Reflections on Collaborative Learning & Personal Learning Network

In this topic, we learned more about learning in communities, networking and collaboration. Alec Couros shared different ideas and examples how collaborative learning took place in his course and provided tips on building personal network learning. This topic caught my attention because the ideas shared were relevant, practical and straight to the point. It made me reflect on my own experience as a participant/learner in ONL171 course.

Personal Learning Network (PLN) is described as one aspect of PLE where the individual has a group of people within his or her virtual professional network, and the relationship with each is based upon a common interest, collaborative project or research. Communication and connections are made via social media platforms such as Google + Community, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and blogs, etc. to help us form connections, grow our knowledge base and develop ourselves professionally through continual learning. It is based on the theory of connectivism, a learning theory conceptualized by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. The idea of connectivism is that the learner connects with nodes within a network, and subsequently develops knowledge and experience through this series of connections. (Siemens, G. & Downes, S., 2005)

Just like here in ONL171 course, a Google + Community has been set-up to gather all the participants together. This is a place where we all connect. We meet new people, check relevant information about the course, attending webinars, access resources and share our new ideas to the entire community. Within this community, we formed subgroups which we refer as PBL groups, consisting of 6-8 members where we discuss about specific scenarios for each topic in the course, guided by our facilitators. Each member take turns to lead a topic and the tasks are shared and distributed among the team. The PBL group meet twice a week on average to discuss how to go about solving the case scenario following the FISh model (Nerantzi and Uhlin, 2012). We also maintain a personal blog to reflect about our own learning. All these information are being shared in the Google + Community to gather feedback and learn from one another.  

Developing a PLN requires a huge commitment of time and energy, but I would say that the rewards are abundant. I learned a lot from each topic with the help of my team members and the support from our facilitators. While it is true that another person maybe more knowledgeable and may come with more experience than us. One should not feel intimidated. Instead, we need keep an open mind and accept that we have more to learn. I still believe that there are many people out there who are willing to share their expertise or at least connect us to the right channels, so take the opportunity to meet new people, make new connections, learn new courses and take new challenges.  

The following links below suggest some ideas on how to start building your PLN:


Siemens, George (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.

Downes, S. (2007). Learning Networks in Practice.


16 thoughts on “Reflections on Collaborative Learning & Personal Learning Network

  1. Thanks for your sharing. The links you had provided are useful in obtaining ideas on how to start and maintain PLN. I have the same sentiment as you as well. Being in ONL enable me to see another aspects of being an academic developer and teacher. This learning space really demonstrates the aspect of Connectivism discussed by George Siemens (2014) where the author defined it as “combines relevant elements of many learning theories, social structures, and technology to create a powerful theoretical construct for learning in the digital age”. So the saying – we are all connected by six degrees of separation!

    Siemens, G. (2014). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age.


  2. Thank you for this really neat summary! I too feel that PLN gives you (1) the space to learn at your own pace – letting you choose with who you want to learn, what you learn and how your learn, (2) being able to curate resources that are of interest to you, being able to learn from the resources shared, working collaboratively with others and (3) connectiing with learners eith different backgrounds, and culture.


  3. Thanks for providing a good summation of establishing a PLN, and completely agree that maintaining an open mind and accepting that we have much more to learn will only be beneficial to us. The additional links are also good resources for strengthening our respective PLNs – let’s continue to learn and grow together!


  4. Thank you for this. The words ‘reflection’ and ‘connection’ are often omitted in traditional stand and deliver modes of delivery in comparison to the online space where learning thrives of reflection and connection. I really enjoyed reading glasses your Blog


  5. Hi Charina. I have certainly found the connection to our PBL group invaluable during the ONL course. I learnt so much more because of the group. When we started with the course, I had no insight into Connectivism and the creation of a social- and group dynamics. Going through the design as a participant has really helped me to understand the importance of Connectivism from a practical viewpoint. Thank you for your blog and excellent summation.


  6. Connectivism seems to be a derivative of Vygotsky Theory, but using a more “computerized” analogy of the network. Interesting… Thank you for the resources on establishing a PLN. ❤ – Angelo


  7. Hi, Charina
    I love the quote that you have used in your blog – we do learn by reflection on our experience.
    I also agree that we should not feel insecure about where we are in our learning, as long as we remain open to continue learning, and accept that people (more than products) are essential to our learning.


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