Building your Personal Learning Network

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is a group of people you count on to:

  • guide you in your learning
  • be your source of advice and resources
  • make you aware of learning opportunities
  • share their best practices
  • point you to answers and support

This concept of a PLN  has been around for many years. What has changed in recent years though is the reach, the size and the availability of that network.

The look of a PLN has changed.


  • your colleagues in the building you work in
  • a cherished personal mentor
  • professional development opportunities offered sporadically throughout the year
  • conferences
  • college credit classes taken for re-certification


  • Blogs
  • RSS Readers
  • Twitter
  • Nings
  • Skype
  • Podcasts
  • Wikis

Your PLN is no longer tied to your zip code and you no longer work in isolation. It is literally available 24/7, since the “other side of the world” is asleep at different times than you. You are able to connect to educators from around the world who are ready and willing to teach beyond the walls of their own classroom.

Your PLN is customized as:

  • it filters the vast information available and pushes what interests you
  • you choose who is part of your network
  • you decide when and how to access and use it

Learning how to build your own PLN is:

  • a 21st century skill
  • learning about tools that enable your to make these connections
  • being in charge of your own professional development
  • connecting to educators who will contribute to your learning
  • extending your learning
  • receiving “just in time” learning and help
  • becoming globally aware
  • sharing your own best practices and receiving feedback from peers
  • experiencing the power of 21st century learning for yourself
  • filtering through “too much” information available
Take a look at the following slideshow, I created for a presentation I gave recently in Canada.

12 thoughts on “Building your Personal Learning Network”

  1. Well put – great to see/read how PLN’s have changed in the last couple of years. Also great intro for teachers who haven’t entered the social media realm of professional online networks. I will certainly share this with colleagues!

  2. Loved your post and your SlideShare was awesome, thanks again for your wonderful insight into the latest on PLNs! I will be tweeting this to my PLN!

  3. Dear Silvia,

    I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class, and i just wanted to say thank you so much for all of the material available on your blog. Also thank you for the numerous slide shows; they are a wealth of information. This particular post was of great interest to me because we are posting status on the development of our own PLN as a part of our class assignments. so needles to say any information is always appreciated.
    Again thank you so much for your contributions.

  4. Silvia,
    Thanks for posting this! Your slideshow is a perfect match for an upcoming PD session we’re calling “Grow Your Own PLN.” I like how you’ve simplified the concepts..but we always need reminders that teachers should take their own time…it’s too easy to get overwhelmed by other’s comfort levels! No one is expected to be at the same place at the same time. We don’t expect that of our students, do we?

  5. Hi Silvia, I recently set up my own PLN so am quite a novice, but seriously hooked. Our school is moving to a 1:1 laptop program for grade 8 next year, and I would like my students to develop a PLN of their own. I am looking for advice for helping teens start a PLN. Many thanks.

    1. @Renee,
      I see the role of the teacher as a “connector”. I believe that you can help your teens start creating their own PLN by helping them expand their network beyond their friends in their classes, neighborhoods or team mates. Help them get in contact with peers in Australia, China, South Africa, etc…
      A connected teacher can create connections for their students.

  6. Hello Silvia, I wish >I had joined with you earlier than yesterday (I believe I’m #500 to have participated in Skype Sunday. I am slowly building my PLN, and I hope to be able to talk my teacher trainees to do so also.

    Someitmes it is difficult to remember that not everyone has technology. Living in Mexico has been a real challenge: not only am I working against traditional teaching methods (stand and deliver to quietly note-taking classes) but also am dealing with a lack of Internet access, even in the public university where I teach.

    Fantastic post and I can’t wait to share it. Thanks, Ellen

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