Personal/Professional Learning Networks, are virtual communities where educators can connect with other educators. Share tips, resources and materials, collaboratively create materials and learning opportunities, and essentially create a network to support your professional practice. In addition, your PLN can help you connect your classroom to the world! Students can also develop their learning community. Where can they go to get information and resources, and share with others? Can such a network have educational value? Absolutely! The tools below are for teachers and for students.




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From the 2010 National Educational Technology Plan



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http://www.flickr.com/photos/langwitches/3458534773/sizes/o/



Experience a collaborative backchannel discussion


Join today's conversation at http://ckendall.ietherpad.com/1
- Be professional
- Be thoughtful
- Everything is recorded (even when deleted)
Use this venue to exchange ideas, share websites, ask each other questions.



Lucy Gray has a wonderful blog post about PLN
Will Richardson's book, Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education, guides readers to consider the power of a PLN and how to create PLNs.
Will Richardson on PLNs:









Why Create a PLN?

From A 21st Century Professional Development Proposal:
  • Teachers become more aware - of new research, new strategies, new educators, and new ideas that can enhance and impact their teaching and learning
  • Teachers become connected- they develop learning networks as they meet teachers with similar interests and issues
  • Teachers become empowered - as they take control and responsibility of their own professional growth.
  • Teachers become model - With first hand experience on how to operate in a 21st century learning environment, teachers become equipped to demonstrate and model learning behaviors and strategies for their students
  • Teachers become confident-Teachers feel appreciated and respected for their contributions and knowledge and become confident and more competent in their own teaching practice
  • Teachers become a connected community - teachers who share, learn, and connect become leaders inside and outside of their classrooms
  • Teachers become Learners - the most important requirement to being a 21st Century educator - don't you think?




Stages of Personal Learning Networks Adoption

Jeff Utecht wrote a terrific blog post, Stages of PLN Adoption, overviewing stages that may be experienced when creating, establishing, and cultivating a PLN.

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Stage 1 Immersion: Immerse yourself into networks. Create any and all networks you can find where there are people and ideas to connect to. Collaboration and connections take off.
Stage 2 Evaluation: Evaluate your networks and start to focus in on which networks you really want to focus your time on. You begin feeling a sense of urgency and try to figure out a way to “Know it all.”
Stage 3 Know it all: Find that you are spending many hours trying to learn everything you can. Realize there is much you do not know and feel like you can’t disconnect. This usually comes with spending every waking minute trying to be connected to the point that you give up sleep and contact with others around you to be connected to your networks of knowledge.
Stage 4 Perspective: Start to put your life into perspective. Usually comes when you are forced to leave the network for awhile and spend time with family and friends who are not connected (a vacation to a hotel that does not offer a wireless connection, or visiting friends or family who do not have an Internet connection).
Stage 5 Balance: Try and find that balance between learning and living. Understanding that you can not know it all, and begin to understand that you can rely on your network to learn and store knowledge for you. A sense of calm begins as you understand that you can learn when you need to learn and you do not need to know it all right now.


Tips for Getting Started


1. Use the same username/ID across your online presences if possible.
2. It truly is a conversation - give and take, interact and share!
3. Start slowly and build your network!


What mediums can I use to build a PLN? The quick list

Tip: Use one particular email and username for all your identities and logins online – it will help you manage your online presence. Consider establishing a gmail account – it will protect your personal and/or school email account, plus it will provide you access to all of Google’s services because your gmail account will double as a Google Account.



Visit each of the following pages on this wiki for more information about the environments below.


Twitter


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Social bookmarking with delicious and diigo



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Connecting in a multimedia-rich virtual community at Ning


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RSS: Leverage the power of blogs and RSS feeds



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Want a refresher on what the above services offer? Check out the Common Craft videos for explanations on these and other technology-related topics. They even have the videos in different languages!