Power to the PLN!


“When it comes down to it, there are really only two fundamental human activities. Learning is the other one.”

PLN, you ask?  What the heck is a PLN?

Well, according to those in the know, it is a “Personal Learning Network”.  Yeah, it’s a nice term and all, but let’s put this into perspective.

For those of you of a similar generation as me, think back to the people in high school that you might study with, or lean on for help in Calculus, Chemistry, or Physics.  Or maybe you were one of the bright ones who had people coming to you to explain things that made no sense when coming from your so close to retirement they could taste it teacher?  Well, that’s a simple Personal Learning Network.

Fast-forward to this century and the idea of the PLN has regained some traction.  We live in an astoundingly connected world and we have access to more information than we could possibly process in a lifetime, but we can create and nurture a Personal Learning Network and take one more essential step towards becoming lifelong learners. Okay, so that might be an idealized state, but I’m not talking about being a permanent student and out-living your professors.  I’m talking about keeping your grey matter engaged and working for the long haul because – let’s face it – when you decide to stop learning, you might as well drop yourself off at the service entrance of the nearest mortuary because you’re done.  Like, “stick a fork in you, you’re done.”

In simple terms, a PLN is a network of individuals (friends, colleagues, thought leaders, etc.) who are in a position to be actively or passively sharing ideas, thoughts, solutions, or sometimes acting as avocatus diaboli and swimming against a particular currrent.  Some PLNs are more formalized, and others tend to be stealthy and organic.  If you’re one of those rare birds who isn’t on Facebook, you probably have a group of “friends” from whom you might learn a few things on the fly or upon whom you could lean on.  Savvy business types have been using LinkedIn for similar purposes.  So why not expand that circle to people

So the next time someone says to you, “figure it out for yourself” you’re not necessarily alone for that task. If you’re smart, you will already know who to go to and ask some intelligent questions.


About Mark L. Sheppard

learning geek, lifelong learner, terminally curious, recovering blogger and Ed Tech explorer.

Posted on February 2, 2011, in blog, opinion, PLN, reflection. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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