My newest learning adventure is to take part in PLENK2010, a MOOC that I chose to participate in when my life was a tad less chaotic. Nonetheless, I enjoy learning and this opportunity is one that I cannot pass by. In this first week, there is to be discovery about what a PLE is and what a PLN is. At first glance, they appear to be the same. In fact, many describe both acronyms in similar terms. I think a more apt acronym for PLE is PeLE - Personal e-Learning Environment. The same change would make sense for PLN - that acronym would be PeLN. I say this because learning environments can be pervasive in every day life as much as they can be on the Internet, however, the learning curve shoots way up when the "e" is added.
So, what does it mean to have a PLE? And if a PLE is one thing, then what is a PLN?
Here's a 7th grader's PLE, shared with participants in the course, that is most simple yet well organized and impressive (thanks to Wendy Drexler publishing it on YouTube!). I wish I had her PLE when I was her age.
Now is my opportunity to create my own PLE. Oh, I have a PLE already. My PLE is my e-Learning environment that I'm living in. But don't I live in a house? The house is my physical environment, different and distinct from my PLE. A portion of my PLE is the following: email accounts, Skype, Googledocs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TeacherTube, Blogger, and SL when it doesn't crash (I'm currently experiencing difficulties after an upgrade). For me, when I connect the pieces in my virtual environment together, then I obtain my PLN. With my PLN, knowledge is created so I have my PLK.
In order to really grasp what I was thinking, I had to put my thoughts into something concrete. Here's an everyday example of how I came about picturing and describing my PLE, which leads to my PLN, which builds my PLK:
I stand in my kitchen where there are many items such as an oven, a bowl, a bread baking pan, a cutting board, a knife, flour, water, sugar, and eggs, as well as electricity. That briefly describes my personal physical environment in which I stand; those are the physical things that I am surrounded by, my P(physical)LE. To create the network, my P(physical)LN, I combine/connect the flour, water, sugar and eggs in the bowl. Once mixed (networked), I pour the ingredients into the bread baking pan, place that in the pre-heated oven, and let it bake for a given amount of time. At the completion of the baking process, I have created a loaf of bread, thus, my P(physical)LK. I slice the loaf of bread and serve pieces of my creation to those in my network so that the network is fed and grows.
BTW: I'm having a grand time reading the other participants' blogs. Some of the blogs are written by folks that I know and others are written by folks I would like to become acquainted with (and there are lots of those as I read through the blogs). Very interesting to reflect on all that is being shared about PLEs, PLNs, and how knowledge is derived from them.
Katrina Way, MBA