Part 2: Who’s in your PLN?

So, who are the people that shape, influence and share your interests? Who are the movers and shakers of your thinking?

Your PLN may be shaped by the tools you use within your PLE. When building and maintaining connections you will need to develop relationships with people that matter to your content and context. Connecting with others who can support your learning needs is a great way to learn from, and with, others. Howard Rheingold provides eight steps to cultivating a PLN – explore, search, follow, tune, feed, engage, inquire and respond. To learn more about how to work through these steps, read How to cultivate a personal learning network: Tips from Howard Rheingold.

Rhizome metaphor

Rhizome as metaphor for PLN

  • Basing your PLN image on a meaningful metaphor can help ground and connect you within your network. Some common PLN metaphors include roots, trees, water, light, or family.  Looking closely at images and metaphors can help you visualize your PLN and connect people or groups in logical ways.
  • Use your own interests and research to help find reliable sources of best practice in your area of interest. Connect to those who also work in your area of endeavour or research focus within global spaces. Are there ways to communicate and build relationships with these individuals through social media or direct messages?
  • Find networks already established in your area of interest. For example the Educator’s PLN or The Technology Using Professors group on LinkedIn may be a place to start. When using social media such as Twitter, spend time to search to find people with similar interests. As Rheingold suggests, follow the eight steps to use, understand and create in your digital network spaces.

Your PLN will be your go-to source for support, information, resources, critique and affirmation. Those you select to include in your PLN need to understand and be aware of your personal learning needs. Build those connections and have those conversations regularly and deeply.

To read more about personal learning communities, see Part 3: Why have a PLC?

References and Resources

Connected Educators, Corwin Press. Chapter 1 available at

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