What is a personal learning network, or rather a Personal Learning Network? How about a Professional Learning Network?
In the video below, Marc-André Lalande offers a concise, useful definition that simplifies the idea from hashtags and movements and social engagement and badges and, well, all the buzzwords you hear, into a clear explanation that works not just within education, but any field.
“A Personal Learning Network is a way of describing the group of people that you connect with to learn their ideas, their questions, their reflections, and their references. Your PLN is not limited to online interactions, but it is that online, global interactive part that really makes it special. It is personal because you choose who’s part of that group; you choose if you want to lurk–just check out what people are saying–or if you share; because you choose when to do so, and how to do so.”
In that way, a Professional Learning Network, then, is a natural extension of the way people learn–by connecting with others who have shared interests, ideas, or resources. If the internet was, at one point, one-way–a user “logs on” to search for information or share an opinion, then “logs off” because they’re “finished”–a more progressive view could be that connectivity is omni-directional and multi-facted. We connect with different people with unique expertise using varied tools for authentic and constantly changing purposes.