What is a Personal Learning Network (PLN)? A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is an informal learning network of professionals, industry thought-leaders or organizations. Building a PLN allows one to connect with others who create, curate and/or share valuable information with the intent to educate others in their community. PLNs allow two or more people, who might not know one another personally, to come together to exchange information.
“The Personal Learning Network fosters connections and can be a rich source of professional development and learning.” (Online Learning Insights)
Anyone, including educators and students, can benefit from expanding their personal learning network online. Doing so allows them to go beyond the physical confines of their offices, schools and perhaps most importantly, beyond their own personal knowledge base. Creating an online learning network enables professionals to share global perspectives, techniques, resources, technology, and so much more.
How do you build a PLN?
- Connect. The key to developing a PLN is to connect. To build your online PLN; research thought leaders in your industry or area of interest and begin following their posts. See where they hang out online and do the same. Make sure you are active on all social channels and begin commenting and reposting other’s articles. Generate conversation on boards and get people involved and connected with one another, fostering idea sharing as well as a sense of community.
o Tweet information you think your followers would find interesting
o Stay active on Facebook and Google Plus
o Start a discussion or participate in one on a message board
o Join groups on LinkedIn
o Follow boards on Pinterest
o Attend Webinars and connect with other participants for later follow-up
o Subscribe to blogs of interest
o Create your own blog
o Join Social networks such as Classroom 2.0
- Share. Be a part of the conversation. If you have information that you feel could be useful, share it. This might be a helpful article you’ve found on a specific topic. Or a new technology that you’d like to expose your community to. Or it might even be a new methodology that you’ve developed that you feel would be useful to others in your industry and that you might like feedback on.
- Communicate. Stay active in your PLN; frequently comment or post on group or individual pages. The trading of thoughts and ideas both industry-related and personal makes you more approachable and increases the chances that your connections will become deeper and more meaningful. Developing connections also improves the odds that someone will always be there to share information and help when needed.
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