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Short and sweet: The differences between a PLN and PLC

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November 2011

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“Seek out knowledge, inspiration, and great connections.”  By Marla Tabaka of Inc.

 

I love this quote mostly because it is through my connections that I gain knowledge and inspiration. And due to our ever-evolving digital society, it has never been easier to meet, connect, and collaborate with other professionals.  Most people today have heard the terms Professional Learning Network (PLN) and/or Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).  Some people like to substitute the word “Personal” for “Professional”. To me, that is a moot point.  If I’m developing myself professionally, then I am also developing myself personally. Some people use the two phrases interchangeably, while others are unsure of which to use. While I don’t consider myself an expert, I do have and utilize, both a PLN, and PLCs, and will define them as I see them.

PLCs:

  • More personal
    • I collaborate with these people face-to-face, via email, video chat, and/or social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Voxer
  • More defined
    • I have people that I would consider in my leadership PLC.  I have those that I go to with technology integration questions or ideas.  Other people are in my ELL PLC.  Get the picture?
  • My first “go-to” with questions or for clarification

PLN:

  • Broader and more encompassing
    • My PLN is made up of my PLCs.
  • Utilized for more general professional development
    • I connect with my PLN by reading their posts, tweets, updates, and links via social media sites.

Learning with/from my PLCs and PLN is one of the easiest ways to grow.  Overall, I think learning should be fun and beneficial.  Will it always be fun?  Of course not.  But when it is, I’m more likely to continue it.  Will it always be beneficial?  Yes.  I either learned something from the experience, or learned that I won’t have that kind of experience again.  All learning should produce some type of change.  It could be major or minor, but some thoughts and/or actions should be challenged, affirmed, or stretched based on every learning experience.  And we know that generally change is hard to prepare for.  I think the most we can do to prepare is to be open-minded, attentive, and in a constant state of learning and growth.  My PLN and PLCs are critical to my learning and growth, both professionally and personally.

 

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