Friday, August 12, 2011

The 5 Cs to Developing Your Personal Learning Network

In the 21st century teachers are no longer the sole imparters of information.  Instead their role shifts to empowering students to learn independently in part by developing personal learning networks in areas of passions, talents, and interests.  Not only are these real-world connections valuable, they enable learning to move from the preparation for life to the living of life by providing individuals with access to learners, leaders and experts around the world bringing together communities, resources and information impossible to access solely from within school walls.

The five Cs below will empower educators to discover how they and their students can begin building personal learning networks specific to the learner’s needs extending relevant learning connections to like-interested people around the globe. 

What is a Personal Learning Network and how can this change teaching and learning?

Pick 3 Blogs you find interesting and start reading them.

Subscribe to the blogs you selected in Google Reader.
  • Note: You will need to set up a Google Account.  If you have a gmail account you have a Google account too.  Caution: Limit your reader to five to start. Keeping up with more blogs will be difficult.
Join a professional network.
  • Classroom 2.0 (for educators using Web 2.0 technology) and Educator’s PLN are two popular learning networks.  I launched a local network called Transforming Ed for The 21st Century. Check them out.  Look around.  
Join a social network
  • Join Facebookand Google+.  Look around and check out what kind of conversations people are having.  
Check out Twitter
  • Join the microblogging phenomena by reading Tweets at Twitter. Start by selecting 3 well-known Edubloggers to follow and watch all the great stuff they have to share. You'll learn a lot in minutes that fit into 140 character sound bytes. I'd recommend starting with InnovativeEdu / Lisa Nielsen, willrich45 / Will Richardson, stevehargadon / Steve Hargadon, and penelopetrunk/ Penelope Trunk. You may also want to follow a hashtags about topics of interest by placing them in the search box on Twitter.  Here are some that I like to follow.  Find more here.  
    1. #tlchat: School library resources and more are discussed on #tlchat.
    2. #gtchat: Chat about gifted and talented students on #gtchat.
    3. #engchat: Resources, learning, and more can be found on #engchat.
    4. #edchat: Check out #edchat weekly for a discussion on technology and education.
    5. #mathchat: Talk about math education on #mathchat.
  • Become a part of the conversation and start commenting on the blogs you read.
  • Join Twitter and reply to a Tweet and try using a hashtag.
Social Media
  • Join your favorite social media site and start the conversation on an interesting status update.
  • Contact the author of a blog you enjoy and ask to write a guest post.  
  • Start your own blog!
  • Initiate a tweet using a hashtag and try to get a conversation started.
  • Start a chat about a topic of interest i.e. #mathchat, #edchat, #scichat
Social Media
  • Update your status and tag people you think would be interested.
  • Create a group or page on Facebook
  • Start a hangout in Google+
You are on your way to be a globally connected educator able to tap into amazing resources around the world 24/7.  As you become more and more knowledgeable in harnessing the power of a learning network you will be able to empower your students to also become globally connected to others who share their passions, talents, and interests.


  1. I would love to have a group of friend teachers to share experiences, and to continue learning.I am a teacher of English, and I think there is always a chance to learn from other teachers.
    I have tried to contact other teachers too because I think it is the only way to improve my own performance. I can do things by my own, but being part of a team is the key.

    Julian VM

  2. Excellent summary for those looking to create PLN. I will use this as a guide for the PD I will be leading for new fac at my school in coming weeks.

  3. Could someone please post the name of the speaker in the video? Thank you.

  4. @scott I'm also creating some PD sessions at my school and will be using this for one of them. I'm interested in sharing other ideas. @LorneBr

  5. Informative and inspiring! Thank you :-) Scott and Anonymous, indeed, the best way to make something your own is by sharing with others. I think I will do the same and PD these ideas with teachers and educators I work with.