You learn the most from the people around you. Chances are, most of your interactions are with friends, family, and teachers. By expanding your network of interactions to different kinds of people of various experiences and backgrounds, you are creating a web of knowledge that feeds into the things you know and how you see the world.
The interaction community you’re currently a part of is the seed of your Personal Learning Network. A personal learning network is a carefully selected web of people, media sources, and other resources that encourage you to actively pursue learning.
Who uses a Personal Learning Network?
Many teachers use Personal Learning Networks to grow professionally, get ideas and advice about issues that concern them, and discover new methods of teaching. Educators are not the only ones who benefit from PLNs. Any person who has an RSS, Twitter or other social media feed, or an information aggregator on a topic or issue that concerns them, has a form of a PLN.
The benefits of a PLN extend to non-professionals as well. We believe everyone – especially students – should actively, intentionally create one. It can serve as a reminder that learning does not stop when you walk out of school at the end of the day. It can help you find your passion, or at the very least, find a cool new subject. It can even help you forge human connections and build a network that can assist you in your studies and career.
How do I start my own Personal Learning Network?
You can start a learning network about anything that you’re interested in. Whether you’re passionate about education or marine biology, forming connections and relationships with leaders in the field will give you access to a deeper level of understanding.
Starting a learning network is as simple as following a few blogs or individuals who inspire you. You can do this on Twitter, fb, or simply through an RSS feed. Once you have a flow of information, you can share and collaborate with others. Seeing what inspires your friends is a step towards building your learning network.
Finally, you have to join the conversation. Don’t just lurk: contribute. Share relevant resources of your own. Start a blog. Leave comments or engage during live chats. Discussing a topic with other deep thinkers will get you to examine your views, and expand your worldview.