Reflecting on My Personal Learning Network (PLN)
When I think of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and how I have constructed it I am reminded of the difference between personalized and personal. I like how author and educational consultant Will Richardson sums up his stance in his post entitled “This is Why “Personalized Learning” Will Fail.” He speaks to the fact that personalized learning is constructed by someone or something else for us while personal learning is owned by the learner to follow their own passions. (Richardson, 2016) I have had the fortune to speak with Will face-to-face a few times but fortunately that is not the only way I get to learn from him. As Isaac Newton points out, we can often see further if we stand on the shoulders of giants. (Newton, n.d.) In today’s world we have an unbelievable opportunity to easily accomplish that which would have been nearly impossible in Newton’s time. In this post I hope to capture the different ways I find the shoulders of giants to stand upon.
The biggest portion of my PLN consists of my time spent as @jasonmkern on Twitter. I joined Twitter back in March of 2008 and have amassed over 7,000 tweets during that time. My Twitter journey started as most have with a friend, Christian Long, introducing me to the social network while we were working together. He had over a thousand followers at the time and at first I didn’t get how someone with no followers would get anything out of Twitter. He explained that at first you just find some people you are interested in and follow them. Then explore who they follow to expand your network. As Christian Bergeron, a technology coordinator in New Hampshire, says “Twitter is like the ticker at the bottom of CNN — only a ticker populated with information about those people or things you care about, want to learn from, or want to know about.” (NEA, n.d.) So I just began following my personalized ticker of curated information. It was as if I has a hundred people out there searching for things I didn’t even know existed. The second step in my Twitter journey was when I began tweeting out articles, blog posts and other things I found interesting. Then I took it a step further when I went to my first conference after I had joined Twitter. I met face-to-face people who I had met virtually and they actually referenced some of the things I had tweeted. I then realized my tweets weren’t just proverbial trees falling in the empty woods. Throughout my Twitter journey I have evolved to my current philosophy which is personal to me and my learning style.
- I follow a rather small number of people so I don’t get overwhelmed with information.
- I try to diversify by location, type of school and background the people I follow so as to not fall into an echo chamber.
- I balance between Tweeting about education topics I am interested in and virtually watching sporting events with my friends in a widely entertaining back channel.
- I tag colleagues at my school with things I think they will find interesting.
- Most mornings are begun with some reading done in Flipboard that often results in Tweeting of articles found there. I like Flipboard because I can make it my own personal magazine with my reading preferences.
As I pointed out earlier everyone will find their own flow on Twitter and this seems to be where I have settled. Others have settled on joining Twitter Chats, sharing personal and family joys or documenting a journey of some type. Here are some resources that may help you find your personal experience on Twitter.
While Twitter and Flipboard are the main sources of my PLN, I do have some other communities I frequent. Since we use Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school I like to participate in some Google+ Communities related to learning more about how to use the platform efficiently.
This is a community of people who administer the school’s GAFE domains. It serves as a resource and repository of best practices. It also is a great place to ask questions and connect with others who do IT administration.
This is another GAFE community but it is focussed on the application of the Google tools in the classroom. It always has great videos from Google and users on how to practically utilize Docs, Sheets, Slides as well as the other tools with your students.
One of the best professional development experiences I have had is becoming a Google Certified Teacher in 2010 (now rebranded as Google Certified Innovator). I encourage anyone interested in being in an engaged community of innovative educators to check out the program.
Another community of teachers and technology coaches I am involved with is through Microsoft. The MIE has different programs depending on your position. I attended a MIE Trainer Academy in 2014 and enjoyed the experience. I still stayed connected with several of the people I worked with there through Twitter.
While this is the PLN I have created for myself, here are so many more communities for people to join. Just remember to create your own PLN based on your passions and preferences. Don’t be afraid to try several to be allow you to decide which one fits your personality the best.
Richardson, W. (2016, June 08). This is Why “Personalized Learning” Will Fail – Will
Richardson. Retrieved June 26, 2016, from http://willrichardson.com/personalized-learning-will-fail/
Isaac Newton quote. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2016, from
Can Tweeting Help Your Teaching? (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2016, from