The Power of Personal Learning Networks…Wait, What’s a Personal Learning Network?
Have you heard of a little website called Facebook? If not, ask one of its 750 million users. How about Twitter? I’m sure one of their 200 million users could help you out. OK, seriously…we are all familiar with these social media giants that have forever changed the way that we communicate, share information, and form relationships with people. But I wonder if their founders could have predicted that we would eventually use these networks to change the way we learn.
Only six short years after Facebook and Twitter launched, we’re seeing a revolutionary shift in how these networks are being used. They are no longer reserved solely for the purpose of sharing personal details about our lives. We’re seeing a fundamental shift in behavior as people from across different industries have transformed these spaces to become tools for personal learning and professional development.
Personal learning communities, professional learning communities, personal learning environments, online learning communities, open source learning…these are all terms that have been accentuated by the people who’ve been at the forefront of the social learning movement. But one term in particular seems to be gaining traction among them: personal learning networks, or PLNs.
So what is a personal learning network, anyway? There are many definitions out there. According to Wikipedia, “Personal Learning Networks consist of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a Personal Learning Environment” (“Personal Learning Networks,” 2011, para. 1). It’s all about connecting with the people, organizations, and resources that relate to your specific interests for the purpose of continuing your education.
Speaking of education, no profession has embraced personal learning networks more than education. There was a time when educators had to rely on the instructional and professional development resources provided by their schools or districts. With the introduction of the Internet and the explosion of online educator resources, teachers began to supplement their curriculum to meet the needs of their students. But it wasn’t until recently that educators were able to look beyond their classrooms to share ideas, resources, and tips with their peers. Millions of educators from around the world are now working collectively to use their invaluable experience and expertise to improve education; that’s the future of education and the power of the personal learning network.
If you’re ready to start building your own personal learning network, there are plenty of resources out there to help you get started. Start with the video below from OurSocialVoice, Sketchy Explanation: Starting a PLN, and then check out the list of resources we’ve compiled for you.
If you already have a personal learning network, we’d love to hear your tips for the newbies. How do you use your PLN to enhance teaching and learning?
Personal Learning Networks. (n.d). In Wikipedia. Retrieved August 4, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Learning_Networks
Sketchy Explanation: Starting a PLN
Additional Resources on Personal Learning Networks:
- From Personal Learning Environment Building to Professional Learning Network Forming (Abstract)
- 23 Resources about Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) (links, videos, presentations, commentary)
- Personal Learning Networks from Will Richardson (video)
- Resources for Growing Your Professional Learning Network
- How to Create a Professional Learning Community