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 "Real-time 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 an 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 help 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: a 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 to 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 similar to Facebook and Twitter.  Differences include circles and hangouts (free group video chat).
    10. Pinterest: digital pinboard
    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)