Personal Learning Networks defined:
Personal - particular to a given individual
Learning - the acquisition and development of memories and behaviors, including skills, knowledge, understanding, values, and wisdom
Network - an interconnected system of things or people

Putting those together = The acquisition and development of memories and behaviors, including skills, knowledge, understanding, values, and wisdom, particular to an individual, through an interconnected system of people.

Getting Started

Ask yourself - What do I want to learn? How do I want to learn it? What do I want to do with what I've learned?


(Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, weblogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever wants it.
  • RSS is THE key tool in building a learning network.
  • The ability to have relevant, personal information come to you, rather than you seeking it out is efficient and effective.
  • Using RSS effectively may be the only thing you have to master to have a personal learning network.

Learning Tools

Personal Start Pages


Netvibes (Wimbeldon example)
Netvibes is a free web service that brings together your favorite media sources and online services. Everything that matters to you — blogs, news, weather, videos, photos, social networks, email and much more — is automatically updated every time you visit your page.

Pageflakes (my example)
Pageflakes, the social personalized homepage, is revolutionizing how we how we start with and use the Internet. At, you can easily customize the Internet and make it yours using ‘”Flakes” – small, movable versions of all of your web favorites that you can arrange on your personal homepage. You can also participate in the Pageflakes community, sharing your page as a “Pagecast” with a private group or with the world, and connecting with other users across the globe.


An aggregator can be likened to a web mailbox, but not for email. Your RSS feeds pull in magazine like content when you subscribe online and delivers it to the aggregator of your choice. Some aggregators are simply a list of those feeds, while others are more customizable. The two types of aggregators described here are readers and personalized start pages.

Google Reader (my example)
Google Reader is a Web-based aggregator, capable of reading Atom and RSS feeds online or offline. Check out the Google Reader in Plain English video.

Online PD

K12 Online Conference
Open PD Wikispace
Webinars - DEN, PDE

Keeping it Going!

Once you've developed your readers or personalized start pages, you might be ready for more! It's time to connect with others to talk about what you're learning and put it in perspective. Your reader or personal start page most likely contains blogs, so you're familiar with those. Now, add in another layer to your network. Pick up a social tool and find a few people you know (and some you don't) and get going!

Social Tools & Networks

Microblogging & Communication

Share what you are doing in 140 characters...and much more!
Make calls from your computer — free to other people on Skype and cheap to landlines and cell phones around the world.

Social Bookmarking & More

Diigo (example)
Diigo is two services in one -- it is a research and collaborative research tool on the one hand, and a knowledge-sharing community and social content site on the other.
Delicious (my example)
Delicious is a social bookmarking service that allows users to tag, save, manage and share web pages from a centralized source. With emphasis on the power of the community, Delicious greatly improves how people discover, remember and share on the Internet.

Social Networks

Facebook gives people the power to share and makes the world more open and connected. Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.

Create your own social network with Ning. Ning offers the latest social networking features, all infinitely customizable to meet your unique needs.

Classroom 2.0 - the ning social network for those interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative or transformative technologies in education.

DEN - The Discovery Educator Network (DEN) is a global community of educators passionate about teaching with digital media, sharing resources, collaborating, and networking. With over 25,000 members providing professional development to over 250,000 educators worldwide, the DEN connects teachers both on-line and in-person.

Next Steps

Your Role

Once you've moved past the aggregator step and into the socializing step, you'll find yourself lurking around. You'll read what others have to say and reap the benefits of resources they share. Slowly, but surely, you'll begin to reply/respond/share with resources of your own. You may feel anxious - as if what you have to say/share isn't important - that is just not true! Take a risk, say something, even if you only do it once in awhile. Climb the ladder and take your network to the next level! The more you put in, the more you get out.

The Ladder

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Cycle of PLN

Read about this diagram here.
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Don't feel bad if you have to take a break. It happens to everyone, even me!

Build your PLN

Google Reader allows users to create lists (blogrolls) from feeds they follow. Here are the blogs in my ed-tech folder in my Google Reader. If you're not ready to go it on your own, feel free to use mine. Google Reader also allows users to share posts they think other might find useful. Here is my shared page, which I can also embed other places, like on my blog.

Presented at Classroom 2.0 - September 19-20, 2008