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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.

400 Comments

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  1. I’m a math teacher since 1997. Many changes in education have taken place since then.
    I don’t have a PLN yet, but I realize it’s very important to have one because it helps you to grown as a teacher. Sharing ideas, make connections between teachers, learn new ways of using technology.
    I’m sure being connected to other teachers will help me a lot in my own way of teaching.

    • Claudia Sánchez
  2. Nowadays, being a connected educator is a crucial part of education. If we are connected, our students can have the opportunity to enrich their knowledge and experience with the knowledge and experience of all the educators we are connected with.

  3. For me the real challenge of having a PLN is relating with the correct people, that have the same interests and objectives that you may have for an specific course. Anyway it is really interesting to meet people around the world and to share our practices, experiences and know how. With the information and videos in this blog now I have a more sensitive image of the value of sharing.

  4. Having a PLN gets you connected to people interested in your topic / activity, in this case teaching. So you have an unlimited source of information and connections that helps your learn form others and improve your teaching practice in the same way that others learn from you and improve their teaching practice.
    Cheers!
    TC

  5. A PLN is a great way for educators to learn from each other. I have been inspired by other educators on Twitter and want to continue developing my practice. As teachers we know two brains are better than one. A PLN allows educators to reach outside of the four walls of their schools and learn from others all around the world.

    • Well said, Brittany!

      • Kathleen Morris
  6. I learned what a PLN is. It is sharing, ideas and resources, collaborating and learning. It is two way learning. A person learns and contributes to learning

  7. I teach in a small private elementary school. There is one of each grace PreK-8. The staff is great and we collaborate as much as we can, but sometimes you just need to connect with an educator on the same grade level. A PLN will surely help with this isolation!

    • dolores sadusky
    • Good point, Dolores. You’re lucky to work in such a great school. I guess sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know too!

      • Kathleen Morris
  8. As a PE teacher having a PLN is important to me. New games, new teaching methods are all important to me

    • Christopher Mitchell
  9. We grow ourselves through our learning networks.

    • Alfred Powell
    • Absolutely!

      • dolores sadusky
  10. PLN is important and helpful because educators can share ideas and facilitate discussion, like being at a seminar.

  11. A PLN would help to support my students and collaborate with educators from around the world. I think it would be great to share ideas and help one another.

    • Christine Mangin
  12. A PLN is a e-space where teachers and pupils can contact after school, colleagues discuss about the school and communicate their ideas.

  13. I think the most interesting thing that I have learned in digging into the idea and concept of a PLN is that even though it is a personal thing, it need not reflect a person to person contact. I think the first time the curtain was really pulled back on this for me was in my MAT program. One of my professors exposed his PLN and how he had created it over the years. I’m new to the world of teaching, four-years-new anyway, and I have been working at creating my teaching PLN which isn’t really much of a different process from creating my military PLN. The main difference between teaching and military has been the person to person aspect and how genuinely open the networks are by comparison.

    • Hi Keith,
      What an interesting reflecting comparing teaching and military. Some people probably haven’t thought about professional networks in other industries. I hope you’re enjoying your career change!

      • Kathleen Morris
  14. A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is when teachers, school personnel, experts, and others collaborate to share resources, ideas, and projects to create more learning in an environment.

    • Letitia Howell
  15. A PLN would mean being able to connect with other tech assistants on how I can better help my team in the office, and the staff in my schools.

  16. I listened to the voice thread and was excited to hear people from all over being connected through education. I noticed that many of the people who shared their stories benefited from being connected to a PLN whether personally or professionally.

    • Darleen Anderson
  17. From VoiceThread, I was able to understand that as teachers, we all agree on the benefits of a PLN. We are able to communicate our ideas across and gather new insights that are beneficial.

  18. I am particularly interested in using a PLN to see how other teachers are using technology to engage student interest, make connections between subjects, encourage problem solving, and inspire creativity in a high school setting. If this is your thing, please introduce yourself.

    • Beverly Weihz
  19. It is important to be a connected educator to collaborate with other educators in creating and discussing new teaching strategies. Also have the opportunity to have open dialogue and be connected with all parties (educators, students, and parents) to create the optimal learning environment. Using a PLN can assist in increasing participation in growing music programs.

    • Hi James,
      Great points about having a PLN and growing a music programs. Many people who teach more specialist areas (like music) find it useful to have a PLN when they’re the only one at their school in that area.

      • Kathleen Morris
  20. Since the 21st century is technology based, a PLN give educators the chance to connect across the world,enhance each others skills and build relationships. A PLN allows the educator to discuss educational issues, ideas, and receive feedback on those ideas.

  21. I have learned that a PLN is essentially a way to share resources and ideas with educators around the world. It is a way to learn about the latest educational trends as well as a way to motivate and become inspired by fellow educators.

    • Darlene Mills
  22. To me, PLN is awesome because it can help to keep me motivated, learn new ideas and connect with people all around the world.

  23. I like the idea of a PLN. I guess I have a PLN and didn’t know it! I follow several bos on Pintrest, am friends with educator friends in another state and I use You Tube learn new ways to teach Pre-K skills!

  24. A PLN means to connect with others online and to build relationships to further educate myself.

    • Edward A. Discount
  25. A PLN is a way to connect with other educators. You can share ideas and ask questions. What is neat about this is the ability to communicate with others around the world.

    • Cynthia Shankle
  26. A PLN means I have global resources, ability to collaborate with other, the ability to share my strategies and ideas with like minds. PLN also with provide me with great professional development opportunities. I also think that PLN is very important to all communities. It will help communities gain resources to build safer places to live and develop relationship with each other to help build a strong nation.

    • William Johnson
  27. I watched all three videos but I’m choosing the What is a PLN video. As a tech asst., I believe that having a PLN would be huge. Being able to ask for help when troubleshooting or getting tips from other technicians would be a great advantage.

  28. A PLN means that you always have someone to turn to when you need feedback or need to get new ideas. It’s a great way to keep your teaching fresh and never get stale.
    I learned from the Voicethread that in a short amount of time educators have been able to grow their PLN and have really expanded the information they have access too.
    It’s important to be a connected educator in order to be the best educator you can be. I enjoyed the fact that you can even try to connect during the late hours of the night and someone (might be on the other side of the world) will reach out.

    • Justine Teeter
  29. A PLN is a global way to collaborate with other professionals. I like the fact that as a member of a PLN you get to decide how much time is needed to dedicate yourself to it. As a member of a PLN the professional has the choice of what they want to learn.

  30. In response to the “Connected Educators” video, I would say that one of the biggest advantages to being connected is that you have constant access to a worldwide support network. Having such accessibility to so many diverse, helpful voices is remarkable, and has obviously become integral for educators. Through this video, I learned that I can use a PLN not only to help me when I am teaching, but also to find jobs.

  31. Sure wish this was available in my “younger” years. PLN- you are NEVER disconnected!! I have always said, “stay humble when teaching”. I/we are not the smartest person in the room. Students, because they are always connected too, use PLN probably more than us. In either case, we learn from others and this is a perfect way to get more knowledge and share!

    • Michael VanTilburg
  32. I have learned that a PLN, or a Personal Learning Network, is available at all times a day because a network can be global and there will be teachers available at any given time. This will be really helpful as a teacher, because I have a tendency to do a lot of work and run into problems late at night when most people in my area are not awake to help me.

  33. I have always been a proponent for universal learning because I overstood that It would take me to places that I could only image. Now, through the PLN, I am able to travel the world and engage in phenomenal informal exchanges of ideas, with educators, without ever leaving my computer.

    • Hi Eddie, it’s funny to think that it wasn’t all that long ago that it was really difficult to connect with educators outside of your own school. It’s an exciting time to teach!

      • Kathleen Morris
  34. It is a very cool way to stay connected with other teachers in your content area globally, learn different ideas from others as well as share your thoughts and ideas with others too. It’s just a give and take.

    • You’re right. Give and take is very important!

      • Kathleen Morris
  35. A PLN is a Personal Learning Network. It is used to share your ideas, resources, collaboration and learning experiences with one another. This network is also used to build relationships with educators around the world. Educators can support each other and share different experiences that they have learned. It is a network focused on learning and how to accelerate your learning.

    • Paula Anderson
  36. As the only dance educator within my district, having PLNs through social media has been extremely helpful over the last eleven years. I’ve been able to ask questions, provide answers, give and receive support, learn new things, communicate with other dance educators, ask questions, share videos, and much more. I do agree with the teacher in the connected educator video that stated, “Using social media is the 21st century teacher tool.” It really is.

  37. I love the idea of joining a PLN. Even though I have stayed connected through face book and other social media sites with my fellow classmates, I did not know I was apart of an PLN until watching the video. In the future, I will connect with more educators to share and receive ideas to better serve our students.

    • Dustin J Robinson
  38. Watching these videos showed me that I have a global team of educators that I can call on for inspiration and support. This opens up new opportunities for me to collaborate globally and provide my students with additional resources and learning opportunities.

  39. The video helped me to understand the importance of being connected to other professional around the world. Being able to get ideas and sharing perspectives can only enhance my professional skills.

  40. I have always wanted to upload a video in the utube community but never knew how to do it. I enjoy the comments to videos that have been shared.

  41. I enjoyed the voicethread video. It inspired me to use technology to help my students prosper in the global world.

    • katherine baron
  42. I love being a connected educator! Instagram is my favorite way of connecting with teachers from all over. The coolest part is that it is possible to become “friends” with teachers that are in your exact grade level/content area. Instagram directs me to blogs, providing great lessons and FREE resources!

    • katherine baron
    • Hi Katherine,
      Instagram is certainly getting more and more popular with teachers. What a great way to share and learn! 🙂

      • Kathleen Morris
    • Great start to your blog!

      • Kathleen Morris
  43. The connected video showed me how important staying connected to peers is needed .

    • Debra Blackwell
  44. I feel that the PLN helps with connecting educators globally. It gives you a vast of ideas
    in the educational arena. Using Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs help with ideas that I can connect with educationally 24/7.

    • Debra Blackwell
  45. It helps me to keep growing in my field. There is an enormous difference between “connected” teachers who have established their own Personal Learning Networks and the instructors who subsist primarily on the antiquated, impersonalized modes of traditional development. I

    • Debra Blackwell
  46. A personal learning network for me is one or any number of social media outlets through which fellow colleagues, students, friends, family, and I communicate or share knowledge with one another, which helps us grow.

    • Bryan Godfrey
    • Hi Bryan, I hope you enjoy building your PLN!

      • Kathleen Morris