Why (And How) You Should Create A Personal Learning Network

What Is A PLN?

Through the use of my own Personal Learning Network (PLN), I came across several great examples that both define what a PLN is, and explain the value of creating one for yourself. According to a wikispace about creating PLNs,

“Personal Learning Networks are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning. This includes providing support for learners to:

1) set their own learning goals

2) manage their learning; managing both content and process

3) communicate with others in the process of learning and thereby achieve learning goals

Simply put: A PLN is a system for lifelong learning.

Why Start Your PLN Now?

Teachers in our district, especially freshmen teachers, have a ton on their plates this year. Between the new curriculum and teaching a classroom full of freshmen with laptops, our staff is swamped! That is exactly the reason why starting a PLN today is a good idea. A lot of people might feel that they don’t have time to take on one more thing right now, but developing a PLN will actually make things easier for teachers in the long run.

Here are some ways that educators are using their PLNs:

- Professional development – learn from content-area specialists
- Locate resources for your classroom, such as free websites and software
- Get lesson plan ideas from master teachers
- Learn about new technology and how to integrate it into your teaching
- Find collaborative solutions
- Find interesting links to education news

10 Easy Ways to Kick Start Your Personal Learning Network

Thanks to a fellow blogger/teacher named Kate Klingensmith, here’s a directory of some resources you can use to start developing your own community of connections and resources:

Social Networking – Keeping up with personal, more social contacts like friends, family, and former students (Facebook, Google+)

Microblogging – Populated with educators from around the world who share best practices and resources in short bursts (Twitter, Teacher’s Guide to Twitter, Top education hashtags, EdmodoBlog)

Professional Profiles – Find other professionals and experts in your field (LinkedIn,Xing)

Wikis – Community-monitored sites that can function as websites or for group organization and projects (Wikispaces, pbwiki, edublogs)

Blogs – Great sources of information such as classroom best practices as well as personal opinions; Blogs monitor the heartbeat of new trends in education and the commenting back and forth leads to many great ideas and relationships (WordPress, Blogger, edudemic, Free Technology for Teachers, The Edublogs Awards Blog)

RSS Reader/News Aggregators – RSS means “Real Simple Syndication” – an RSS reader is a tool that allows you to keep up with many of your favorite blogs, all in once place (see this video ‘RSS in Plain English’) (Google Reader, netvibes,feedly)

Nings – Communities of people interested in similar topics, with forums and messaging (Classroom 2.0, Future of Education, Ning)

Social Bookmarking – Share bookmarks with others, see what others are bookmarking; you can join groups and get email updates on new bookmarks (Diigo,Delicious, EverNote)

Webinars – Live, on-line presentations or conferences, with real-time chat, hosted by experts on specific topics; Great way to learn about new things and to meet new people (Classroom 2.0 Live, Elluminate – host your own, edtechleaders,edtechteacher)

Backchanneling of conferences – When there are neat (and expensive) conferences that you can’t attend, follow conversations and links about the highlights using hashtags (Guide to Twitter Hastags, Top education Hashtags)

This list is a great place to start but there are numerous other ways to create your PLN. I encourage you to do some research of your own by using good search terms like “PLN” or “Personal Learning Network for Teachers.” You would be surprised how much information is available for teachers if you take the time to look for yourself. Try using this list to get started, do some research, and begin developing your Personal Learning Network today!

How To Create A PLN, The Video

Here is an excellent video made by Skip Via that paints a picture of a concept that is not easy to grasp while making the value of creating a PLN so clear that it should make any educator want to run out and create one immediately after reading this post!


- Epcke, Judith, and Scott Meech. “Personal Learning Networks: The Power of the Human Network.” N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2012.
- Klingensmith, Kate . “PLN: Your Personal Learning Network Made Easy.” | Adventures in education 3.0 and web 2.0, starting from 0.0. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2012.
- Via, Skip . “Personal Learning Networks for Educators.” YouTube – Broadcast Yourself.. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2012.
- Picture © Hannes Beer


  1. Julian Stodd

    October 4, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Neat summary, thanks.

  2. Elizabeth

    October 13, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Great blog…just a side note, many of the links in the article are not active

  3. Pingback: Why (And How) You Should Create A Personal Learning Network | Edudemic « INCLUSIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR READING

  4. Judith

    October 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Thanks for doing this. Clearest explanation for PLN i have seen so far. Also nice to know that I am doing some of your suggestions already, but still a way to go.