At the end of last year, Alec Couros led an interesting Twitter conversation about the definition of a PLN. Or a PLE. Are they interchangeable?
I was pulled into the conversation via @bookjewel, as she re-plurked Alec’s questions on Plurk. Somehow her question crystallized my thinking, and rather than responding in 140 characters, I quickly fired up PowerPoint and used its SmartArt (I’m a big fan) to create a visualization of the relationship I see between the PLE and the PLN. Alec then kindly included my graphic in his blog post. And as of this posting, it had been viewed 742 times, which makes it my most shared artefact on the web by quite a stretch. As I’ve never blogged it (it’s only ever existed on Flickr) I thought I would post it here, to re-start my own thinking about PLNs where it left off, in December 2008.
I’ve split up the technological connections (in the PLE) from the inter-personal connections (in the PLN). I think of the PLE, the environment, as the ‘hardware’ of the PLN. The PLE can exist as interrelated links, feeds and profiles on a myriad of sites, but it is nothing without the encompassing PLN of the person, their personal connections with others and their interchange of ideas to make meaning of it.
Those were my initial thoughts back then. I’m hoping to do more work on PLNs soon, by running a pilot project implementing PLNs as a staff development tool for teachers.