The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

One of the things I'll remember 2009 for is it was the first year that mainstream ELT teachers really took to using social media.

I think, however, that of all the internet memes that emerged in 2009, it was surely PLN (Personal Learning Network) that caught the attention of the blogging educators.

This was mainly due to the emergence of Twitter as an essential tool for the connected teacher, although there are still many teachers who have decided it's not for them.

Of course, Twitter is only one useful part of my own PLN. Having a blog and reading and commenting on other people's blogs is another, vital part. As is belonging to specialist social networks (usually using Ning). Facebook is also important, especially as there are so many teachers who use this social network and who don't use Twitter.

In fact, nowadays (at least in my situation) if you're not connected to people on Facebook, and other social networks, you'll miss out on what's happening (more and more people are using Facebook to organise events, etc.) in your social and professional circle of friends and colleagues.

Here's an example that comes from a conversation with a colleague yesterday - I was talking to someone about the TESOL EVO sessions, because I'd invited lots of people to take part through Facebook, and she asked me what we were talking about. The conversation that followed went something like this:

Me: Didn't I invite you too? Aren't we connected on Facebook?
Teacher: No, I keep my Facebook limited to close-friends and family

On the one-hand, I can totally understand the reasons for doing this, but this attitude is definitely not for me - I only started to appreciate the personal and professional advantages and benefits of social networks once I'd become more inclusive and widened my network to include people from all over the world and who I hardly know (or don't know). It's led to so many benefits: to me finding out about things I'd otherwise never have heard about, establishing friendships and reinforcing professional contacts, being invited to speak at conferences and take part in projects, etc (in some cases based on a single tweet being picked up by someone who was monitoring a term in Twitter!)

All of this is why I think 2010 will be the year when teachers many more mainstream start to embrace the idea of the PLN and begin to take a more active part in belonging to the global staffroom that is out there waiting for you, offering you friendship, support, help and advice - if you want it!

This is an abbreviated version of this blog post

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Comment by Graham Stanley on January 11, 2010 at 3:17am
I'd love to, Carole - look forward to participating
Comment by Carole McCulloch on January 10, 2010 at 10:28pm
Hey Graham, I'm right there with you on this! PLN mentoring is high on my agenda and I'm building a little course (located in Moodle) that has the PLN as the central driving theme. Maybe you'd like to be a critical friend on this initiative? Let me know via email.

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