Personal Learning Network

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David Spencer's Education Paragon is a free educational resource portal helping David Spencer's secondary school students, their parents and teaching colleagues with understanding, designing, applying and delivering assessment, curriculum, educational resources, evaluation and literacy skills accurately and effectively. This wiki features educational resources for Indigenous Aboriginal education, field trips for educators, Davids Music Jam, law and justice education, music education and outdoor, environmental and experiential education. Since our web site launch 10.5 years ago on September 27, 2006, online site statistics and web rankings indicate there are currently 1,868 pages and 11,682,604 page views using 7.85 Gig of bandwidth per month. Pages are written, edited, published and hosted by Brampton, Ontario, Canada based educator David Spencer. On social media, you may find David as @DavidSpencerEdu on Twitter, as DavidSpencerdotca on Linkedin.com and DavidSpencer on Prezi. Please send your accolades, feedback and resource suggestions to David Spencer. Share on social media with the hashtag #EducationParagon


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The following are the notes from a presentation by David Spencer for the York University students of David Weightman's ICT (Information and Computer Information Technology) class on Tuesday March 5, 2013


Educators benefit from building their Personal Learning Network

Personal Learning Network

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is...

  • "a reciprocal network that you create to learn from, connect with, gather information or resources, create with and finally share what you have learned. A PLN can occur in your school, face-to-face, online, at conferences or through reading, reflecting and sharing". ([https://sites.google.com/site/edtechpln/personal-learning-network Colette Cassinelli, 2012)
  • "an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment. In a PLN, a person makes a connection with another person with the specific intent that some type of learning will occur because of that connection." (Wikipedia, 2013)
  • "Personal Learning Networks (PLN's) are a cost-effective means for educators to grow professionally. Each PLN is crafted and personalized based on the professional interests and goals of an individual educator. This is a FREE means of professional development available 24/7 from anywhere". (Eric Sheninger, 2012)


In some Ontario school Boards, a Professional Learning Network (PLN) on the other hand, is usually controlled and adminstered by and adminstrator such as a Principal or Superintendent. The goals of the Professional Learning Network may be focused on implementing School Board wide initiatives and policies.

Benefits of a Personal Learning Network

According to Daniel R. Tobin, a Personal Learning Network can:

  1. help you to sift through all the data to identify the information that will be most useful to you.
  2. help you to identify learning resources and opportunities.
  3. provide coaches for you and answer your questions as you apply your learning to your work.
  4. provide opportunies for members of your personal learning network to share their wisdom with you through dialogue.

Responsibility Code for a Personal Learning Network

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 if you are a novice, you can make observations and contributions that are valuable to others.

As a member of my Personal Learning Network, I will strive:

  1. to share notes and ideas I have gleaned from articles, tweets, conference notes, upcoming events, guest speakers and books you have read.
  2. to ask questions about the projects and iniatives of other members.
  3. to promote and tell others about the good things other members are doing. I will share links to members blogs, wikis, videos and online presentations.

Examples of Personal Learning Networks

A number of educators have experimented with building Personal Learning Networks using online software and databases. Here are a few examples:

  1. Ontario College of Teachers Group on Linkedin
  2. The Educator's PLN created by Thomas Whitby. This site used the Ning.com platform.
  3. TIGweb.org Taking It Global.
  4. TED Talks Community for TEDTalk fans.
  5. TeachingChannel.org

How to Build Your Educator's Personal Learning Network

  1. Focus on your learning goals.
  2. Survey Your Target Market. Use online survey software such as:
    Fluidsurveys.com (Canadian company)
    Polldaddy.com
    SurveyMonkey.com
  3. Case study the AEE Circle
  4. Use a Listserve such as YahooGroups.com
  5. Use Twitter Lists
  6. Meet in person at a local restaurant. Go on field trips together. Phone each other. Plan conference phone calls.
  7. Post a public Calendar using Google Calednar

Tips for Building Your Educator's Personal Learning Network