Benefits of Participating in a PLN (Personal Learning Network)

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What is a PLN?  

The newest addition to our team came across this term on Twitter, and wanted to know what a PNL means, and how to get one. If you are a teacher who is quite active on social media, chances are you have already heard of it, and are already a part of one or many. If not, this article is for you!  

A Personal Learning Network is a community that shares ideas, innovations, questions, and answers, on a global online (or offline) platform. It is your very own support system, where you can learn and grow through others. Everyone has their own definition of what a PLN means to them, but one thing remains constant: how much they all appreciate having an extensive international network to discuss and share with. Read on to find out why.  

Access to a worldwide network of peers  

Having a PLN allows you to exchange with fellow educators across the globe and to stay informed about current trends in education, and more precisely, in your field of specialization. The biggest advantage of this is, you get access to lesson plans and resources that you otherwise would have never come across!  

Sharing  

Users of PLNs share not just content and ideas; but also links to resources, blogs, and information about educational experts. It works both ways though, if you have any self-made educational content and you want to share it with others, your network can help you get your content out there. You will be sure to receive appreciation and constructive criticism, as these communities are made up of normal, non-judgemental individuals looking for advice, just like you! You might find it encouraging to know that many early adopters of PLNs are now successful educational writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs.  

Discover new tools  

When someone tries a new technology, they are very likely to talk about it on their social media. This is great if you are looking for reviews about a particular product that has been on your wish list for a while and if you are hesitating to make a decision. It could also help you discover tools that might resolve a problem you have encountered recently. PLN’s might also provide you with innovative ways of using existing technology to elevate your teaching.  

Learning  

PLNs connect not just teachers, but also students, educational administrators, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and just about anyone else with any level of interest in the educational industry. This maintains an incredible diversity, allowing beginners as well as advanced users to exchange and explore a multitude of themes.   

 

“All this sounds great, so where do I sign up?”  

Start Small  

If you are unsure where to begin, start small! Check if any of your colleagues are a part of a PLN already. If not, take the initiative and set up a monthly meeting with teachers from your school or school district. Think of it as a book club – where you all decide to research a particular topic and then discuss your findings and conclusions. Taking this small step will help you to not feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information being exchanged at a lightening pace.  

Social Media  

LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter all have an always-growing educational community. Play around with hashtags on Twitter and Instagram till you find like-minded educators. Then feel free to share, engage and question! The education community on Twitter organizes weekly themed chats on different days and times. Check out: #edchat #teachertwitter #edutwitter for a start. Remember, the aim is to grow and evolve to better your students’ learning experience!  

Conferences and Webinars  

Conferences are wonderful opportunities to make one-to-one connections and get to know people offline. It is the chance to network, grow your PLN, and engage in direct contact with others who might challenge your thoughts, enabling you to hone your skills in your field as a result. It is a ‘personal’ network, which means you must make some efforts to find out what content you are looking for and whom you are likely to learn the most from.  

  

Do you think you could benefit from a Personal Learning Network? Let us know below!   

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