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/Catherine Sellars The Power of Personal Learning Networks

Even if you have never come across the term PLN, you probably still have one. PLN stands for Personal Learning Network. The network is made up of the people and resources you turn to when you need advice or information. This network could include family, peers and mentors at work, the local library or fellow members of a club or society, but is just likely to include online contacts and sources.

The PLN puts the individual at the centre of learning. The learner decides what is needed and seeks answers as required. This is learning on demand.

Even the most niche of businesses will benefit from supporting employees in the creation of PLNs. Specialist staff can access experts in their area, share best practice and keep up to date with developments via RSS feeds, Youtube channels, Twitter lists and newsletter subscriptions. Staff can immediately access expert opinion and answers to specific queries via subject specific forums or groups.

The best L&D professionals are experts in growing PLNs, identifying trusted sources, curating relevant content and training staff in the management and use of their PLNs. They can suggest tools and software to simplify their use and help staff make much more effective use of their time.

Essentials for an Effective PLN

  • Conferences and workshops - There is no denying the benefit of attending a conference or seminar but if you can’t get to an event, follow the Twitter feed or take part virtually via a webinar.
  • RSS readers and aggregators - Manage RSS feeds and present the information in an attractive, readable format with aggregators like Feedly, Flipboard, Scoop.it or Storify. These applications provide one location to see the latest posts, videos and podcasts from your favourite blogs, Youtube channels, social media and websites. Access content on the go via mobile.
  • Twitter lists and hashtags - Subscribe to specialist and subject specific Twitter lists or follow relevant hashtags and join in live Twitter chats to expand your network and find experts in your field. Paper.li lets you create a daily newsletter from the lists or hashtags you specify, for easy reading. Create your own Twitter lists of colleagues and the contacts you meet at conferences and events.
  • Forums - Participate in forums. Most professional associations host forums as do manufacturers and distributors of industry equipment and professional software. Build your network by giving advice as well as asking questions.
  • Social media groups - Join relevant Linkedin groups, Facebook groups or Google+ circles to engage with fellow professionals online.
  • Professional networking clubs - Local networking clubs provide a wonderful opportunity to discuss and learn from your peers over a glass of wine. The best include guest speakers and trips. There are times to suit everyone with breakfast clubs and evening events available in most areas.

If you would like to know more about building your own PLN, please contact us.

Catherine Sellars

Catherine Sellars, Editor

Supporting innovation in teaching and learning

Copyright © 2014 Bray Leino Learning

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