Building Personal Learning Networks!

Building Personal Learning Networks!

Image of Personal Learning NetworkI’m going to be doing a series of presentation on Personal Learning Networks (PLN) over the next few months. With these types of presentation I like to to demonstrate the importance of PLNs by asking my network to help me.

For my previous presentation I asked my readers a series of questions on PLN. The answers were an essential part of the presentation. They showed how using a range of free web tools we are able to build our own networks that extends our learning beyond what achieved during traditional professional development and enables us to share it with a global audience.

This time I want to fine tune, increase the number of people who respond, and increase the information I share on building your own Personal Learning network.

I’m hoping you can help me in the following ways:

#1 – Please complete my survey on Personal Learning Networks (PLN)

There are 5 questions which take a max. of 10 minutes.

#2 – Please ask your Personal Learning Network to complete the survey

Would really love it if you are able to promote the survey in a blog post otherwise there is a risk the responses will be biased by responses of people who use twitter. Please link back to this post so I can thank you.

#3 – Share useful links for building a personal learning network.

My aim of these links is to use them as a basis for building a site that helps new people with setting up their own personal learning network.

#4 – Four Questions to Use In The Workshop

I really loved how Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach in her Hale School Workshop broke the participants into four groups and got them to move around the room answering the four questions on butcher’s paper. Would be a great way for them to physically feel a personal learning network in action.

Trouble is I’m struggling for ideas for the questions. Sheryl’s were:

  1. How has world changed?
  2. How have students changed?
  3. What should we doing to instill curiosity & creativity?
  4. What will Classroom 2.0 look like?

Any thoughts on what questions I could use? Or can you suggest any different activities?


Would appreciate any assistance you are able to provide and I’ll be sharing the information as I collect it.

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32 thoughts on “Building Personal Learning Networks!

  1. Sue ask them how many people they can go to for help about a tech issue and how they would find out about new apps or websites. Also ask them how what they do in class is significantly different from how they were educated themselves.

  2. Sue,
    You may ask them what their students think, how they feel with the new improvements introduced in class; and you could perhaps ask how their personal networks help them to fight barriers – against web2.0 school – found in everyday school life.
    If I have another idea about this, I’ll come back again.

  3. Sue,
    I answered the survey and spread the word about it.
    Now some links I love very much or that I find very useful; most of them are meant for educators.

    Apprendre 2.0 – (It’s a totally “alive” and very warm Ning in the wonderful French language.)

    Twine – (I like delicious and diigo too, but I met people more closely here and this tool may go “semantic” so I’m whatching it).

    WikiEducator – (you could make a workshop and then you would know lots of people there and you would feel like collaborating in their projects to share knowledge with developing countries)

    K12online – This is the example of an important event (I would say that it’s good, when you start, to jump immediatly into an online conference, or into something that both challenges you and suddenly enlarges your perspective.)

    Zemanta – (It’s a beautiful tool that helps you to discover every important link on any subject and an irreplaceable companion when a newcomer starts blogging)


  4. Thank you for commenting on my blog. I’m sorry it took me a while to get back to you. The economy was all they would talk about on the news. It was the biggest story.

  5. @Sue Those are interesting questions. Will have a good think to see if it would work. The idea is that they spend time wandering around writing the responses on the butcher’s paper; and go past each question.

    @Ines These people are from my sector. Vocation, education and training – so normally teaching adults and trades like hairdressing, mechanics. Wide area and our classrooms are slightly different from K12. Thanks for taking the survey and for the links. So far 67 people have answered it.

    @Jona09 It’s exactly the same here.

    @Simon thanks for telling your friends. I see some of them were former twitterers mmmmm. Will be interesting to hear how Yammer goes at your work.

  6. Sue,

    An engaging survey. Well done.

    I’m particularly interested in whether/how social networking can be utilised to help learners – and educators – be more efficient. Certainly the discovery of resources and the constantly unfolding discourse are important but schools tend to be time-poor places and the opportunity to use social networks to get things done efficiently and effectively seems – to me – a crucial aspect of the concept of PLNs.

    I am equally intrigued as to how social-networks can prick the curiosity of those involved, leading them down roads that they would otherwise ignore. It’s this tension between time-saving and time-wasting that makes the subject so complex and interesting.

  7. Hi Sue,

    I’ve got a problem with the format of the survey.
    Q2 – tools used in personal learning network – I don’t use more than one of the tools listed, but I’m only allowed to enter N/A with regards to one of the entries.

    In the other sections I wanted to add: Wikis, email & email groups.

    I’ve also got a query. What’s your definition of a personal learning network? Some people seem to define it so broadly as to include all sites on the internet that you access, whereas on the other end of the spectrum some people define it as the people who you communicate with to gain information.

  8. @Paul Agreed about the issue of time poor and feel in the classroom situation we need to focus on 1) what we are trying to achieve using the tools and 2) choosing a select range of tools that focus on those outcomes while providing the students the skills to gradually start creating their own PLNs.

    In terms of educators we need to start making them appreciate how they can use these tools for their own personal learning and to enhance their work. Shame it is such a lengthy process to get them to engage with using them.

    @Sarah Thanks for writing a post on the survey. We are now at over 80 people. With this number it will be interesting to see the results.

    @David Sorry. It was really hard to limit the number of options and yet make it easy for people to answer. I’ve added in a comment at the end of the survey saying if you are unhappy with your responses please email me your top 10 tool choices ranked from 1 to 10.

    Good question about what is a PLN. To me it is the combination of the tools and the networks you create. The learning is enhanced when the tools are combined with the power of the network. For example visit Second Life without friends and it can be a lonely place where you mightn’t learn much. Yet meet up with a vibrant group of friends there and you never know what you will learn.

  9. What about:
    1. What one word describes public education in the past?
    2. What one word describes public education right now?
    3. What do teachers want in public education schools?
    4. What do students want in public education?

  10. Hi Sue Waters
    Thanks for your supportive comment on my blog, I also like going to the movies watching a movie I actually ENJOY and as well I like… blogging for sure! It’s become a hobby.
    Here are questions you could try:
    1. What do you image teachers would be like in 50 or so years?
    2. Are students actually learning in class what they really need to learn?
    I hope you like them! 😉


  11. @David, @Sue, I agree totally about what constitutes a PLN. For me it is the people, their thoughts, opinions, skills and understandings, and the interactions of those people with each other as well as me.

    The tools are just that – the mechanism by which all of the above takes place or is accessed by those who are separated by time or who are geographically distant from each other. Does this make sense?

  12. Hi, Sue,
    I completed your survey on Saturday and I responded to this blog but a technical glitch wiped it away as I posted. I’m back because I was thinking about your upcoming PLN workshop and wanted to share what I am doing this week that may work for both of us.

    I saw Lisa Durff’s suggestion about using 4 WORDS. I really like that idea. I’m going to ask these questions:

    List one word that describes:

    the world today
    schools today
    teachers today
    students today

    Once this activity is completed – the PLN should provide a solution-based network with many colleagues to work with to “manage” the one word challenges/concerns/changes they identified.

    Good luck with the preso!

  13. @Mrs Durff, Nadine and Beth Thanks for your suggestions. The trouble I’m having is that my audience for this presentation will be quite different from standard educators. They come from a wide range of backgrounds and are vocational education and training lecturers; so their expertise is training. This means they might be teaching people how to fix cars (i.e. become mechanics, automotive engineers), builders, laboratory technicans. We sit between K12 and University.

    Different from both standard classroom situation and University as much of the training is done in the workplace or workshops.

    @Angelac1 Definitely makes sense. The tools are the mechanisms the people are what matters.

  14. Done survey and shared it with my PLN on twitter @daibarnes.

    Teaching can be lonely. A PLN makes it a pleasure to discuss ed tech and watch others chatter away with their daily lives and progress. Possible questions:
    Who do you want to work with?
    How do you get help when stuck or lacking inspiration?
    How do you know where to find the best service?

    Other questions above are similar or better but there is my penneth nonetheless.

    Good luck.


  15. @Dai Thanks for doing the survey and sharing it with your PLN on twitter. We currently have 145 people who have completed it. Thanks for your suggestions of questions — they are good ones.

  16. Olá, professora queria dizer que gosto muito dos textos da professora, aproveito tambem para dizer que raças a professora tambem tamos a tentar adoptar um menino.


  17. Sue, does it matter that you use Cheryl’s questions. They have quite a ‘hook’ to them.
    One I might ask is what will learning spaces look like in 15 years time.

  18. Hi Sue
    I’ve just filled in your survey. Like Sarah, I couldn’t get into it initially; one of my spam filters blocks surveymaster for some reason, so I had to delete my “hosts” file in C:/Windows/System32/drivers/etc (it’s ok, it regenerates next time I boot up!)

    Like David, I also wanted to use “n/a” more than once, so you’ll be getting an email with my alterations!

    One thing that I would say is that *personally* I don’t like Ning, and never use it if I can possibly help it. (Mostly because of the ‘siloisation’ & having to login everytime I move between communities.) However, I did include it in the list of things I’d recommend to others, as I know that many find it very useful.

  19. Taking another approach, you could give each group a ball of yarn. Direct them to sit in a circle. While holding on to the end of the yarn, the first person will toss the ball to someone else and tell the group how they are connected to that person and what that person has been able to do for them to help them do their job. That person holds onto the yarn and tosses the ball to someone else in their group. It creates a spider web and everyone can see how being connected to two people opens them up to a larger group of connections, their network.

  20. @Murcha It doesn’t but the questions don’t quite fit the VET environment so most of the people would struggle to relate to them. Simon and I have come up with alternatives to match our situation but time will depend if we use them.

    @Emma Thanks for completing the survey. If I had to design it again I would definitely make changes. Would you like me to send you a copy of the raw data so far? Currently 196 responses.

    I’m not a great Ning fan. I find them too cluttered and hard to engage people unless you have the large numbers of members like Classroom 2.0 or you faciliate them well. Definitely for some new people Nings work well because they feel more inviting.

    @Poulingail Our biggest challenge is the wide diversity in the group. It definitely is a good idea however in the one I’m doing tomorrow there will be 300 people present. I’m hoping to have lots of conversations happening with the participants.

  21. Sue – Thanks for all your help in setting up my blog. Edublogs staff is the most knowledgable and helpful individuals I have come across while setting up my PLN. Everyone on your staff should get a high five.

    1. No problem at all Deem – I really enjoy helping others with their blogging.

      We both have to thank James Farmer (the owner of Edublogs) who decided to employ me which gives me increased time to help others. He is the one who deserves the high five.

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