Computers, smartphones, tablets, the internet, apps, and websites are all around us and it is a rare day when a teacher does use at least one of these technology tools. In response to this, Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) have become virtual, easily accessible and quick. A PLN consists of learners (teachers seeking professional development in this case) who create connections and develop a network that contributes to their professional development and knowledge.
Typically, the learner does not have to know the people personally or ever meet them in person. Professional conferences play an important role in professional development, but an active PLN happens on the timetable of the individual, though there are some PLNs that have designated chat session times once a week, but that happens from where you are.
- Twitter (hashtag #langchat for foreign language teachers). Post a question with the hashtag or search Twitter with the hashtag and respond or read responses.
- Facebook (Create a page and invite teachers to join). I am a member of the Organic World Language (OWL) page and the discussions are very formative.
- Pinterest (Follow boards of interest). I maintain individual boards by topic and follow other boards with those topics. Comment on pins or repin the pins that you like to your own boards.
- Instagram (Follow other language teachers and world travelers). Search topics with hashtags (#) and get great visuals for use in the classroom. Comment and share with other teachers.
- Periscope (Interact with language teachers in real time). I follow several language educators and I also scope once a week, sometimes more, about language teaching tips, tools and resources.
- YouTube (Follow channels that interest you). Don’t just watch videos, leave comments and start a conversation. Create a network.
- Blogs (like this one). Follow blogs of interest and you will be notified of new posts. Don’t just read the posts, pin, tweet, post on Facebook and comment on the post on the blog. This starts a conversation.
Here is a quick and informative video on Personal Learning Networks (PLNs):