Personal Learning Networks: All eLearning Pros Need To Know
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What eLearning Pros Need to Know About Personal Learning Networks

A Personal Learning Network involves a group of individuals who share ideas, feedback, and experiences. In the realm of eLearning these interactions take place online, through forums, social media, and other collaborative online platforms. Online learners have the power to participate in online discussions when and how it suits their needs. Regardless of their physical location, preferences, or goals, Personal Learning Networks are a valuable eLearning resource. Here are the top benefits of Personal Learning Networks, as well as 5 tips for integrating them into your eLearning course design.

Benefits Of Personal Learning Networks

1. Customized eLearning Experiences

Personal Learning Networks give your online learners the opportunity to access a wealth of peer-based knowledge. When a problem arises, their network provides them with targeted information that can help them resolve the issue. Online Personal Learning Networks do not have the same limitations as traditional networks. Regardless of the time, physical location, or topic, online learners can tap into the power of peer support.

2. Improved Online Collaboration

Personal Learning Networks are inherently collaborative. Thus, online learners who are usually hesitant to interact with their peers may seize the opportunity to engage in online discussions. This is due to the fact that they feel supported by their network and know that all feedback is welcome.

3. No Geographical Barriers

In traditional learning environments, learners are limited by geography. The peers or instructors in their physical space comprise their network. As such, they may not have access to experts and professionals who share common interests. Online Personal Learning Networks are virtual, which means that there are no barriers to contend with. In fact, the extended Personal Learning Networks can include global resources, such as Subject Matter Experts who live on the other side of the world.

5 Tips For Developing Personal Learning Networks

1. Create Social Media Groups

Social media groups are one of the most accessible Personal Learning Network tools. Online learners are already using social media on a daily basis. So, why not give them the chance to learn while they're creating posts and leaving comments? There are generally two options when it comes to social media groups: closed and public. Closed groups can foster online collaboration, as online learners feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions. Public groups are great for attracting new online learners to the community and making online interactions more dynamic. For example, a blog post may receive more feedback and peer advice if it is posted in a public forum.

2. Integrate Blogs Into Your eLearning Strategy

Some people avoid blogs because they think they're outdated or rudimentary. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. Blogs are a valuable eLearning tool, especially if you are building a Personal Learning Network. Online learning facilitators can reach out to their eLearning audience by creating meaningful posts. Online learners have the ability to engage in online discussions and benefit from the experience of their peers. The comment section becomes a place where people can share their thoughts and challenge current assumptions. For best results, create a blogging schedule that includes the main topics and the eLearning activities or multimedia you want to integrate.

3. Stay Active And Consistent

Personal Learning Networks rely on active participation. Online learners must do their part. But online facilitators should also remain active and post on a consistent basis. Creating a thriving Personal Learning Network requires time, hard work, and dedication. Even if it builds slowly but surely, you need to be in it for the long haul. Decide how often you are going to post, which platforms you'll use, and who you are trying to reach. Your target audience is looking for specific eLearning information and support online resources. Encourage them to join by offering relevant course-related facts, tips, and knowledge. Once they become active members, the network takes on a life of its own. However, you should still moderate online discussions and ensure that everyone is on the right track.

4. Encourage Learner Participation

Members of your Personal Learning Networks typically fall into two distinct groups. The first is active participators who are always there to offer advice, share tips, and ask questions. They understand the value of the network and take full advantage of the peer-based resource. The second group is reluctant participants. They want to be a part of the online learning community, but they play a more passive role. Some may be introverts while others don't feel the need to share their experiences. EVERY member of your Personal Learning Network should participate in some capacity. To accomplish this, stress the importance of knowledge sharing and explain Personal Learning Network dynamics. For instance, being part of the eLearning group means that contributing is just as important as receiving information.

5. Create Clear Guidelines

Online Personal Learning Networks don't have boundaries. That’s one of the perks. But it's also one of the downsides if you are unable to manage the eLearning community effectively. To keep things organized and chaos-free, you need to set some ground rules for online learners to follow. Be clear about how online learners are expected to participate, what tools they have at their disposal, and how they should interact with their peers. For example, how are you going to handle conflicts? What is the primary objective of your Personal Learning Network? Who can online learners turn to if they have a question or concern about the network, itself? Develop clear guidelines to ensure that your Personal Learning Network is productive and supportive.

One of the most notable advantages of Personal Learning Networks is their adaptability. Online learners have the opportunity to build practical knowledge and gain real world insight, thanks to their extensive network of their peers. Use these 5 tips to cultivate an effective and thriving Personal Learning Network for your eLearning course.

Do you want to increase collaboration in your corporate eLearning program? Read the article Top 10 Tips To Create a Corporate Learning Community of Practice to discover a few tips to help you create an online training community of practice for your organization.

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