Educators: Developing Your PLN This School Year

August 22, 2013

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In the Classroom, For Admins

As many educators know, Personal Learning Networks have been around for decades. However, what once began over a cup of coffee in the teacher’s lounge has evolved into something much, much bigger. Here are some important things to keep in mind as the new school year begins.

What is a PLN?
Simply defined, a PLN is a group of people you interact with and learn from. In the past, PLNs were comprised mainly of educators you worked with or knew face-to-face. Today, the internet and other technology tools allow educators to build PLNs that span the globe.

Why are PLNs important?
PLNs are valuable to educators for a number of reasons. Benefits can include:

  • Finding fresh ideas for lesson plans
  • Receiving mentorship from veteran educators
  • Locating helpful classroom resources
  • Identifying best practices in the classroom
  • Staying up-to-date on the latest technologies

By providing a multitude of resources vetted by experienced educators, PLNs ultimately help teachers and administrators learn how to become better at what they do.

How do you build your PLN?
Nowadays, it only takes a simple click to expand your PLN. Helpful resources include:

  • Social networking sites, such as Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook
  • Blogs, which you can search for through sites like Technorati
  • Nings, or online platforms individuals and organizations can use to create and share their own social network
  • RSS feeds, which let you subscribe to timely updates on favorite websites or blogs

How do you deal with information overload?
It’s a fact: information overload will occur. While the availability of information is initially exciting, it can quickly become overwhelming. Here are some suggestions for coping:

  • Take it in stride. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, put a limit on how much time you spend on a certain website, or even online.
  • Ask for recommendations. If you’re not sure which online resources to use, ask the people in your PLNs for their suggestions. Be specific about what you’re looking for.
  • Savor the learning process. Don’t feel like you need to become an expert on something overnight.
  • Accept that you can’t know everything. Stay focused on your interests and pursue them to the best of your ability.
  • Set goals so you know when to stop reading or talking about something and when to start taking action!

How do you build your PLN? Share your comments and suggestions below!

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All Comments (2)

Cat January 23, 2015 at 9:40 am

Why don’t you just have PLN on IXL? Save us the time of making a social networking account, it would also be safer for people.

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The IXL Team January 23, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Hi Cat, we recently launched the Community tab on IXL, which is a way for teachers to get implementation ideas and learn about best practices for IXL. We do still encourage teachers to establish their own support networks, to get a broad variety of advice, ideas and resources from different sources!

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