Tuesday, 16 March 2010

PLN -My Top Word of 2010

Last year I told groups of teachers I was teaching that there were 3 little letters emerging for me in 2009 that meant a massive amount to a lot of people. In my classes, I predicted that these letters would go beyond 2009, become even more powerful, and indeed would surely become embedded as the " Top Word" of the year in 2010. I tried to impress on them how useful this short abbreviation would become for them. My PLN (Personal Learning Network) is an incredibly vital element of my daily life and I don't know where I would be without it now. Right at this very precise second, possibly feeling rather isolated, uninspired, unfulfilled and a bit bored, I reckon!! However, I hasten to add, that before I even knew the meaning of PLN, I was extemely happy with what I had around me.

My Sidebar Gurus
Many educators are spreading the word around that to be a 21st century teacher, we need to connect with other educators in our chosen fields. "Learning and sharing" has become a vital part of an emerging educational theory and practice. There is an abundance of materials that people are willing to share and you only have to click on the sidebar, to see members of my PLN who are constantly imparting their fabulous ideas. Sadly, there are too many fantastic sites and blogs to include all of them there. My sincere apologies to anyone not included. My "Sidebar Gurus" as I call them, enrich my life on a daily basis. I learn from them and I try to participate in their blogs by adding comments, whenever I feel I can add something. There are a multitude of reasons why people need and want to nurture their PLN by whatever means possible. I am very grateful to all the members of my PLN for the tremendous help and encouragement I receive and it is a great pleasure to be included in your fabulous and amazing networks.

Why Do We Connect?
Shelly Terrell, from Teacher Reboot Camp has recently undertaken a huge, global video project to help empower and to encourage people from all walks of life to connect and expand their PLN. I was thrilled to take part in this evolving video project along with many others, and you can catch me fleetingly at the very end of the brilliant and highly effective video below. You can find out more about participating in this exemplary mission from Shelly's "Why Do We Connect?" Wiki.

I recommend that you also have a look at this very interesting and insightful video post from Darren Elliot's "The Lives of Teachers" blog. The post is called " Personal Learning Networks, the what, why and how". I have learned a lot from it, and so will you, I am sure.

I would love to hear about your experience of how you are developing your very own persnalised learning network or environment. How is it enriching your life? Can you imagine a life without it? What is the alternative? Please do share your views :)


Dave said...

I started my PLN with following some educational blogs and websites and then got on Twitter. I have learned more in one year with my PLN than in 8 years of professional development.

Here's a link to my PLN description and how to get started with a PLN:




Hi ya Janet,

I love your take on the PLN -


I most confess, me being rather a tough old battle-axe and all that and constantly dropping hot potatoes, but I have to say that recently I was beginning to feel a bit jaded with the acronym - seeing it not as any kind of "personal" network but simply a "professional" one and am leaning very heavily back towards using the prior terminology: "communities of practice" -

So much stress has been put on to teachers over the last few months to join "PLNs" - but I personally believe that a PLN is exactly a "personal-learning-network" and is made up of

a) people (teachers) you know in real life and who you share resources with

b) special people you have developed a real relationship with over time online and there is mutual sharing and participation with those people

I think that connections are very much two-way streets, they involve a great deal more than just "hi" "oh, you're so fab" tweets to strangers... and most importantly they involve greater participation than just setting up an online community and then gathering numbers... Communities are about people first and foremost.

I don't know if I'm making sense or saying stuff that will be read and then taken the wrong way - I guess I just mean that there really are amazing, incredible communities of practice and there are wonderful people who one shares regularly (and I'm so pleased and honoured to be in regular contact with you although we don't physically know each other) but then there are people out there are...

who, well,


well, not - and it's not about networking but instead just some kind of bizarre popularity contest I guess.

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Dave
Thank you very much for commenting back and sharing your links with me here. It's great to learn more about this subject from you and I appreciate it.

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Karenne

I agree wholeheartedly with most of what you are saying here. And no, I do NOT think you are a "tough old battleaxe" in the slightest! What you are in fact is someone who is very honest and brave enough to say what you truly think, and you confront the consequences in a very assertive and exemplary manner.

Yes, I agree the term "PLN" is ever present and currently occupying a lot of our thoughts and "airspaces", but in my view, in a very positive way. Personal combined with professional makes for a very comprehensive and for me, helpful, system. You mentioned "Communities of Practice" or "CoPs". Yes,they are also fantastic for achieving a great personal connection with fellow educators, who really care about each other.

As for your final comment, I don't really know about this. All I can say is that it isn't about the numbers at the end of the day, it's all about how much one can personally cope with to realistically engage on a personal and meaningful level. I agree with you in this respect.

My prior experience of a PLN consisted of the Lake School of English staffroom. It was there that we learned from each other, and shared all our resources, our hopes and dreams, and feelings for our profession.

The staffroom is the very heartof where a lot of personal and professional learning can and should take place, in my humble opinion.

Thanks so much Karenne for your very interesting and thought-provoking comments!

Shelly Terrell said...


Thank you for participating. I recently showed the video and people were amazed! I loved your contribution and the acronym. When presenting about PLNs I provided the well-known acronyms but also said my preferred acronym was my Passionate Learning Network because this is what my PLN is enriched with- Passionate educators who are infectious.

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Shelly

Thanks for posting your comment here. I love your "Passionate Learning Network" acronym! It sums up the whole notion perfectly!

Darren Elliott said...

Thanks for linking to my video, Janet. It's interesting to see that you have put it up with Shelly's, as I have seen the two videos posted together elsewhere recently. I think they are quite complementary - I'd call it the 'wet' and 'dry' approach...
Shelly's video is, as you say, about passion, encouragement, connection, empowerment. She is very important in getting people in, in expanding the networks and including teachers who might otherwise be neglected.
If you can get through the best part of half an hour listening to me sniffle through it, I hope my video will help those who have been drawn in and excited by Shelly's work to calm down and reflect on what they are getting into and why.

Thanks again!

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Darren

It's my pleasure to have you linked on my blog! Thank you very much for commenting and giving feedback, which I appreciate. I wanted to include another perspective on the "PLN" theme and I came across a link to your post via Twitter (where else, eh?:)

Your excellent video provides useful background information to educational theories such as social constructivism and connectivism, which are inherent in the process of building up a PLN.

Viewing your informative video has helped me to understand and appreciate the importance of building up (your quote) "a self-constructed and diverse professional network......for the purposes of personal development".

I love your use of cartoons!!