Updated: Apr 15
Lev Vygotsky believed that learning without social interaction was not possible (American College of Education, 2018). This belief in the importance of learning in the context of one’s role within their community has given way to personal or professional learning networks to promote individual development, growth, and advancement. These Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) are “learner-organized arrangements of connections, content, and activities intended to enhance an individual’s understanding of a topic or area of interest.” (American College of Education, 2022), and while learning may be the focus and intended outcome of learning networks, it is important to note that personal learning networks “not only bridge formal and informal learning, but also… foster meaningful, lasting connections.” (Kennedy, 2018, p 22).
Existing Personal Learning Network
My current personal learning network is largely based online with platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and the Global Learning and Development Community’s Mighty Network. Twitter has been a great source of information in a variety of fields and topics that are of interest to me.
Name of Network
Description and Purpose
Time Spent per Month
LinkedIn is a professional networking site that is accessible in web browsers and in their mobile app which allows users to find jobs, build their professional network, and attain requisite skills for improved job performance (LinkedIn Help, 2022).
Engage in groups
Learn from experts
Connect with professionals
Twitter is a social media platform that was designed to allow people to connect with one another through exchanging short microblogs or tweets which can include text, images, videos, and links (Twitter Help Center, n.d.).
Learn from and follow experts
Curate resources through bookmarks
GLDC was established in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as a place for Learning and Development professionals to meet like-minded peers and support each other through genuine relationships (GLDC, n.d.).
Asynchronous L&D book study
Weekly Zoom meetings
When I was a classroom teacher, I participated in Twitter chats which used hashtags to share ideas and resources about curriculum and classroom activities. In addition to my professional development as an educator, I have learned from scholars and practitioners in areas related to justice, political science, disability, theology, and entertainment. LinkedIn is another space where I have made connections that have helped me develop professionally. I am a member of multiple groups for instructional design, learning and development, and transitioning or transitioned educators. While most of what I have learned and experienced on LinkedIn has been from shared content, I have also enjoyed engaging in coffee chats with other instructional designers and webinars from their new video chat and live event features.
The platform that has meant the most to my professional growth as an instructional designer has been the Global Learning and Development Community. This group has a mobile-friendly Mighty Network that utilizes Zoom for live meetings and has an assortment of digital spaces for asynchronous communication. I have had the pleasure of meeting fellow instructional designers, e-learning developers, trainers, voice-over artists, and numerous other learning and development professionals in weekly social video chats and examining builds and receiving advice from others on Articulate Storyline E-Learning Heroes Challenges. Additionally, I have participated in multiple book asynchronous book studies and received advice from a mentor through this group.
Expanding my Personal Learning Network
Given where I am currently in my professional development and the limited time I currently have available, I believe I can grow best by better utilizing opportunities I have on the fringes of my PLN rather than finding entirely new opportunities to learn and grow from. Three such opportunities exist with the Association of Talent Development (ATD), the online Articulate E-Learning Community, and the Instructional Designers in Offices Drinking Coffee (IDIODC) podcast as well as its online community on LinkedIn. While the ways in which I can engage in these communities vary widely, my goals for doing so are consistent and two-fold. I intend to learn more about instructional design, both the theory behind it and its application, and build a stronger network with other professionals through online interaction and sharing of relevant resources and information.
Name of Network
Description and Purpose
ATD is a professional organization whose stated mission is to “Empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace” with a vision of “creating a world that works better.” This organization hosts conferences, courses, publishes books and magazines, and has local chapters in over a hundred and twenty countries (Association of Talent Development, n.d.).
Read TD Magazine
Join local chapter (Smoky Mountain Chapter)
Attend virtual networking and learning sessions
The E-Learning Heroes Community is an online space for instructional designers, particularly those using Articulate Storyline, to learn from others and participate in weekly build challenges, receive assistance if they are struggling with a course build, and access blogs and e-books as learning resources.
Resume completing E-Learning Heroes Challenges in Articulate Storyline
Engage in the online community
IDIODC is a weekly live video podcast where the hosts bring on special Learning and Development guests to discuss professional issues and trends (IDIODC, n.d.). There is also a LinkedIn community where users share blog posts related to the field of instructional design.
Listen to weekly podcast
Engage with group posts on LinkedIn
Network with others
Through the continuation of learning from established networks of personal and professional learning and expanding my network in areas where existing connections are superficial and undeveloped, I can ensure my growth as a professional instructional designer and continue learning about other fields that are of personal interest to me. Online spaces have made it possible for these connections to lead to connections that span all demographics and borders ensuring that I have a diverse and informed personal learning network.
American College of Education. (2018). DL5783 Engaging Learners in Online Instruction: Module 4 [Vygotsky and Hutchins presentation]. Canvas. https://ace.instructure.com/courses/1843213/external_tools/118428
American College of Education. (2022). DL5763 Trends in Instructional Design: Module 3 [Personal Learning Networks presentation]. Canvas. https://ace.instructure.com/courses/1843213/external_tools/118428
Association of Talent Development. (n.d.). About Us. https://www.td.org/about
GLDC. (n.d.) About. Global Learning and Development Community. http://www.mygldc.com/about
IDIODC. (n.d.). Instructional Designers in Offices Drinking Coffee. DominKnow. https://www.dominknow.com/idiodc
Kennedy, J. (2018). Towards a model of connectedness in Personal Learning Networks. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 16(1), 21–40.
LinkedIn Help. (2022). What is LinkedIn and how can I use it? LinkedIn. http://www.linkedin.com/?lang=en
Twitter Help Center. (n.d.). New user FAQ. Twitter. https://help.twitter.com/en/resources/new-user-faq