Personal learning networks (PLNs) are aggregates of people and tools activated to support learning. They differ from study groups in their focus on personal learning interests instead of prescribed course materials. By enabling students to pursue interest-based knowledge in parallel with course-based knowledge in small groups of like-minded students, PLNs promise deeper student engagement in academic process and in ongoing professional development.
Recent research on traditional networking practices ground this approach to social networking and knowledge creation in the writing classroom. Students learn how to create personal learning networks, how to create learning artifacts of value to others, and how to evaluate personal learning networks for teaching and learning opportunities.