Teacher Development Revisited: PLNs

Today I had the opportunity to think about the processes I went through in my teacher development process. What striked me while doing this is the impact of social media and power of connections.  When I first started following people and being involved in online activities, I didn’t think that it would make such an impact on my career. However, when I interacted with people like me, l discovered more about ways of using web 2.0 tools and networking which made me more willing to learn. In fact, l unlearned and relearned many aspects of learning and teaching in the twenty first century and this made me feel the need to keep myself up to date.  Then, I realized the power of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and wanted to write a post on that.


What is a PLN?

PLN stands for Personal Learning Networks and it stems from the theory of connectivism developed by Stephen Downes suggesting that people can learn by creating connections with people having the same interests. PLN is an informal learning network consisting of people you  communicate with and learn together in a personal leaning environment (PLE). It is believed that if you make connections with other people having a learning aim in mind, an informal type of learning will happen as a consequence of that connection. In fact,the people you connect with do not necessarily have to be the ones you know personally. You may even learn from them without ever meeting them in person.


How can you form a PLN?

There is not a single way of having a PLN. You may also do other actions to form your PLN. The steps below are just suggestions.

  • Set up a blog.
  • Choose some blogs and start reading them on your blogroll.
  • Subscribe to blogs in a blog reader.
  • Make comments.
  • Join a professional social network.
  • Use twitter.
  • Find people and topics to follow.
  • Connect, collaborate, contribute.
  • Use hashtags (#) and lists to get organized.


What are the benefits of having a PLN?
Having a  PLN can ease your life in a number of ways. We are all busy as educators and considering the increasing amount of information and its life span, it may not be easy to catch up with the new competencies of the twenty first century. Moreover, having different perspectives can broaden our horizons and provide us with motivation and inspiration. There is always somebody willing to help you in your PLN. You can also use your PLN to collect data easily in a short time.It can even be used in classroom to make your students connected and more motivated. I remember sharing my classroom wall including the ideas of my students on art on twitter using artchitecture and design hashtags (#) and asking the ideas of people on art which made them more willing to produce and interact with people from different parts of the world following  art hashtag (#).
When I asked the benefits of PLN to the members of my PLN, they came up with the responses below. Most of these responses  are related to the power of sharing and collaboration.

All in all, it can be regarded as a must for all the twenty first century educators. If you do not have a PLN, you will notice its impact in a very short time when you form it. What do you think about the impact of your PLN on your classroom teaching and professional development?


Siemens, G., Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning 2 (10), 2005.



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20 Responses to “Teacher Development Revisited: PLNs”

  1.   Işıl Boy Says:

    Very well put, dear!


  2.   cananelicin Says:

    Hi Beyza,
    This is a great post. I am sure you will impress a lot of readers about forming a PLN. BTW your suggestions to do so are to the point.


    •   beyzayilmaz Says:

      Thank you, dear Canan. I wanted to be as direct as possible so as to give tips to newbies.


  3.   Chiew Says:

    If anyone is in the dark with hashtags, look at this index file: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CkUrFNr3ZThZXLh4kwk9rk-wQlwfcg8YL9zVx1R_C2s/edit


  4.   Tuba Angay Says:

    Just read the article by Jerusha O. Conner: “A key piece of unlearning is becoming keenly aware of some common understanding or way of acting that had previously gone unquestioned”. Thank you for your reflection on teacher professional development. I love it!


    •   beyzayilmaz Says:

      Dear Tuba,
      Yes, unlearning definitely raises awareness and makes us question the issues we have never wondered. I am happy that you find it useful ;)


  5.   Ayat Tawel Says:

    Thank you for a simple, well organized and professional post. I never forget how my professional development journey started by joining online communities and forming my first PLN. The real key was ‘Sharing’. Lucky to have you in my PLN. Good Luck.


    •   beyzayilmaz Says:

      Dear Ayat,

      You are right in that sharing is the key for learning. I am glad that you are in my PLN, too. By the way, welcome to the blogosphere! ;)



  6.   Çiğdem İskent Says:


    This is the first time I have visited your blog. Thanks to Merve Oflaz, I have read it and enjoyed very much. Your road map and explanations are very clear-cut and informative. Congrats!


  7.   Aysun Günes Says:

    So I guess we are good at PLN;) thanks for the information;)


  8.   Make Your English Work Says:

    Interesting stuff!


  9.   ElizabethA Says:

    dearBeyza I am so happy to read your post just one week before presenting the EFL online world at a local conference.
    I will use it as backup :-)
    Amitiés de Grenoble


    •   beyzayilmaz Says:

      Dear Elizabeth Anne,

      What a nice coincidence! I hope your audience find the suggestions useful.


  10.   Manoranjan Dhaliwal Says:

    Hi Beyza,
    I found your post really motivating. I appreciate your suggestions.


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