Why would I want to become involved in a PLN?

"Teachers, administrators and parents in the province value the importance of ongoing professional learning that supports student learning. This value is also embedded in legislation. The Public Schools Act states that, schools “require skilled and committed staff in order to be effective … and … to serve the best educational interests of the students.” The Education Administration Act, states that a “teacher is responsible for ongoing professional development.” Furthermore, once a year schools in Manitoba must submit their school calendar which includes details of no less than 5 days of professional learning." - Manitoba Professional Learning Process

We all need to continue to develop our professional practice. Today we learn from many different sources, no longer dependent on a single source of knowledge. We also learn in many different situations and contexts. When learning is a shared occurrence each of the participants can come away with much more than we might gather on our own. Since the technology removes the barrier of distance, a Professional Learning Network(PLN) may be a very effective method for teachers in small or isolated locations to connect with other educators around a common interest.

Who can become involved in a Professional/Personal Learning Network (PLN)?

The beauty of the PLN is that anyone who has a desire and interest can take part. Individuals with a particular interest area may seek out existing PLNs operating across the web. Groups of teachers interested in creating a PLN of their own can do so with relative ease. Information on particular sections of any PLN can be gleaned from existing PLNs and with permission be added to another PLN.

What is a Professional/Personal Learning Network (PLN)?

Definition One: Professional/Personal Learning Networks are:
  • a concept based on Web 2.0 and social software
  • learner-driven, problem-based, or motivated by interested
  • based on the idea that learning will take place in different contexts, and not come from one place or person

Definition Two: Professional/Personal Learning Networks are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to:
  • set their own learning goals
  • manage their learning; managing both content and process
  • communicate with others in the process of learning
  • and thereby achieve learning goals

Simply put, a PLN is a system for lifelong learning.

When is a PLN available?

A PLN can be available to its members 24/7. It is up to the individuals that make up the PLN to determine when a set meeting time is necessary. Often the learning that goes on in a PLN takes place outside of the formal meeting times.

Where does a PLN meet?

Current web technologies allow your PLN to meet at almost any time. A set meeting time could be created to have a large group gathering using a web tool such as Elluminate or DimDim but impromptu meetings can take place at any time. Often these are initiated by a social networking tool such as chat or Twitter and then followed up with a virtual face to face meeting from your desktop to theirs via Skype.

How do I get started developing my PLN?

Step One: Determine your goals.
Step Two: Determine what you need to know to achieve your goals.
Step Three: Search the web for resources that may pertain to your goals. EX blogs, wikis, Ning groups, Diigo groups, YouTube, videocasts, podcasts, etc.
Step Four: Use the power of RSS to gather these resources in one location for easy access
Step Five: Read, explore
Step Six: Join an existing PLN - ex. Ning Group, - Classroom 2.0
Step Seven: Develop your PLN - choose a web 2.0 tool to use ex. wiki, blog, Twitter, Google Reader, etc.

What My PLN Means to Me - Wallwisher

What My PLN Means to Me? Created by Beth S.

For more information about building your PLN please contact:

John Evans

Web Technologies Consultant

Manitoba Education.