There is a lot of talk in education these days about building your PLN (personal learning network) but, to be honest, I'm not sure that I've ever actually seen that term defined. I did a little digging tonight and here's what I came up with (gotta love Wikipedia!):
"A personal learning network is an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment. In a PLN, a person makes a connection with another person with the specific intent that some type of learning will occur because of that connection...Learners create connections and develop a network that contributes to their professional development and knowledge. The learner does not have to know these people personally or ever meet them in person."
By that definition my PLN is a multi-headed beast consisting of both virtual contacts and real-life contacts, scattered both near and far.
In the virtual world, there are many educators that I follow on Twitter and Facebook (as well as a number of blogs, but they generally have either a Twitter or Facebook presence with which I connect more readily). While I wouldn't say that I'm yet at the point where I would consider myself an integral part of a network, I am slowly working my way in from the periphery - thanks in large part to this blog challenge! I envy those who have clearly made lasting contacts (dare I say friends? Colleagues?) via Twitter but am still working on the time management piece - where do you people find the time for all of this?! The balancing act is certainly a difficult one for me...
In the real world, my PLN consists of a number of educators whose teaching and opinions I respect and value. I have met them through a variety of avenues and each one of them challenges me on a regular basis to stretch myself and grow both in the classroom and out. Our communication may consist of e-mail a large part of the time but we are often gifted long stretches during which we can have deep, thoughtful and important conversations over a cup of tea.
The more I think about it the more I realize that there probably isn't that much of a difference between my virtual PLN and my face-to-face PLN. Both challenge me to think about things in ways I might not have otherwise thought about them and push me to be a better educator. While I'm sure that, with time, I will get more and more out of my on-line PLN I'm not sure that it will ever be quite the same as a long meandering conversation over a nice hot cup of tea.
Looking forward to checking out how others in my growing PLN view their own PLNs!
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about living life with my family, teaching and learning something new all the time. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!