As you explore Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) in greater depth, you will want to think about how you can use digital technologies to breathe new life into your professional growth and better support your teaching. A helpful approach is to map your own PLN.

This activity asks you to consider and then represent who belongs to your PLN.

To map your PLN, use a tool such as Google Draw, Coggle, or even PowerPoint (see more Visual Organizer Tools in the Extend Toolkit), to create a visual diagram of the people, organizations, collectives, and others who are in your network. If creating a visual diagram presents a barrier for you, you can describe your PLN by creating an audio, video, or written reflection. Whatever the format, be prepared to upload your work or provide a URL to its location in your response to this activity.

  • Identify a focus of your PLN. It could be your academic discipline or professional area, a topic on which you’ve already done some research or work, or a learning interest that you’re passionate about.
  • Place your topic somewhere on your map. (You might put it in the central node, but remember, you, actually, are the centre of your learning network!)
  • Identify a few people who already belong to your network as it relates to your interest or topic. These will be your nodes. They might be colleagues, influential educators, mentors, people you’ve met at conferences or events, organizations, and so on. Then think of a few more nodes that you may not yet know personally but who you would like to include in your network. Who are the noted scholars or experts in your area of interest that you might follow?
  • Map the nodes (names) that you’ve identified onto your diagram. (Using one of the mapping tools mentioned above will allow you to move nodes around easily without having to redraw the connections.) Your diagram should include at least 10 nodes by name (i.e., specific individuals and organizations).
  • Add details about how you interact with each of the nodes in your PLN. Review your map and rearrange the design as you see patterns emerge. For example, you might indicate any of the following in the design of your diagram (e.g., by grouping, or by using different colours, symbols, or text labels):
    • Their role (e.g., educator, science researcher, blogger).
    • Their role in your network (e.g., collaborator, mentor, provocateur, consultant).
    • The relative weight of the connection (e.g., strong tie, weak tie).
    • The reciprocity of the connection (e.g., one-way, dialogue).
    • The technologies you use to connect to your network.
    • The relationships between the different nodes (i.e., identify clusters of nodes who may interact).
    • Anything else that helps to illustrate your interactions—past, present, or future—with your network.

Export your diagram to an image format and upload it or enter a link in your response to the Mapping Your PLN activity.

As evidence of completion, please plan to enter the web address for your response in the Collaborator badge submission form.

This activity is part of the Map Your PLN section of the Collaborator Module.

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32 Responses for this Activity

  • Mapping your PLN
    by Tracey Chase (@traceychase)

    My PLN is focused on college instruction with a focus on Mathematics and online learning.  This was an eye opening activity.  I have a lot of sources of information, but would like to grow the number of two-way connections.

  • PLN Mapping
    by Radica Bissoondial (@rbissoondial)

    The beginning of this module was very reflective for me. The reflection came from conducting an audit of my collaboration in guiding my role within the program I am affiliated with in developing community applied research/projects. Historically, I am not an avid social media user (professional or personal). A LinkedIn account was created almost a more… »

  • Mapping my PLN
    by Sheeba (@svilakkathusaidu)

    I loved this activity and realized that how vast is my PLN. Keeping myself as the centre I have created my PLN by including my teaching, industry, social media and community that I engaged with. Due to pandemic majority of interaction in the network follows Zoom, Bongo, Webex, Gdrive, Sharepoint, and Emails.

  • Mapping you PLN – @MonaBC
    by Mona Brennan-Coles (@MonaBC)

    Until this module, I was surprised to learn my PLN for teaching project management was very small — because I have much larger PLNs for other aspects of my life — e.g. community theatre, telecommunications.  As I worked through the activities, I realized that my other PLNs were developed non-digital ways — predominantly by in more… »

  • Mapping my PLN
    by Sherry Parker (@sparker)

    Interesting that in one week, I have opened a Twitter account, used MindMap (Cultivate my PLN) and MindMup (Mapping my PLN).  Three new tools 🙂  I chose to divide my PLN into 3M Demand Manager (my main role), Teaching (my role as Prof @ Fanshawe), Mentor and Volunteer.  It was very interesting using the arrows more… »

  • Mapping My PLN
    by Gary Danner (@gdanner)

    Attached is the start to my PLN Map. Some additional points: The thicker arrow from me to each of the 5 nodes in my network represents a strong connection Two-way communication takes place between myself and each of the 5 nodes listed thus far The 3 nodes at Fanshawe College interact The eLearner Coordinators node more… »

  • My PLN’s small start
    by Giselle Carter (@gmcarter)

    I haven’t really worked on developing a PLN, but have noticed the lack in my life.  I’m grateful for this module to help me get started on this. I started with post-secondary teaching, early childhood education (in general) and children and nature (more specific focus).

  • Business Computing Mapping
    by Pamela LeBrun (@PamLeBrun)

    I used the themes of Tools, Courses, People and Organizations to organize how I wanted my PLN to be mapped for Business Computing. I teach MS courses and have a passion for learning new ways to bring it to my classroom. By reaching out to contacts, completing conferences and courses I can stay connected to more… »

  • Mapping your PLN – hwhitelaw
    by Haley Whitelaw (@hwhitelaw)

    I chose to focus on the theme of Social Justice Leadership for the mapping activity. Highlighting my deeper personal learning network of connections in the area of socially responsible tourism, UDL, critical pedagogy, multiculturalism, and the decolonization of our Cdn educational institutions. I enjoyed utilizing the coggle tool and plan to use it in my more… »

  • My Personal Learning Network
    by Shauna Roch (@sroch)

    I found this activity challenging, but valuable. Through the process of building my map, I realized just how many connections I have in my network. It was challenging trying to find a way to accurately portray my network in way that made sense.  I started with adding specific people, and realized quickly that my map more… »

    3 Resources for this Activity

      shared by Alan Levine (@cogdogblog)

      A comprehensive review site of hundreds of mind-mapping software plus a blog full of related articles.

    • Toddler Learning Network
      shared by Christopher Rowe (@ChristopherRowe)

      While my network is still young… it’s growing and maturing. I’ve now had an opportunity to connect with some more people and to analyze the nature of those connections. I have a lot of work to do here to grow the network and get more engaged… but it’s a start.

    • Visual Organizing Tools (Extend Toolkit)
      shared by Alan Levine (@cogdogblog)

      Find recommended tools for creating mind maps

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