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Welcome to the final step in our free professional learning series on building your PLN.

Now you know what a PLN is, and how people build one, we’re going to discuss ways of making time for your PLN.

In this step you will explore:

  1. How to find time to develop your PLN and embed simple practices into your routine
  2. Tips for building your PLN

Overview

Throughout this series, we’ve looked at different ways that educators enjoy building a PLN and connecting with their networks.

While we mainly focused on Twitter, blogs, and curation tools, remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are many other ways that educators connect with others and we encourage you to explore anything that looks interesting to you.

Popular ways educators are learning with their PLN Edublogs Teacher Challenge

Whatever tools you use, you want it to be sustainable. The real benefits of having a PLN emerge once you get to know people and as we’ve said throughout this series, the more you put in, the more you’ll get back.

Tips For Building Your PLN

Here are some tips for building your PLN and making the time to be a ‘connected educator’ without feeling overwhelmed.

Do what works best for you

How do you like to learn and connect best? Do you prefer reading and text based materials? Are you a keen writer? Maybe you like audio and enjoy learning via podcasts. Videos are also a popular way for people to learn and share information.

Follow your natural learning style and think about ways you can become a connected educator by doing what you’re comfortable with. Not every tool or service is for everyone!

Start small

Put your blinkers on. You really don’t need to use all the tools that are out there. Trying to keep up with many people and many tools is a recipe for feeling overwhelmed.

Some educators have built up a great network just by reading a handful of blogs and following a small number of people on Twitter. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.

Set a goal and commit

Set yourself one goal of something you’re going to commit to trying.

Maybe your goal will be to join Twitter and find 10 people to follow. Then challenge yourself to check in every day for a month and see what your followers are tweeting about. If this works for you, you can build on it. If not, you can always try something new!

Set a routine

You probably already have a number of online routines in place. Maybe you’re in the routine of checking your emails in the morning, or perhaps browsing Facebook when you sit down after dinner.

Create a routine for your PLN too.

This doesn’t have to involve a big chunk of time. A few minutes here and there to read a blog post, browse through Feedly or Flipboard, or scroll through Twitter can be all you need to get on your way.

Consider becoming more productive

We all know how easy it is for time to whittle away while browsing online. Whether it’s YouTube videos or Instagram photos, maybe some of your online browsing experiences can be redirected to building your PLN.

Of course, we all need downtime but this is something for you to ponder!

Don’t be shy

Most people in the educational community are remarkably friendly. Don’t be shy about following people you don’t know, leaving a stranger a comment, or responding to someone’s tweet.

You’ll probably be glad you did and you never know where one small interaction can take you!

Don’t give up

It’s so common to try something new and feel a great sense of discomfort. You might feel confused and overwhelmed but don’t give up! Once you get over the initial learning curve, it will all pay off. We promise!

Maybe you’ll end up like Tisha Poncio who gave this inspiring shout out to her PLN on Twitter.

 

 “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Edublogs PLN Challenge

Your Task

PLNs 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. What are your goals? Leave a comment on this post to tell us what aspects of your PLN you want to focus on first. Maybe you want to join Twitter and find some fellow teacher-librarians or history teachers. Or maybe you want to add all your favorite blogs to a Feedly account. Tell us about it!
  2. Making time. Leave a comment on this post to share your ideas on how you will make time to build your PLN. Remember to consider if there is anything you can remove from your online browsing routine to free up time for building your PLN.
  3. Share your top tip. Leave a comment to share your tips that have helped get you started building a PLN without feeling overwhelmed.
  4. Pay it forward. Remember that a barrier to developing a PLN is simply not knowing what’s out there. Why not ‘pay it forward’ and tell a friend or colleague about this series? Encourage them to take part and learn about building their own PLN!
  5. Write a post about PLNs. If you have a blog, now could be the perfect time to write about PLNs. Put all the pieces together from what you’ve learned in this series and share your own insights or goals. You never know, you might just help someone else get started! Please include @edublogs if you tweet your post so we can share it with our network. Leave a comment with a link to your post so we can read it!

Also feel free to leave a comment to ask any questions you still have about building a PLN. We may be able to help!

How to leave a comment: Scroll down to find the comment box. Write your comment, then enter your name and email address (email addresses are not published). Enter the anti-spam word. Press submit and we will moderate your comment ASAP.


PLN Course Certificate

Have you completed each of the 7 steps in this course AND left a comment on each post? Maybe you’d like a certificate to show that you’ve completed the PLN Teacher Challenge course!

Fill out the form below to receive your certificate via email. Alternatively, click here to open the form in a new tab.

If you don’t receive your certificate, please look in your junk/spam folder.

Claim Your Badge!

If you’ve completed the PLN challenge, feel free to proudly display this badge on the sidebar of your blog. Alternatively, you might like to add it to your About page to demonstrate your professional learning.

Simply right click on the image and save it to your computer. Then add it to your sidebar by following these instructions.

We’re so happy to have you as part of our Teacher Challenge community!

PLN Teacher Challenge badge Edublogs

257 Comments

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  1. 1.) Begin curating a list of Blogs in a Feedly account
    2.) Begin leveraging Twitter as a PLN for wearable technology in connection with Polyvagal Theory and self-regulation.
    3.) Curate new resources and content found on a Flipboard

    • Danae Peterson
  2. Moving Forward to better make time for PLN make a goal to find at least one new piece of information to share with a educator friend or collaborating teacher that I found interesting or useful. That way I start building a sort of online “portfolio” of information I that I find helpful that I can practice with so that I’m better prepared and more knowledgable.

    Going through online browsing I feel like a lot of stress I once had about where to find ideas and help has diminished significantly. There are so many chats/ learning communities equipped with a great deal of opinions and helpful resources who are willing to offer a helping hand. Now, its mainly about using the resources that I am know aware of and paying this same information forward to other educators/ students who may need more direction or perspective.

  3. I think that going forward now, I will try and reach out to more people on social media that are directly involved with my profession, search for more blogs or articles that I can begin to compile in my own blog or a flipboard, and keep filling my pinterest with inspiration for the future and sharing that with others! I’m also going to take more advantage of using youtube as a great way to connect and find more information on things I want to know more about or get more involved in regarding the world of teaching!

  4. I have now made 3 new accounts; Twitter, Feedly, and Pinterest. I have not had too much time to search through them but I plan on spending quite some time building my PLN as I see how beneficial it can be. I want to find tips and tricks for first year elementary teachers.

    • Rebecca Pierce
  5. After reading this entire free professional learning series on building a PLN, I have thought of a few aspects I would like to focus on to develop my PLN! I mentioned earlier that Twitter had been my go-to social media platform to keep up-to-date with the latest news and developments. However, I have yet to use Twitter to follow other experts’ work in education. I want to follow ten educational thought leaders and check in on their tweets daily in the evening. I also want to participate in my first Twitter Chat before the month is over! I am excited to start building my personalized learning network!

    • Rebecca Campbell
  6. One of the goals I am setting after this course is setting aside time each day to check out content on a new platform. For example, I made a Twitter account and need to follow some more people and come back and check it often in order to really figure out how to use it as a tool to build my PLN and connect with others.

  7. My goal is to get better at the curation of content. I like that there are different websites that will help make the content more interesting for the students. Whether it is creating a dialogue with other students or helping to create a personal learning network of teachers with fresh ideas. The internet helps to provide us with valuable information, but also valuable relationships.

    • Kathryn Clemons
  8. I will dedicate thirty minutes every week day after my classes are complete in order to make sure I am taking an active role at expanding my PLN in even the smallest ways before I become more comfortable with using a PLN. Then, once it is properly set up, I may only work two or three times a week on expanding it, though I will always be on the hunt for new ways of doing things and new perspectives on pedagogy.

  9. I see through this lesson on PLNs that connecting with your community is really important. I typically stay to myself in my work and class environments but now I see how beneficial it is to connect with others. PLN makes the range of people to connect with bigger and more diverse. Even if you aren’t learning from it, you could be teaching someone and vice versa!

  10. My PLN goal is to connect on Twitter and Instagram and see if I could find educators in my field. I like the first two tips: do what best works for you, and start small. It is important to set your PLN to what suits you and get you the best results. Also, it important not to set too big. Just take one step at a time.

    • Isaiah Alexander
  11. The biggest tip for me is to start small. I get frustrated when things get overwhelming and there’s a vast amount of information out there. This 7 Step Challenge has put me on the path of building my PLN. I’ve created a Twitter account and started following some accounts that relate to my field of education. I’ve also learned about Twitter chats and have looked into #kinderchat. I’ve also decided to use my Pinterest account for more education related content. Right now my goal is to explore and learn more about Twitter and Pinterest.

    • Tarana Tavangar