What is a Professional Learning Network? A professional learning network is a node of individuals that exchange information for the purpose of gaining knowledge. This concept is the main focus of the connectivism learning theory that George Siemens and Stephen Downes developed in 2004. The individual learner creates a network through online connections using various forms of media connecting to other individuals, both personal and professional, and uses these connections to receive or send information. PLN’s are a very fast growing method of keeping in touch and developing new relationships on both levels.
In the area of education, a PLN can be a vital source of information for new and innovative methods of instruction. Teachers are always looking for a way to improve a lesson or activity and sometimes local resources just do not have what is needed. This is when the PLN can be the crucial link between frustration and success. A PLN can provide resources from across the world in seconds, with insight and ideas that a few years ago were not even a possibility.
As I started to develop my Professional Learning Log map (PLN), there was a lot more to it than I realized. The map started with the obvious inputs being the most relevant in regard to usage, Boise State, my social network, and education. I soon came to realize that as the map grew there were more and more methods for contact being used then first thought. The developed map also helped me realize that I need to connect all the areas of my PLN, not leave them on islands hoping to find them connected at some point. By being more proactive in developing my PLN, it will enable me to be better connected across the spectrum. The map also revealed some areas of the network that are neglected too often and with better usage they could be the connections that bring it all together. One of these tools is LinkedIn, this is a strong source for connecting to viable resources and developing new professional relationships. In conclusion, a good PLN will assist with any professional becoming more educated and informed individual.