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What is a Personal Learning Network (PLN)?

This animated video explains more about Personal Learning Networks and our network interactions on and offline.

We all regularly interact with a network of our preferred people, digital devices, information sources and services, both online and offline. We use this network in different contexts, such as at work, in school and at home, and we use it where, when and how we choose.

This is our Personal Learning Network.
Watch this video to find out more about Personal Learning Networks (PLNs).
Rajagopal et. al suggest that someone who
“intentionally builds, maintains and activates … contacts within her personal network for the purpose of improving her learning — and uses technology to support this activity — is creating a personal learning network”.
“In our PLNs, we learn what we want to learn using the vast resources and people online (or off) that can help us learn it. Each of our networks is unique, created and developed to our personalised learning goals that evolve and grow throughout our lives.”

Learning through our PLN

Learning through our PLN is something we can do throughout our lives – it becomes a tool for Lifelong Learning. This has become increasingly important in light of the economic and social changes that Covid-19, climate change and the automated future of work will bring.

Emerging technologies

Emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and the Internet of Things, will mean that some jobs will disappear and whole new types of work will arise in their place. A truck driver today may need to retrain as a drone pilot tomorrow.
The potential for long-term social distancing raises fundamental questions concerning, among many other things, the nature of public transport, leisure activities, working from home and, crucially, education. Jobs in these areas will undergo a significant transformation or may be lost entirely.

Climate change

Climate change has the potential to drive fundamental changes in the way we make things (manufacturing), where and what we grow (agriculture), how we move about (transport), where we live and how we power our societies (energy). These changes will impact jobs in many respects – again making some of them irrelevant (or even illegal) while creating a whole range of sustainable, green jobs.
In some cases, such as transformations resulting from Covid-19 including the shift to online learning, the changes are rapid and urgent. In other areas, such as AI and robotics, the changes may be more gradual. Nevertheless, the nature and type of work available in the future are likely to regularly change – requiring us all to be able to learn and relearn in order to face new realities as the world around us transforms and jobs appear and disappear.

Developing our own network skills and digital literacies

This means that it is no longer enough to rely only on the things we learn in school or university to give us the knowledge and skills in a forever-changing world.
Neither should we rely on our existing systems and structures to provide us with the new knowledge we need – because government systems and educational institutions change more slowly than both technology and the world of work.
Instead, we should carefully consider developing our own network skills and digital literacies.
We should focus our learning on making the best use of our Personal Learning Networks so that we can become adaptable lifelong learners. This may be the best way to equip us to deal with whatever the future throws at us.
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Learning in the Network Age

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