Saturday, March 13, 2010

You Already Have a Personal Learning Network (PLN)--You Just Don't Know It

PLNs are the rage, lately, among Teachers Who Like to Learn. If you haven't guessed already, that's definitely me.

I have always been a voracious reader, out to learn all I can about virtually everything (though some things--such as birds...I'm truly sorry, birds...and fire trucks--don't interest me much. I also hate morning talk shows or Spoiled, Stupid, Surgically-Enhanced Hausfraus on TV. Those programs are my idea of torture).

So what is a PLN? It's just a handy way of saying how you get information.

What are your sources? What do you read? Who mentors you? Where/how do you have intellectual discussions and perfect your profession or craft?

I personally have many sources. First, I listen to NPR (yes, I am the NPR type). I read BBC news. I scan CNN.  I change the channel in disgust when FOX is on. It's just a poor news source, in my opinion. I think I know--reasonably well--how good reporting and writing is done, and crackers, that surely ain't it.

Then I check Twitter for interesting links and discussions. I chime in on #edchat and #litchat and Gifted and Talented--that's my thing!--(#gifted) tweet-fests.  In case it's new to you, and don't be embarrassed as we all have to learn at some point, the # symbols denote hashtags--ways to find topical discussions on Twitter.

I meet (virtually speaking) new and interesting people that way. I read their blogs. They read mine. We send each other messages about what we're learning and doing.

I am also part of several NINGs, both for AP teachers and educators in general (The Educator's PLN).  On the NINGs, I can read discussions, add my thoughts, or ask questions that other members answer. I might answer someone else's question (I once gave a fellow teacher tons of info about teaching poetry).

What I like about all of these sources besides TV news (which is passive) is the fact that they are interactive if you want them to be.  You choose to tune in; you choose to read; you choose to pose questions or raise points. Other people respond to you or spread what you're saying and you gain--exponentially--much more insight and feedback.

Now that we have so many fabulous ways to learn almost everything we ever wanted to know--THANK YOU, INTERNET!--I can't even remember how we coped before.

Remember the world of phones attached to curly cords, of pencils and paper and file cabinets and ditto machines? Wow--seems like ancient history.

The truth is, though, that like-minded people will always find each other and always find ways to connect and share knowledge.

As E.M. Forster, one of my very favorite writers, once said, "Only connect."

Wise words.

Happy learning!


  1. Rebecca SamuelsonMarch 13, 2010 at 9:23 PM

    Wow, I had been wondering what a PLN was because I have been seeing that term everywhere! Thanks for explaining it so well, and by golly (who says that anymore? I do, apparently), I have my own PLN and didn't even know it!

  2. I couldn't agree with you more about Fox; I walked into the Toyota dealership in Berwyn and it was on in the morning....I walked back out.

    Twitter is my biggest source of info now; quick and easy. I too LOVE NPR! We are kindred spirits...

  3. Nice to meet a kindred spirit! I've been thinking that I need to escape to a more open-minded area, but there have to be people around here who understand my concerns about the environment, etc.

    NPR is the best source of news we have here, though even on NPR (specifically, web site), extremists will write in to throw grenades into otherwise productive discussions.