What are Personal Learning Networks/Communities? We are learning all the time.

Your Personal Learning Network/Community is made up of all the things which influence your learning and growth. With the advent of the Internet we are connected to even more information and opportunities to learn. We can make endless connections to others. We all have a PLN whether we realize it our not. It is an extremely beneficial exercise for educators to examine their PLN once in a while. When you examine your PLN do you find it contains the same people and sources of information? This would be a sign you need to expand your community, to diversify. It is important to have wide range of sources.

Your Personal Learning is influenced by the following:
Reading and Listening
  • Books (recent, current and future)
  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Periodicals (print or electronic)
  • Podcasts
Courses/Workshops and Trainings
  • Those you are teaching or taking.
  • These can be face-to-face, or online (Second Life falls into this category)
  • Face-to-face or online (Second Life falls into this category)
  • What sessions did you attend?
  • Were there any significant conversations or learning moments outside of a session?
Conversations and Correspondence
  • Conversations at work; the people you regularly meet with at lunch, department meetings,
  • Correspondence; The people with whom you have regular email, Skype, Twitter, and IM interactions (Second Life falls into this category)

How are Personal Learning Networks valuable?

Daniel R. Tobin demonstrates how a PLN can aid in your learning
  • By helping you to sift through all the data to identify the information that will be most useful to you.
  • By helping you to identify learning resources and opportunities.
  • By coaching you and answering your questions as you try to apply your learning to your work.
  • By sharing their wisdom with you through dialogs.

Building a personal learning network requires that you not only seek to learn from others, but also that you also help others in the network learn. Even when you are a novice in a field of learning, you can still make contributions (Tobin, 1998).

Tobin, Daniel R. (1998). Building Your Personal Learning Network. Corporate Learning Strategies.
Retrieved on September 16, 2007 from

How the SL platform, and the DEN in particular, were key to developing our Learning Communities

Today’s web can greatly influence the way we connect and collaborate. We can gather information from websites, blogs and wikis. RSS can help pull it all together in one place. We can participate in online learning using Moodle, Blackboard and other course management systems. We can participate in various social networking sits such as Ning and Twitter. We can chat with educators world wide using Skype, or Instant Messaging. We can participate in Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVE) such as Second Life. In many ways Second Life is the merging of all these collaborative tools. It is a place for synchronous and asynchronous communication, multimedia presentations and a link to resources. These tools can greatly influence our learning and growth, our access to information knows no bounds. We truly are in control of, and responsible for our own professional development and growth. So what is in your learning network?

The Power of the Network

The DEN leadership Council was formed in May 2007 but really got to work later in the summer. We have never met face to face yet using the the tools below we have been able to foster the development of a vital, collaborative, supportive, community of educators. In our short time together we have accomplished much. We have offered 65 formal learning opportunities to over 1300 educators in RL and SL as of June 25, 2008. We have hosted thousands visitors to the DEN. We provide nearly daily contact with educators as they come to the DEN or request assistance via email. Our individual support for educators includes helping them adjust to SL, tours, lessons, introductions to other educators and educational institutions. We provide support to educators as they explore Second Life, Web 2.0 tools, Technology, and general educational issues.

Other Tools to support the Network

  • Twitter
  • Plurk
  • Ning
  • Email
  • Skype
  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Google Groups
  • Google Docs