Building a virtual PLN, or Personal, Learning, Network has been talked about a lot, because a PLN has great power for improving your professional learning and career. In fields where there is SO much to keep up with (like ours), it is increasingly important to build and maintain a group of worldwide colleagues who you can call on because it is literally impossible to stay abreast of all of the different aspects of your field yourself. So it order to stay on top of things, most of us need a PLN!
Here’s a simple definition for a PLN that I truly like: n. – the entire collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information, usually online. (http://onceateacher.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/pln-your-personal-learning-network-made-easy/) Kate Klingensmith, the author of the blog that provided that definition, lists some of the most common tools for building your PLN, such as Twitter, which may be one of the most well-known tools for building your PLN.
Simply put, PLNs are about building relationships with people that can help you learn and grow. The idea is to share ideas, insights, practices, links, and resources, and gain trust so that over time you can share and perhaps collaborate. It is a way to greatly extend your learning in order to harness the knowledge and experiences of many people through your connections with others. If done via social media, however, this requires creating social connections through virtual means, and this requires some forethought and planning. Social media tools are not enough to create connection. Just because there’s a tool doesn’t mean you’re going to have a connection with other people. You have to DO something to make a connection happen. Another aspect that some people do not think much about with PLNs is reciprocity. Some people lurk only or ask for things only. The social contract says that when we take, we must also give.
If PLNs are a new idea, below are some starting links. Read and come ready to discuss some DOs and DON’Ts. We will likely have a mix of people with little and LOTS of experience so we expect a lively and perhaps very spirited discussion!
PLN: Your Personal Learning Network Made Easy http://onceateacher.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/pln-your-personal-learning-network-made-easy/
35 Ways To Build Your Personal Learning Network Online http://edudemic.com/2012/10/35-ways-build-personal-learning-network-online/