What the heck is a PLN?

I’m a new teacher, returning to relief / substitute teaching after 3 months in (several) classrooms.

My PLN has changed the way I learn, and the way I teach, for the better. Yet, I am still to meet a new teacher in my part of the world who’s ever heard of, or has a PLN.

Perhaps this post will help to change that.

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Why you should begin your own PLNAshley Azzopardi (@ashleyazzopardi)

Defining the Personal Learning Network

As a quick Google search will show, there is a wealth of information already written and shared about Personal Learning Networks available online. So, in writing this post, I’ve drawn upon the collective expertise and thoughts of my own PLN. (A big thankyou goes to @mwedwards and @ashleyazzopardi in particular for your help with this post).

So, what does it mean to have a PLN?

Imagine being able to walk into a room filled with the very best education professionals, selected by YOU, and having a conversation with them!

It can be as long or as short as you want, and as in-depth as you have time for. Perhaps you might discuss ways to teach various concepts, learn about resources that others are using, or maybe even have conversations that challenge the way you think about education and teaching.

This is exactly what a Personal Learning Network (PLN) can bring to you!”

Ann Carnevale in Break Down Walls, Build Up A Community [italics added]


To me, this is the essence of my Personal Learning Network -

Connecting, Mentoring, Sharing and Learning

 



Building a PLN

People go about building or growing their PLN in different ways. I personally started by talking to my real-world colleagues; moved to blogging about my experiences; took the plunge with Twitter; met @clivesir and well, the rest is history!

Your PLN is shaped by YOUR interests, learning needs, technical skills, and ultimately, your contribution. Building a PLN doesn’t happen overnight, but in time, it can fundamentally change your teaching practice (see this excellent post from @InnovativeEdu). Truly, “from little things, big things grow”.

I’ve included a couple of useful videos which may make the PLN building process a little clearer; however, if you have some advice / experiences to share, please leave a comment! Your contributions are most welcome!

How to build a PLN? from Elena Elliniadou on Vimeo.


Ann Carnevale – Personal Learning Networks (shared by @mwedwards)

Sketchy Explanation: Starting a PLN (YouTube)

Coming Up: “The People of my PLN”

Seeking your Contributions!

Dear PLN: The concept of a Personal Learning Network / PLN is not well known in my part of Western Australia, and I’d like to create a PLN VoiceThread to share with prospective employers later this year.

I’m interested in learning more about the “real people” who make up my PLN, and exploring how PLNs influence us as people, and as educators. I’d also love to know if / how my inclusion in your PLN (via blogging and Twitter) has helped or inspired your own teaching and learning.

You can find the “The People of My PLN” Voicethread here (I plan to embed it in a subsequent post).

With your support, I hope to be able to better explain and share the benefits of having a PLN with my colleagues and prospective employers. Thankyou.

 


Further Reading

“Connecting Globally” (@clivesir)

 Casting an eye over my Twitter feeds this morning, I was mightily pleased to see an old ‘PLN  friend’ and mentor back online. 

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Clive Elsmore, or @clivesir as I’ve come to know him, has spent the past few years working in India and Sri Lanka as a volunteer teacher, training local teachers in the use of ICT technologies and Web 2.0 tools like Skype. (He’s now back in the United Kingdom.)

As a very special member of my PLN, and someone with whom I have many educational interests in common, I wanted to take a moment to share @clivesir’s thoughts on how global connections impact on teaching and learning in today’s world.

I first ‘met’ Clive as a newbie tweep around 6 months ago, when he literally took me ‘under his wing’; teaching me the Twitter basics and introducing me to some of the most integral members of my Personal Learning Network or PLN.

While Clive modestly puts this down to the ‘power of social networking’, his encouragement, feedback, and entertaining conversations mean a lot to me; and were a consolation and support as we journeyed through some very exciting, and very difficult times in our respective professional lives.

Today, I’d like to share Clive’s video in which he describes his work and ‘global educational connections’ in his own words. It was my first chance to virtually ‘meet’ this amazing educator, and it provides an excellent outside perspective on my own efforts to form global connections around the world.