Critique – What is a PLN?

What is a PLN? by Kath Ellis

I chose to critique this artefact because the target audience is senior students, the same audience I chose for my artefact. Within my own artefact for senior students on digital curation, I referred very briefly to personal learning networks. I think that this artefact complements mine and could be paired with mine to give students a better understanding of PLNs and the tools that they can use to learn now and into the future. I was also intrigued by the animation tool utilised to create the knowledge networking artefact.

Retrieved from

What is a PLN? is a brief animated video constructed using Animatron and hosted on YouTube. Animation, text and narration complement each other and clearly convey what a PLN is, why students should cultivate one and practical suggestions on how to get started. The narrator begins by concisely explaining the different terminology that is used to describe a personal learning network and reinforces the terms with a simple animation. It is evident early in the video that senior students are the intended audience through the inclusion of “vox pops” of students being filmed and asked what they think a personal learning network is. This element engages the target audience and sets the scene for further exploration.

In designing the artefact, the attention span of the audience has been considered and the running time of just over three minutes is appropriate to introduce the topic and not overwhelm the audience.  A basic instructional design of tell, show, do and review is utilised. The narrator tells the audience what a PLN is, why developing PLN is important and how students can leverage tools to develop a PLN. Social networking logos appear and show familiar social tools that can be used for learning and to develop a PLN. By using familiar social tools as examples, the creator provides students with a non-threatening starting point. The narrator and accompanying visuals indicate, very briefly, how the tools could be used by students. The narrators’s call to action, extolling the benefits of PLNs, encourages students to go ahead and do it.

The video does stand alone, however the lack of interaction required by the viewer makes the learning experience rather passive. This passivity could easily be overcome by using the video as a stimulus for further discussion in the classroom and thus providing multiple opportunities for learner engagement. The video is well paced, clearly narrated, uncluttered and adequately answers the question in the title.

2 Comments on Critique – What is a PLN?

    October 4, 2016 at 2:00 am (5 years ago)

    Thanks Karen. Great feedback. The design and development of a digital artefact was certainly a challenging activity for me. I agree that there is a sense of passivity to the artefact, particularly looking at others that require interaction such as Jacques’s – did you take a look at his? But as you say, combining it with further discussion and feedback students could begin the process of developing their own PLN.

      October 4, 2016 at 7:20 am (5 years ago)

      Hi Kath
      My artefact also lacked an interactive element and was passive but I believe that interaction can be achieved in the classroom by using the videos as stimulus for further exploration and discussion. I contemplated embedding my video into a Tackk like Jacque did but didn’t think it suited a teenage audience. I have used Tackk before for an artefact aimed at adults and it does allow for interactive elements to be included. Jacque’s use of a Twitter hashtag to continue the learning was great. I have already used his artefact to learn about some tools that I am not currently using so it is fantastic for a motivated self learner.