5 Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) for Educators

| May 19, 2011 | 7 Comments
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Professional development and networking are vital in any field, and that’s especially true for educators.

Whether it’s coming up with fresh ideas for lesson plans and classroom activities, seeking mentorship and support from veteran educators, or cultivating resources for technology integration or for meeting state standards, teachers need one another’s expertise.

That’s why working with other educators in personal learning networks (PLNs) has become as important in an educator’s day as the time he or she spends teaching in class.

Below is a short list of PLNs that already exist, followed by some resources to help teachers build their own

    1. The Educator’s PLN is a Ning site (or online platform for creating your own social network) that facilitates connections between educators. It features a slew of resources such as downloadable podcasts with education leaders as guest speakers, discussion groups with specific purposes like exploring the iPad’s use in the classroom, and links to relevant blogs, videos, resource lists, and events.
    2. Powerful Learning Practice is a professional development program for progressive-minded educators. Its year-long curriculum provides cohorts of teachers with new ideas and hands-on practice in order to bolster their tech knowledge and aptitudes, rethink classroom activities to make them relevant for today’s students, find other teachers with similar goals, and build their own tech-rich learning tools. It isn’t free ($1,500 per person for a year of professional development in a school or district team or $1,000 as an individual), but teachers can usually earn education credits for their participation.
    3. Classroom 2.0 is designed for those interested in sharing ideas and resources about using Web 2.0 and new media in education. This means connecting with colleagues, finding out about events, joining different groups, attending Webinars every Saturday, or simply discussing everything from online projects to financial literacy to smart phone apps.
    4. EdChat began as a Twitter conversation for educators and has now expanded to a PBworks wiki that encourages the ideas spawned on Twitter that translate to practical advice. To get involved in EdChat on Twitter, search for the hashtag #edchat and join in the conversation. EdChat participants can also visit the success stories page, participate in two live conversations every Tuesday, and join the EdChat group at the Educator’s PLN.
    5. edWeb.net is a free online social network that lets educators connect with colleagues, collaborate on goals and projects, form their own professional learning communities, mentor one another, and practice using a slew of new technologies. Specific initiatives within the network include a game-based learning forum that will bring teachers together with game developers to explore best practices and further the discussion — and the field.

 

Resources for Building or Finding Your Own

These Edublog and WeConnect posts, both compiled by teacher and blogger Shelly Terrell, present a pretty exhaustive, multimedia-rich list that allows teachers to explore what a PLN is, why they should care, the research behind it, and step-by-step instructions on how to build one.
For an even bigger list of online teacher networks, visit EducationalNetworking.com’smaster list.

Educators, which learning networks do you belong to? What value have you found from collaborating with your peers?

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  • Anonymous

    Great article! I’d also like to add the ISTE Community Ning & ISTE Learning for those nearly 20,000+ International educators who are passionate about technology in teaching are amazing resources!  And for the School Librarians out there (YAY!) the Teacher Librarian Ning started by the renowned, respected, & generous Joyce Valenza is another vibrant way to connect with your own PLN & Geek Tribe! Cheers!
    ~Gwyneth Jones
    The Daring Librarian

  • http://twitter.com/ClassroomAidInc ClassroomAid

    Thanks for some great information.
    There are so many learning opportunities from online learning networks, all you need to do is to find out what matches your interest and needs best. We also had listed some networking communities here for your reference.http://www.classroom-aid.com/professional-development/

  • http://www.tedcurran.net TedCurran

    I don’t know if any discussion of PLNs can be complete without mention of Twitter. The #edtech hashtag and the many thought leaders in Ed Tech that I follow swap links, ideas, and connections. See https://twitter.com/#!/list/tedcurran/edtech

  • http://twitter.com/scmorgan Susan Carter Morgan

     Thanks for sharing Powerful Learning Practice. We are forming new communities now.

  • http://www.curriki.org Curriki

    Please also consider http://www.curriki.org, the free and non-profit community site for finding and sharing Open Educational Resources. The free tools include a powerful groups capability for collaborative curriculum development within or across institutional boundaries.

  • Adisack Nhouyvanisvong

    Please also consider the Teachers Forum on Naiku. We integrate a PLN for teachers and an assessment platform. Now teachers can act on, share, discuss, and collaborate based on results from their classroom assessments. Sign up for free teacher accounts at ww.naiku.net.

  • Jennifer Dorman

     I would also mention the Discovery Educator Network.  http://community.discoveryeducation.com/  Participation is free to all educators and administrators in schools and systems that employ Discovery Education curriculum and professional development resources.  The free webinar series is outstanding and the virtual and in-person venues for collaboration are fantastic ways to connect educators to their inspiring peers.