Unit 4: Professional Learning Networks – PLNs


By the end of the unit, students would be able to;

  • describe PLN
  • site examples of PLN
  • list the stages of PLN
  • state at least three ways PLNs helps teachers

Professional Learning Networks – PLNs

A PLN is one in which participants in a professional community learn together

  • Any group of people sharing the same profession or interests that share ideas
  • Your department is an example of a PLN

PLNs enable teachers and student teachers access to a wide range of experts and communities to support their professional learning.

P – It is building professional relationships with teachers, university professors and experts around the world. No matter your location in the world, there is always someone else to answer questions, and share their expertise

L – It is about sharing ideas and resources, collaboration, and learning. We share our learning, ideas and expertise in different ways; using different media and tools.

N – It is a global learning network, enabling people to tap into and share diverse, global perspectives on teaching strategies, educational issues, and technologies.

  • The internet allows us to form PLNs with more people and much more easily
  • Why write a letter when you can email?
  • Why email when you can text/twitter?

PLN also Stands For Personal Learning Network

  • Informal Learning
  • “Just In Time” Learning
  • Social Learning Theory: Bandura, Vygotsky
  • Professional Learning Community-PLC

The stages of PLN


2.Asking for help/opinions

3.Giving help/opinions

4.Starting something (group/discussion)

5.Joining every social network possible

6.Finding the right balance


PLNs can be facilitated through the use of a range of ICT tools

◦Professional learning communities and websites

Social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn),

Social bookmarking tools (Diigo, Delicious),

◦Wikis (wetpaint, Wikispaces)

NB. Pick one username, use the same email, and a consistent password for all of your PLN sites

Social Networking – Twitter 

  • Twitter is a popular resource for educators who want to connect with each other professionally
  • Twitter allows you to
  • ‘follow’ professional communities and networks that you are interested in
  • and to be ‘followed’ by them.
  • Stimulating discussions, new resources, and an ongoing supportive network.
  • You just have to know where to look

Diigo – Social Bookmarking Site

Diigo is a free social bookmarking tool that allows users to share online resources like websites and web tools in a private or public group format.

There are lots of different groups on Diigo, many for professional and educational use.

A place where you can store all your bookmarks, pictures, and notes too.

  • Use tags to classify

–Your school, district, department, class could set up a tag to collect all of your finds

  • Can install a toolbar to make it easy to maintain and share a single list of bookmarks from any computer

Many Other Ways to Connect…

  • Curriki


–Share lesson plans

  • Platform/Software specific discussions



How can PLNs help teachers?

  • Professional development – learn from content-area specialists;
  • Locate resources for your classroom, such as free websites and software;
  • Get lesson plan ideas from master teachers;
  • Learn about new technology and how to integrate it into your teaching;
  • Find collaborative solutions;
  • Find interesting links to education news

PLN Extends that Tradition

  • PLNs helps teachers to get recommendations from other professionals, which makes it easier for me to find great resources.
  • Therefore teachers can share ideas, give their opinions and add their suggestions. Thus, making the internet human again.
  • For example,
  • If you have a favorite lesson, but don’t want to set up a website to share your opinions, knowledge, experience, and lesson plans you can jump into active online communities and get positive feedback!

Five Steps to building your PLN via Twitter

  1. Join
  • Sign up for twitter.com and create a username.
  • Username should not be too long
  • Complete your bio so people know who you are, and add an image.
  1. Follow
  • There are thousands of teachers around the world on Twitter.
  • Once you have a few people to follow, look at who they are following and you will start to build a PLN.
    • 3. Lurk
    • You’ll need to spend some time checking out the streams of tweets and getting hang of
    • Tweeting
    • Retweeting
    • Direct messaging
    • Hashtags
    • 4. Contribute
    • The more you put in, the more you get out.
    • Make sure you
    • Reply people
    • Retweet tweets
    • Ask questions
    • Strike up conversations
    • 5. Stick with it!
      • Check on Twitter daily for a month before you make decisions about whether it is for you
      • It is about rapports with people and your professional world will be so enlightened.


A blog is a way of sharing your knowledge with the world by writing regularly about your ideas in a particular area.


  • Decide what you are going to blog about
  • Choose a domain
  • Decide on the blogging platform
  • Start your blog
  • Design your blog
  • Start blogging

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change” Charles Darwin

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