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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. 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.

  2. The PLN sounds interesting, but not necessarily for all and not to be forced on teachers. Another thing to take up our time for no pay. Add it to our blog sites, google classrooms, twitter, etc.

  3. I had an encounter with the importance of being in a PLN to improve , broaden my profession and to be able to share, learn and collaborate with other educators regardless of their location in the world in order to enrich my students’ knowledge as well.Technology has really brought the world so close to our fingertips that their is no more reason to not want to know.

    • Olutoyin Adefala
  4. While the idea of a PLN is not necessarily new to me, I have never heard it presented specifically as a Personal Learning Network. I appreciate the need to be connected as an educator, the importance of having a network of colleagues to gain knowledge from, get questions answered, and pose new ideas and receive feedback. I also like using the PLN as a resource for connecting with parents. So often the use of technology can be used as an excellent way to communicate classroom happenings in an effective way.
    I am excited to begin my journey of creating my own PLN, and look forward to making connections!

  5. PLN’s are am amazing tool for educators. It is a way to continue learning and educating yourself, because the more you learn the more you can educate. PLN’s are a way pf sharing great ideas and activities with people around the globe.

    • Christopher Snow
  6. I would like to learn and share strategies, tips, experiences, etc. with fellow educators.

  7. Just like some others say: The real purpose of my PLN is not just learning but to improve work and performance. Totally agree!

  8. When I think of a PLN, I think about having several critical friends available. PLNs are based on what you think you need and who you want to connect to for support, ideas, discussion and lots more. As a classroom teacher, I often found that I was most productive when I could collaborate with others. With the aid of technology, this collaboration is made so much easier because now we can connect to anyone, anywhere, anytime. You can share what you have learned and at the same time learn from others.

  9. PLN
    Es una forma de enseñar aprendiendo. Es decir, es la forma que tenemos como profesores para acercarnos a una comunidad que nos comparte la forma de generar conocimiento y métodos para compartirlo.
    Sin duda una idea excelente; nos mantiene actualizados y listos para ofrecer una mejor enseñanza.


  10. I have read some of the posts and I am glad to see that I am not the only one nervous about using some platforms such as twitter. I have practiced with facebook in my classes, but this semester I want to incorporate new things to my class. So ….let´s see how it goes.

    • Vanessa Llera
  11. For me a PLN means a learning network for teachers to collaborate and work together sharing good and useful information in any teaching process.
    A connected educator is an educator who is able to compare and contrast ideas of educating with other teachers from around the world through social media.

  12. The PLN has changed my teaching activities in a good way. Nowdays I can explain too many topics so as to develop different skills in diferrent WEB sites. I think this is a wonderful time, because I´ve had the chance to share ideas with people around the world.

  13. It is so important to be a connected educator for the benefit of students. Being able to tap into other people’s resources and ideas provides students with a far better education.

  14. PLN’s are so beneficial across all levels of education. Being able to create a network in which you are able to share and use new ideas freely has nothing but positive impacts on an educator. Students truly benefit when teachers put their minds together for the greater good. In a world where technology is such an integral part of young people’s lives, figuring out a way to engage students through the integration of technology can be improved through the use of PLN’s.

  15. I found this very interesting. I am just about done with a career switcher program to become a health and PE teacher. As a soon to be new teacher, this is such a wonderful idea. I can’t wait to get started.

  16. To me, a Personal Learning Network or PLN is a way for a person to connect globally with people who share common interests with them. It is also a way for that person to learn from other experts in their profession and a way for that person to share their own knowledge and experiences with others.

  17. Having a PLN means being connected to other educators and sharing experiences and ideas in an educational community beyond my individual school.

  18. As one of the guests said in the video, being a connected educator is multi-faceted. You should be connected to colleagues, students, parents and others.

    Another guest explained the value of PLNs for librarians and I whole-heartedly agree. When you’re a department of one in your building, you have to look for connections elsewhere!

  19. Working in a school with teachers instructing the same curriculum, and having access to the same resources can get a bit stagnant at times. Many of us will ask questions and share ideas, but the answers are most often limited to tools within our own school district. A PLN is a great way to reach outside of our district and learn from educators with different perspectives. We often have professional development trainings on a variety of teaching practices, but a PLN is specific to our needs and interests. Not only does it narrow down our search results, but we as teachers are more inclined to engage in the process because we are in control of what we’re looking for. Individual teachers have their own way of doing things, and a PLN offers a new way to individualize and differentiate learning.

  20. I’m so used to asking individual teachers for ideas and tools to help with my teaching, but through the use of a PLN and twitter account my resource base is expanded. I see a PLM as a way to organize and manage the materials that have given me insight in various aspects of teaching so that I can refer back to them or share a resource with others.

  21. With how dependent the new generation is with technology, we as educators need to adjust our teaching ways to adapt to this new lifestyle. By using a PLN, you are able to connect with other educators to see what has worked for them in getting these children to learn to the best of their ability.

  22. I am a new teacher and the only social media I use is Facebook. I am a little nervous about twitter but I do think I will set up an account and see where it takes me. I could always use new ideas

    • catherine ellsworth
  23. Hello! I am new with PLN and really interested in learning more with and share experiences. I think having a PLN will be a great help not only to new teachers but to seasoned teachers as well.

    • Philip Marciano D. Reyes
  24. This is all very new to me however I am excited about getting started. I am a substitute teacher so I’m in many different classrooms for varying timeframes throughout the year. I find that I “google” quite a bit when I need clarification for myself or for a student. I believe having a PLN will help me be a better teacher. I will start with Twitter and go on from there.

  25. PLN…it makes me think of a few mentor teachers who stop by my room for a quick chat at the end of the day that turns into an hour long convo about what we’re doing that’s working and what’s not and what to try next, but now imagine that same learning with great teachers all over the world!

  26. I am a new teacher, and want to build a PLN for better quality conversations and learning through technology- Starting here!

    • Kari Dusenbery
  27. Are there any State Conferences for PLNs in Texas or Louisiana?

    • TCEA in February in Austin is probably the biggest. There are many that are specific to certain subjects and content areas too.

  28. A PLN is about working together for a common purpose. As educators we must remember that we are a team that needs to collaborate and work together for one common goal. PLN is beneficial for all teachers of skills. As stated above, “a connected educator is a connected learner”. We are not meant to work alone, we are meant to learn from another and share those experiences with others around the nation and world.

  29. I am excited to follow this learning tool in order to broaden my scope of use with Twitter and then turn around this knowledge with a group of interested teachers in my building.

  30. In seeking to develop a PLN, I turned to protopage to develop a source point for bringing all of my connections into one location. Has anyone found a great resource that they like to use to keep all of their connections in an easy-to-access location?

  31. 2. In this point I learned as many educators can share experiences about PLN and how has been applied.

    3. To be connected at present by a network with your PLN is important because it helps yourself to be updated brings over of the best technologies(skills) and practices of learning and education.
    4. In particular my PLN helps me to be innovating in technologies skills of learning.

  32. A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is a place focus on learning, where a group of people, using a network, is interconected. The possibility of having an asynchronous colaboration allows to choose the time and the space to participate with people that is interested in common issues. Being part of a PLN can enrich the knowledge and practice of any educator.

  33. A personal learning network is a place where I can go to share and collaborate with my peers. It’s an online network that allows me access to specific groups of my choosing to help me to grow and learn as an educator. It’s a collaboration tool that is available to my 24/7 to share my ideas as well as gain input from others all across the world.

  34. PLNs are really important to me as a teacher and I think students should have them as well (though used in a different way). I used to use a blog combined with twitter but am now trying a tool called trovvit. It’s a new tool but worth checking out. It allows me to create a ‘record’ and share it as a post to my PLN group. The nice part of this is that everything is archived in my “trove”. It’s new and free. They say they are coming out with a tool for schools this summer. Anyway, one of the better tools I have found so far. Thank you for this great post!

  35. I have learned that the PLN is just a way that teachers can collaborate and share ideas online. I like the idea but I feel like this type of network could be really easy to lose interest. Especially if a child uses things like twitter to communicate with classmates it may cause problems. There are distractions on social media that can distract children away from there main focus.

  36. A personal learning network to means keeping updated with current trends, collaborating with others and branching out. We all went to college and learned the basics of teacher but in the working world is a responsibility to reach beyond our immediate knowledge and expand and globally connect with others. In this way, teachers can share and collaborate multiple ideas to bring to the classroom.

  37. My digital footprint has been pretty limited in the past, but I can see that it’s time to move to the next level and open a Twitter account. This will be my first step in creating a PLN for myself.

  38. To me, a connected educator is a person who is not scared to ask other teachers for help. A connected educator has the ability to admit when he or she is confused or needs guidance in an area, and will show other teachers appreciation for their suggestions. My PLN within my building is fantastic, because when one of us comes up with a new technique or lesson, we always share it with others so that all students in all classrooms can succeed.

    • Elizabeth Shephard
  39. I believe that a PLN allows growth for all parties involved. I believe that I have created a strong PLN within my own school building by not being scared to ask other teachers for help and suggestions of what has always worked for them to make our students successful. I also use online resources (teacher blogs, Pinterest, etc.) to enhance our curriculum.

    • Elizabeth Shephard
  40. It looks easy so I’m going to give it a go, first step i will open a twitter accout

  41. A connected educator is an educator who is able to compare and contrast ideas of educating with other teachers from around the planet through social media or social interaction outlets. Having a PLN can help you as a connected educator because it allows a learning network with other teachers that can be beneficial for your development of contextual knowledge based learning as an educator.

  42. What I learned from the voice thread is that a PLN can have a great effect on a teachers ability to expand their contextual knowledge. Teachers are able to learn from one another from different countries or cultures from around the world which builds their own knowledge surrounding pedagogy, context and content.

  43. To me a PLN is a network that allows me to develop an understanding of a certain subject with multiple educators through online resources. It is beneficial to my learning as an educator as I am able to revise my own knowledge through educating those with similar interests to me, as well as learning new things from people who may share similar or varied contextual knowledge to the one I possess.

  44. A PLN to me means a learning network for teachers allover to collaborate and work together sharing good and useful information aiding in any teaching process. A PLN works well because it is personalised to everyone who uses it, meaning that the individual get to choose which outlet to gather information, and can have their own questions answered.

  45. I think that PLN’s give educators a way to communicate with other teachers on a global scale. Having a variety of perspectives helps educators incorporate new ideas into their lessons.

  46. If I get the meaning of PLN it is a group of educators and teachers all over the world working together to help each other to become the best educator they can be.

    • Hi Joan, and thank you for participating in the PLN Teacher Challenge!

      You are correct in your summary of what a PN is, except the teachers don’t necessarily work together per se. They share their work experiences and ideas with each other.

      Eugene Brown, Edublogs Support

  47. I am your typical ‘old dog’ with a PLN that exists, but without the internet. After going through this site, I am ready to set up some professional circles and maybe even try twitter…Thank you for the push.

  48. Do you recommend keeping a separate PLN for your personal and work networks? I have found that there are some things I don’t want everyone at work to know when I post it on my personal pages. It is difficult though because work people find your personal account and want to add you as a ‘friend’, and if you say no I am sure they would take it negatively.

  49. hi just want to ask you how is pln different from the blended and flipped learning? and can you give more examples of other related studies or published works/articles about pln (aside from the connectivism theory)? thanks

    • emma gonzales