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.


Gliffy is a very cool drawing and drafting tool.  Free access and ease of use will appeal to many users including teachers and students.


With the ability to create:

  • floor plans
  • diagrams
  • flowcharts and
  • technical drawings

there are many possibilities for educational use as well as personal use. Visual Communication students may find it useful to create floor plans and technical drawings while Humanities, Science, Maths and English could take advantage of the flowcharts and diagrams for planning and mindmapping.

Gliffy offers a library with a large range of shapes and items. Once completed, drawings can be exported jpeg and png and files can be shared or published to the internet.

Library staff planning a new or updated library could use the floor plans and anyone designing or building a new home may find the floor plans worth while.

Gliffy has free and premium accounts. The academic account is free.

Personal brain

Personal Brain is a total mindmapping tool. There is a free account or the choice to upgrade and pay.

Personal brain homepage
Personal brain homepage

Personal Brain enables project management and collaboration with colleagues. Marco Torres explained that Personal Brain is how movie studios keep track of productions; schedules, budgets, actors, locations and so on. If Personal Brain can effectively manage multi mullion dollar shoots, then it sounds like it will get the job done in schools.

Students and teachers who are visual learners will love Personal Brain. And as Marco Torres suggests, Principals could use Personal Brain to map the entire school curriculum and immediately see which class was studying which topic at a given time. This could lead to more interdisciplinary studies as often we aren’t exactly sure what some of our colleageus in other levels or learning areas are currently teaching.  Productivity is sure to increase when using such a tool for planning as it is quick and easy to use and share and all users can immediately see where a project is at and what still needs to be completed.

Free webinars are held weekly to introduce users to Personal Brain and how to get the most out of the program.


Do you remember Inspiration? The mind mapping tool on CD that was available for purchase in the late 1990s has now been replaced by Webspiration. A mind mapping tool on steroids, Webspiration is a free online collaborative tool that can lead students to plan and share ideas.

Introducing Webspiration
Introducing Webspiration

The Webspiration website provides more information:

 Create Diagrams and Think Visually

Use Webspiration’s diagramming environment to create bubble diagrams, flow charts, concept maps, process flows and other visual representations that stimulate and reflect your thinking. With Webspiration, you focus on developing and connecting ideas, not the drawing.

 Outline and Structure Ideas and Information

 With Webspiration’s powerful outlining capabilities, you can take notes, organize work and expand ideas fluidly to develop your writing into plans, study guides, papers, reports, and other more comprehensive documents.

 Collaborate and Share

 Webspiration makes it easy to collaborate and share documents by simply sending an invite. Everyone works on the same document, contributing, posting comments, and viewing changes. Webspiration is ideal for team projects, study groups, reviewing and commenting on documents and co-authoring materials.

 Anytime and Anywhere

 Store and access documents online without discs, drives or email. Work at home, a friend’s house, the library, your office, or the local coffee shop. Webspiration and your documents are available anywhere you have access to the internet.

Educators and administrators should also find Webspiration useful for project management. We can all learn more about how we think and how we plan as well as seeking feedback from our peers. Webspiration is a tool that enables all of these.

Thanks to the amazing Marco Torres for sharing this excellent tool.