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What is a Personal Learning Network? (PLN)

"A Personal Learning (PLN) is about using social networking tools to interact with people who have a passion for something similar to you, and/or who can provide you with necessary information. Through their PLNs, people share ideas, lessons, websites, etc. PLNs also serve to motivate you and challenge your thinking. You could think of it as this YouTube video describes it: continuous professional development." (@hwy61 on Twitter)

Personal Learning Networks, or PLNs, have been around forever.

"Originally, they were your family and friends, maybe other educators you worked with, but as the internet and web 2.0 tools have become nearly ubiquitous, PLNs can include tons of different communities – social networking sites like Facebook, blogs, Twitter, wikis, social bookmarking tools, LinkedIn, and so many more. Basically, anyone that you interact with is apart of your PLN, whether they are social contacts, professional peers, or experts in their field. Most of the ‘learning’ takes place on-line now, because it is simple to find and connect with others with similar interests from around the world." (Kate Klingensmith / @HigherEdLife)

Kates's definition can be summed up as: (n. – the entire collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information, usually online)

5 Reasons to Use Social Networking Tools to Build Your PLN

1. To facilitate learning in a more personalized manner
2. To share resources and lend support to peers with similar interests & passions
3. To continually challenge your thinking and lead you to new resources without your having to spend hours searching on your own
4. To be constantly motivated by your network of peers (PLN) who stimulate you with new ideas and resources you might otherwise never come across
5. To make it easy to DM (direct message) peers and/or experts who are always willing to offer suggestions, answer questions, and celebrate your successes with you.

The Benefits of Building Your Own PLN for Professional Development Purposes

Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom on Twitter) asks educators from all over to tell why (via VoiceThread) they have a personal learning network (PLN), how they got started, what it does for them everyday, an anecdote about something cool/interesting that happened to them b/c of having this network, etc.

Now that I am ready to begin building my PLN. What tools should I use?

Choose the one or ones that work best for you!
  • Twitter - the LS Teacher Tech Wiki can get you started with Twitter
  • FaceBook
  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Social Bookmarks
  • Nings
  • YouTube / TeacherTube
  • iTunes U