Edublogs Teacher Challenges

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Step 1: What is a PLN?

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Welcome to our professional learning series on building a PLN.

This series guides you step by step through the process of setting up your own PLN.

The aim of this first step is to:

  1. Explain what is a PLN.
  2. Help you understand why educators create their own PLN.

michaelThe following information on PLN was co-written by Michael Graffin, a relief/substitute teacher and blogger from Western Australia.

You can check out Michael’s original “What the heck is a PLN” post here.

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.

What is a PLN Video

Watch this video to learn more about what is a PLN.

Why create a PLN

“From little things, big things grow”

I’m a fairly new teacher, and a relative newcomer to the online education community. When I become an active social-media Twitter user, one of the first questions I asked myself was “What is a PLN?”

Within six months later, I realised 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

Being a connected educator

A connected educator is a connected learner who collaborates online and uses a range of social media tools to build their own personal learning network to interact with other educators.

Watch the following video to learn more about being a connected educator.

Building your own PLN

Best of a PLN is it’s personal!

You make all the choices:

  1. What tools you use!
  2. Who you connect with!
  3. How you want to learn!
  4. When you want to learn!

The idea of this series is to guide you through the process of building your own PLN.

Remember as you work through the series we each have our own preference of what online tools works best for us and we’ve included the most popular tools for building a PLN to help get you started.


Your Task

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. Watch What is a PLN video.  Leave a comment on this post to explain what a Personal learning network means to you.
  2. Check out Real People, Real Teachers: Why we have a PLN voicethread.  Leave a comment on this post to share what you learned from the Voicethread.
  3. Watch the connected educator video and leave a comment on this post to explain why it is important to be a connected educator and how a PLN can help you.
  4. Write a blog post to explain what you have learnt about Personal Learning Networks.  Leave a comment with a link to the post so we can have a look at how you went.

Also feel free to leave a comment to ask any questions or share your tips.

134 comments for “Step 1: What is a PLN?

  1. Becky
    September 9, 2014 at 8:43 am

    PLNs are a great resource for both teachers and teacher candidates. The idea of being able to seek advice, make connections, and collaborate with fellow educators worldwide will offer tremendous growth and professional development. After reading comments and watching the videos, this is a great place to learn about creating a PLN.

  2. Kaylyn's Group
    September 9, 2014 at 8:23 am

    PLN’s are a great way of communicating with fellow educators all across the world. You can access the information at any time, from anywhere. Being a connected educator is very appreciated for classrooms across the globe. PLN’s allow you to connect with other educators who have already had valuable educational experiences. Social networking allow educators to keep in contact with fellow educators, students, and parents.

  3. Charles S.
    September 9, 2014 at 7:55 am

    PLN’s seem like a great way to connect educators from across the country and even around the world and allow them to corroborate as to how to better serve and educate students in their individual classrooms.

  4. Janet Sobczyk
    September 9, 2014 at 7:54 am

    I have not established a PLN with technology tools beyond email yet. However, I have seen the benefits of collaborating with other educators within a building and district. We truly do learn from each other daily, and other educators can be one of the best resources we have.

  5. Gabe Meints
    September 9, 2014 at 7:54 am

    This is all new to me, and I find it exciting to work with others in my group to collaborate and learn more about developing a PLN and how to effectively be a part of it.

  6. Kelsee B
    September 9, 2014 at 7:54 am

    This looks like a very good resource for teachers to use in order to communicate and collaborate with other teachers. I look forward to being able to share ideas with other teachers from around the world.

  7. Taylor
    September 9, 2014 at 7:53 am

    This seems like a great idea. I think it is great thing for teachers to use when they are running into problems. The one thing I would have a question about is with privacy, is everything very public? I still think even if it is public it is for educational purposes and that is something that should be shared with other educators.

  8. Charles S.
    September 9, 2014 at 7:53 am

    PLN’s seem like an awesome idea to connect educators from various parts of the country and world to corroborate on better educating students.

  9. Brian Lemerond
    September 9, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I am new to PLN’s and I want to learn more about them. I suppose I will get my start here.

  10. Susan
    September 9, 2014 at 7:52 am

    I am new to the idea of PLN. I feel like I am behind the times when it comes to technology, but I am also excited to have a new avenue for further professional development.

  11. Keith
    September 9, 2014 at 7:52 am

    This is the first time that I have heard of PLN and I can’t wait to try it out. This is a great way for me as student teacher to expand my knowledge base.

  12. Shylo H.
    September 9, 2014 at 7:52 am

    This is a great way to network and collaborate with other teachers. I look forward to gaining more networks!

  13. Ann H-P
    September 9, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Collaborate and share ideas with other teachers.

  14. Heather Heble
    September 9, 2014 at 7:23 am

    I love how PLN’s can aid in communication with teacher professionals/and others all over the world. Also, being aware of the positives and negatives of PLN’s can help with educational purposes for the classroom.

  15. Cheryl
    September 9, 2014 at 7:22 am

    Personal Learning Networks is a brand new concept to me. It will be helpful to learn from others.

  16. Tina Tucker
    May 13, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Learning abou PLN’s is extremely important when it comes to networking ideas, lesson, concerns etc. I love the idea of using social media for an educational purpose that I can network with other educators and gain experience and advice.

  17. Kim Price
    May 1, 2014 at 8:43 am

    As I move into an administrative role, I have been thinking more and more about the power of collaboration. Your ideas are making me realize I need to be thinking about virtual collaboration at least as much as face-to-face work if I expect my teachers to help my students be comfortable and active in the settings they may face 20 years from now. Thanks. This was the kick in the pants I needed to move forward!

  18. ellen wernert
    April 21, 2014 at 7:06 am

    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.

    • Devon Irwin
      May 9, 2014 at 6:56 am

      I agree that time is of the essence as a first year teaching and finding time to follow and keep up with blogs and social media is a concern of mine. I plan to start small, possibly by following a Twitter account or two, and make a goal to slowly build my PLN from there.

  19. Cory Winters
    April 20, 2014 at 12:49 am

    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.

  20. Rebecca Tutko
    April 1, 2014 at 12:35 am

    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.

  21. Rebecca Tutko
    April 1, 2014 at 12:22 am

    Great way to share and gain ideas to always be improving teacher practice.

  22. Mike Linnert
    March 31, 2014 at 5:32 am

    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.

  23. Sara
    March 2, 2014 at 12:11 am

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

    • Zac
      April 7, 2014 at 10:27 am

      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.

  24. Danielle
    February 18, 2014 at 3:59 am

    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!

  25. Rui
    February 16, 2014 at 1:03 am

    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.

  26. K. Evans
    December 2, 2013 at 10:32 am

    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.

  27. Katie
    November 16, 2013 at 1:09 am

    I’m really excited to start building my PLN. I love to hear other peoples’ ideas and suggestions on my own ideas!

  28. Stephanie Brook
    November 5, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    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.

  29. bufflenbeatriz
    October 10, 2013 at 7:17 am

    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…

  30. Chris Webb
    October 9, 2013 at 9:06 am

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

  31. Marleigh Whiteman
    October 2, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Looking forward to collaborating with other teachers from around the world.

  32. Sue Waters
    September 30, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Trish

    One of the most powerful ways you can build your own PLN is to join Twitter and start connecting with Educators — if you aren’t already using Twitter. You will find our post on setting up Twitter here – .

    Sue Waters
    Edublogs Support Manager

  33. Trish
    September 29, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    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!

  34. Cindy Medeiros
    November 19, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    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.

  35. Lynne
    August 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    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!

    • August 22, 2012 at 5:51 am

      Hi Lynne, thanks for the feedback. Great to hear what we do makes a difference and it is helping your students!

  36. Teacher Erika Villicaña
    April 11, 2012 at 4:26 am

    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

  37. Kelly Brown
    September 25, 2011 at 9:43 am

    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!

    • October 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      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.


  38. July 7, 2011 at 4:58 am

    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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