Developing your own Personal Learning Network (PLN) #edtech

One of the best examples I’ve come across, when looking at how you can utilise social media to form and develop a personal learning network is from my friends Sue Beckingham (@suebecks) and David Walker (@drdjwalker). Their presentation at the TEL-themed SEDA Conference in 2011 on “Using social media to develop your own personal learning network” is one I have referred to before, but surprisingly never blogged about.

Time to put that right – here it is:

We need to think about social media and networks in a way that removes the actual ‘tool’ from the mindset and introduces an ‘ecology’, a system for “enabling a system of people, practices, values and technologies in a particular local environment” (Suter et al, 2005). By thinking in this way we can introduce a ‘reason’ and a ‘purpose’ to it’s use that is not tied to any platform or time, that is able to be flexible and engaging (and easier to understand) so it is more readily available and adopted.

Sue and David hit the nail on the head (slide 13) when they introduce the “added values” that enable, increase, connect, and complement existing communication channels, but in a way that enhances the users perception of it. I know my work and perception of my role has been transformed since I joined Twitter and other networks, and it has been because I wanted it to. You and others may not want it to have such an effect, which is why this adoption of social media is purely a personal choice, as is the resulting personal (learning) network.

Mentioned in their presentation is my own PLE (my ‘environment’, what I use day-to-day), generated in response to other versions I’ve seen in various places along my own journey.

DavidHopkins - Personal Learning Environment (PLE)


Suter, V., Alexander, B., and Kaplan, P., 2005 Social Software and the Future of Conferences—Right Now. Educause Review Online. Vol 40 (1) pp46-59