#21 About Your Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Now that we’ve been introduced to a variety of social media tools, lets talk about incorporating them within a workplace learning context. One of the best ways to apply these types of tools is for your own development. Social media can be a fantastic way for trainers, instructional designers, teachers, consultants or anyone else for that matter to become better at what they do.

With the tools available today we are not limited to learning  from conventional sources like courses and classrooms anymore. Learning can happen anytime in many different ways. More and more, people are realizing the value of the networks they belong to, with some of their most valuable learning coming from a dedicated group of chosen and trusted resources. This network of resources is commonly referred to as a Personal Learning Network (or PLN), and it is one of the most powerful learning tools you can have.

Often there are few,  if any, other people in your office,  who does what you do. It’s great if you have a robust collection of people to learn from in your organization but for many training and learning folks that isn’t an option.

Stages of PLN adoption

Benefits of Your PLN

Your PLN can be an amazing source of learning. They can inspire you, challenge your ideas, point you towards great resources, answer your questions, and provide support in so many ways.

In his webinar, Mark Britz shared how asking a question on Twitter helped him solve a problem within minutes. And that sort of thing happens constantly within PLNs. Jane Bozarth shares a similar story in her great article about PLNs.

No Time?

I often hear from people that they don’t have time for this. Unfortunately, it seems those people don’t see the value a PLN can bring. Instead of being a waste of time, it is an investment. Like  most things in life, you get back what you put in. So give it a try and get started. Share links to things you find interesting or helpful. Odds are it will be interesting or helpful to someone else too. Comment on blog posts. Jump into LinkedIn groups and join the discussion. Ask questions. Learn new stuff. Share what you learn.

In the next post we’ll share a few practical ideas for getting started.

Discussion:

  • What does your current PLN look like?
  • Do you have any cool PLN moments you can share? How have you benefited from your PLN?
  • What is your personal strategy for using social tools this way? Do you dedicate time for this activity?
  • What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out? If you’re just starting what questions do you have?

 

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