This is the first I’ve really heard of PLNs as a solid concept, which really surprises me. The more I read about it, the more I would have expected it to come up in other classes. However, though I didn’t necessarily have a name for it, I do have a list of resources that would certainly be the start to a PLN.
The idea of learning as something that can be networked makes sense. Learning is far more than simply picking up a book or reading an article. It’s interactive and involves many different platforms and individuals. The Rajagopal article discussing the idea of PLNs and learning within the context of the impact connections with other people have on them made an especially good point about how much of an impact other people can have on our learning. There is the obvious way, of course, that of someone we learn directly from in either an official or informal instructor/student relationship. Another way, however, is less obvious, sometimes even to the learner:
The second observation is that the effects of networking are not limited to face–to–face interactions with the contacts: even when others are not present, their words, messages and perspectives can influence the reflections of the learner.
This effect would be even more pronounced in the online world where both direct and indirect interactions can occur between a large variety of people. Reading a blog, participating in a message board, watching a video lecture, etc. where you are exposed to the knowledge and viewpoints of others can impact later reflection and learning. Individuals who are able to acknowledge that fact will be not only better able to use networking contacts as learning contacts, but find the ability to learn almost anywhere even if what is being discussed isn’t completely relevant to their current situation.