Growing My PLN (Personal Learning Network)

http://aquaculturepda.edublogs.org/files/2008/12/plntool.jpg

I kid my friends in the field of education that PLN aren’t just my initials (Paula L. Naugle) anymore. But I have been struggling with the idea of whether my PLN is my personal learning network or my professional learning network. Even though it is true that my PLN helps me grow professionally I feel very personally connected to these people.  

I began growing my PLN after visiting Sue Waters’ wiki on the topic. I started a blog, joined several Nings, started one for fourth grade teachers in my school system, and set up my Google reader to receive RSS feeds from other educators’ blogs. Then I joined FaceBook and Twitter. I connected with friends from high school and college on FB, but wasn’t sure Twitter was for me. Did I really want updates on the mundane events in other people’s lives? 

Luckily I did some more research and found Tomaz Lasic’s Twitter Handbook for Teachers. I revisited Twitter determined this microblogging platform was truly going to help me grow my PLN. At first I just “listened” to the stream of tweets going by, then I found people to follow, and finally I got brave enough to post some tweets. Boy did my first impression of Twitter change! In a few short months I had over 200 followers, was following about 200 educators, and had tweeted about 500 updates.  

I now begin every morning by making my coffee and logging into my Twitter account. My PLN points me to articles and blog posts I should read, videos I should view, websites I should check out, and webinars that are being offered for free professional development. We laugh together, cry together, and cheer each other successes. That makes it very personal to me.

13 Responses to “Growing My PLN (Personal Learning Network)”

  1. Katie Says:

    Paula, this sums up my feelings exactly!! I’m ready to start writing my own blog now, but I am unsure of where to start. Any thoughts fellow bloggers? Thank you Paula!

  2. Kim Says:

    Nicely put! I have only just begun my PLN adventure! I am an Academic Coach in a county that is just beginning to embrace technology– each elementary school has two Smartboards, at least one computer lab and several student computers. I keep up two blogs and a wiki for the county, but not everyone has hopped on board yet. I patiently keep at it, plugging away just in case there is someone who may be reading what I’m putting out to the universe! Just like you, I have really gotten fired up since joining Twitter. I have been at it for only a few weeks, but already it has become a PPLN for me! (personally professional?)

    Thank you for being a part of MY PLN! :-)

  3. Paula Naugle Says:

    Kim,
    I know sometimes we feel so far behind, but the important thing to remember is that we are on the journey. Each person that we can get to join us on the journey is a victory for advancing technology integration. I am truly amazed at how far I’ve come in the last few months and as I talked about my journey at school other teacher were getting curious and started to ask me tech related questions. I gave two presentations on using technology to teachers on my staff this year. Over the summer I am getting together material I plan to present on a monthly basis next year.

    Thank you for taking the time to add a comment and for being a part of my PLN.

  4. Paula Naugle Says:

    Katie,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment on this post. I use Blogger since I already have a Google account. It meets my needs and is easy to use.

    I can’t wait to read your first post.

  5. Tomaz Lasic Says:

    Serendipity is a wonderful thing isn’t it Paula. I would trust my human filter much more than a machine filter these days too!

    The personal/ professional question by someone who wakes up and fires up Twitter to see what she can learn from others to do a better job reminds me of a great line from Erin Brockovich when she is asked “not to take [professional] things personally”:

    NOT PERSONAL! That is my WORK, my SWEAT, and MY TIME AWAY FROM MY KIDS! IF THAT IS NOT PERSONAL, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS!

    She probably delivered better than Julia Roberts too :D

    Oh, by the way, I “wake up and go to bed” with Twitter too (I just try not to wake up the kids).

    Cheers. Tomaz

  6. Paula Naugle Says:

    Tomaz,
    Thanks for reminding me of the Erin Brockovich line. I am very passionate about my profession and strive to be a better teacher each day. Thanks to my PLN I’m constantly improving. It is very PERSONAL for me.

    Also thanks for helping me learn about Moodle. I look forward to your continued tutelage.

  7. Derrall Garrison Says:

    I think you very succinctly describe the process that many of us go through in growing and developing our PLNs. I also have difficulties at times making the determination whether it’s a personal learning network or a professional one. For myself I think that perhaps for now it is ok to let the connections change back and forth between the two perceptions. After all we may be professionals continuing our learning but for the passion that is shared and connections that we form as we learn and grow together it certainly feels like more.

  8. Paula Naugle Says:

    Hi Derrall,
    Thank for adding to the conversation. I know how passionate you are about learning. I “see” you at many of the webinars I attend and I “feel” the respect you garner from the other educators. Keep on with the journey and thank you for being part of my PLN.

  9. Kris Fontes Says:

    Working on my master’s in Instructional Media through Wilkes University and Discovery Education, finding all I know and all I don’t know and all I’m determined to learn. As an art teacher I am connected to both the world of technology and the world of design/creativity and love to see the combination. My PLN is like a huge impressionistic painting!

  10. Lorra Frese Says:

    Thank you for your insights into Twitter. I was just discussing this very issue today. I am in the beginning stages of creating my PLN. I am taking a Instructional Media course offered through Wilkes University. I wasn’t sure I quite understood why I needed to create a Twitter account. But I can see now, if I just follow along for a while, it will help direct my learning and add to my PLN. It’s good that the professors ask us to join things like Ning and Twitter that we normally would not join. It helps us get over the fear of putting ourselves out there to the rest of the world. I previously felt that I wasn’t worthy or knowledgeable enough to post something that would go out to the world. But as I read more blogs and tweets, I realize we are all here to learn from each other, no one is an expert, we are all life-long learners. I hope some day my PLN will also become “personal”.

  11. Jestine Bommer Says:

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  12. Lupe Dietsch Says:

    This is a amazing post, but I was wondering how do I suscribe to the RSS feed?

  13. Kieth Cespedes Says:

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