Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) as an approach to understanding the rhizomatic learning connections of 21st century students
Maria Victoria Pineda
De La Salle University, Philippines


Personal learning networks (PLNs) define how learners seek knowledge, pull the knowledge and allow this knowledge be used in a suitable context. PLNs further exhibit that formal and informal interactions and usage of various technologies attribute to the many instances of learning. The learner given a great degree of freedom can mold and control her learning.

The PLN is modeled on the concept of a rhizome, an underground plant stem capable of producing the shoot and new root systems of a plant. This capability of producing new shoots, roots and stems is now simulated in the idea of a rhizomatic learning model taking place in personal learning spaces. Cormier posited that persons finding new knowledge realize the many changes and progress through “participatory, negotiated experiences in rhizomatic engagement.” (Cormier, 2008)

This study aimed to uncover the many web and social sources of information and knowledge of the students through the use of personal learning networks (PLNs). The study covers fifty sophomore university students who have defined their current PLNs through PLN diagrams. The study disintegrated these PLNs to categorize the shoots, roots and stems of the students’ learning, classify them to school-related or personal interests and identify how these complement each other. This study also analyzed the students’ learning priorities through the variety of ways that students drew their diagrams.

It is the desire of this study to contribute to new ways of doing research, analyzing student-defined learning networks and charts, and to open the doors to fresh forms of learning studies. The study came to the conclusion that rhizomatic knowledge-creation in this era of web and information, is the new direction for lifelong learning and requires more in-depth scrutiny and openness.

Keywords: personal learning environment, personal learning networks, rhizomatic education, learning connections, rhizome

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