What is a Professional Learning Network?

It’s a flexible, teacher-driven activity space that facilitates personalized professional development. PLN’s connect teachers to other individuals worldwide who can offer support, advice, feedback, and collaboration opportunities.

If the acronym PLN or term Professional Learning Network has crossed your path over the past few years,

I’m wondering
has it been explained or demonstrated?
did you get a chance to participate?
are you using a resource that fits your needs or is meaningful to you?
were you introduced to the idea but never given any opportunity?
was it so poorly explained that your brushed it off?
does a few individuals use them in your district/school but that’s all you know about it?

I’m sure we have asked these questions before at one point in our lives. I remember attending a session at a conference where the concept of a PLN was introduced and wikis and blogs were the way to connect with one another, however as excited as I was to make connections with other professionals, the resources were relatively dated or I wasn’t interested. It was only until Twitter (which there is a slight learning curve) and Google + came around where I experienced a tremendous value in growing my PLN with both resources.

Using both G+ and Twitter I have grown so much as a professional on learning about
new educational initiatives or paradigms
building communities for my district
developing a hashtag that tells a story about our district’s experiences
other professionals experiences and success stories
that others are interested and want to connect with you
upcoming conferences or edcamps to attend or present at
free resources or opportunities
news or events happening virtually or locally
virtual field trip hangouts for my students
hangout opportunities with other professionals
amazing apps or other tech resources
promoting myself as a professional
promoting my school or district
much more!
Here are some of the opportunities/options you can use with both Google + and Twitter.

Connect with Communities
Following Organizations
Following Professionals
Communicating in a Hangout
Watching a Hangout On Air

Twitter Chats
Follow Organizations
Follow Professionals
Follow what people post with #hashtags
Get excited to see the amount of people following you

I’m hoping that this post has provided you insight in the opportunities and outcomes you get when being part of a PLN however reading about what a PLN is isn’t going to provide you with the valuable experience of participating in one. That being said, I challenge you to create a G+ and/or Twitter account

If Twitter

Challenge 1: follow your co-workers, friends, and organizations that interest you.
Challenge 2: lurk around see what others are posting, see what hashtags are used.
Challenge 3: participate in 1 chat. Here is a list of chats and dates/times

If Google +

Challenge 1: add your co-workers, friends, and organization to your circles.
Challenge 2: join communities that interest you and respond to a post or post something.
Challenge 3: seek out a hangout opportunity to either watch or try one out with a friend.