PLN?  Our instructors at BCIT mentioned this acronym at one of our lectures, and that’s when I went “huh?”  What does this stand for?  Intrigued, I decided to look it up in class with my iPhone.  As an interesting topic, I have decided to further research it and create my own network.  Let’s discuss PLN.

PLN stands for Personal Learning Network, which is basically the collection of people that we exchange information with, online and offline.  It has been in existence for a very long time, especially with family, friends, and our educators, but the Internet and Web 2.0 have expanded the communities we can interact with [1].

As a significant aspect for professional and personal development, PLNs require a person to collaborate with others while collecting knowledge from a Personal Learning Environment (PLE).  Goals, interests and problems need to be known in order to make use of the PLE [2].

Researching the topic more, I have found several resources of how to start a PLN online, and I have selected the steps [3] that work best for me.  Here goes:

Step 1: Joining a Network

–        Twitter: Check

–        Facebook: Check

–        LinkedIN: For professional [4] networking. Check

–        Flikr: I was so close to opening an account with them a few months ago, but I have decided to wait until I am done school.  Because I want to start my PLN, however, I have just opened up my first Flikr account. Photography is something I am trying to develop, and I plan on sharing some cool photos soon

–        Del.ic.ious: I remember one of our instructors from our first term mentioning del.ic.ious, and I visited it but didn’t really get it at the time.  New media was so new to me, so I stuck with my one and only social networking tool: Facebook.  Once again, after reading about it, I have come to understand the benefits of this tool.  Signed up? Yup!

–        Tribe: I have been told to join this one, but I haven’t signed up yet.  In fact, the person who recommended it to me is coming over tonight.  I will ask him personally about the benefits of joining it, and I might just follow suit.  All I know is it has to do with finding a community, which is pretty much what a PLN is all about

–        OneClimate and OneWorldTV: I found those on a list of social networks.  They are related to non-profits that advocate environmental issues and social issues, respectively.  Unfortunately, there was an error when I tried to sign up to both.  I will keep them in mind and try again in the next few days

Step 2: Finding People to Connect With

–        Search: This can be done through using the site’s search engine

–        Following: Follow friends of friends that discuss topics of interest

–        Bloggers: Look out for the bloggers that I already follow, which are not many, but I do have a connection with them one way or another

Step 3: Joining the Conversations

–        Respond: Always make an effort to respond to messages from others

–        Up To Date: Remain up to date and don’t disappear for long periods from the conversations

Step 4: Starting Conversation

–        Questions: Try and post some

–        Polls: Create one to engage others

–        Links: Post some interesting links that may be useful to others

With these steps, I am definitely able to create a PLN online that will not overwhelm me.  I try to keep my online and offline life balanced [5], so these steps work well for me.  As for my offline PLN, I have created wonderful connections with my current and past classmates, as well as my friends, family, educators, and past co-workers.  With this new PLN plan I have developed, I am confident that my knowledge base will continue to grow from this day on.

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References Used:

[1] Klingensmith, Kate. “PLN: Your Personal Learning Network Made Easy “. May 05, 2009 <http://onceateacher.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/pln-your-personal-learning-network-made-easy/>.

[2] “Personal Learning Networks”. Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Learning_Networks>.

[3] Byrne, Richard. “How to Build a PLN”. Aug 12, 2009 <http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2009/08/how-to-build-pln.html>

[4] “5 Things You Can Do to Begin Developing Your Personal Learning Network”. The Innovative Educator. Oct 12, 2008 <http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2008/04/5-things-you-can-do-to-begin-developing.html>.

[5] Sakamoto, Barbara. “What is a PLN, anyway?”. Sep 10, 2009 <http://www.teachingvillage.org/2009/09/10/what-is-a-pln-anyway/comment-page-1/>.

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