You may be wondering, “What is a PLN?” Depending on your purpose or preference, it can be called a ‘Personal Learning Network’ or a ‘Profesional Learning Network.’ Whatever you choose to call it, a PLN is a group of individuals with who you can ask questions, provide advice, and share resources.
The concept is similar to the Mastermind Principle introduced by Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich. Hill explained the principle as “”The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.” The idea of the PLN is that you support each other in learning and doing for the purpose of doing what is best for students. Social media has made the creation of your PLN a much easier task since about 1995.
A variety of social media tools can be utilized to build your PLN. This picture shows the social media tools I utilize personally and professionally. Each of them functions quite differently.
Twitter is one of the best options for quickly developing a PLN. Statistics show that educators tweet roughly alf of the nearly one billion tweets produced daily. Twitter chats are available for all kinds of subjects and purposes. Once you create an account, you can use the magnifying glass to search for people, hashtags, and groups you want to follow. I have used Twitter to seek answers, help my PLN find an answer, find out about different conferences or learning opportunities.
To find Twitter chats or educational hashtags, you can use this link to visit Cybraryman’s Educational Web Sites. He provides specific tips in how to participate in Twitter chats at this link. I suggest starting by following these educators:
- Erin Klein – @KleinErin
- Nicholas Provenzano – @thenerdyteacher
- David Tebo – @tebotweets
- Dwight Carter – @Dwight_Carter
- Rafranz Davis – @rafranzdavis
- Todd Whitaker – @toddwhitaker
- Eric Sheninger – @E_Sheninger
- Tammy Maginity – @tmag11
- Dr. Brad Gustafson – @gustafsonbrad
- Ben Gilpin – @benjamingilpin
- Brad Wilson – @dreambition
A couple of disadvantages of Twitter are the limited number of characters (140) and the constantly changing feed. The limited number of characters does not always allow for complete answers. However, you can send direct messages and connect later if you have further questions. Your constantly changing feedcan cause you to feeloverwhelmed but you can scroll through it quite easily.
To help keep track of your social media accounts you, you can sign up for a Hootsuite account. Hootsuite is a way to track and post in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and FourSquare. With Hootsuite, you can schedule posts and track hashtags. In this picture, you can see that I am following the hashtags- #teamJXN, #cconnectededu, and #CDL_MOOCEd.
Social media can feel overwhhelming, but it provides great benefits. It connects you to people all over the world with great ideas and a willingness to help. You do not have to jump into the deep end, if you feel like you cannot swim. Take some time to ease yourself in and ask for help.
Please share your thoughts about the value of social media in the comments or Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.