5 ways to use PLNs to become smarter!

In a room full of educators, no single educator is as smart as the room as a whole. The same is true for Professional/Personal Learning Networks, not a single member of the network is as smart as the network as a whole.

I have been growing my PLN for almost two years, and I am a better educator through the connections I've made through social media.  As an educator, I am always learning, growing, and honing my craft, and my PLN is essential to achieving these goals.

I have 5 simple recommendations other educators can use to become smarter by growing their PLN.

First, follow other educators you admire, respect, and look up to. These people are key to your personal growth and professional learning.

Second, take advantage of hashtags. Hashtags lead to trends, people, and information that you may not have known about before. I have found truly passionate educators who teach me so much on a daily basis by perusing through some of my favorite hashtags.

Third, when you meet other educators at conferences, professional development sessions, trainings, and/or workshops, don’t hesitate to swap social media information. We are more likely to follow up with educators via social media than with email or phone. And it’s easier to learn from others via social media and keep up with them.

Fourth, meet with people in person who are in your PLN (if you ever get the chance). By attending edcamps and other local or national conferences, you can begin to put names with faces and truly begin to understand a person’s personality and educational philosophy. This year, I’ve had the opportunity to meet people in my PLN at a state conference (TCEA) and a national conference (ISTE). 

Alice Keeler and I at a CoffeeEDU event in Denver, CO.

Peter H. Reynolds and I at the 2016 ISTE Conference & Expo.

Fifth, and lastly, don’t forget to share out to contribute to the growth of others in your PLN. A PLN is only as good as its weakest link. Don’t just be a consumer of information, you should also be a producer. Not to mention, every educator has valuable experiences and kernels of wisdom to share, and we can all learn from each other. Your PLN can learn as much from you as you can learn from it.

Here are a few ways to begin growing your PLN on social media:

  • Twitter - follow and save hashtags you like to gain insight and grow your PLN.
  • Facebook - join groups with like-minded educators locally and nationally.
  • Linkedin - join professional networks to connect with others in your field.
  • Google+ - look for communities that interest you and join the conversation.
  • Pinterest - follow boards that interest you and create and post to boards that may be of interest to other educators.
And here are 10 of my personal favorite hashtags: