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A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is a network of people that share information with each other to help each other learn. Sometimes PLNs are also known as “professional learning networks.” Personal Learning Networks can help an individual professionally and intellectually. Prior to the internet your Personal Learning Networks were your friends and family. The internet makes PLNs even larger because mass amounts of information can be accessed by mass amounts of people almost instantly. Once someone gains the knowledge on a topic they are likely to spread it within their own PLN. Personal Learning Networks help you and others you may know.
Some companies are starting to encourage their employees to create their own Personal Learning Networks by providing them with the proper environment to share information with each other. Once a Personal Learning Network is brought online it greatly expands from its offline version. This is because information provided in your Personal Learning Network is now global rather than just contained inside of your office.
Blogs are a major asset when it comes to Personal Learning Networks. Bloggers can read each others blog posts and if they like them, they can subscribe. Bloggers can also comment on each others posts, which provides more information for others on the topic the post was written about.
Microblogging (i.e. Twitter) is another strong asset to building a strong PLN. Microblogging allows users to post 140 character updates. Microblogging provides a large amount of updates because of their smaller size. Users have to create accounts and decide on which users they should follow/subscribe. When using a microblog you can ask a question and receive multiple answers in a very short amount of time. On Twitter users can attach a hash tag (#) to a topic to make it easily searchable by other users. Twitter users can also link to each other by using an @ symbol prior to a username, which helps link to others with important information.
Another great Personal Learning Network tool is webinars. Webinars are real time chat conferences that are held online. You can learn from the information provided on them and make new contacts to expand your PLN.
Examples of people that could be inside of your PLN could be: teachers, coworkers, classmates, friends, or bloggers. Social media now plays a huge role in your PLN; Facebook and Twitter provide your information with a lot of people and very quickly. Some other useful PLN tools are: MySpace, Ning, and Classroom 2.0. Try to subscribe, follow or add people into your Personal Learning network that are professionals/experts/knowledgeable in topics that you are interested and/or researching on.
With all of these tools and information users need to learn how to go through the mass amounts of information to pick out what they need. Users can use “search” functions to find the information that is relevant to them at that point in time. These search functions provided on many websites provide almost instantaneous results to searches as well as fairly accurate results to them as well.
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