A personal learning network is the people and platforms a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from. Examples are colleagues, friends, family, administrators, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Ted Talks, Google+ Communities, Wikispaces, Blackboard Classrooms, Google Classrooms, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and so forth. PLN’s are replacing professional development, workshops and conferences. Instead of learning once or twice of year we are learning at every click. When you are part of a PLN you belong to a worldwide network of learners who can offer perspective and information instantaneously. PLNs are not passive. As Dr. Mark Wagner stated in his 2012 article Personal Learning Networks for Educators: 10 Tips; PLNs require learners to connect, contribute, converse and request. These strategies; oft employed by teachers to ensure engagement in the classroom, also ensure educators engagement in their own learning.
As early as 2007, Will Richardson acknowledged that our students are already involved in their own PLNs. We must be participants in these networks in order to guide our students as they navigate these new forms of learning. As stated by Howard Rheingold in his YouTube interview with Robert Scroble; curating PLNs is a new form of literacy that we must learn and a skill we must learn how to teach.
Knowledge is being created in enormous volumes at an enormous rate. The days of a “culminating” degree are over. We can never stop learning. Just today I used my PLN to find a great app for Chrome Book Mind Mapping, MindMup.
During my research on PLN’s I also found a YouTube video specifically on Personal Learning Networks for educators by Skip Via posted in 2010 and it inspired me to make my own.
Making the MindMup and WeVideo required me to connect, contribute, converse and request; thereby demonstrating the power of my PLN.