Hello, fellow educators, students, learners, what have you. Welcome to my journey of creating a PLN (Personal Learning Network). Creating a PLN is an in-depth, individualized experience, that will help one become a lifelong learner. Creating a PLN calls for many ingredients, lots of prep time, and cooking time, but the final product is so worth it. I created a Popplet that is a visual representation of my hard work that went into obtaining the ingredients for my PLN.
As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither should a PLN; A PLN should be added to, edited, changed, and shared on an almost daily basis. A PLN will help you learn how to digitally collaborate with others to continue the process of growth and adaptation within the education world; it’s all about connections to each other. As Jane Bozarth said in her article, “simply showing up is not enough. As with most things in life, you get back what you put in. If you want to build a Personal Learning Network, then you must be an active part of that network; it’s not a spectator sport.” A good PLN requires constant communication and interaction with others; there is not a better, more authentic way to learn from other educators than through collaboration.
Through the creation of my PLN, I’ve started to develop connections with others interested in the same topics that I am. I’ve joined various Nings; Nings that focus on modern education, to flipping the classroom, to developing PLNs. Through the joining of these Nings, I can find others who share the same interests and follow them on twitter, tumblr, their blogs, or Friendfeed. It’s going to take a while to obtain followers, however, through diligent postings, comments, sharing of information, I should be able to gain some followers thus expanding my PLN even more.
To take a minute to focus on Twitter would be pertinent to this PLN discussion. Various educators in the Education 2.0 community feel that Twitter is the perfect platform for a PLN or PLC, as it can help foster discussions and collaboration in a “now” kind of world. As it states in the article, “Twitter as a Professional Learning Community”, “by choosing whom you follow, you choose the best practices for your personal interests. This means that if you are interested in a PLC of economics teachers, you can build that community, or if you are interested only in technology in education, you can create your own TIE community.” Therefore, creating different twitter accounts for various interests, such as science education or technology education, one can control the information coming to those accounts, which would control all of the sifting through information to get the necessary information. This is a PB works page dedicated to teachers and those teachers that have Twitter accounts. It is a great tool to use to find teachers who have similar interests.
The number of individuals that are a part of online communities is overwhelming. When you create a PLN or you belong to others PLN, it is important to understand that you do not have to know the people you are communicating with on a personal level, but you must value what they are sharing. As Tobin stated, “the members of your network do not need to be people with whom you work directly. In fact, you do not even need to know the people personally. The members of your network should be people, both inside and outside of your work group and your company, who have the knowledge that you are trying to master and who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with you.” This is why a PLN is so important- sharing knowledge and personal experience.
Teachers are educators and role models and should be learners themselves. Warlick points out that because we are 21st Century Educators, “that part of our job description requires us to be learners ourselves. That’s why we need convenient and unfettered access to new and emerging communication technologies and applications, as well as opportunities to gain and develop skills not only to operate these tools, but also to shape and even invent networks of learning” (Warlick, D. (2009). Grow your personal learning network. Learning and Leading with Technology, Retrieved from http://instcomm.edublogs.org/files/2010/01/Warlick.pdf).
The overall goal of “Education 2.0” should be one focused with the use of a PLN. PLNs should not be solely used as a tool for educators, but a tool used for students, parents, and administrators. Anita McAnear states thats “a transformed learning environment would exist when all students, teachers, administrators, and other school personnel are engaged in learning together in their own and intersecting PLNs to meet their learning needs.” The key words Anita McAnear uses are “engaged,” “learning,” and “together;” I think that by modeling how teachers are life long learners, students should be doing the same and that it is important that we all learn together and share knowledge with each other. I think that students would take that as a powerful and authentic lesson.
So, with that being said, PLNs are merely what you make them; they can be things that are very simplistic to things that involve a lot of different tools. The main ideas behind building a PLN are to make sure you are contributing to both yours and the PLNs of others; to always alter and adapt them as changes occur in your professional life; and to share, learn, and grow with others.
Bozarth, A. (2011, April 5). Nuts and bolts: building a personal learning network (pln). Learning Solutions Magazine, Retrieved from http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/659/nuts-and-bolts-building-a-personal-learning-network–pln
McAnear, A. (2008). Professional development for transforming education. Learning and Leading with Technology, Retrieved from http://web2integration.pbworks.com/f/Professional+Development+for+Transforming+Education.pdf
Tobin, D. R. (1998). Building Your Personal Learning Network. Corporate Learning Strategies. Retrieved on June 19, 2011 from
Trinkle, C. (2009, November 4). Twitter as a professional learning community. School Library Monthly, 26, Retrieved from http://web2integration.pbworks.com/f/Twitter+as+a+Professional+Learning+Community.pdf
Warlick, D. (2009). Grow your personal learning network. Learning and Leading with Technology, Retrieved from http://instcomm.edublogs.org/files/2010/01/Warlick.pdf