When asked to research and build my PLN (Personal Learning Network), I turned to the source that any woman turns to when she needs a little guidance and direction.
And by researching PLNs on this site, I was inspired to create my Pinterest teaching board, so I garnered a lot of fruitful benefits from this project.
Personal learning networks are composed of every source and inspiration a teacher (or anyone else) uses to learn about topics they are passionate about. Members of a PLN can range from an older and more experienced co-educator to the twitter account of a famous scientist (like Bill Nye the Science Guy– one of the most prominent members of my PLN). So really, a personal learning network is a fluid and dynamic model (much like a phospholipid cell membrane), and can be as large as an individual desires, or as small as a narrow-minded person allows.
Personally, I like my PLN to cover a wide variety of my interests, based primarily in science (the subject I would one day like to teach), but to include interdisciplinary aspects such as writing, humanitarianism, and ways to improve the educational system. Besides, aren’t all aspects of our learning life interconnected somehow? If I limited my personal learning network to include only the spectrum of science-related topics, my knowledge of the greater world would be stunted, and I would basically be a dictionary that can spout off science-y facts but be unable to relate them to any other aspect of life, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t think this would make me an effective, relatable teacher.
Through my research of personal learning networks (on Pinterest and elsewhere), I discovered that the number one source used by most educators for developing their PLN in Twitter, a site I’ve been active on for many years but have never thought to use as a tool for becoming a better teacher (mostly, I use twitter to talk about my Sims and cute animals). Recently, to build my PLN, I have expanded the number of people I follow from about 22 to almost 100 by following professional accounts centered around science, technology, education, and similar topics (I have to warn you though, once you start following a ton of these “certified” accounts, you’ll start getting followed back by a bunch of random people, and if you have your Twitter set up to send you email notifications whenever a new account follows you, it gets pretty annoying!).
The result of expanding my personal learning network has been pretty astounding for me. I’ve never had such a wealth constantly updated knowledge at my fingertips before, and I can’t help but click on links that pique my interest. My favorite account that I’ve followed so far has to be National Geographic, a company that I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for since childhood. National Geographic is primarily responsible for my passion for science and exploration, as we had multiple copies of the gold-bordered magazine laying around every room of our house. Someday, instead of a crazy cat lady, I’m going to be a crazy National Geographic lady and have copies of the magazine perched on all surfaces of my house. But seriously, following a plethora of educational Twitter accounts has been exciting for me, and I can’t wait to see how expanding my PLN transforms the way I will teach.
And to think, this great expansion of my knowledge is all thanks to Pinterest.
A National Geographic tweet, just in case you are looking to expand your PLN by following some science-related accounts. (and, really, who isn’t looking to expand their PLN by following science-related accounts?)