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

497 thoughts on “Step 7: Making Time To Build Your PLN

  1. My goal is just finding the time. I am so excited and was so shocked by the plethora information that I know it’ll be so worth my while to get involved and form a really good PLN. For me it’s just getting into a routine and making a it well organized and well curated to the information that is most beneficial for my teaching styles and what is most important of all the information out there for my classroom. I’m really excited in the next few days to develop a Flipboard, Feedly and Twitter account that best suit the kind of information I want to follow. As someone who was not excited about social media, I think I have just been afraid of it and not realizing all the true potential that social media can have.

  2. What I want to work on first for developing a PLN is just getting used to using Social Media. I generally avoid it like the plague, as I find I can get easily distracted in it and it rarely if ever makes my day better. I’m also very introverted and do not even have much of a desire for creating any sort of even personal networks pasta small group of friends, so getting in a mindset to create a network outside of that will take a push.

  3. My primary goal for starting up my PLN right now is establishing connections with others via social media, particularly Twitter and LinkedIn. Those two sites alone can flood anyone with tons of information, and getting the flow of content started, to me, seems to be the most crucial part of starting a PLN. Without the relevant and engaging content, the PLN would just look like a contact list!

  4. 1. Goals: I don’t know what my goals are, as this is the first time I have ever actively thought about my PLN. I know that in the past I have reached out to fellow students in hopes of building a bit of a base, as we are headed into the same field. That has yielded mixed results… Maybe I should look into more TED talks I could listen to while driving, as that is where a lot of my free time is spent. I could find a few teachers to follow there, and maybe check into their Twitters, or find out if they have written blogs. I’m still not a huge fan of Twitter, so I doubt I’ll extend much time towards that end. Another good resource I could look into is my school’s alumni. They might be blogging, or Twitting (what on earth is the verb tense for Twitter usage??). Le shrug. I dunno, people. We shall have to see where this all leads.

  5. I didn’t realize how important PLN was until now, and as a teacher, I intend to use it to expand my teachings. I will make time for and implement many great ideas, not only for myself but also for students and educators. One of the goals I’ll set for myself is to create a Twitter account and use it to connect with others.

  6. I would like to create a different twitter for it so I can produce different content for my students and I feel it be more appropriate to have it that way

  7. 1. PLN goals

    I have found out about many great online PLN resources through each of these modules. I am now subscribed to Teaching with Technology the blog, and am determined to find more blogs related to educational activity and idea sharing. I am looking forward to the NT2T conversations on Twitter, and I’m looking forward to more Twitter groups, hashtags, and conversations related to education. As the video in the first module mentioned, creating connections is a key to improving as an educator. That is my goal going forward; to make connections with individuals and group through PLNs.

  8. I think what I am going to do is use my pinterest solely for educational purposes or anything pertaining to my classroom. I can make certain folders that are specifically labeled for each subject, grade, or both. These will be public so others can add to it and they will be archived so I can share, add, or reference.

  9. 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!

    My goals include:
    -Making a twitter for educational purposes and following other educators.
    -Adding more pins to my Pinterest.
    -Explore Flipboard more.
    -Check out Feedly
    -Check out more blogs and see if it’s something I’d be interesting in doing.

  10. What are your goals? Leave a comment on this post to tell us what aspects of your PLN you want to focus on first.
    My goal is to start adding things to my Freely account. Linking informative blogs and Twitter accounts. I would like to find youtube videos I could incorporate as well. I want to focus on creating a PLN that looks like I dedicating time to making it reflect me.

  11. Share goals: My PLN goal is to learn more about different resources and tools that I can use for my future lesson plans. As all students learn differently, I want to accommodate to each of my students’ needs and make sure that the learning environment is as inclusive as possible. I definitely want to start a teacher page on Instagram so that I can post daily on any activities and or just anything school related that I would like to share with the rest of the world 🙂 I would also try to start a blog or Pinterest page so that other educators will be able to respond and engage with my ideas and post. I want to make connections through social media platforms as it is the most easiest and simplest way to learn more from the outside!

  12. I have followed a somewhat random collection of educators for a while, but reading about and better understanding PLNs has inspired me to better organize and curate who I am following. I’d like to put some more work into building a Twitter feed that is interesting and informative. I’d also like to start offering my own contributions in some ways as well. I’m not sure if I’d do a blog or a Twitter, but I like the idea of sharing my experiences and also being able to archive some of my thoughts. I will first focus on improving my PLN and following more educators and social studies teachers on Twitter, then I will begin to think about how I can best contribute to the global network of teachers and educators.

  13. 1. Twitter, Feedly and the Pocket app are my goals. I do not use my twitter for educational purposes and I cannot wait to start. I also am excited, now I can view articles and save them to my pocket app for reading when I have the time. I believe this will take the anxiety out of waiting to see if an article is still easily accessible when I get back the time to sit and read
    2. Making time? I am a terrible sleeper, and often spend that time mindlessly watching comedy/gaming videos on YouTube. This is when I will make my time to implement my PLN into my life. I also like to wake up and get on Facebook daily, so I can switch that to education twitter or reading saved articles from the night before.
    3. My top tip is twitter. Odds are you already have one, so you basically know what you are doing already. Just make one more professionally and watch yourself slowly become integrated into the education community.

  14. I feel that I will be making time by firstly carving out a designated few days that I work on my PLN in different aspects. I would like to cultivate a regular schedule to work on this during my week so that it becomes a vital part of my routine. Carving out an hour or two in each session would allow me to dive into my PLN in a manageable amount of time. By also setting goals for my PLN, I will be able analyze what day and amounts of time are needed to complete these goals. I feel that I could redirect some of my Youtube time to my PLN as I do spend a considerable amount of time listening to other educators on there that I could spare some extra time by possibly cutting that time in half or watching a video each day instead of a handful of videos in a day.

  15. My goals for my PLN vary. Aspect’s of my PLN that I want to focus on first is actually following more teacher’s/ librarian’s on Twitter. I have had a Twitter account for years, but do noy truly follow many educator’s on it, so my goal is to start following more educator’s on twitter and to also start viewing more Twitter chats, as this 7 Step PLN activity has taught me, Twitter chats can be very useful and insightful to follow along and read. I also want to try out Wakelet, the Curation tool, and give it a try, through making a video of some sort.

  16. 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.: I feel like I can take 10-15 minutes every morning as I wake up/eat breakfast to build my PLN. Whether that be following new accounts on Twitter or Pinterest; or just browsing content to update my algorithm, both will greatly help develop my PLN and center it on the information useful to me. I would not advise cutting out free time in exchange for PLN building time however because free time is important.

  17. 1. My goals are to build a large ‘database’ of resources I can pull from for just about any lesson I could imagine. For example, I would love to have ideas for sub plans I could pull quickly without telling them to give the kids busy work all day. I would also love to continue to build my knowledge of many technology tools that students can use to learn both in and out of the classroom.

  18. My goals are to use social media platforms that I already have been using to incorporate and broaden my PLN. For example, twitter is an app I commonly use, but I don’t follow accounts that are geared towards education. I want to incorporate more academically stimulating content into my everyday life, and I think this is a good way to start.

  19. This has been such a helpful process. I thought I knew everything there was to know about being a connected educator since I’m already a pretty tech savvy individual. However, there are so many more avenues to pursue that I may not have discovered otherwise! I’ve shared this site with my whole department, and we’re going to chat more about our PLNs at our next department meeting!

  20. Part of the PLN that I want to focus on is the continuation of using curation tools. I’m more familiar with them and that there is a lot that I can do to utilize them in my future classroom. As much as social media has a prominent place today, I don’t believe it to be the ultimate way of communication with other educators, unless necessary. Communicating with teachers from abroad is a great way to gain insight and learn from other people in different countries other than our own. In a nutshell, curation tools are something I want to expand my horizon upon when it comes to my PLN.

  21. I feel like the first step I can do to create more time to build my PLN is to use part of the time I spend on TikTok to sift through the endless teacher videos. Once I have that mastered, then I want to create a short routine or checklist where I give myself certain tasks such as finding two or three more blogs to follow and finding a website other than TikTok that’ll help build my PLN.

  22. I think one of my goals in creating my PLN would be to start a podcast. Podcast’s are one of my favorite mediums for receiving information, so I think an educational one would be perfect for me. I love the idea that you can just put on a Podcast and carry on with whatever task you were completing. I also love that you can control the length and content for each Podcast you record. Podcasts are also a great way to collaborate, because it offers a way to connect with other educators who may not be in your immediate vicinity.

  23. Moving forward, I would list to get up an RSS feed to start building a PLN. I haven’t decided what to use for the RSS feed and am skill looking at options, but I feel this is a good alternative to a social media feed like on Twitter which does not reflect my values. Maybe by using tools like Scoop.it I can find more people, topics, blogs, and publications to add to my PLN.

  24. A few of my goals are to become a little more active on twitter allowing myself to make connections, start adding thing to my own Pinterest allowing new ideas for others, and build more of a connection with my peers who are also becoming educators or are educators already.

  25. In some ways I have already started building a PLN unknowingly, but I would like to more intentionally start building my PLN by, first, finding and engaging with more content and platforms out there. Then, I can grow and curate my feed on platforms like Youtube, pinterest, castbox, and twitter. I also would like to discover more blogs. After curating a stream of content and getting connected with more established users out there, I would like to begin engaging more with the content by reposting, commenting and sharing.

  26. I definitely want to create a separate social media site whether that’s Instagram or a separate Twitter for teacher related content. I think it’s really important to separate my two worlds because I think it will be easier for me to then focus only on the teacher related content and not have it mixed in with my personal life. I think I will definitely be using the feedly site very often even now even though I’m not officially a teacher I do work in a preschool and I feel like a lot of the articles that I just browsed doing this assignment are interesting I also will continue using Pinterest I love Pinterest for curating ideas for the classroom.

  27. My goals are to use as many of the resources I just learned about as much as possible. Ultimately I want to learn at least one thing new every week from a complete strange who could maybe become a friend/colleague.

  28. Share you top tip: I really related to the the tip “Dont give up”. I think this is an incredible tip as it can motivate others to keep going. Someone might feel defeated as they do not know how to start their PLN, but they should not give up! This is an incredibly useful tool if you keep trying and successful use it!

  29. The top tip that I learned was that you can start a PLN from a variety of social media platforms. A tip that I have is to choose a platform that you have researched about and feel well emerged in before creating your own. For example, if you are starting a blog, you should comment and engage with other blogs before creating your own.

  30. First, I will focus on becoming more familiar with Twitter. I recently started following five education-related accounts on Twitter, and I hope to follow more. I will take about 15 minutes every evening to view what others are sharing. I will share my ideas as well. After I become more familiar with Twitter, I will learn more about Pinterest. I feel like I will be able to get great ideas from Pinterest to use for my lessons. Also, I will try to take about 10 minutes every morning to view Pinterest, and I will try to take a few minutes during my planning period to view Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I will use Flipboard to find these accounts in one location. Also, I will need to find a group that I will be able to fit in with. In order to do this, I will follow more educators and other education-related accounts. Since I am a careers teacher at a middle school, I will look for business teacher groups. I think it is good to connect with other teachers. In six months, I will check my progress of building a strong PLN.

  31. I plan to make time to build my PLN by building in time to my daily schedule. For example, each day I write down a list of my goals — the first half is recurring goals (exercise, make my bed, etc.) that I need to tend to daily, and the second half are one-time goals (homework, errands, etc.). I can add “15 minutes of PLN time” into my list of daily goals, as something to complete in the morning before I leave to start my day. One thing in my online browsing time that I could cut back for this is to reduce my time scrolling through TikTok — I can set screentime limits on my phone to hold myself accountable and not spend hours scrolling through social media.

  32. For someone just starting out with building a PLN, I would tell them to follow each step and read all the information in bits and pieces. All of it at once may feel very overwhelming and confusing. so taking your time to understand each part of the process is key. In addition, finding others on your platforms who are engaged in the same topics or follow the same people/organizations may be helpful in finding specific information to help you in your classroom endeavors.

  33. 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!
    – So I just created a twitter and I think my main goal is to be active on it and post frequently with stuff I have learned or questions I have and get teaching ideas whether lesson plans or just advice from other teachers through it.

  34. I want to establish some focused goals in order to build my Personal Learning Network.One goal I have would be to follow more educators and join more Twitter chats on this platform. The next goal I have is to actively participate through liking, commenting, or posting more regularly. My platforms includes Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I will try spend ~10 minutes in the evenings connecting with my PLN – reading posts and following links to articles, etc. I think these goals will help me to build and maintain a stronger Personal Learning Network.

  35. Share your top tip. Leave a comment to share your tips that have helped get you started building a PLN without feeling overwhelmed.

    If I was giving advice to someone who was just starting their PLN, I would tell them to take it one step at a time in order to feel less overwhelmed. They can start by using a platform they are familiar with (i.e. pinterest, Instagram, FaceBook) and looking up a hashtag that relates to their content area. After that, they can find people who comment on the pages that they agree with and slowly start to build their PLN.

  36. I would like my PLN goal to be to connect on Twitter and see if I could find educators in my field (History). I can also really appreciate the first two tips, which are to 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.

  37. As I build my PLN there are a few things I would like to work on based on what I learned from this course. I would like to start (1) a separate Twitter account only related to teaching, aside form my personal one. This will give me the opportunity to share what I am doing with my classes, and hopefully get feedback from other educators & learn. Another goal (2) is to make time. I feel like I am always in a crunch for time, and I have so much to do especially from a Special Ed. perspective. I want to put aside at least one prep period a week to start engaging more on Twitter and Instagram and trying to integrate one activity I found into my lesson weekly. Lastly (3) I would like to read more of the blogs that get sent to me via email. At times I read one or two, or quickly glance over a few but I need to become more attentive.

  38. One of my favorite inclusions in understanding how to build a PLN is being reminded that we must start small. We cannot join every PLN immediately, as we would simply not be able to keep up, and we would lose our PLN, rather than increasing our networking skills. Currently, I have created a Twitter account (@aliviagladden), and I would like to follow five more education-related/English teacher-related accounts that I can browse and interact with for a period of time before expanding into further interactions. I would, additionally, like to browse the educator blogging community, specifically Christian-based educator blogs to see how I might implement Christ more into the classroom without breaking state-regulated rules. While remaining private and keeping my personal life personal on the internet, I want to join the educator conversation as much as I can to further my education and teaching techniques. Blogging is one of my favorite outlets, and if I can progress my PLN through blogging and social media, all while building relationships among my fellow educators, I am excited to see what we can accomplish in schools and out of schools.

  39. I want to establish some focused goals in order to build my Personal Learning Network. Though I feel like I have been using Facebook and Instagram, I do not feel that I have been utilizing Twitter to its full potential. One goal I have would be to follow more educators and join more Twitter chats on this platform. The next goal I have is to actively participate through liking, commenting, or posting more regularly. Sometimes I can tend to be a passive observer in these environments, instead of an active participator. Lastly, I want to build a consistent routine for my PLN. Typically, I have a little extra time on Tuesdays and Thursdays right after school. I want to dedicate 15 minutes on both of these days to build my PLN. I think these goals will help me to build and maintain a stronger Personal Learning Network.

  40. My goal as an educator is to continue to learn and grow in the profession. I do not want to get comfortable with my role because that means I stop challenging myself. Networking with other educators will give me an advantage in my classroom by keeping my techniques and toolkit “fresh” with my students. I am using blogs and Pinterest to help me determine new ways to teach material or review for major assessments. When I committed myself to education, I committed myself to be a lifelong learner. What I learn from others, I will be able to teach to my team. I will use my PLN to help other educators learn what works in my room and what I tried to use but was not successful with. PLNs take time and effort, and I think the commitment to my plan will be well worth it in the long run. I want to bridge the gap between area districts by using PLNs and the resources gathered from them.

  41. After learning about the various ways in which I can build my PLN, I think I’m actually going to make a goal to explore my social media’s and make it more educational. Twitter as I saw is actually a huge platform for education and is more useful then I thought. While in the classroom I can use this time to actually start building on my PLN as it will be very useful to use with other teachers.

  42. My PLN goal strives to increase engagement. My action plan routine requires me to spend ten minutes on Tuesdays and Fridays reading content and providing relevant comments throughout the platforms including Pinterest, Youtube, and Linked In.

  43. My primary PLN goal is connect with five science educators, five science communicators, and five scientists and or journals on Twitter. This will allow me to build a small, yet high quality community of tips and support as a starting point for my PLN. I can add more Twitter profiles and blogs as my core group recommends while being mindful not to get too bogged down in quantity. I will spend ~10 minutes in the evenings connecting with my PLN – reading posts and following links to articles, etc.

  44. As I keep moving forward through teaching, the question always comes up about what I want to do if I ever leave the classroom. Something I am definitely interested in would be working with other teachers on expanding tech tools and running professional development on various applications. I pride myself on being an early adopter and a resource for my peers, so I have forwarded this series to the current instructional coach at my school! Hopefully, we can build a solid learning network in my district in the future.

  45. My goals are to be more outgoing for my PLN. I will also try to make a time to establish one and dedicate the necessary time for it.

  46. My goals are to follow more educators on twitter and listen to more educational podcasts and read their blogs. Since I updated my twitter and learned how to utilize the app to build my PLN, I want to set up time every week to check in on this app. I found some interesting blogs that I want to stay updated with, so I plan to do that in the future as well. I feel continuing these steps are a good start to building a strong PLN.

  47. I can set aside more of my time free browsing the internet to help build my PLN. I can set aside certain time in the day in my routine to make this happen.

  48. I’d like to establish a few goals for myself after completing this course. In building my PLN I plan on: (1) joining and participating in education groups on Facebook, (2) following more Twitter accounts that focus on educators, and (3) follow education blogs, as well as read and comment on them. I look forward to working on these goals and building my PLN and connecting with other educators all over the world.

  49. My first goal is to start a LiveBinder so that I can collect and organize the interesting information I find online for school. I would also like to do a better job with following people on Twitter, because there are so many goo ideas out there that I hasn’t thought of and may be perfect for my own classroom. If I practice, finding new and interesting ideas can come quickly, and that is what I need in my life right now.

  50. I would like to use Twitter as my PLN. I feel like this would be best for me as I already am familiar with it and already am connected with great educators and other educational accounts. I feel like being more active on my Twitter account would benefit my PLN as well, as I feel like I would have some great advice and exciting content to share with others, especially in my future as I begin to grow more into my teaching career.

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