PLN Challenge #1: What the heck is a PLN?

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Welcome to the Teacher Challenge!

  • Are you a new teacher, feeling isolated and alone?
  • Are you an experienced teacher looking for new ideas and inspiration?
  • Are you interested in sharing ideas and collaborating with other teachers?
  • Are you tired of falling asleep in boring professional learning seminars?
  • Have you heard about Personal Learning Networks or PLNs? Feeling lost, confused, wondering where to start?

If you’ve answered YES to any of these questions, then read on!

The “30 Days to a Whole New PLN” challenge is for YOU!

Challenge Overview

Over the next month or so, we’ll be publishing a new post about setting up, enhancing, and participating in your very own personal learning network.

We’ll have 2 or 3 posts each week – and we encourage as much collaboration, participation, and fun as you can possibly have!

Make sure that you have either subscribed to this blog (form on the left), liked Edublogs on Facebook, or follow Edublogs on Twitter to keep up with each new post as they are published.

Want to contribute a guest post to the series, contact us and let us know! You don’t need to be an edublogs user to participate!

This guest post was written by Michael Graffin, a second year relief/substitute teacher and blogger from Western Australia. This is post #1 in the “30 Days to a Whole New PLN” challenge!

So, what is a PLN?

The word “PLN” stands for “Personal Learning Network”, and it has its origins in connectivism theory (Siemens, G. & Downes, S., 2005).

Why you should begin your own PLN —Ashley Azzopardi (@ashleyazzopardi)

Why you should begin your own PLN —Ashley Azzopardi (@ashleyazzopardi)

Let’s take this a little further…

The Personal:
Having a PLN is about making connections and building personal relationships with teachers, school administrators, university professors, and experts around the world. No matter where you are in the world, there’s always someone online available to answer questions, share their expertise, and simply chat about what’s happening in their lives and classrooms.

The Learning:
Having a PLN is about sharing ideas and resources, collaboration, and learning. We may share our learning, ideas and expertise in different ways; using different media and tools, but the essence is the same: the PLN is simply the best professional development you will ever participate in – and it’s available 24/7.

The Network:
The defining feature of the PLN is that it is a global learning network, enabling people to tap into and share diverse, global perspectives on teaching strategies, educational issues, and technologies. If takes time and effort to build these connections, but it’s well worth the effort.

Why a PLN? – “From little things, big things grow”

I’m a second year teacher, and a relative newcomer to the online education community. When I become an active social-media (Twitter™) user late last year, one of the first questions I asked myself was “What the heck is a PLN?”

Now, a mere six months later, I have come to realise that developing a Personal Learning Network is an empowering, transformational process, which fundamentally transforms your professional learning and teaching approach. And my experience is hardly unique

Real People, Real Teachers – Why we have a PLN

How can I get started?

Well, this is what the Teacher Challenge is all about. Over the next four weeks, the Teacher Challenge team, and a wide variety of guest bloggers will be exploring the various tools and media which you can use to build, expand, and improve your very own PLN.

For now, here’s an introduction to some of the topics we’ll be covering:

How to build a PLN? from Elena Elliniadou on Vimeo.

You can also check out my original “What the heck is a PLN” post here.

Your Task Challenge – Join the Conversation!

Personal Learning Networks are all about sharing, collaborating, and learning from each-other. So here’s your chance to ask a question, comment, and get involved!

We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about PLNs by undertaking one or more of these challenges:

  1. Leave a comment on the “Real People, Real Teachers” Voicethread (You might like to watch the embedded “We Connect Video” by Shelly Terrell first).
  2. Write a blog post sharing your experiences with building and engaging with your Personal Learning Network (don’t forget to leave a link in the comments below).
  3. Leave a comment on this post! Ask us a question. Join the conversation!
  4. If you know of a good website, blog post, or wiki about PLNs, please add a link to the “Building a PLN – Essential Reading” Google Doc.

About the Author

michaelMichael Graffin is a second year relief / substitute teacher working in Perth, Western Australia.

Michael is a reflective edublogger, and an active member of the online teacher community on Twitter. He is passionately interested in literacy teaching, ICT integration, and forging authentic global connections through the use of Web 2.0 tools in education.

He is consistently amazed and inspired by the people in his Personal Learning Network, and enjoys connecting with new and experienced educators around the world.

Blog: A Relief Teacher’s Journey
Twitter: @mgraffin
Wikis: My Web 2.0 Adventures & Global Classroom 2011
LinkedIn: Michael Graffin

116 thoughts on “PLN Challenge #1: What the heck is a PLN?

  1. Hi, I have been lurking in the PLN Challenge, reading the posts and comments, and finally I decided to join in the fun. I did a post about my PLN as I spoke to new bloggers, so I will post that one here to get me started rather than write a redundant post about my awesome PLN.
    “Welcome to New Bloggers”

    Thanks for another great challenge!
    Denise Krebs

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  3. This is just the beginning for me but I’m really excited learning all the technology and integrating it into the classroom!

    Can’t wait to make my PLN!

    • Building a PLN is a journey – a journey which will take you to places you’ve never dreamed of. I know, because I’ve been there …

      Best wishes & good luck as you set out to develop your very own PLN – it’s worth the effort.


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  5. Hello my name is Erika I teach English in Mexico, I’m taking the challenge and I would like someone could advise me more on how to create my PLN ..

    I’m happy to be part of this

  6. Thank you for this exciting opportunity to join a PLN! I believe in the “power” of a learning community, after all, it is a combination of teacher mentoring, edublogs help and support, that started me on the edublogging path. I am constantly learning as I work through the informative edublog help and support posts. I believe that, through, I have enriched the lives of my educational community and circle in a meaningful manner. A highlight is actually seeing the excitement in “students” as they begin their own edublogging experiences, developing their thinking and literacy skills. I look forward to becoming a more educated and skillful blogger!

  7. I just found this site, and although I have started a PLN, I need to organize it better. I hope this challenge will help with that. I would also like to share this with other teachers at my school, after I check it out a bit.

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  12. I am going to try this out! Currently I am taking a Masters course and one of our assignments is to create our own PLN. So, I will give it a shot. Any tips greatly appreciated!

  13. I teach high school math and look forward to sharing information, teaching strategies, and success stories in the classroom.

  14. Hola yo soy maestra de alfabetizacion nacional y ademas doy clases de capacitacion docente en cuanto a lo que son las TIC.s y los programas nuevos que se utilizan en las neetbooks si alguien quiere unirse a la experiencia que posea ,le agradecere…

  15. Thanks for the great resource. I started building my PLN a couple years ago, but am keen to expand it even further. I am looking forward to this personal challenge. Cheers.

  16. I teach 7th grade science. I am just learning about what a PLN is all about. I look forward to connecting with other educators to share ideas and improve my teaching.

  17. I love the concept of PLN. However, I don’t feel that I have enough time to explore all available resources with so many useful sites on the web with the teaching load I have.

  18. I am just now starting to learn about what a pln is. I teach in a co-teaching environment in a school that this seems perfect for. Thanks for the info!

  19. Was anyone overwhelmed when they began building their PLN? I don’t use a lot of social media and so am behind the times!

    • There are a lot of different social media sites out there that can be extremely useful. Just take your time and explore, you’ll find what you like best and works best for you and go from there.

  20. I think the idea of a PLN is very important. At my school, we have PLC committee’s, where we have an opportunity to meet with those in our department and analyze data, create commonalities in our teaching, and share/discuss ideas with each other. Very resourceful.

  21. PLNs are a great way to share and gain information to constantly improve your teaching practice! Always helpful to observe others teaching styles when you have a free period.

  22. As a first year teacher, the concept of PLN’s can be monumental in your professional growth. This challenge will definitely help me broaden my network and give me the resources to develop as a professional.

  23. PLN’s are very helpful to a new teacher. New ideas and collaborating with other educators and scientist is a great idea. I’m building my PLN slowly. I have little time to spare and trying to find good sites is time consuming. But I believe staring is the first step in building a good PLN network.

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