Personal Learning Network
"The acronym PLN stands for “Personal Learning Network.” It’s a term that labels the idea of being networked with people who have shared desires and interests related to your profession; through sharing ideas within your network, you learn from others who have knowledge and expertise in areas that you do not. As a member of a PLN, you offer your knowledge and expertise in areas which are your strengths." Kim Wagner, "The Rise of the PLN...and the PLC".

There are well-established PLNs online that educators can join and begin connecting with other educators around the world. Every individual builds their own PLN with these formal online tools. Here are some examples that I use that can have as many at 15 000 members.

The Educator's PLN - This is a general educator's site for connecting with other educators from every grade around the world. There are groups and forums that can be joined (or you can create your own) according to professional interests and needs. As well, this PLN Ning is specifically tied to the #edchat hashtag on Twitter where there are educational discussions Tuesdays at 1pm and 7pm focusing on a current issue in education. (See my Twitter page for more information regarding hashtags and the best tools for managing Twitter.)
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Classroom 2.0 - Another Ning PLN that focuses on current educational practices and technology.
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English Comapanion - This Ning network is my favourite as an English teacher because it's specific to my subject. Sometimes I post questions to request assistance from other English and language teachers; other times, I answer other teachers' questions and offer assistance if I have the time, knowledge and expertise to do so. I have, at times, received responses within the hour of posting!englishcompanionning.png

Twitter - Although this tool can be used for personal purposes, it has become a major tool of educators to connect with other educators. There are numerous teachers, principals, and administrators on Twitter who participate in scheduled chats, informal chats, and informal information sharing of current articles and blogs that are offering valuable content. There's a great deal of support offered by other teachers with expertise.

Blogs - Blog are personal websites where the owners write about topics or areas of interest in which they have an interest; they have varying degrees of expertise on the subject. Many are using blogs as a type of personal diary about their lives; however, in education, teachers, principals, information technologists, etc., write about issues and content related to education. For example, as mentioned, I write about the teaching of English based on the knowledge and experience I've gained in the last 15 years.

Here's a list of some of the blogs that I consider to be a part of my PLN because I have found their content to be thought-provoking or practically valuable to me:

  1. Free Technology for Teachers - Richard Byrne, high school Social Studies teacher
  2. Teach Tech - Tony Franklin, the past three years working at the High School of the Future, a public school in Philadelphia created through collaboration of Microsoft and the Philadelphia Public Schools; and Rob Bayuk, worked at Microsoft for a long time, but in hiatus he obtained his Master in Teaching degree and taught high school Social Studies and English at Skyline High School in the Seattle area and loved to use technology as a core element in the curriculum: A discussion of relevant and effective ways to use technology to inspire teaching and engage students.
  3. open thinking - Alec Couros, Faculty of Education, Reginia, University of Regina: Open Thinking and Digital Pedagogy.
  4. Weblogg-ed - Will Richardson, Connective Learning and the author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms
  5. For the Love of Teaching - Diane Dahl, U.S.A. teacher: Finding new ways to improve student learning through brain-based teaching strategies, and incorporating technology into the classroom are two of my favorite subjects.
  6. The Principal of Change - George Couros, Alberta principal who is an advocate of technology use and has his whole K-12 school blogging.
  7. A Principal's Reflection - Eric Sheninger, New Jersey principal who is technologically progressive
  8. Learning Today Blog - Tips, Tools and Technology for Educators
  9. Burcu Akyol's Blog - Burcu Akyol, English teacher in Istanbul, Turkey who has experience in both the young learners and adult classrooms.
  10. Virtually Learning - Deb Kitchener, Ontario educator for 20 years in various capacities: the first 15 years as an elementary teacher; the next 5 as a secondary teacher, curriculum consultant; and now as program manager for online professional learning for educators.
  11. Larry Ferlazzo's Website of the Day - Larry Ferlazzo, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced English Language Learners (as well as native English speakers) at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California: Talking about websites that will help you teach ELL, ESL and EFL!
  12. Langwiches Blog - Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, World Language teacher, Technology Integration Facilitator and 21st Century Learning Specialist.
  13. The Nerdy Teacher - Nicholas Provenzano
  14. Justin Tarte - Justine Tarte, German teacher, Missouri, U.S.A.
  15. Scripted Spontaneity - Paul Cancellieri, middle school Science teacher