Personal Learning Networks (PLN's)

Presenter:  Eric Sheninger

What is a PLN?
  • Concept has been around for a long time
  • Originally consisted of individuals with the same professional interests engaging in mostly face to face communication
  • The evolution of the Internet, or "Realtime Web", has altered the way in which we communicate, collect information, and reflect.  This, in turn, has transformed how people form and utilize PLN's.
  • Working definition: "A PLN involves and individual's topic-oriented goal, a set of practices & techniques aimed at attracting and organizing a variety of relevant content sources, selected for their value, to hep the owner accomplish a professional goal or personal interest" - D. Warlick
  • Similar to the concept of a Professional Learning Community (PLC), but at an individual level
  • Totally customizable to your particular interests and goals, thus definitions and descriptions vary globally (end result is the same)
Why Should Educators Create a PLN?
  • Harness the power inherent in 21st Century technologies in order to create a professional growth tool that is accessible whenever, wherever (24/7 learning)
  • Take control of Professional Development based on interests and/or areas of specialty
  • Convenience 
  • Cost-effective (FREE)
  • Here is what my PLN does for me: constant supply of resources, thought-provoking discussions, knowledge acquisition, leadership strategies, feedback, virtual mentoring, ways to successfully integrate technology, etc.

Importance of PLN's

How Do you Create a PLN?
  • Begin with Web 2.0 Tools (social media)
  • Start with 1 or 2 tools and then as you become comfortable branch out
  • Different tools provide different functions in a PLN.  
    1. Twitter: microblogging (best starting point)
    2. Social Bookmarking: collect and organize your resources online
    3. RSS Readers: aggregate feeds from many different sites to create a customizable resource center
    4. LinkedIn: professional networking
    5. Blogs: regular entries of commentary consisting of text, video, images, etc.
    6. Facebook: social networking mega-tool 
    7. Digital Discussion Forums: Similar to Facebook, but interest-specific (ex. Ning)
    8. Wikis: Collaborative websites that allow registered users the ability to create and edit any number of interlinked web pages
    9. Google Plus: Has some features simliar to Facebook and Twitter.  Differences include circles and hangouts (free group video chat).
    10. Pinterest: digital pin board
    11. Tablet Apps: quickly and easily access educational news feeds and blog posts; customizable

Getting Your PLN Started

PLN's are about ACCESSIBILITY and RESPONSIBILITY (Districts do not have the funds, time, or expertise to meet our diverse PD needs)