Personal Learning Networks or (PLNs) are descriptive of the technical and social networks that learners develop in support of life long learning and personal development. In future posts, I hope to explore PLNs in relation to MOOCs, connectivism, and the future of Higher Ed.
The concept of the PLN grew out of a classic genre in the educational technology: the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) map or diagram. The PLE focuses primarily on the personalized tools and technical infrastructure an individual assembles to support learning and knowledge work in the network age. You can see a long list of examples from a range of scholars here (just keep in mind these are archival and may not be the most up-to-date): http://edtechpost.wikispaces.com/PLE+Diagrams.
I’ve shared a basic outline of the primary tools, applications, and services I use for my work below. These tools comprise my essential PLE; they help me leverage and cultivate the social networks and information ecologies of my PLN. Of course, work flows and individual projects take place and coordinate across all these categories.