I don’t like it when people use acronyms and they just assume that the person they are talking to understands the meaning of them. I just realized I have been guilty of doing this a lot recently and I apologize! I have written a couple of blog posts and sent out tweets where I have referenced my PLN. I have had more than a few people contact me recently asking me to define PLN for them.
I will answer that, but first a little background.
Last summer I wrote a post about how important my PLC had become to me. PLC stands for professional learning community. (People use the terms PLC and PLN interchangeably, but PLN seems to be the term that is more popular.) I slowly moved from using the acronym PLC to PLN which is short for personal (professional) learning network. Anyone who is actively engaged in learning online is part of a PLN. If you are reading this then I am part of your PLN. The people I follow on Twitter make up the vast majority of my PLN. These are the people that I learn from and interact with on a daily basis. A PLN is an incredibly powerful tool to have at your disposal. The flow of information is available 24 hours a day seven days a week. It has been said that the more time you invest in building and contributing to your PLN the more you will get back from it in return. This is so true! A PLN does not form on its own; you have guide it and direct its growth. You have to invest time in figuring out who you want to include in your network. Don’t feel like you have to include everyone! That defeats the purpose in customizing it to fit your needs.
Do not be afraid to get to know some of the people in your network beyond Twitter. There is only so much you can share in 140 characters or less. Consider using email, Skype, chats, or discussion forums in various Nings to continue conversations that begin on Twitter. You might find you enjoy “working” with some of the people in your PLN. Collaborating on projects with people that you choose to work with is fantastic! It is an exciting time to be in education.