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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.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. To me PLN is an amazing collaborative tool which enables us to enrich the learning to our students, based on different opinions/experiences of several experts on a given subject. PLN improves our and expand our academic community.

    • Miguel Sandoval
    • What a great reflection. Thank you, Miguel!

      • Kathleen Morris
  2. For me a PLN is a space where we can share new information, exercises, doubts, etc. with other teachers, students or experts and also without boundaries, time limitation or even language worries.

    • Marben Armenta
    • Isn’t it great that we don’t have those boundaries anymore, Marben? Enjoy connecting with your PLN!

      • Kathleen Morris
  3. A personal learning network is a cyberspace where I can contact people with the same interests as me, I can also share ideas and educational materials with them. The best about it is that I can connect anytime and everywhere. I can also improve and collaborate with others

    • Hi Gladis,
      I love the fact that connecting with your PLN can be anytime, anywhere too. There certainly aren’t any geographical or time barriers anymore!

      • Kathleen Morris
  4. Looking forward to this!

    • mary angela bendon
  5. To me, a PLN is a global network of educators collaborating to improve their own knowledge as well as help other people improve theirs. So many valuable connections can be formed and so much information can be shared through PLNs.

    • Jennifer Arnoult
    • Great reflection, Jennifer! Good luck with building your own PLN.


      • Kathleen Morris
  6. To me, PLN is an amazing way to stay connected to the educational field. It helps share and gain ideas. I think that it is a great tool, and that it could really help in the classroom.

    • I certainly have found my PLN has helped me both in my own professional growth, and on a more practical level with classroom ideas etc. Thanks for commenting, Kealey!


      • Kathleen Morris
  7. To me, a PLN is a tool for teachers and other professionals to use to gain or share information about topics within their disciplines. It’s a powerful tool to gain access to other people’s views and broaden your own perspective on a wide range of issues.

    • Hi Hannah,

      Great to hear your reflection of a PLN. I sure learn a lot from my PLN on a daily basis!


      • Kathleen Morris
    • Hi Kaylee,

      Thanks for the link to your blog post. It looks like I don’t have permission to access it but I appreciate you taking the time to share the link!


      • Kathleen Morris
  8. PLN is an awesome tool for development. An opportunity to reach into the minds of thousands of people. To be where you have not been and see what you wouldn’t have seen. A way to reach out and to be reached by the world…Such an awesome instrument.

    • Kehinde Omotunde
    • Very true. With a PLN you can connect with thousands of people you probably never would have connected with in real life!

      • Kathleen Morris
  9. A PLN is a really great way to always be connected in the education world. There are so many ways to share and give ideas and helpful tips. I think it could really help develop a strong base for a class. It is a great tool that will always be there.

    • Mattie Bennett
    • We agree, Mattie. It’s wonderful to gain perspectives beyond your own staffroom. I have learnt so much from my PLN!


      • Kathleen Morris
  10. Being a connected teacher is a must nowadays if we, teachers, want to succeed in the field of teaching. Much appreciated to you all because you share your experiences and by doing so you help us enrich the process of teaching in this century.
    Lovely experience to use Spiral. Lovely!!!

    • Delma Ines Saavedra Jaramillo
    • Hi there,

      We agree! Connecting really is a must these days.

      Thanks for getting involved!

      ~ Kathleen

      • Kathleen Morris
  11. I feel a PLN will help connect with other educators, share ideas, gain ideas, and help me build a resource for my classroom. I will be able to connect with other educators, not just the ones I work with everyday.

    • Jessica Plunkett
    • Hi Jessica,
      I agree, developing a PLN is a wonderful opportunity to connect with educators beyond the ones you see every day.
      Good luck!

      • Kathleen Morris
  12. “life-long learner” a term we use all the time but do we really practice it? Having a PLN helps teachers to continue to learn whenever where ever. It’s the “hallway conversation” that sparks ideas within educators. Also there are many teachers who teach subjects where they feel isolated and a PLN is supportive to their growth.

  13. The two biggest lessons I learned from the voice thread were that 1. your school community may be small but there are hundreads of thousands of teachers eager to connect, learn, and grow together. I also learned that while textbooks and workshops may be fixed in their content your PLN can change to fir your needs which is really helpful coming from teaching math, to being self contained!

  14. 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.

  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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/

  18. 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!

  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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,


  24. 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.

  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. It is a way to interact sharing a video with your peers.

    • Maria Luisa Gavaldón
  28. 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
  29. I am so pleased to see that the benefits of technology are catching up to our expectations of how technology could help us.

  30. 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
  31. 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.

  32. i want to learn how to develop a PLN

    • Elizabeth Lambojon
  33. 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.