep unravelling of reading and thoughts. I salute this!

The element of “supportive, constructive thoughts” is vital I have realised in productive PLN’s. I realise that the person who writes a blog on a PLN is writing what they believe, in that moment in time, with their own experiences and insights. Therefore, a collaborative effort is needed by the readers to support “constructive development”. I believe there is etiquette in PLN commentary and it is not about being “nice” but by showing the author enough respect to allow for thoughtful conversation between reader and author.

The other “endearing” aspect of a “good” PLN to me is   “effort” by the author to stimulate thought. I don’t want to live in an environment , real or online, surrounded by “I agree” comments, only. I applaud the”What about this…” comment or the “What would we do if this…” comment? Don’t get me wrong, “I agree” is an affirmation of your own thoughts and it “feels good to read” this sort of comment. Ridiculing or rude comments has no place, in my opinion, in a collaborative PLN environment.

Finally, it is the aesthetics of a PLN that drives me to return. I want the PLN website to feel like “reading a newspaper in front of a warm fire on a winter’s day”. I want to feel the author’s emotions about a topic, I want to read the insights that they share and feel comfortable to be a part of their insights.

Thank you to those PLN’s that allow me to do all these things!


Filed under BLOG WRITING, BLOGGING, Learning Environment, Personal Learning Networks

So what is a PLN?

A PLN is an acronym for Personal Learning Network.

PLN network of peopleA PLN:

1. Is interactive,

2. It is collective and connects you to and engages you with other people with similar interests

3. Has the intention that learning will occur

4. Is usually online. They have always existed pre Internet and WEB 2.0 eg staffrooms, worksites, meeting rooms but are now accessible to anyone, anywhere via the Internet and Web 2.0.

5. A place, where people with similar and specific interests, can filter through a “tonne” of information and share the most beneficial, useful and learning based ideas.

6. A virtual place to provide feedback, and to share ideas to fellow “learners’ through articles and websites


Filed under 21st Classrooms, BLOG WRITING, Learning Environment, Personal Learning Networks