Chapter 6

Building Your Connected Learning Community

By Sandi, Brandi, and Kelsey

Twitter for teachers

Starting Your Personal Learning Network

  • Personal Learning Network - A group of connections(or people) who share common goals and values with you and are willing to share and exchange ideas to help others learn and grow. PLN’s are started by an individual determining what types of people they are interested in collaborating with. They then look for other members to follow and communicate with. Once the group of connections are brought together, they form the community. This community collaborating together is considered your Personal Learning Network.
  • Starting Your Personal Learning Network- Start slowly and cautiously working with one program at a time until you are comfortable to add more.
  • Decide Whom to Follow- Choose those who match your purpose or goal.
  • Borrow From Bloggers- Choose to follow those you have great respect for. Look to see who they follow and consider following them also. Follow diverse groups of people whom have different perspectives. This will help gain you better insight on educational topics. Before you choose who to follow make sure you look at their blog or website and review what they share to make sure it matches with what you are interested in.
  • Use Twitter Lists- Choose in a similar manner. Find a Twitter account of a person you would be interested in following. Look to see who they follow or who follows them and consider adding those people to your list.
  • Vet Before You Follow- This means to do a background check on a person you are interested in following. By doing this you look into a person’s digital footprint. The information you gain by doing this is making sure you follow people who only use their real names, you are able to find their blogs and tweets and determine if they are of value to you.
  • Use Social Bookmarking- which means to link up with people who are bookmarking the same topics as you thru Diigo or Delicious.
  • Nurturing Your Personal Learning Network- This means to share and form relationships with others in a safe and ethical way. By sharing with others, your learning will grow. This also means to keep your connections to a manageable level. Some suggest that this should be no more than 150 contacts at any given time. Others believe that the more the better. The choice is yours, choose what works best for you.
  • A Word of Caution- Networking has many advantages for the user, but remember that

    personal learning networks make up only 1 prong of the 3 that are necessary to be successful in creating lasting changes and helping you grow. You also need to make connections with a community of people to make networks valuable.


Characteristics of a healthy community

  • Active and consistent participation
  • Clear purpose
  • Shared history and culture
  • Participant-to-participant collaboration
  • Safe place to express honest opinions
  • Shared concern and support for the community
  • Sense of ownership
  • Meets member' needs (value added)
  • Self-managing and self-governing
  • Members draw on other members


Community Members Roles

Community members self-select their roles based on their participation--and may adopt more than one role depending on the conversation. The roles are as follows:


  • Linking-These educators might be interested in joining the community; they visit occasionally and harvest links.
  • Lurking-These are legitimate peripheral participants. They are reluctant to share their thoughts and ideas transparently, but they are willing to listen and watch from the sidelines.
  • Learning-Community members who frequent and participate in the community's life are learning. They bring to the group as much as they take from the learning experience. They help shape what the collective is gaining.
  • Leading-These educators commit time and energy to the community. Leaders may emerge organically from the community or be identified as the launch as leaders.

Evolving Your Community

  • Put People Before Things (or Test Scores)
  • Design with Real Learning in Mind
  • Design for Evolution and Loose Governance
  • Select a Passionate Community Leader
  • Co-Create the Content
  • Bring in Other Voices
  • Build Trust