PLN 101: Introduction to Digital Learning Networks
Personal (or Professional) Learning Network (PLN):
• The use of web tools such as blogs, wiki, microblogs, social networks, and news feeds to extend our
learning, increase reflection, enable collaboration and expand our global connections;
• Nothing new about establishing a PLN – what’s new is the technology and the reach of individual PLN’s;
• Interesting article: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
• Connectivism Connect Contribute
o Information flow within an organization is an important element in organizational effectiveness;
o Knowledge that resides in a database needs to be connected with the right people in the right
context in order to be classified as learning;
o Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions,
which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual;
o This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to
remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.
A Simple Map of a Personal Learning Network Three types of PLN’s:
• Personally Maintained Synchronous Connections
o Traditional network that includes people and places;
o Answer questions, solve problems and accomplish goals;
Journal o Face-to-face meetings;
o Professional Learning Communities would fall under this
Articles Media category;
o Technology enhancements (help break the geography
barrier) could include: chat, teleconferencing, etc.
• Personally and Socially Maintained Semi-synchronous Connections
Social o Presenting questions to a larger group
RSS o “Nearly now” responses
Reader YOU PLN's o Conversations that aren’t really conversations, but
o Collaboration doesn’t have to happen in real time
Wikis o Tools for this would include: Twitter/Yammer, Google Docs,
discussion boards, social networks, blog commenting, etc.
• Dynamically Maintained Asynchronous Connections
Podcasts o Collaborative learning regardless of time and space
News o Key Tool: RSS aggregator (reader)
o Inputs: Any source of information with an RSS feed
What is RSS? Where do I start?
RSS stands for Really Simple
Syndication (or Rich Site Summary).
It is a family of web feed formats • Choose a reader (Some of my favorites are below):
used to publish frequently updated • iGoogle (www.igoogle.com)
works – blogs, news, audio, video, etc. in a • Netvibes (www.netvibes.com)
standard format. This makes it easy to push and • Outlook (built into 2007)
pull information from one website to another. This Get a Reader
is a very powerful capability.
Why is RSS powerful?
It gives websites the ability to post information to a
lot of different places at one time, pushing content
without structure. In other words, I can pull the • News
text of an RSS enabled page and leave the structure • Blogs
of the page (the HTML) behind. • District (http://27Jbloggers.pbworks.com)
How do I take advantage of this power?
Get an RSS Reader/Aggregator. It will make your
Find Feeds of • Elsewhere (search for educational blogs, within blogs you like
life so much easier and save you valuable time. Interest (blogrolls), organizations, etc.)
So where does an RSS Reader fit into my PLN?
An RSS reader can be the primary tool that you use
for your PLN because you are able to stay up-to-
date on the information that matters most to you. • If using Outlook, check your RSS feeds with your email.
Is this the only way to build my PLN? • Add a Netvibes or iGoogle tab to your browser as you start it up:
No, definitely not, but it is so easy to do. Some
people use social networking tools such as Facebook • Open a tab for each page you wish to use as your home pages.
or LinkedIn. Others use Twitter. There are a lot of • Internet Explorer (Settings ‐‐> Internet Options ‐‐> Use Current)
tools out there, but RSS just seems to be the
Check Often • Firefox (Tools ‐‐> Options ‐‐> Main Tab ‐‐> Use Current Pages)
quickest and easiest to use. Just sign up, set it as
an additional tab on your browser and start building
Helpful Tips for 1. Start small. 5. Realize the scale of your PLN.
Growing a New 2. Organize your subscriptions/tabs/folders in your reader. 6. Use Google Blog Search to find a topic and subscribe to the
PLN 3. Switch off your PLN regularly. search.
4. Scan! You don’t have to read everything. 7. Invest some time (not a lot) – maybe 10-15 minutes a day.
Fisch, K. My Personal Learning Network in Action. Retrieved July 22, 2009 from www.thefischbowl.com
Siemens, G. (2004) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved July 22, 2009 from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Warlick, D. (March 2009). Grow Your Personal Learning Network. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39, Retrieved July 22, 2009 from http://www.learningandleading-
Warlick, D. Personal Learning Networks – The Beginning. Retrieved July 22, 2009 from http://davidwarlick.com/2cents
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