Melissa Giddins

Exploring technology and literacy in education.

Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

As part of the Staff Development Day today, kicking off Term 3, I presented a session on Web 2.0 and what that means for education.  The session started by exploring what Web 2.0 is and, in conjunction, what Education 2.0 might be as a theory. After some philosophical discussions about 21st century learners and what that means for us as teachers, we launched into some practical aspects talking about blogs, wikis, edmodo, nings, google docs and delicious. We finished with the idea that a Personal Learning Network (PLN) is no longer just important – it is now becoming imperative.

A PLN is a network of people that you can learn from, share with and together do all those great ‘c’ words: create, collaborate, communicate, contribute. It can be a bit daunting to know where to start to create a PLN for yourself, so I thought I would do a quick post on getting started with a PLN for you.

1. Twitter – much as some people shudder at the very idea of Twitter, it has provided me with valuable resources, web links and information that has led to more personal professional development in six months than I had ever imagined possible. If you want to get started with twitter, go to and then sign up and create an account. Once you have an account do a search for me: melissagiddins and follow me! Darcy Moore has a great page on his blog recommending Australian educators to follow on Twitter: and the comments to that post also have further suggestions.

2. Read blogs, and post comments in response. There are a large number of Australian and international educators out there with blogs that can radically increase the amount of information at your fingertips. Two to start you off: Darcy Moore: and Kelli McGraw:

3. Join, or start, a ning. A ning is a social networking site that allows you to form a community. The site offers you the ability to have discussion forums, blogs, upload photos, videos, create profiles and invite others to join the community. Go to to get started.  I have created a ning for English teachers across NSW to discuss the utilisation of laptops in classrooms: and you are more than welcome to join the discussion – email me (use the DET address, just search for Melissa Giddins) to request an invitation – it is an ‘invitation only’ site, so you will need an invitation to join us.

4. Join a listserv. A listserv, put simply, is an automatic mailing list server, that broadcasts a message out to all email addresses on the list at once. I am currently part of the Hunter Region listserv, though I am not in the Hunter Region, and am enjoying the professional dialogue amongst the teachers. If you would like to join us, go to: The list is run by Roger Pryor, the School Education Director for the Hunter Region.

5. Email – ask and share! Communication via email and sms allows people to read and respond at their leisure. Searching the DET emails to get in contact with others is also acceptable. Skype, MSN, Facebook, Video conferencing… the list is large and its easy to begin.

The important  message here is not what medium you use, but that you begin the process of creating your own network of people that will inspire you, motivate you and provide you with valuable resources and learning.


July 27, 2009 - Posted by | blogging, delicious, Digital Education Revolution (DER), Laptops 4 Learning, PLN, Social Networking | , , ,


  1. I had a wonderful day. After some reservation (ok, feeling like a GATs kid in a class being made to help others catch up) Seeing I was a presenter, but I think the very first steps were very good, and while I might be at Personal Learning Network (PLN), others are not, but I am willing to help…

    Comment by Troy | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the offer – I shall tell people to add you to their PLNs! I am glad that today had some good first steps for you. Hang in there, Troy. They will eventually catch up.

    Comment by mgiddins | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  3. Being able to collaborate online with other professionals is key to one’s PLN, and, once mastered, can be an invaluable skill set to concentrate on in the classroom with one’s students. Check out Workspace from Office Live for a great tool that provides 5GB of free storage and offers a plug in that can allow automatic back ups of your work on Office programs. It’s accessible from any internet connection (home, school, cafe, anywhere!) Check it out and see how it measures up to your collaboration needs!

    MSFT Office Live Outreach Team

    Comment by Kate | July 28, 2009 | Reply

  4. Hey Mel,
    Glad to hear the SDD went well – ours was …okay. Seems to me that there is a very large divide amongst staff with regards ICT skills – and I am not really sure how to breach that divide.

    I started my faculty session with a shared Delicious Account (CHHSMaths) linked with how to search all of Delicious (and why that is possibly better than Googling!) and that seemed to provoke some good discussion. But it will be a long process!

    Our first session was very generic – but Shift Happens caught many peoples attention.

    I still think Twitter is the best resource currently easily accessible for all teachers to make connections with other like minded educators

    Comment by Simon Borgert | July 30, 2009 | Reply

  5. Hi Mel, I’ve been ‘ticking the boxes’ on your list of things to do to get a PLN going. Thanks for all the help.

    Comment by Lyn | August 15, 2009 | Reply

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