Sunday, February 3, 2013

Origin of the term "personal learning network".

Clint in a post dated October 8, 2009 and titled "On historically defining Personal Learning Network" wanted to elaborate more on the attempt of Stephen Downes to find the origin of the expression "personal learning network". In his post Clint acknowledged Stephen's point in his article that the meaning of the term seems to evolve over time thanks to the contribution of a number of people. Clint has used the term very often and was very interested in finding a definition, He cited the definition of Daniel R Tobin mentioned in his article "Building your own personal learning network": "An important part of learning is to build your own learning network - a group of people who can guide your learning, point you to learning opportunities, answer your questions and give you the benefit of their knowledge and experiences". Clint found the definition very useful but was intrigued about finding the origin of the term.

He emailed Tobin with the link of Stephen's post and Tobin responded later. Tobin mentioned in his response that he didn't know if he is the originator of the phrase or not. He also stated how he used the term "personal learning network". "What I was referring to was my informal network of colleagues and professional acquaintances to who I could learn if I needed information i.e people who could help me learn whatever it was I was seeking. When I started using the phrase, I wasn't particularly thinking about this in the sense of a virtual P.C based network. In fact in 1998 there weren't many websites and discussion boards that could be used for this purpose".

Clint continued to dig further and and discovered a 1999 article written by Don Digenti ( Collaborative learning A Core Capability for Organizations in the New Economy, Reflections) which uses the term "personal learning network" along with the acronym "PLN".

The first paragraph in this document where the term "personal learning network" is introduced contains a reference to a 1998 unpublished manuscript by Digenti called "The Learning Consortium Sourcebook". Clint said he couldn't find the work that might be the source of the term "personal learning nework". He concluded that the term may be originated in the work of these two authors around 1998-1999.   

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