Personal Learning Network. PLN. Network of personal learning. No matter how you say it, if you do not know the definition, it sounds high tech and frightening. After reading a few articles and watching a video or two about PLNs, I am here to tell you they are nothing to be scared of. A PLN is a hand-picked network of people who have similar interests as you who you choose to follow on any form of social media. This video helped explain the concept of a PLN in a way I could understand.
I think one of the best parts of us learning about PLNs now is we have now, the time before we even begin teaching, all the way through retirement to create, build and learn from our PLN. Who knows? Maybe somewhere in our teaching career PLNs will seem low tech and old school in comparison to what the future holds.
I like to believe PLN s always have existed in some form. Before the world wide web, teachers could still collaborate ideas with each other at conferences and in the teacher’s lounge. When there were schoolhouses instructed by just one teacher, there was still a schoolboard member by once a term the teacher could prod for advice. These networks differed from ours because they were not as larger, or personal, but they were still learning networks.
“Practice what you preach.” Modern educational research is pushing group work now more than ever before. This is yet another reason educators need to come together – we know all the benefits of teamwork, so why not use it for ourselves? Just like our students, we can learn from each other and keep each other in check. Unlike a group assignment, PLNs are completely personal. We get to pick the tools we use, who is in it, how much we participate and what topics circulate through.
As I begin to build my PLN, I am going to look for both well known names and everyday teachers just trying their best for their students. I want to network with people of all ages to gain as many points of view as I can. I plan on using Twitter and Feedly as my main tools. I am so glad we are beginning this process now and not two or three years into teaching!