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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.

PLN

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.

296 Comments

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  1. A PLN is like a giant conversation you have with like minded people that you don’t know but you know they have good taste. Like how you read reviews for a hotel or a new restaurant to try. You may not know the people personally but you know they have tried it and are suggesting something worth wile.

  2. I feel connecting with others is necessary to grow as an educator to help our students. I know I do my best work after collaborating with my colleagues, I can’t imagine how I will grow as I collaborate with people I may never even meet. Having the support as a new teacher has been a critical piece t o my professional development.
    Mary Ellen Mulderrig

    • Mary Ellen Mulderrig
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  3. I learned what a great tool a PLN is through the voice thread! I feel inspired to create one for me and for my students. This is great for me, as sometimes I want to do something different in my class than the other grade level teachers, which means I am not totally connected with others, so glad to know I can get such great support around the world!
    Mary Ellen Mulderrig

    • Mary Ellen Mulderrig
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  4. This post taught me how important it is to collaborate with other teachers. Collaboration, however, does not just need to come from within the walls of your own school. With a PLN, there are endless possibilities for collaboration and idea sharing. A PLN is invaluable for support and ideas within the classroom. Check out my blog post here: https://nicolescalfaro.wordpress.com/

  5. A personal learning network is a group of educators connected online mainly through social media who share resources and ideas in order to improve their skills and outcomes. A PLN can be energizing when you’re in a rut, can be a source of instant information when you’re stuck, and can be a sounding board when you’re not sure about what you are planning.
    The VoiceThread showed how people were only finding out about PLNs a few short years ago, and how PLNs have become much more common.
    Thanks for creating this challenge!

  6. I really enjoyed listening to people from all over the world on how a PLN has enhanced their lives and career. It is beneficial to write and/or read blogs and post Tweets, but I found it much more enlightening to actually listen to voice recordings through VoiceThread! What a great technology tool!

    • Colette Perkins
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  7. A PLN is a great informal, social learning collaboration tool to promote professional development. You can reap the benefits of others’ ideas, perspectives, and challenges. You can share personal experiences or learned knowledge to better our world. It is developing a global “community of practice” to formulate solutions.

    • Colette Perkins
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  8. I love the idea of PLNs. I am very involved on a PLN using Twitter. The conversation revolves around a central idea, however, many ideas are shared. Sometimes I can contribute, other times I absorb. While there is a set meeting time for the major ideas, the conversation is able to continually occur due to the use of the hashtag.

  9. Setting up a PLN can be difficult if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, there are resources like this to provide an understanding of the structure and purpose of a PLN. Armed with this information, I am more confident and interested in using this communication medium to improve my teaching skills and grow as an individual.

  10. The ability to communicate effectively can set you apart as both a person and more so as an educator. I’ve heard it said that when you open your mouth to speak you tell the whole world who you are.

    In this age of rapid communication and change, a PLN can be a valuable resource for professional development. Indeed, an informed educator will have a very positive effect on learners. This information was insightful and very valuable.

    Thank you,

    Oree

  11. The PLN video helped me understand better how to set up a learning network. The other two videos allow me to really grasped the importance of networking with other educators, to join the 21st century as an educator using and embracing technology and to be a life long learner in order to inspire my students to be lifelong learners.

  12. As a teacher I find this PNL idea very interesting, it can help us find people with the same interest and subjects, and actually help others and get help too

    • Maria Luisa Gavaldón
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  13. as a voice thread, is a nice way to communicate in real time or having some time to think over the questions or comments with peers

    • Maria Luisa Gavaldón
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  14. It is a way to interact sharing a video with your peers.

    • Maria Luisa Gavaldón
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  15. 1. What a PLN means to you?
    Even though I am a tutor professor in an on line programs, I wasn´t familiar with the term of PLN. Now that I am in this training course “learning in social networks”, I am getting involved more deeply in this exceptional subject of personal learning networks and I´m getting aware of the importance of global learning today. Students, teachers and experts should be prepare to respond as educators in this changing world that is full of questions and eager for knowledge.
    Sharing Ideas, resources, knowledge and experiences with other teachers, experts or students is the most valuable experience that will help us to growth as educators and human beings.

    2. Why it is important to be a connected educator and how a PLN can help you?
    Being a connected educator is in these days an added value for the students since they are aware of an accessible, fast and easy learning. And that learning must be of the best quality and competitiveness. Therefore PLN will be an excellent tool to create personal relationships with other teachers, professors and experts around the world, talking about techniques, methods, didactics, technologies, etc., and sharing best practices to improve our educational work.

    • Susana Edith Martínez Vázquez
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  16. I am so pleased to see that the benefits of technology are catching up to our expectations of how technology could help us.

  17. A PNL is a great help for me as a teacher, you can relate to other peers and share so many ideas, activities, videos, class material and so many more stuff. I still get amazed by the technology and how we can get interconnected in matter of minutes and it seem that there are no distance of barriers or gaps between people, we can interact and share our ideas in a very efficiently way.

    • Arlette Audiffred Hinojosa
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  18. Connected Educator Video

    It is very important to be connected to other teachers simply do to the fact that each person has different skills they have learned and different perspectives. By being connected through technology, we are able to share techniques that work in our specific classrooms to be adapted in another, opinions that invoke questions that might not have been thought about up to that point. and simply be exposed to different teaching practices and styles.

  19. i want to learn how to develop a PLN

    • Elizabeth Lambojon
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  20. I have just returned to the classroom after being in a retail job for many, many years. Technology has seemed to become a core part in education today. Having a PLN to help me understand and better connect with technology, and reaching out to other educators from all over the world sounds amazing.