General, Guest, Summer Learning Series | May 30, 2015

The Power of a Personal Learning Network

Todd Nesloney

Students today must develop a new set of skills for the 21st century. These skills include communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. As educational leaders, it is important that we also communicate and collaborate with one another. Developing a personal learning network (PLN) allows us to connect and build relationships with other educators, administrators and thought leaders across the globe. A PLN offers immediate access to ask questions, share ideas and elicit advice.

Developing a PLN is simple and starts with the creation of a Twitter account. Then, you begin connecting with colleagues and other educators. For me, joining Twitter was career changing. It reinvigorated me, and it connected me with innovative, creative, out-of-the box thinkers. I connected with people who were fighting the same battles I was. They were people who reminded me constantly of why I do my job, and at the same time also provided me with encouragement and ideas to keep fighting the good fight.

The best way I can think to really show the power of Twitter, and the power of a PLN, is to show the ways that some of my connections changed my career.

The following six individuals inspired me to become an administrator. But even more than that, once becoming an administrator they have been a sounding board, lent a listening ear, and provided me with a wealth of advice along the way. These are six people I would have never come in contact with had it not been for social media. I know I am the administrator I am today because of the time, effort, love and tears we shared together. These six are truly my heroes in educational administration and they are a few of my best friends.

There are a few more people I would have never met had it not been for social media. When I first joined Twitter I thought it would just be a place where I could learn from others. Never did I imagine that I would find friends who would inspire and challenge me on a daily basis. These are people I see once or twice a year, but talk to every day through email, Twitter, Facebook, Voxer or whatever! Social media is all about connecting with librarians, tech directors, teachers, administrators, and more. Building a PLN is about being brave enough to put yourself out there. The connections you make will not only change your career but have the potential to change your life… it changed mine.


Personal Learning Networks are all about connecting and collaborating, so your challenge is to connect with others and begin a dialogue. Start by following the educators that are a part of the summer learning series or my colleagues above. Then, to accomplish this first challenge, follow @goswivl on Twitter and using the #SLS15 hashtag tell us one thing you are hoping to learn this summer!

I look forward to hearing your story and ways your PLN changes your career!  Don’t forget to use the #SLS15 hashtag all summer long, and together we will connect, learn and grow!