Using Social Networking sites to build your PLN – Part II

“Repeat after me, this is not an information revolution, it is a relationship revolution”
~John Hagel

Social networking is a means of communicating and sharing information between two or more individuals using an online community.  There are as many types of educational social networks online as there are interests and subject areas.  The main goal of getting involved in a social network is to connect with others who share your same interest, learn from each other by participating in the community, and share what you are learning or creating.


  • NingJoin a Ning. Anyone who has a passion and interest can create a Ning site – but it takes a community to build it and maintain it.  Choose one or several Nings to join but be an active community member.  Create a profile so other educators can learn something about you.  Get involved in the discussion forums.  Ask questions, answer other people’s questions, share links, share real classroom projects, and use the Ning to find out about resources.

  • LearnCentral – A free social network started by Elluminate, specializing in educators connecting, sharing content, and being able to engage in live online meetings.
  • Facebook – if you already connect with others on Facebook, consider friending other educators and join groups to have the conversation there like:  Classroom 2.0, Adobe Educational Technologies, Google Certified Teachers, and more.
  • Linked In – connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.  Linked In is more professional than social.


  • Can have more in-depth conversations than Twitter
  • Feels more personal and easier to get to know members of your network
  • Can create subgroups, share event calendars, and view profiles of members.
  • Allows embedding of images, videos and gadgets.


  • Easy to join too many networks and get spread too thin.
  • Need to find system (RSS) to manage conversations
  • Some networks are very active that results in too much information overload


Educational Networking – A listing of social networks used in educational environments or for educational purposes

Education Ning Networks list by Angela Cunningham

Looking for REAL STORIES of how getting involved in a social network has helped you build your PLN.  Please share – thanks!

3 Replies to “Using Social Networking sites to build your PLN – Part II”

  1. It’s important to understand that everybody already *has* a personal learning network. Online or not, you all have people you can talk to and resources you can consult when you need to know something. The only question is whether you consciously nurture it or just let it grow. Adding an online component to that network allows you to leverage the power of the internet to locate, organize, and apply the resources to your own learning — and by extension — your teaching.

    The online component of my network includes:

    Google Reader to organize my 700 RSS feeds into folders based on the kind of information I’m tracking. This allows me to quickly prioritize what I can take time to look at. It also lets me be ruthless in scanning and deleting. Because I’m careful about which feeds I include, I can quickly spot ideas that are important because they come from multiple sources. By having the web based reader, it doesn’t matter which computer I’m on at the time I need to know something. As long as I have access to the internet and a browser, I’ve got my own personal portal on the important stuff on the web.

    Diigo organizes sites that do not have RSS feeds, and also allows me to tap into resources that other people have tagged. If I’m looking for a Photoshop tutorial, looking in Diigo for sites that other people have tagged saves my wandering through Google for half an hour trying to find the ones I want. By pulling them out of Diigo, I’m picking things that have already been vetted by a public interested in the same things I am.

    Using those resources in my teaching practice becomes trivial as Diigo also provides code snippets that I can place in my teaching environment to provide my students with up-to-date readings without having to copy the links, sign into my teaching space, find the right page, edit it to add the link, and then make sure I didn’t include typos.

    Twitter is hugely important for me to keep a finger on the pulse of the world. I think it’s a mistake to look at it as a repository of information, but rather more like a river. You sit on the bank of the river and occasionally look out to see what’s floating by. You might fish out a piece now and again, and you might toss a bit onto the surface to be carried down stream. If there’s something important happening, you’ll see it coming downstream from a variety of sources and you can pay attention to it. Most educators try to treat it like a website and want to make sure that nothing went by while they were away. That’s a big mistake. If it’s important, it’ll come by again. Just let it go.

    Using a client like Tweetdeck to organize your twittering is terribly important. By using a tool you can locate and organize the river more effectively. This is particularly important when you follow a TwitChat using hashtags … for example, people tweeting from an educational conference will include something like #EduCon10 in each tweet. You can follow those #tags in a separate column in Tweetdeck easily, which provides you with a handy sieve to strain out the pertinent bits from the background blather.

    It’s also important to follow enough people — and enough different people — that you can have a wide river of information. Many people get overwhelmed trying to keep up with 20 or 30 people. Don’t try to “keep up.” Remember that the tweet-stream is a stream and not a reservoir. Follow at least 50 people if not 100. You need that to get enough of a river to have it be worthwhile.

    Nings are the dedicated conversational spaces. Whether you’re talking about classroom science, general education, or cross stitchery, there’s probably a Ning for you. The downside of Nings is that it’s “another place to go” but they do provide RSS feeds to keep you notified that something is happening. Add the feeds from the Ning to your Google Reader and you’ll know when you need to log in to check up on what’s happening.

    Using these tools just a few minutes each day will save you hours of time over the course of a week in locating, organizing, and using the abundance of web based resources and will add a rich set of tools to your Personal Learning Network.

  2. We utilize for our PLN. It has wikis, blogs, chat and enotes. We are utilizing it for staff development–chats with faculty about books or research. Teachers are utilizing the space for student writing and turning in work electronically. We are in our infancy with this new PLN, but we are seeing a great deal of promise.

  3. Thanks for including LearnCentral in your list of social networking sites. All these tools and more have created new avenues for professional development on a global level.

    Wanted to pass along this white paper by our Social Learning Consultant and Classroom 2.0 founder Steve Hargadon that discusses the important role Web 2.0 will play in education.

    – Beth, Elluminate Goddess of Communication

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