Mapping your PLN

In 2010, I read David Warlick’s Gardener’s Approach to Learning: Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network and was inspired to map out my PLN (personal learning network). I’m glad I did because it gave me a different perspective of my learning landscape. I saw how I was connecting with colleagues and professionals, what places were most productive for me, and I was able to identify gaps worth exploring for future growth and weed out connections no longer meeting my needs. Growing my PLN became more purposeful.

Remapping my PLN a couple of years later, gave me further insight; I became aware of how the tools were shaping me, how they were shaping my online relationships and that I was growing from being a consumer towards being a collaborative, creative producer in my network. The activity was inspiring, rewarding and produced concrete evidence of professional growth. The map is a highly visual artefact that can be used in professional development plans and performance review conversations.

If you have never mapped your PLN before you may want to start simply with:

  • Face-to-face associations – eg. Teaching faculties, school/organisation learning teams, professional organisations you meet with in person.
  • Online associations – eg. nings, online organisations, Twitter hashtags you follow like #vicpln, groups on social media sites like Facebook
  • Access/aggregation – places you go to for learning and things you subscribe to eg. blogs, newsletters, curation tools like Diigo

Concentrate on your cohorts and the types of connections you have developed, don’t worry about naming individuals.

Once you are confident mapping your own PLN, why not take it a step further and have your students try mapping theirs? Most young people already have informal networks for learning, especially those involved in online gaming. Mapping then discussing as a group places they go to obtain information could help them to see connections between informal and academic learning. It might also be a great way of introducing them to a broader range of resources and ways that cultivating their PLN can help them achieve at school.

This entry was posted in PLN, Professional learning, Reflection and tagged , , , , by Catherine Hainstock. Bookmark the permalink.

About Catherine Hainstock

Three days a week I'm a Teacher Librarian at Vermont Secondary College, part of a passionate team supporting staff and students. I am also a member of the eLearning team and manage the school’s digital citizenship website, Get eSmart VSC. The other two days I work part-time as an Education Services Officer at the State Library of Victoria. Originally a Special Ed teacher, in 2010 I finished my M.Ed.in Teacher-Librarianship, having done the course entirely online. My initial foray into ICT many, many years ago was for strictly selfish reasons; I am a Canadian ex-pat, missed family and friends and wanted to stay in touch. Of course, once you play with the technology the possibilities become endless!

2 thoughts on “Mapping your PLN

  1. Fantastic idea, and even greater for those in the workplace not necessarily teachers. Always love the blog posts on Bright Ideas.

  2. Thanks Megan for your kind comment. Definitely a worthwhile exercise for any life-long learner; it can be very empowering to see the extent of the network that is supporting you and also to see where you are making a difference to others. All the best!

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