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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.

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

  1. Kathy
    November 22, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    I am taking an instructional technology course, and every day learn how little I really know. Many of our experiences and information is k-12 related, which it should be given the course is a part of a graduate program for k-12 teachers– I however have been in post secondary education–specifically community college– thus I am seeking great sources to add to my network that come from the post secondary realm. Any ideas are welcome.

  2. Pam Young
    October 19, 2015 at 12:01 am

    The “connected educator” video was interesting. As was noted collaboration has been important within education for many years. I am a professional development coordinator and really know the benefits of collaboration. My experience has been predominately in doing face-to-face training but in reality you are limited with how many people can attend a session. Technology opens the door to provide learning in a totally different way. Personally I want to improve my skills by utilizing technology.
    Connecting to other teachers, students, and experts provides us with an opportunity to learn!

  3. Pam Young
    October 18, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    The VoiceThread was very interesting. I noticed that people commented who were new to the process and then there were the experts who had been using it for a while. One comment struck me as particularly interesting–a teacher said that other teachers in her school thought she was crazy but she found people in her PLN who supported her and encouraged her. This is not what I expected. I am very happy to hear these comments. This make me feel very enthusiastic about starting my own PLN.

  4. Pam Young
    October 18, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    I have learned that a PLN is a place for me to broaden my professional development as an educator. It is also a way for me to share resources that I have used and to offer advice and comments to other people. I can also use it whenever it is convenient for me to do so. If I want to work at 5 in the morning or midnight it doesn’t matter. This is exciting!

  5. Nicole
    October 2, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Last semester I had to begin to develop my PLN for a class and I was a little overwhelm with where to begin. One of my professors suggested to think about any current way you communicate with other teachers and professionals in your field. I realized I already had a PLN! I just needed a way to organize it all that made sense to me. I started my own “PLN Symbaloo.” It helped me to realize how I was already using various tech tools to grow as an educator. I also realized some areas in which I neglected to use such as social media. This semester we are revisiting our PLN’s and I am looking forward to adding to it to grow my network!

    • Kathy
      November 22, 2015 at 11:41 am

      Nicole, I too am looking at this right now as a course assignment, and am overwhelmed. – I have used connections to keep informed but find I have been so dependent up on email initiated interaction.

  6. Jane Longenecker
    July 10, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    PLN’s are very intriguing. The value of a vast network of field-tested, in-the -trenches. active educators who actually interact with students and can share ideas of how they approach educational concerns is so much more authentic than the sterile “textbook” answers provided by some so called experts who have not graced the doorway of a classroom in years! This adds validity to the shared responses and a voice to so many who have been calling out but had no one to listen!

  7. Sandra
    July 10, 2015 at 4:54 am

    PLN’s are well-organized areas where teachers can interact with other teachers. It allows teachers to collect information from various Web sites so they can competently stay up to date on the latest teaching techniques, pedagogies, and tools for teaching. Social networking also plays a big part on building a PLN.
    All the information on this website is very interesting and educational. I took the challenge and I accomplished the 4 steps suggested.

  8. Deborah
    July 8, 2015 at 10:11 am

    To me a PLN is an opportunity to learn whatever you wish to learn from people that could be experts in that particular field but are not necessarily physically close to you. It offers any individual with access to the internet a network of people willing to share information on a variety of subjects. With PLNs learning is accomplished on your own time, and how you wish to do it.

  9. Betty Roth
    July 6, 2015 at 2:39 am

    This is such an eye-opening concept. The idea that we can reach out to a world full of fellow educators and benefit from their decade of experience is thrilling and scary. I’m not sure how to curate all the information put there but I know this site will set me in the right direction.

  10. Jennifer
    July 4, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I have recently joined Twitter and while I haven’t commented a lot I find the discussions extremely helpful and interesting. It is wonderful to interact with teachers who utilize new/different strategies from what I am doing. Great place to generate ideas and ask questions!

  11. Madeline Craig
    July 2, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Thanks for all the helpful information here. I’m building my PLN and blogging about it and your amazing resources.

  12. Ifrah Iman
    June 11, 2015 at 6:49 am

    I’m going to be a certified French teacher in a Public School in Toronto next year. Now I’m doing online Teach-Now program. Tonight at 8:00PM, I’m going to have a group meeting for TN program. Out topic is going to be Personal Learning Network (PLN). It is my first time that I hear this topic. I hope it is going to be a fun topic that is going to be useful for my future teaching. Thanks.

  13. carlos
    May 11, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    La percepción de la educación hoy en día está enfocada a la adaptabilidad a las nuevas generacones pero además, de la forma en que nosotros como profesores aprendemos de otros en como podemos hacer para que el conocimiento realmente llegue a nuestros alumnos.
    A través de éstas redes de colaboración educativa, podemos desarrollar y potecializar las habilidades de nuestros alumnos, y en el proceso, compartir con otros lo que nos funciona y lo que requiere de mayor atención

    • Jason Teitelman
      May 11, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      I agree with your points. Collaboration between teachers helps us to learn different methods for teaching our students the skills they need and to learn what we need to pay more attention to moving forward.

  14. Illiana Villaseñor
    May 6, 2015 at 3:52 am

    Una PLN la podemos definir como una Red Personal de Aprendizaje. Esta red nos permite interactuar con otras personas (colegas, profesores, estudiantes), y son especialmente útiles para el desarrollo profesional porque podemos obtener recursos como artículos de expertos, videos, narraciones en tiempo real, etc.
    Nos permite utilizar herramientas como Wikis o Blogs para construir proyectos o consultar información, lo que enriquecerá el proceso de enseñanza – aprendizaje.

    A PLN can be defined as a Personal Learning Network. This network allows us to interact with others (colleagues, teachers, students), and are especially useful for professional development because we can get resources such as expert articles, videos, stories in real time, etc.
    It is allowing us to use tools such as Wikis and Blogs to build projects or retrieve information, which will enrich the teaching process – learning.

  15. elizabeth diaz
    May 4, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Después de ver los videos, una PLN es una red de aprendizaje personal, donde se promueve la autogestión, es una manera en que los estudiantes pueden aprender por si solos haciendo uso de redes sociales como facebook, o un microblog como twitter, crear una wiki, revisar perfiles profesionales en linkedln, videos en TEDx, etc.

    son muy importante porque tienes comunicación con otros y otras personas, en el proceso de aprendizaje, es un sistema de aprendizaje permanente.

    After watching the videos, a PLN is a personal learning network where self-management is promoted, it is a way in which students can learn by themselves using social networks like facebook, or microblog Twitter, create a wiki , be professional profiles on LinkedIn, TEDx videos, etc.

    They are very important because you have communication with others and others in the learning process is a lifelong learning system

  16. Shibi Anand
    May 3, 2015 at 1:54 pm


    I was trying to introduce PLN to my fellow educators,that’s when I stumbled on this excellent resource. I have realized the importance of PL N in today’s world. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.I am glad I have a PLN!

    • Sue Waters
      May 8, 2015 at 5:24 pm

      Hi Shibi

      Thanks for your feedback. Quite a few organizations work through our PLN series as a group and we’re told it helps.

      We will be running this series as a course and registrations open in June. We notify readers of our upcoming courses on The Edublogger – Each Teacher Challenge session lasts for 30 days, with 2-3 tasks per week that will be sent to you via email.

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  17. Mary Beth
    April 26, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    After watching the videos and listening to the voice threads, it appears that Twitter is a very popular PLN for many teachers. I do not have a Twitter account and never realized that it met needs beyond casual social media. My PLN that I subscribe to is Pinterest. I get a lot of great ideas and printables for my first grade classroom from this resource. Thus far, I have been a lurker and not a sharer. Once I gain more experience as and educator, I would like to share my ideas as well.

    • Katie
      May 5, 2015 at 8:53 am

      I’m so grateful for the technology we have today! Pinterest helps me a lot in my classroom and twitter comes in a close second. It’s a great way to connect and gain new knowledge!

      • Brittany H
        June 4, 2015 at 9:38 pm

        As of just a few minutes ago, I had no idea what a PLN was. After exploring the videos and comments of everyone here, I can clearly see the benefits of developing a PLN. My plan is to first surround myself with passionate educators. Educators who are passionate about their teaching are always looking to find the best methods. We all preach the importance of being life long learners, but how many of us really strive to continue learning on our own? My goal is to use a PLN to create consistency in my life long learning and using the tools that like within the technology I use everyday.

    • Sue Waters
      May 8, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Hi Mary Beth

      Twitter is very popular with teachers and is used in a wide range of ways. I would encourage you to give twitter a try and see how you go. It might surprise you.

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  18. Daniel Surovchak
    April 22, 2015 at 12:34 am

    As a newer teacher I am still trying to find and develop lessons and resources for myself as well as students to use. Having a network filled with other educators is a great way to exploit their knowledge and experience and help to jump past the trial and error stages of lessons and start with a powerful, well-constructed lesson that maximizes students output.

  19. Brittany Marnell
    April 21, 2015 at 4:18 am

    A PLN is such a great way to connect to other educators and explore their ways and tools of teaching. We can always learn from others no matter near or far thanks to the technology we have today!

  20. Awais Irshad
    April 8, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    A PLN may be a network that permits educators to attach, collaborate, and share ideas with alternative educators, professors, and adminstrators within the education field.

  21. Karen Hitchcock
    April 5, 2015 at 4:46 am

    I found the personal learning network very helpful in organizing all of my tools for teaching and communicating. Having all of the helpful sites and information at the click of my fingers is time saving and has expanded my connections with other teachers.

  22. Toshio
    March 17, 2015 at 6:28 am

    A PLN is a network that allows educators to connect, collaborate, and share ideas with other educators, professors, and adminstrators in the education field.

  23. Cindy Olmstead
    March 10, 2015 at 3:38 am

    PLN is a way to stay connected with other educators.Bounce questions and share resources.

  24. Cindy
    February 8, 2015 at 3:31 am

    A PLN for me is a way to connect and gather additional insight and perspective from people interested in the same educational focus as myself. I love expanding my knowledge and perfecting my skills. A PLN provides me the opportunity to learn from a variety of people not just the ones I happen to know personally.

  25. Ms. Caddy
    January 22, 2015 at 2:11 am

    A PLN is a way for me to interrelate with other teachers and learners in an educational setting, all over the world. I am not a huge fan of using social media to do this, but something like Classroom 2.0 would work really well.

  26. Brandon Gallagher
    January 20, 2015 at 2:35 am

    Hey everyone.. As a young educator and someone who has only used social media for personal use, I was not aware of the importance and power that social outlets such as Twitter can have. I’m taking my first graduate class and its all about exploring PLNs and digital literacies to expand personal growth as teachers. I really enjoyed watching the videos and reading everyone’s comments. If anyone wants to provide some direct advice, I’m just getting my professional Twitter account up and running and would love to connect with other educators! I teach 1-3 behavioral (non self contained) special education and my Twitter handle is @B_Gallagher23. Thanks!

    • Aisha
      January 22, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Hi Brandon
      Welcome aboard to Twitter and on your new journey towards building your PLN. I am myself comparatively new to Twitter and Blogging. Check out some tips I have for the newbies.
      Don’t forget to comment and if you may wish, to subscribe to my blog. Check out your Twitter Feed. I’ve just followed you @EslRiyadh

      Happy Teaching and Building PLN


  27. Bill Caldwell
    January 13, 2015 at 10:36 am

    A PLN sounds like an incredible networking tool which allows education professionals the ability to connect with counterparts all over the world. I cannot wait to get mine started!

  28. Megan
    October 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    PLNs are amazing tools and I’m so glad I started cultivating one earlier this year – it’s grown tremendously, dramatically improved my teaching and awareness of the forefront of education, and can make me feel connected even as a California educator living here in Paris. Read on about my PLN and what is means to me on my blog: I’d love to connect!

    • Sue Waters
      October 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Megan

      Thanks for writing a post on PLNs and your advice. I left a comment on the post but it may have been sent to your spam folder. Please check your Comments spam folder in case it was spammed by mistake.

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  29. Tina
    October 12, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I hadn’t really thought about it before, this PLN thing. Initially thought, “Why would I do that?” less time in the garden, less time on my bike, more hours thinking work. Yet when I’m doing those things my teaching passions are interwoven anyway. My mobile phone is full of images to be used in some sense at school with my students. My notepad is full of snippets of ideas and links and things I’ve seen online or PD I’ve followed up and found out more that pop into my head when doing the weeding. What is my measure of my teaching? What is my scope for connecting with transformative ideas? A PLN enables those very things. It could enable me to push what I know. It could enable me to push how I do things. It could enable me to find inspiration.

    • Keith
      October 17, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      I have also found a mobile device to be a great tool in the garden! The ideas come and I can easily put them down for an upcoming lesson or share them with others.

  30. Tina
    October 12, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Listening to Voicethread is so evident that teachers from everywhere value the opportunity to make links beyond their immediate teaching settings. I too appreciate the flexibility and personal control over the participation and contributions I make. Not anchored to a timetable or meeting schedule you can fit your exchanges around other things in your life and build your professional capacity when it suits you. Having recently initiated blogging with my students through the Teacher Challenge I have learnt so much. If I had to wait for this PD to be booked at my school, or for other teachers to want to learn about this, my students would not be a powerhouse of writing motivated by their global audience.

    • Sue Waters
      October 14, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      Hi Tina

      It is an amazing Voicethread that Michael created with support of his PLN.

      It is also really great to hear how much you gained from the Teacher Challenge – student blogging series. Lots of teachers have told us how being able to work through the series at your own pace really helps.

      Thanks for sharing what a PLN enables you to do!

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  31. aaishaz
    October 11, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    To me as new blogger and Twitter user, growing my PLN is really important. I have been recently given the post of a PD Lead Teacher which puts a lot on my plate. Without having a good PLN I would feel isolated and under pressure. I know I can learn so much and ever since I’ve started blogging and using Twitter, I have already grown so much! Here is a post I wrote on being a connected teacher.

    Have a look :)


    • Sue Waters
      October 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Hi Aisha

      Congratulations on your post of PD Lead Teacher! Well deserved; you’ve been working really hard to connect with otter educators by developing a blog and using Twitter. Both of these will definitely help you.

      I also loved your post. It is very important while developing our PLN that we also look for ways to connect more with our local educators.

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

      • Aisha
        October 14, 2014 at 3:25 pm

        Thanks so much Sue. Edublogs has helped me through and I owe the team in general and you in particular a lot! CPD is my passion and edublogs is my new love. You guys are doing an amazing job.

  32. Anne Schaefer-Salinas
    October 11, 2014 at 8:04 am

    I LOVE my PLN. It is so helpful to have a group of educators from around the world that I can bounce ideas off of and collect ideas from. As an Administrator, our “learning team” at our site is extremely limited. Thus, it is crucial to be able to have others that I can turn to with questions or when I need support. A PLN is the best way to get pushed out of your comfort zone to keep growing. It is the best place to test out new ideas as well as have ideas challenged. Being part of a PLN has made me a stronger leader and educator as well as a more reflective practitioner. All of these skills are key to achieving our best. As Tom Whitby said, we can’t tell our students to be life-long learners if we don’t model learning as well. A PLN is the best way to find new ideas, curate resources, and grow your circle that I have found. It takes work, but it is so worth it.

    • Sue Waters
      October 14, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Hi Anne

      I agree! I love my PLN and as Tom says tell our students to be life-long learners if we don’t model learning as well. Developing a PLN is one of the best ways of modelling life long learning.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  33. Megan
    October 11, 2014 at 3:40 am

    Great article, thank you! I’m so glad a professor in my M. Ed. program started me on the process of building my PLN earlier this year, and am loving the increased community and vast teacher development it brings me wherever I am in the world.

    I am however, stuck on how to get to a few of the next stages of building my PLN – can anyone please help?

    1. For “Subcribe to Blogs,” does that mean email signups? Or using the blogreader on WordPress (which I still don’t understand very well).
    2. What does “Join a Community” mean? Is this a labeled group or contributing to your online community? Can someone please provide examples?
    3. “Attend Webinars” – can you please define this further? How do I find them?

    Thank you so much for reading and responding and helping me grow!

  34. Yvonne Harrison
    October 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    My PLN is really important to me because it consists of people who understand what it is like to explore and comment on technologies and pedagogy. They see world trends and embrace changes that support the development of innovative teaching methods. Sometimes I feel like I am on a wild ride but I know that getting out of my comfort zone is the best way to learn! That’s what my PLN does for me!

    • Dan Leeman
      October 13, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Hi Yvonne,

      I think exploration is such a key part of online PLNs. No one can really take a backseat when it comes to online connecting as the culture depends entirely on members actively exploring and collaborating.

      Do you have any colleagues that are especially observant when it comes to understanding global trends? At Edublogs, our team is made up of several people from different countries around the world and we’re always looking to follow educators with a pulse on educational trends around the world.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  35. Amy
    October 9, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Excited to get started rebuilding my PLN… started a couple years ago but got stuck in a rut… saw this challenge and knew it was for me :)

    • Dan Leeman
      October 13, 2014 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Amy,

      Thanks for joining the Teacher Challenge!

      What led to getting “stuck in a rut”? Lack of time or support?
      Let us know how we can best help you in reinvigorating your PLN throughout this challenge :)

      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  36. Lisa
    October 8, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Having a PLN is important to me because it has helped me connect to people around the world. Being connected with other teachers is imperative in today’s world because we don’t teach alone. As a teacher, having that support network- whether it is at school or online, can make a difference in the way you teach. As part of the #blogsync project I wrote about the importance of being connected and how this has saved me from the dreaded “5 year burnout” (1st link), the other is an old post I wrote when I joined Twitter.

    • Dan Leeman
      October 9, 2014 at 4:40 am

      Hi Lisa,

      Good to connect with you again! I enjoyed your re-igniting passion for teaching post :)

      It’s fun to see how much the PBL trend has caught on fire over the past couple of years. I’ve really enjoyed some of the PBL chats on Twitter – great way to connect with creative teachers who are building authentic learning experiences for students.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  37. amycottonteach
    October 8, 2014 at 9:50 am

    I’m an Australian (NSW) high school English teacher who has stepped out of the classroom to take up a role focussed on providing professional development help to all types of teachers in NSW and ACT.

    I’ve recently started a blog focussed tightly on NSW film texts found on the HSC prescriptions list. The blog is a way for me to keep connected with my English teacher colleagues but also to remain on top of my syllabus content. It will give me the structure and drive to keep developing my understanding of the texts and find new ways to help students explore them. I’m hoping that my colleagues will add their suggestions and thoughts to the blog to help it grow from a single to multiple point of view warehouse of ideas.

    A PLN to me is not only integral to my current role as a PD facilitator, but it will help me build and maintain connections with my English teacher colleagues. It will also allow me the chance to put a little bit back into the community that helped me get on my feet as a teacher.

    Although I’m new to blogging, I’m looking forward to being part of an active and creative PLN.

    • Dan Leeman
      October 9, 2014 at 4:31 am

      Hi Amy,

      Sounds like an exciting new position. It’s great how we can use PLNs to customize our own educational experiences; in your case, you can connect simultaneously to other PD facilitators while maintaining connections with your English teacher colleagues.

      Thanks for being a part of the Teacher Challenge!
      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  38. Dan Gallagher
    October 7, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    I listened/read the Voicethread and added my two cents as well, “Hello! My name is Dan, I connect so I can help share ideas. Something that worked for me might be able to assist another or they might get inspired and adapt an idea to fit their situation. Connecting is impacting on others for the benefit of education! I’ve gained many new tools, resources, techniques, etc. from reading the ideas shared by others!”

    In the video, ‘What is a PLN’, Marc-André summed up a personal learning network rather nicely. It is a group of individuals or organizations, which I choose, to network through a platform(s) which I feel comfortable using; for the betterment of our education.

    For Connected Educators Month, I have submitted an event to the collective calendar. I will be moderating a webinar of educational panelists discussing one of their ThingLink interactive images. Here is the link if you are interested in attending:

    • Dan Leeman
      October 9, 2014 at 4:12 am

      Hi Dan,

      Good to connect with you again! You must hold a record for all of the different Edu-challenges you have completed :)

      Thanks for sharing the link with us to your CEM panel on ThingLink. Cool to watch ThingLink take off, what a great resource!

      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

    • Dan Leeman
      October 9, 2014 at 4:09 am

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing your post, Cyndi.

      I especially enjoyed the coloring of the Google letters :)

      Sounds like you’re really connected as an educator. Are you sure you shouldn’t be teaching a PLN course? ;)

      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  39. Ms K Kauffman
    October 7, 2014 at 12:11 am

    To me, personal learning networks can be any group of professionals selected by an individual to be part of a community of learning. As a librarian, I am part of several professional organizations, and I consider those to be my personal learning networks. We are able to get together as a group IRL a couple of times a year to discuss issues related to school librarianship; however, the conversation also extends to email listservs and social media even after our workshops and conferences have ended. Beyond professional organizations, I have a group of educators that I follow on Twitter and Google+. I am also very fortunate to be a part of the Google Certified Teacher Google Group, and I have learned an awful lot about Google tools in the past year from these incredible educators! I would love to connect with more people, especially on Twitter – find me @mskkauffman.

    • Dan Leeman
      October 9, 2014 at 3:04 am

      Hi Ms. K,

      That’s a great definition of a PLN. I’m glad you’ve had such great experiences within traditional professional organizations with the balance of IRL and online interactions. In my experience, I found that many of the traditional professional organizations had their annual meeting, collected dues, but didn’t contribute to the overall learning and collaborative culture, hence why many of my colleagues moved to online groups for continual support and communication.

      I’ve heard awesome things about the Google Certified teachers group. When did you go through the process, and how many teachers are a part of that group now?

      Thanks for sharing!
      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  40. momahony
    October 6, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Here is my very first post! OK, so I really have to put some time into making my blog look better – but I’d rather just get started. Ironically, I’ve just set up my grade 12 students on another edublog site for them to explore and reflect on ways of coping with stress – by testing strategies on themselves – and accessing current primary research. I’m kinda’ hoping I continue to learn from them!

    • Dan Leeman
      October 9, 2014 at 2:48 am

      Hi there,

      No worries about making your blog look better, we all start somewhere! And I think most bloggers would agree that it’s more important to get started by writing great content – and then tweaking the appearance can come later :)

      Thanks for connecting with us!
      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

      • Meg O'Mahony
        October 9, 2014 at 2:57 am

        Thanks for the comment! Whew!

  41. Michelle
    October 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    PLNs are a fantastic way to continue learning! I find that by expanding my PLN both face to face and online, it has really enriched my teaching. Here is a blog post about how broadening my PLN through Twitter has improved my teaching.

    • Dan Leeman
      October 6, 2014 at 7:55 am

      Hi Michelle,

      I think using a combination of face-to-face and online techniques to build your PLN is a great strategy.

      I’d like to check out your blog post, but it appears that the link shortener isn’t working. Would you mind posting again?

      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  42. vandana ramteke
    October 5, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    a very goodmorg….
    its a worth speaking that edublogs and the team members are doing such a nice job for us special for the teachers and those who are student teachers to make them familiar with new source,ideas and information that one can express through blogs and enrich the life of numbers of students as well as of own…
    of course this is my first time i heard about PLN… i gone through the introduction video and i love the way its made me easy to get.. as i belong to India here people are not so much into blogs and all specially for educational purpose… somewhere i feel very upset of this lack of knowledge create a sort of barriers and when this PLN theme is there i can connect to the our educators to know how about teaching ways…second thing is that i am going through school and colleges to teach them how to develop edublogs and introduce them in their schools and colleges.

    • Dan Leeman
      October 6, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Hi Vandana,

      Thank you for your kind comments! We appreciate your hard work and are excited that you are teaching others in your community about blogging.

      The awesome part about PLNs being global in nature is that you can find support and encouragement from educators all over the world. Even if there are barriers in your own area, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of bloggers in other countries who would love to collaborate with you!

      Please let us know if we can help!
      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  43. Cyndi
    October 5, 2014 at 3:54 am

    PLNs are invaluable. I started 2 Twitter accounts last year, one for personal and the other for education. I am never on my personal account anymore; however, my educational account is always logged in. I also am an advocate for using Symbaloo, Pinterest, and even Facebook for furthering my connection to other educators.

    • Dan Leeman
      October 6, 2014 at 6:16 am

      Hi Cyndi,

      I completely know what you mean about trying to manage two Twitter accounts, it’s awfully hard to keep up with both of them! I’m always impressed by how much educators shape Twitter – I can’t believe how often I see an edchat of some sort trending on Twitter.

      We’ve shared a little bit on the Edublogger about Symbaloo, but I’m always curious how others are using it. How have you used Symbaloo to connect with other educators?

      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  44. Amy Capalbo
    October 5, 2014 at 3:32 am

    I am a high school art teacher who is using a blog to deliver instruction and am teaching my students how to blog in order to create an online portfolio of their photography and written reflections. I would love to incorporate quad blogging into my curriculum this year in order to make my students’ blogs a more authentic form of learning and communicating. I hope that this challenge will help me to achieve that.

    I watched the connected educator video and the line that most struck me was near the end of the video when one of the speakers discussed teachers not living up to the standard of being a lifelong learner. I see far too much of this mentality and an overall resistance to change from my colleagues. I don’t ever want to get to the point of being annoyed at new challenges or angry about new initiatives in education. I became a teacher to help my students love art and learning. I think this is another great step towards that goal.

    Amy Capalbo

    • Dan Leeman
      October 6, 2014 at 6:08 am

      Hi Amy,

      I saw that you were a part of the Teacher Challenge for blogging with students and already saw our post (Step 10) which talked about Quad Blogging. Did you need any help to make that a reality? This particular teacher challenge won’t focus specifically on that since it is more geared to teachers’ own professional development, but we’d love to help if you need any.

      I agree it is difficult when we see our colleagues that are resistant to change. I think there is a good middle ground – being able to be critical of new changes (does a new initiative actually help improve student learning, or is it to satisfy some meaningless objective or a matter of PR?) and being receptive to lifelong learning. Glad to hear you’re passing on your own love of learning and love of art to your students :)

      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  45. Lisa Suhr
    October 4, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    The concept of a PLN for me has changed over the years that I’ve been in education (25!!). When I first started teaching, technology was limited and I relied on my building and district colleagues, professional reading, college courses I took and professional organizational memberships to continue to learn. Attending conferences introduced me to short-term connections to others, but not until email came in to the picture did long-term connections to others outside of my small rural Kansas school district become possible. My first long-term “expert” connection came through a partnership with the American Meteorological Society that paired science teachers with practicing meteorologists to increase our learning through in-person visits as well as course work faxed back and forth between the teacher and the meteorologist!! My first long-distance peer connection was with a teacher in the Boston area whom I met through the online Monster Exchange project and with whom I emailed and exchanged drawings and writings of our classes by uploading projects to the project website.

    Today the social media technologies that exist completely change the ease of connections and the variety of connections available to educators. It is exciting to me to see the opportunities that our young educators have for such professional growth early in their careers! It should be good for retention as well as improving the profession!

    • Dan Leeman
      October 6, 2014 at 4:23 am

      Hi Lisa,

      What a great picture you paint of the way technology continues to shape the education profession!

      It’s awesome when k-12 educators can team up with experts in their field, providing practical applications for the professors/researchers, and content experts for teachers and students.

      I think one of the benefits of using technology to build a PLN is that it is easy to find other educators who are passionate about their field and education in general. In my mind, any teacher that takes time outside of school to continue to learn and grow is the kind of teacher I want to meet and collaborate with. Twitter and other tools make it easy to identify those that are constantly sharing and perfecting their craft.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

  46. Arta Szathmary
    October 4, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I think I have a PLN, but it is “home grown” and want to take this challenge. I am a retired Computer Science Professor, President of PA4C, Secretary of CSTA Philly, Leadership team member of PAECT, Master Teacher for MIT App Inventor, wife, mother and Grandma to 9 wonderful kids. I call it Rewirement, not Retirement. One of my tag lines has been “The only thing that is constant is change”. And I want to see how best to organize my PLN, get the most out of it, and add the most to it!

    • Dan Leeman
      October 6, 2014 at 4:05 am

      Hi Arta,

      Home-grown PLNs are some of the best!

      I love that you are in rewirement :) So many people envision retirement as some fantasy land where we suddenly drop all ties to anything that we have been passionate about and end up on an exotic beach. It’s refreshing to hear how involved you are!

      What are some ways that you have grown your own PLN?

      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

      • Arta Szathmary
        October 6, 2014 at 4:48 am

        I belong to a few key groups in my area.
        I actively use linked in and google plus and have grown my networks in both of these.

        I have set up community for my own students in google+, and have joined a number of communities that interest me such as GEG Eastern PA, and GEG NJ

        I wrote a rule in IFTTT to post to facebook and twitter if I post to google plus.

        I have all of my emails forwarded to one location– account.
        I have written rules in outlook so that my incoming email is sorted into appropriate folders.
        I try to answer any questions within 24 hours.

        Who do I count as prime members of my PLN?
        Josh Sheldon from MIT
        Rich Kiker
        Alfred Tompson
        Kathy Schrock
        Laura B.
        Brandon Lutz

        to name a few.

        I try not to go crazy when I get 300 emails in a day!

  47. Natalie
    October 4, 2014 at 5:50 am

    I wrote two posts, one on Sept 21 about my PLN and one for Oct release about how I connected with others on twitter

    • Dan Leeman
      October 6, 2014 at 2:29 am

      Hi Natalie,

      Thanks for sharing your blog posts with us. Impeccable timing!

      I’m surprised more schools have not moved to an autonomous and continuous professional development model as you have suggested. Perhaps it was just my local area, but it seemed that the districts were more interested in bringing in the “big names” for one-off PD days rather than allowing teachers to explore their own ideas and paths of development. It seems ironic, especially when we are encouraged to focus on different learning styles and abilities of our students, that teachers should be grouped into one giant lecture for professional development.

      It’s great to hear that your new principal took the opinions and learning goals of teachers into consideration when planning professional development. It reminds me a bit of the Google 20% time that allows employees to devote some of their work time to creative projects that better the company. When professional development only follows a top-down approach, it fails to harness the expertise of teachers who know what is most important for their own growth and teaching.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Dan Leeman, Edublogs Support

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