“With a little help from my friends”

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So, what is a Personal Learning Network?  Or, as we like to call it, a PLN?  According to Bev Novak, it is

  • “a group of people with whom one connects, communicates and collaborates in the sharing and exchanging of information and ideas, and through whom one increases one’s knowledge and understanding of topics of interest.” (Novak, 2012)

Photo provided by Ed Yourdon on Flickr – Creative Commons

But why develop a personal learning network?  We can talk about the practical aspects to a learning network…like, for instance, you’ll be able to gain knowledge and learn new things about technology.  But have you considered the amazing and potential impact a PLN will have on your life?  Creating a Personal Learning Network will enable you to not only learn from others, but by sharing your own ideas, someone may just learn from you!   You will be able to connect with others, not only with those you already know, but with many who share your same interests in the field of education!  Wow!!  There is no end to the possibilities of a Personal Learning Network.

A PLN gives you the ability to control your own learning process, by allowing you to pick and choose the topics that interest you.  You are able to explore an infinite number of sources and endless possibilities to give you the greatest opportunities to learn.  “In short – a PLN allows you to learn anything, anytime, anywhere with anybody you choose!” (Novak, 2012)

 Tagxedo

A PLN gives you the ability to control your own learning process, by allowing you to pick and choose the topics that interest you.  You are able to explore an infinite number of sources and endless possibilities to give you the greatest opportunities to learn.  “In short – a PLN allows you to learn anything, anytime, anywhere with anybody you choose!” (Novak, 2012)

So, where do you begin?   Start simple..and build from there.  Take a look at this catchy little video (Spencer, 2012):

  1. For those of us taking on-line classes, we have already “taken the plunge.”  By creating our own Blogs, and sharing our own thoughts…by learning about Web 2.0…and bookmarking sites…it’s happening!
  2. Begin making connections with your own peers and co-workers at your own schools, getting them involved in Web Logs.  Post your thoughts and allow a conversation to emerge.
  3. Join other Blogs of people with similar interests as you.  Pick sites where what you read will benefit your educational needs.
  4. Sign up for memberships on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other various social networking and microblogging sites, where you are able to communicate frequently and on a regular basis with others.
  5. Find interesting Podcasts and streaming media to help with your educational endeavors.
  6. Once you begin gaining valuable knowledge, and start feeling comfortable with sharing through various forums, get involved with video chatting or Skype.
  7. Join sites such as Classroom 2.0 to assist in building your own Personal Learning Network.

Think about it.  Who is in your learning network?  Who are you able to glean information from on a regular basis?  Where do you go for your own professional development?  What are you waiting for?

CREATE YOUR OWN PERSONAL LEARNING NETWORK!

References:

Hargadon, Steve.  (2012).  Classroom 2.0.  [Web resource].  Retrieved from http://www.classroom20.com/

Leung, Hardy.  (2006).  Welcome to Tagxedo, word cloud with styles.  [Web resource].  Retrieved from http://www.tagxedo.com/

Novak, B.  (2012).   If you don’t have a PLN, you don’t know what you are missing. [On-line article].  Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_80/articles/if_you_dont_have_a_pln.html

Spencer, J. (June, 2012).  Sketchy Explanation:  Starting a PLN.  [Video file].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/user/OurSocialVoice/videos

Yourdon, E. (March, 2009). One of the rare non-Apple laptops. [Picture file].  Retrieved from http://fr.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-3405811164

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8 responses »

  1. Personal Learning Networks are like old school study groups…at least that is how I view it. The best part of PLNs is that we can be “study buddies” across the street, across the town, across the state, across the nation, and across the world. Being connected is a huge advantage that students these days have over the students of our day (at least my days). Connectivism has had a positive impact on the world of communication and education.

    By the way, great job on posting that video on your blog! I found it to be interesting and entertaining!

    Good post!
    mmike5150

    • Mike,

      Thanks so much for the encouraging words. I love how you pointed out how PLN’s are “like old school study groups.” That’s a wonderful perspective. Why ruin a good thing? Just make it better! We truly have amazing possibilities set before us when we are involved with such a large network of information. One should never complain that they are unable to find information about something, with such a vast network of individuals and information from which to draw. We must continue to be lifelong learners in our field, and PLN’s give us that opportunity.

      Thanks again,

      Cindy

  2. Hello Cindy,

    Most people have been blogging this week about using Blogs in the Classroom, so your topic was refreshing. I appreciate the seven “steps” you laid out for us. I have never really considered PLNs before this course, and it is definitely something I am interested in. Like you stated, we are already on the way to being part of a PLN by being an active member in this course. I feel that “making connections with your own peers and co-workers at your own schools, getting them involved in Web Logs” is lacking in many schools. I can see how much my own school would benefit from doing this, as we have many excellent “highly-effective” teachers that could share their ideas and resources.

    I feel that the best part of a PLN is that “a PLN gives you the ability to control your own learning process, by allowing you to pick and choose the topics that interest you.” It amazes me how much potential learning, collaboration and exploration is available through the technology that we have today. I definitely want to improve the professional development process for myself, but also to share the concepts of PLNs with my peers and co-workers.

    Thank you for the informative post. It is a great starting point for me!

    Erin

    • Erin,

      I appreciate your wonderful comments. It’s funny how one of the main goals I had in my mind for my classes this week was to teach my kids how to properly blog, but I ended up writing about PLN’s. However, blogging is a huge and important aspect to the development of a Personal Learning Network, so everything that was journaled about this week was very timely.

      Being a part of a private school, we don’t always get the opportunity to be a part of formal professional development scenarios, so I thought that if I was able to introduce PLN’s to my faculty, it would open up a whole new world of opportunity for us. I have noticed that everything we have learned up to this point has been something that my principal is very interested in doing for our school, so I am extremely thankful for the support I am getting from my administration to go ahead and implement these new technology concepts.

      Thanks again for the encouraging words.

      Cindy

  3. Personal Learning Networks are a great source for professional development. Teachers are constantly learning from one another, just like students learn from each other. Blogging is a great way for students to learn about other communities and cultures without leaving the classroom. Classroom discussions helps students gain insight to other point of views. They will learn something new every time; it also motivates them to go beyond the assignment to learn more on a topic that interest them. PLN’s develops student center classrooms. I like the quote by Novak “In short – a PLN allows you to learn anything, anytime, anywhere with anybody you choose!” (2012). This really sums up the advantage of a Personal Learning Network.

    I like the 7 points you list towards the end of your blog on how anyone can get started. I do agree with you that Dr. Thompson has made us all “take the plunge” to social networking. Starting your own blog with a group of teachers benefits a whole community of educators. There is an abundance amount of information that can be found on social networking sites and the internet. We just need to be proactive and seek the information we desire.

    • I agree with you that PLN’s are a great source for professional development – and it seems through our endeavors in class, we are definitely getting professional development. 🙂 This class alone has truly fired up a desire in me to really bring technology into the forefront of our students’ classroom experience. Just this week, I got the go-ahead from my principal to teach my computer lab kids how to blog. Support from administration and skills in technology certainly go hand-in-hand in getting our goals accomplished. You are absolutely right – we must be proactive.

  4. I am so thankful for your knowledgeable and informative blog. It was very helpful in my understanding about a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Your think map of the benefits of using or creating a PLN was great. The you tube video, along with your list of ways to get involved, is an overall wonderful lesson on PLNs. I learned several new ways to get involved just by reading your blog.

    • Thank you, Katy! I appreciate your comments. I can tell you that I’m learning a lot myself doing the research on all the different areas of technology that are available to educators today. I really liked the video, as well. It was actually created by a teacher and he has several other videos available for viewing on You Tube.

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