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How Teachers can create a Personal Learning Network (PLN)
There’s a lot of buzz around building a Teachers Personal Learning Network (PLN). Some have no idea how to navigate the world of PLNs, let alone how to build a network themselves.
The good news is that you already have the tools and resources at your fingertips. Odds are if you are an educator of any kind you have a learning network of some sort. You just may not know it yet. You may know other teachers, educational professionals, textbook writers, university-level professors, scholars, academics, etc.
The big idea is to build a network of knowledgeable experts to draw inspiration and ideas from. The truth is that at any time there are likely millions of experts available online. You just need to learn how to gather these professionals in one place so you can glean the most information possible.
Why start a PLN?
Learning network needs are almost always scenario-specific. You may want to start a PLN because you are new to the teaching field, or you may be feeling a lack of educational support in your own academic institution. Most teachers who use PLNs to build a knowledge base for their curriculum structure report that it is empowering to be able to leverage a vast amount of knowledge from talented instructors from all around the globe, and at the click of a mouse. In other words, you should start a PLN because no one is an island in the world of education. We all need each other’s help to improve the way our students process and use the information we give them.
How to get started?
- Have a goal in mind – Before you start building your PLN you should start with a basic goal in mind. In other words, what is it that you want to learn from your PLN? Odds are the answer to this is directly tied in with the type of teaching you do on a daily basis.
- Making time for your PLN – The bottom line here is that building a successful PLN takes time. At first it can seem overwhelming, but you need to carve out a significant chunk of time for strategic relationship building with other educators online. Start small. Carve out 15 minutes of uninterrupted time everyday to engage with other educators online. Before you know it will be easy to spend a lot more time on PLN building techniques after you have made some solid connections.
- Building a PLN with Twitter –While you may think that Twitter is a waste of time, you may want to re-think that strategy. While there is plenty of useless information on Twitter, it is mostly used as a platform for today’s thought leaders in a wide range of industry to get their message out. Think of it as a virtual teacher’s lounge.
- Building a PLN with Blogs – Along with social media, blogging should be a major part of your PLN-building strategy. In basic terms, this should include a two-fold approach. First, you should build your own blogging platform, and update it regularly. Second, you’ll need to stay highly engaged with the blogs of other educators. Comment on these blogs to both engage with other educators and drive traffic to your own blog.