Educators who are passionate about learning recognize the value of sharing their knowledge and experience with others. They seek out the work of experts in their field and get to know other professionals with whom they can exchange information. They become part of a learning community of like-minded people. The concept of a Personal Learning Network, or PLN, is based on the concept of a learning community. For educators, a Personal Learning Network is made up of connections and resources that contribute to their professional development and enrich their knowledge base.
Thanks to advances in communication brought on by the Internet, a PLN today can include connections in the local community, across the country or around the world. With a PLN, a teacher can expand the classroom walls and gain access to resources and expertise that were not previously available. Education websites, social network sites like Facebook and Twitter, profession directories like LinkedIn, blogs, wikis and forums are all sources for making connections for a PLN.
Tips for building a Personal Learning Network.
- Join an online educational social network.
An educational social network provides links to resources, forums for discussion, webinars, online classes and may even host events in the real world. Classroom 2.0 is one of the most popular educational networks, but there are dozens available and many target special interest groups within the teaching community. The Educational Networking wiki provides a directory of educational networks that includes a link and description for each network.
The educational social network that you join should provide links to interesting blogs related to education. Find a few that you find useful and begin to read them on a regular basis. Most of the more popular blogs will allow you to register as a subscriber and receive daily or weekly updates via email.
- Join Twitter.
This microblogging site is a good source of news and information. You may want to begin by joining an education Twitter group, such as Edubloggers. This blog post entitled A Teacher’s Guide to Twitter provides valuable information for educators about navigating Twitter.
After you’ve spent some time on social network sites and have read some blogs, join in the conversation. Add comments to blog posts and participate in forum discussions. Before long you will meet people with whom you want to communicate on a regular basis. Your PLN will begin to grow.
Manage your time
The sheer volume of information available online can be overwhelming at first and you may find yourself spending a lot of time trying to take it all in. Over time, most educators are able to target the most useful resources in their PLN and to balance time spent online with time spent on the other aspects of their career.
Introduce your Students, too!
Students can also benefit from Personal Learning Networks. Most of them are familiar with social networking, but need guidance in using it safely and effectively as a tool for learning — and of course teachers who have learned how to create their own PLN are better able to provide this guidance to their students.
About our Guest Blogger
Sarah Fudin currently works in community relations for the University of Southern California’s Masters in Teaching program, which prepares teachers to earn their teaching credential. Outside of work Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt.
Some great information here. I would recommend the Grouply PLN. You can register with them for free and develop an education environment for a particular class or school. There are available from here: http://www.grouply.com
Hi Martin, and thanks for your comment. I have used Grouply – this was the solution everyone went for once Ning began to charge for their platform. But there are problems with Grouply, and we found that keeping a community private or sending and receiving notifications was really slow. In some cases, like for the TESOL EVO courses, this was rather a disappointment.
So, I started using grou.ps to try out. I had some problems there as well – still do, to be quite honest – but, overall, I think it’s a platform with great potential.
Check out my small community of teachers here, if you like and you are very welcome to join and share,
This is highly valuable site.
English Teachers Club-AP Chapter,Hyderabad,INDIA
I have found twitter to be an excellent resource for learning new words, it is an easy way to practice whenever you have a few minutes throughout the day (while riding the bus for example),
great post, I will share it on facebook, saludos!
I’m a newbie on the subject of PLN, but I’ve been looking into it in recent days and this post is perfect for summarising and explaining it to other colleagues who don’t really know or care about it. Thank you very much for the information. I’ll keep on digging it up. Meanwhile I’m already following your blog. Kind regards from Mexico.
HI and thanks for your comment – it’s been good to see you join #ELTchat as well. You are doing really well so far!
Great info. I’m trying to build a personal learning network with wordpress right now. It’s slow going given my technical experience though.
Great information on this site. has really helped me to start my PLN and has given me some information that will help me in the future!! internet problems are slowing me down but great stuff!!