PLNs: Find What Works For You - Steven Anderson
There is a big push in education for educators to form or to have a personal learning network; a group of other professionals that you call upon for answers to our burning educational questions, for mentoring and for just someone else to talk to about our profession. Many times when we talk about PLNs, we talk about the digital one. I am a big user and advocate of Twitter. I think it is, hands-down, one of the best ways to connect with other educators from around the world and have some really deep and meaningful conversations. But I wonder, are we pushing too much the use of the digital PLN? Now, before you go thinking I am losing my mind I am not. I still believe that educators should use things like Twitter and other social networks to create, communicate and collaborate with colleagues. But I just wonder, what about the face-to-face relationships. Aren't those equally as important?

I have a great group of people in my school and district that I am lucky I get to work with on a daily basis. I see these people regularly and consider them valuable members of my PLN. There are others that I know virtually that I feel equally about but many I have never met face-to-face.
In both of these situations I feel like I get some major value out of my relationships. Everyone I follow on Twitter adds value to my learning. Everyone I retweet, mention, follow,and engage with adds value to me on both a professional and a personal level. But on the flip side, the face-2-face, professional relationships I have with colleagues at school are meaningful and add value to my learning also. I find siting together, conversing, working through problems, also helps stretch my thinking, just like my digital PLN does.

The Networked Teacher - Alec Courosa
Networked Teacher Diagram - Update
21 Resources About Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)- Shelly Terrell

For the past year, I have researched the what, who, when, how, and why of Personal/Professional/Passionate Learning Networks (PLNs). We have seen the benefits of the people we choose to connect, collaborate, and problem solve with through social media. The educators, subject matter experts (SMEs), authors, and mentors we choose to derive knowledge from help us self-reflect on our methodologies and beliefs. They support us, remember our birthdays, celebrate our accomplishments, and stir within us a passion to improve the status quo. Many might argue we are an echo chamber, but I don’t really believe this. I know that within one year of connecting with a PLN I have jump started so many projects at my own institute. A few examples include- my five-year-old students have connected with others from other countries, we use technology with the English language learners regularly at my institute, and we Skype. We also have added many new courses and wikis along with these classes. We give workshops about technology to parents and educators. The students love the technology, are improving their English skills at faster rates, and are motivated by using technology. I am excited, because I know that I am preparing them adequately for their world of globalization and information and communication technologies (ICTs). By preparing them I know I am actively making a difference in the future. As an educator my goal is to send forth my students skilled and armed with knowledge to better, not burden the world.

Sitting Next to the Smart Kids- Amanda Dykes

Sitting Next to the Smart Kids- Amanda Dykes

When people always ask me why I use Twitter or have a PLN my first response is because it is like sitting next to the smart kids in class.  You know what I’m talking about, there is always that group of smarties and sitting next to them makes class just a little bit easier.  Growing up I was the head cheerleader with ADHD so people sat next to me for a whole different reason – to socialize. But by the end of high school I figured out if I was going to go to the private college of my choice I needed to be more serious in class.  So I started sitting next to the smart kids, the ones that were not as cool, but I liked them, they taught me a lot.  Luckily by senior year in the advanced classes was only the smart kids.  Academically – my favorite year.

I still have that mindset, hang out with people you not only can have fun with but learn from.  That is where collaboration comes into the picture.  Another thing I am taking away with me from #ISTE10 is how important collaboration really is. Last post was about creativity, but I think collaboration backs up the quest to creatively produce something.  It gives feedback from more than just the teacher as well a push for doing more than just the bare minimum.

Next Month's Issue: Best Practices
The start of the school year can be crazy for teachers, so we would like everyone to share how they manage the start of school. These could be posts about classroom organization and management or fun lessons that get the students ready for the rest of the year. If you have a post you would like to see published in the October issue of Project PLN, you can do so in a few ways. You can tweet out your post using the hashtag #ProjectPLN, you can email it to us directly at or you can post a link on our Facebook page. The deadline for the October issue is Saturday October 2. For those of you who like to plan ahead, the November issue is going to focus on the Administration side of education. If you are an Administrator, we would love to feature your posts. We will have more details in October. We look forward to reading all about your best practices.
Project PLN Contributors
Thank you for your contributions!

Steven Anderson- Web 2.0 Classroom-
Amanda Dykes- Upside Down Education
Kyle Pace- Kyle Pace Instructional Technology Specialist
Nicholas Provenzano- The Nerdy Teacher-
Edna Sackson- What Ed Said-
John Spencer- Spencer's Scratch Pad
Kelly Tenkely- iLearn Technology
Shelly Terrell- Teacher Reboot Camp

10 Ways to Help Students Develop a PLN - Edna Sackson
There has been some discussion lately about the precise meaning of the term PLN. I’m not sure why it matters actually. Like any other word in the dictionary (!), it has more than one definition and might mean different things to different people…

personal learning

My PLN is my ‘personal learning network’. It comprises the people I learn with and from, some face-to-face and others online, around the globe.  They  challenge me and make me think. They share with me, support me and collaborate with me. They argue with me, question me and force me to clarify my ideas. Wherever they are, whether I have met them in person or not, these people are part of my PLN.

Hi Diana, My guess is that you haven`t joined enough conversations to have people actively following you. Remember that those who have been using Twitter for a while now have large streams of information flowing all day long. Your Tweet may be getting lost in a sea of others. I know for me, I can`t keep up with every single tweet that comes in my stream all day long. So while I follow you, I may not have seen your comment. Here are a few things to try: Tweet your inquiry to an individual who you think may be able to help you. Ask that individual if they would be willing to re-tweet it to their followers. This way your inquiry will show up several times in a busy stream and you will be more likely to receive an answer back. Start engaging in conversation with the people you follow. I am more likely to search for tweets of those who I have actively engaged with on a regular basis. Don`t be afraid to post your inquiry more than one time throughout the day. If at first you don`t succeed, try, try again! I have noticed that I get more responses on Twitter certain times of the day (perhaps when teachers are checking Twitter over lunch or after school). Don`t be discouraged, it takes a little while for everyone to get from the lurking period to the actively engaged period.

I`m starting to build my PLN. I`m in Diigo and Twitter, but despite tweeting a couple of queries, I haven´t received any reply. What might not be working? I`m getting lots of ideas from those I`m following but I feel I can´t move on from being a lurker in most sites to actually being actively engaged. Any suggestions?