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What’s the Point of a Personal Learning Network?

What’s the Point of a Personal Learning Network?

We all have a personal learning network or PLN. Even if we’ve not reached the dizzy heights of Twitter and the like our PLN is all around us every day. It’s the people that we work with and exchange ideas with.

Traditionally our PLN wouldn’t have reached very far beyond the staffroom, but these days in the blink of an eye you can be accessing information and answers from a PLN that spans the globe.

But what’s the point?

I know that a lot of people – generally the type who won’t be reading this blog, and certainly won’t be dropping me a line on Twitter to talk about it, think that virtual PLNs are just one big time wasting activity. That we’re all busy talking about what we had for breakfast, or watching videos of dancing cats. Of course, there’s some of that – just like there is in the staff room. But there’s a whole more to it as well.

Michael Graffin, a teacher over in Oz started a great discussion up on Voicethread a few days back trying to encourage an exchange of ideas about what we each get out of our PLN and how it’s changed us both personally and as educators.

 

Voicethread will eventually appear below – or you can access it here

 

Participating was a learning experience for me as I’ve never used Voicethread before. It made me examine what the point of my own personal learning network is and I decided that for me, the key elements were being part of an environment which was completely unprejudiced where I could ask any questions I liked without fear of looking silly. And also having the privilege of being able to draw on a huge range of ideas and experiences of educators working in a wide range of roles, all over the world.

Whenever I have a question, idea or problem if I talk to my PLN I always find that I am offered a wealth of advice and ideas which are more wider ranging and certainly a lot more rapid than if I had used my traditional offline PLN.

It’s well worth listening to the other views expressed in the voicethread and adding your own voice too. Some of the standout points for me were that a PLN offered the opportunity to:
• Talk to like-minded, real people
• Share and exchange a range of ideas
• Inject creativity into everyday practice
• Enjoy a constant flow of ideas
• Encourage innovation
• Discuss and consider controversial thoughts
• Develop enthusiasm and passion

So are you a convert? Do you find your virtual PLN a great resource or do you think we’re better off sticking to the traditional methods of actually talking to people we know and exchanging ideas over the photocopier? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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