Up to date, there is not a single, unified, definition of Personal Learning Networks (PLN): however, informal education (ie., self-directed, totally autonomous learning) is accepted and recognised as one of the most important contextual resources for the whole society, including teachers, pupils and students and any other person.
PLN usually refers to the set of tools, contacts and sources that a person uses for keeping up to date, inform, self-educate and share knowledge. Whilst PLN is often implicitly related to online channels, offline means are equally important: we obtain, share and growth our experience, knowledge, skills, competencies from our daily and quotidian interaction with others.
As mentioned above, we frequently talk about “online” PLNs, so content curation tools will be useful. Also, notebooks, lists and well-organised social media channels will be handly and fruitful for our aims. In fact, organising the information and knowledge sources is vital for preventing the “Infoxication”!
- Content curation: if you are looking for contents and constantly updating your library, you may need one or various content curation tools. Pocket, Flipboard, scoop.it or linktree (the last one very popular on Instagram) are some of them. Also, RSS feeds such as feedly worth an exploration!
- Lists: Lists of Twitter users and hashtags are very handy for following specific themes, fields or persons. Newsletters and Email lists are another “old school” tool!
- Groups: Facebook groups, Reddit fora, Twitter chats… The collective knowledge is on hand!
- Virtual notebooks: Evernote and MS Onenote are the most popular; Google Keep, Turtl or Zoho Notebook are also fascinating. To be said, the majority of these tools are also collaborative: invite your colleagues to share and share equally!
This is not an exhaustive list: there A LOT of tools and resources that deserve to be here, but we are sharing our favourites and most user-friendly ones. For example, our Dissemination and Communication Manager uses Google Keep, Pocket and Linktree for the SELFIE project; in general, she uses Evernote and MS OneNote, Feedly, and many groups and lists.
To sum up
PLNs should be kept in mind when talking about informal education and, importantly, our own long-life and on-the-job training!