The PLENK2010 course is underway, and I have completed the recommended readings and reviewed the other resources. This included participation in a live, online discussion today. There will be two of these discussions weekly. One of my early questions, prior to this course, was regarding the distinction between a Personal Learning Environment (PLE) and a Personal Learning Network (PLN). I thought I had this resolved, but this may not be so simple. In a blog post, Dave Cormier, for one, thinks there is likely a difference but suggests semantics are at play. I also see reference to a PLE needing a defined space, and diagrams representing it seem to emphasize the technology, notably social media. Stephen Downes even stated in a presentation, “PLE is a technological tool” (at 1’48”). Over the next week, or longer, we will try to solve the question as to whether PLE and PLN are the same thing or if there are defining factors for each. Further, I want to see if a definition of PLE will extend beyond technology itself. For now, I will focus my time reviewing the blog posts and discussion entries of course participants.


  1. Thanks for your comment and linki, Benjamin. I note your preference for the use of “PLN” rather than distinguising between a PLE and a PLN. One reference to them is that PLE comes from the UK, while PLN seems to have originated in the USA.

    You stated that your PLN could be a LMS if that was best for you. The only question I have is whether the LMS could be the complete PLN for you or anyone. I think of a PLN, or PLE, being much broader than one piece of technology. However, I can accept that in some cases the PLN could be quite closed. That could even be the case in a workplace or educational institution, or elsewhere, where the system is locked down for various reasons.

    I’m looking forward to continuing this learning journey!

  2. ” The only question I have is whether the LMS could be the complete PLN for you or anyone.”

    Good question. In fact, this is a question that everyone should ask and be able to answer when choosing the different technologies and social, f2f contacts that ultimately become one’s PLN. In my blog post I say, ” If I choose and determine that an LMS is the best way for me to learn, then the LMS is my PLN”. My point was that if a person can justify why an LMS best serves the individual’s learning needs, interests, and learning preferences, then who am I to judge. I also say this because many people are for or against an LMS; I think this is the wrong conversation to be having. We should be addressing the question you pose that forwards this notion of articulating a learner’s rationale in developing a PLN. A learner’s rationale for using any tool will also depend greatly on how the tool is being used.

    Clearly for me, an LMS is never my PLN. For this MOOC (and for the first time), I am completely staying away from Moodle and it’s made all the difference! I weave in-and-out of blogs, tweet, and read The Daily in order to interact with individuals and content for the course. This part of my PLN works for me and I can explain why it works for me…but I cannot judge others if they can explain an alternative way that works best for them, including using only an LMS.

    If someone says the only place they learn anything worthwhile is through some Moodle course, online community, etc., who am I to argue. Technologies today are so integrated anyway that everything really is just varying degrees of a PLN. Think of all the different ways online content can be brought into Moodle for example.

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