I have connections!
Having connections to people with different skills than yourself can be a beneficial part of your life, even making certain aspects easier. PLN’s do exactly that, being your connections to the world of learning and aiding in your professional development.
PLN stands for Personal Learning Network and it is a group of people that you are connected to with the intent of gaining knowledge from them. We can learn much from the experiences of others if we are willing to seek them out. These may be people that have an education in the field you are interested in or people that have real-world experience within the field that you are interested in or maybe people that have both!
The article PLN: The Personal Learning Network explains that teachers are using PLN’s for:
– Professional development – learn from content-area specialists
– Locate resources for your classroom, such as free websites and software
– Get lesson plan ideas from master teachers
– Learn about new technology and how to integrate it into your teaching
– Find collaborative solutions
– Find interesting links to education news
So, how do we build our PLN? There are actually many different ways to build up an excellent PLN. Social media has blown the door wide open for connecting through PLN’s. I stay connected to other teachers I know personally through Facebook, as well as following the Facebook pages of different teaching sites. I also recently had to set up a Twitter account for my Digital Literacy college course and needed to search out at least 100 people to follow to build my PLN. Because I’m working on my degree in elementary education, I chose to follow others who posted mainly about elementary education. To find people on Twitter to add into my PLN I did a search on Google for “educators to follow on Twitter” and found numerous lists available, such as 101 Educators to Follow. I also did a simple search on Twitter itself for “elementary teacher” and found people to follow by the results that pulled up. Following blogs that write about your field of interests is a another great way to build your PLN.
I found this great teacher on Twitter, and she posts lost of informative information on elementary education.
I would recommend that if you are looking for a particular person to follow based on your topic of interest for your PLN that you take a glance at their account to make sure they are posting information that you could actually learn and grow from. I found that many came up on my searches, but there were quite a few that didn’t really stick to education topics on their Twitter feeds. I personally don’t want to see my newsfeed filled with controversial political junk that has nothing to do with education.
Another way to build up your PLN is by getting to know people in person and interacting with them. For example, I volunteered at the school this last year and also was a substitute teacher, so I took that opportunity to learn from the teachers that were there. They were always more than happy to share and answer questions for me, and I’m friends with many of them on Facebook now. Some have even helped out when I’ve needed to ask teachers questions for particular assignments in class. It wouldn’t have been possible without the connections I’ve built up through my PLN.
Here are some great articles to get you started on building your own PLN: