Global Learning Networks

For module 2 in our course EDTC 6103 we focused on two ISTE standards. ISTE Standard 1 Learner: Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning and ISTE Standard 2 Leader: Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning. After learning more about these standards, 1b really resonated with me. 1b: “Pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks” made me wonder  “How can being a part of a global learning network be a beneficial form of professional development?” 

What is a Professional Learning Network

A personal learning network (PLN) is a group of colleagues, mentors, and professionals that you connect with to enhance your learning and take charge of your own professional development. It’s a global, online community that allows you tap into a broad wealth of knowledge and focus on what you consider most important to your learning. PLNs are especially valuable, as new information and ideas are changing the world at a much faster pace than ever before.

Benefits of Professional Learning Networks


  • Personalized learning. A teacher can choose the topic of focus.
  • Decide how often and how they want to connect with their online community.


  • Unlike traditional professional development, you’re not simply receiving information when you participate in your PLN. You can ask questions of and get valuable resources from peers and mentors. But as with any healthy relationship, there’s a give and take.
  • Collaborating to enhance ideas and content is the kind of activity that can make a good PLN great. Also, learning by teaching others is a great way to solidify your knowledge and force you to confront what you don’t quite understand, so the benefits of these personal relationships are twofold.


  • Information can be accessed as soon as other teachers/professionals post research, lesson ideas, etc.
  • Your PLN is always working for you, and their expertise is readily available at your convenience. This 24/7 access lets you get what you need to solve a problem right away, as well as explore topics of less pressing interest.

Professional Learning Network Tools

In our course we have a small professional learning network with our cohort. We use twitter and blogging to share our ideas with others. Although this is a great way to start sharing, I wanted to find other professional learning networks that jump into large global networks. While researching, I noticed that some PLN’s are free while others can have a high price tag. I didn’t want cost to be a hindering factor for users, so I decided to find PLNs that would be free. With research and input from my colleagues I have found some great social media platforms that foster global learning networks.


Everyone knows Twitter, but teachers should note its quality resources and extensive support networks for professional development. Though it can be intimidating given its seemingly never-ending supply of content and its multitude of uses, its return on investment makes it completely worthwhile.

Across the world, educators are turning to Twitter as a way to build personal learning networks (PLNs), get inspiration, and trade best practices. By following other educators and participating in education-focused chats, teachers instantly join the conversation and find resources to further their classroom practices.

Plus, PLNs offer a forum for crowd sourcing advice and a source for unlimited peer-to-peer support. Though teachers initially will need to invest time to find quality content and users to follow, they will quickly have a wealth of fantastic PD resources at their fingertips anytime, anywhere.

“Join or follow an education Twitter chat, which is essentially a real-time discussion about a specific topic occurring during a set time. Participants use a unique hashtag so others can easily follow the chat. You’ll find a Twitter chat, or ed chat, for almost any subject area (#SciChat#SSchat), job role (#CPChat) or education topic (#SPEDchat#digcit chat). Find a calendar of educational Twitter chats on the Participate website.” (Harrington).


The social networking giant has introduced an extensive array of tools throughout its evolution that can be used effectively for professional growth. Whether it is Facebook groups, Business pages or Events, each of these tools is equally useful. These are great ways of communicating with experts, spreading new ideas, building new relationships, building contacts and trying new things out.

Teaching Channel:

The Teaching Channel is a Web site chock-full of video resources focused on teachers’ classroom practices. Through the site, educators can watch videos of teachers working in their classrooms as a way to learn from, and provide feedback to, peers in their profession. The site’s platform also gives teachers a space to share lesson ideas and strategies across a fairly broad range of subjects and grade levels.

The subscription-based Teaching Channel Teams platform functions as a private space for professional development among smaller, closed networks of teachers. To interact with a bigger audience, the site’s online Q&A forum allows teachers to communicate with fellow teachers from all over the world. This video library of actual classroom teaching offers tons of practical and inspirational resources for educators to watch and share, to improve their craft.


Like Twitter, Instagram allows for educators from around the world access for inspiration and lesson ideas. One appeal of Instagram is that it allows for users to share visual representation. Posting to Instagram also allows  you to share some of the creative things that can be done with apps and other technologies.  Often times users post examples of lessons that they are doing in my classroom, or of a new app.

Professional Learning Networks are all about building a community,and in-person relationships are powerful. Instagram provides a personal connection with educators who inspire me, so you can easily make the transition from virtual to face-to-face easier when you have the opportunity to connect with a colleague in person.

Digital Is:

Created under the direction of the National Writing Project (NWP), Digital Is is a media-literacy site created and curated by a community of educators.

As a source for grassroots professional development, the site shares the NWP’s ethos of encouraging teachers to help others in their field. Unlike many online teacher resources, Digital Is helps foster a sense of community, with the option to comment on any article and engage with the teacher who posted it.



Harrington, K. (2017, October 05). The best PD comes from your professional learning network. Retrieved April 23, 2018, from best PD comes from your professional learning network (2017) ISTE Standards for Educators. (Retrieved on 2018, April 17) from:


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