Personal Learning Network

a diagram of a personal learning network: two concentric circles labeled reflect (inside) and collect (outside) surrounded by arrows and boxes representing connection and sharing

I envision my PLN like a spinning wheel with a tire constantly collecting and shedding mud and rocks and a shiny hubcap for reflection. When I first designed the image above, I hoped to have separate, curved arrows for connection and sharing, to better indicate the motion, but my layout abilities in Pages did not match my vision.

In thinking about my PLN, I realized that I had multiple distinct, though overlapping, learning environments. While I use Google and email in every sphere of my life, other tools are limited to one or two environments either by necessity or by utility. To represent this, I color-coded where I use each resource. Universals are in licorice. Things that are part of only my personal learning environment are fern. My student learning environment is blueberry. Things that are part of both my personal and student environments, but not my work environments, are ocean. (And so on.)

Based on the initial “readings” for this assignment, I believed that a personal learning network was an intentional construct built inside a personal learning environment (although that was never articulated in quite that way). It did not occur to me until I created this diagram that our personal learning networks might span multiple distinct learning environments.

One line struck me in the Dan LaSota’s resource on Personal Learning Environments:

“The most effective PLE for an individual will be one that is well curated, easily accessible, reviewed often and discussed with other members of one’s learning community.”

Mine is none of these things. The closest I get to well-curated and easily accessible is a podcast playlist that I start (and rarely finish) every morning. It brings me news from a few different perspectives. Other than listening to it with my two small children, nothing about that ritual is shared. Thinking about this brought me back to the conclusion from the Audrey Watters piece that we read for the first assignment: what if I created a page on my website that curated my PLE/PLN for me? I said in my last post that I don’t go to my own website “to have a think,” but I could create a page that curates for me all of the online sources that I want to include regularly in my learning environment and shares that environment with anyone who wants to experience it. That would, in effect, create a platform to connect, collect, reflect, and share.

When I started working on this assignment, I dug up my PLN diagram from the iTeach workshop I participated in, in May 2015. At that time, I was very interested in what information I was consuming and how. This time, I chose to focus more on the how and the context. When I made this diagram, my son was only six weeks old, and I still had a full-time job with an office and a classroom. I taught much of the same material that I do now, but both of my jobs were moving toward blended instruction. My PLE/PLN was much more unified then, although the content was not much different.


LaSota, D. (n.d.) Personal learning environments: An organizational and practice based concept for evaluating and improving the way individuals learn. Retrieved from

2 thoughts on “Personal Learning Network”

  1. Brilliant inclusion of your PLE from 2015. It’s interesting to see not only how the actual framework of the PLE has changed but also how your approach to visualizing it has changed as well.

    You certainly can use a blog like this to create a more defined PLN, something concrete that reflects your choices more clearly. It takes persistence though, and I know I have not been successful. Please share your efforts on this front with us.

  2. How interesting to compare and contrast your PLN from 2015 to now. Also, kudos to getting the 2015 done with a 6 week old baby! I like your reference to it being like a spinning wheel and how sophisticated your PLN has become. Mine wasn’t as in depth when I first started the ONID program and then I realized how much our PLN is being worked on daily even considering non-web sources. LOVE the color coding too! Good post!

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