EdTech Terms Explained: Personal Learning Network (PLN)

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EdTech Terms Explained: Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

EdTech Terms Explained: Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

EdTech Terms Explained: Personal Learning Network (PLN)

In today’s fast-paced world, keeping up with new developments has become crucial. This is particularly true in the field of education, where technology is transforming the way we teach and learn. The concept of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) is one such development. This article will explore what PLNs are and the role they play in enhancing education in the digital age.

Understanding Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is a customized network of individuals and resources that a person uses to help them achieve their learning goals. PLNs are usually made up of people who share similar interests, passions, and learning objectives. The network can include colleagues, mentors, experts, and peers who all contribute to increased knowledge, collaboration, and innovation.

PLNs are gaining popularity in the field of education as they provide a flexible and personalized approach to learning. In this article, we will explore the concept of PLNs, their importance in education, and the key components that make up a PLN.

What is a Personal Learning Network (PLN)?

At its core, a PLN is an informal and voluntary yet powerful network that enables learners to learn more effectively and efficiently. A PLN comprises online and offline networks, communities, and resources that students can access to acquire information, skills, and knowledge. It is a community of practice that encourages exploration, sharing of ideas, and collaboration.

PLNs are unique to each individual and can be customized to meet their specific learning needs. They can be created and maintained through various platforms, including social media, discussion forums, blogs, podcasts, and webinars.

The Importance of PLNs in Education

PLNs are becoming increasingly important in education because they provide educators with opportunities to enhance their personal and professional growth. A PLN can help them to connect with peers, experts, and mentors who can provide support, challenge, and feedback. It can also provide access to resources that may not be available in traditional learning settings.

PLNs offer flexible and self-directed learning experiences that can help educators to adapt and stay relevant in a rapidly changing digital landscape. By participating in PLNs, educators can expand their knowledge, skills, and perspectives, and apply them to their teaching practices. This can ultimately lead to improved student outcomes and engagement.

Key Components of a PLN

A Personal Learning Network can be comprised of various components, including learning objectives, social media, discussion forums, online videos, blogs, podcasts, newsletters, and webinars. Each component serves a particular purpose and adds different values to the network.

  • Learning objectives: Setting goals and priorities helps learners to identify the resources and networks they need to achieve their objectives. By defining their learning objectives, learners can focus their efforts and make the most of their PLN.

  • Social media: Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, make it easy to find and connect with like-minded individuals and participate in online conversations and communities. Social media can be a valuable tool for building a PLN and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in education.

  • Discussion forums: Online forums like Reddit, HapYak, and Schoology provide platforms where learners can ask questions, discuss ideas, and share resources. Discussion forums can be a great way to connect with peers and experts and gain new insights and perspectives.

  • Online videos: Video-sharing platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo provide opportunities for learners to access tutorials, lectures, and explanations on any topic. Online videos can be a powerful tool for visual and auditory learners and can provide a more engaging and interactive learning experience.

  • Blogs and podcasts: Written and audio narratives from experts, peers, and teachers provide rich resources for learners. Blogs and podcasts can be a great way to gain new insights, perspectives, and ideas, and can be consumed at any time and at any place.

  • Newsletters and webinars: Newsletters and webinars can provide access to the latest research, trends, and developments in education. They can also provide opportunities for learners to connect with experts and peers and participate in interactive learning experiences.

By utilizing these key components, learners can build a robust and diverse PLN that supports their personal and professional growth. A PLN can provide a wealth of knowledge, resources, and opportunities for learners to explore, collaborate, and innovate.

Building Your Own Personal Learning Network

Building a PLN is a process that requires time and effort. The following steps will help you to establish and develop your own PLN effectively.

Identifying Your Learning Goals

Begin by defining your learning objectives carefully. Your objectives should be precise, measurable, realistic, and time-bound. Each objective can serve as a basis for identifying the individuals, groups, or resources you need in your PLN.

Connecting with Like-Minded Educators

Once you have identified your learning objectives, start connecting with like-minded educators. Social media is an excellent place to start. Join Twitter chats or Facebook groups relevant to your interests. Participate actively and share your ideas, thoughts, and resources.

Utilizing Social Media Platforms

Social media provides an incredible opportunity to connect and engage with experts, peers, and thought leaders. Use LinkedIn to create professional connections. Join online groups that align with your interests. Building your profile and sharing your expertise on this platform is an excellent way to develop relationships and find new resources for your PLN.

Participating in Online Communities and Forums

Another way to find colleagues who share your teaching passion is to join online communities and forums. For example, HapYak allows teachers to post questions and answers, while Schoology creates virtual classrooms for online collaboration. Join the communities and forums relevant to your interests and participate actively.

Enhancing Your PLN with EdTech Tools

Education Technology (EdTech) tools are essential components of a Personal Learning Network. They can help educators to collaborate, share resources, and improve their teaching and learning outcomes. Here are a few EdTech tools that can enhance your PLN:

Collaboration and Communication Tools

Tools that enable communication and collaboration, such as Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, and Slack, help educators to work with their PLN members in real-time. They allow for the sharing of documents, ideas, and feedback, thus improving productivity and efficiency.

Content Curation and Sharing Tools

Tools that help educators to collect, organize, and share content are also essential in expanding their PLN. For instance, Pocket allows teachers to save articles, videos, and web pages to read later, while Hootsuite enables sharing across social media platforms.

Professional Development Platforms

Professional development platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and edX provide courses, certificates, and degrees that educators can use to learn new skills and advance their careers.

Tips for Maintaining and Expanding Your PLN

Creating and sustaining your PLN requires constant effort and engagement. Here are a few tips to help you maintain and expand your PLN:

Staying Active and Engaged

Engage with members of your PLN regularly. Share your expertise, resources, and experiences. Participate actively in online forums, social media groups, and professional development opportunities.

Continuously Updating Your Learning Goals

Revisit your learning goals often. Make sure they remain aligned with your interests and your teaching objectives. As technology evolves, stay up to date with new EdTech tools and resources.

Networking at Conferences and Events

Attend conferences, events and workshops relevant to your interests. Actively use them as opportunities to network and meet new educators to add to your PLN.

Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

Finally, sharing your knowledge and expertise is crucial to maintaining a healthy and vibrant PLN. Mentor colleagues, write blogs, share your ideas, and moderate online forums. By sharing and contributing to the community, you will continue to learn and grow personally and professionally.


In conclusion, developing a Personal Learning Network is a powerful approach to learning that can benefit educators personally and professionally. It allows for the sharing of resources, perspectives, and best practices. By building a PLN, teachers can cultivate meaningful connections with students, colleagues, and experts, exchange insights, and stay up to date with emerging EdTech developments.