Personal Learning Networks are something I had never heard of until now. I learned that they are a network of people to reach out to in order to learn and connect with others. It’s not specific to teachers and education. A personal learning network can be created for any type of profession or hobby. It really help to connect a teacher with other educators to communicate and sometimes even collaborate with them. It helps teachers to share ideas and resources to others and in return, they can find ideas and resources from their personal learning networks. These allow for teachers to understand and connect with others that struggle with the same things or go through similar situations in their classrooms. Personal learning networks help form connected educators, which benefit the students they interact with. I kind of see a personal learning network as a form of social networking that focuses on a certain topic, such as education or physical therapy.
To begin creating my own personal learning network (PLN), I started thinking about what kind of PLN I would like to have. I decided on education in general but almost solely focused on elementary. I began by reading about PLNs and how to create them. Then I searched for the best people to follow on Twitter in education. I found a whole host of sites that offered lists of people to follow. I started sifting through the lists and reading through these peoples twitter feeds. If I thought they would be good to connect with, I added them. I then moved on to searching for education blogs I could follow. I struggled a bit with finding ones that are updated regularly and that were relevant to what I was looking for. I found many that were simply a host of resources for worksheets and activities for teachers. That would be great to follow once I graduate and am actually teaching, but I was really looking for education discussions rather than resources right now.
The article, How to Cultivate Your Personal Learning Network, was very helpful in learning about this. I learned that there are several things that you have to do in order to cultivate and keep your personal learning network relevant and fruitful. You have to keep improving your PLN by picking and choosing who you want in your PLN and who no longer benefits your learning. I have already began to discover who I would like to keep in my PLN and who doesn’t fit well. Another thing you have to do is share information yourself with your PLN to benefit them. This also helps you engage with people and inquire on subjects you need help with.
One thing that I think I will kind of struggle with is finding and feeding my PLN with valuable information. I’m really unsure of how to go about finding information to share with my PLN. Maybe by reading education articles and journals? That might help.
I have begun to find great people and groups to follow, including Teaching Issues. They always have inspirational bits of information for teachers, including the one below. I am already enjoying the exploration of my PLN.