Networks have a profound impact on how we learn and in this topic I have learned what a Personal Learning Network is, where everyone is a learner, teacher and a contributor. We are able to build a deep support system of colleagues, mentors and coaches by connecting meaningfully and authentically. A personal learning network means establishing a collective, and a learned culture through interaction focusing on learning.

The sudden shift toward remote learning hasn’t been easy and it is difficult to get that personal connection we crave, but collaborative learning techniques can help learners feel more involved and engaged. It definitely requires careful planning and the right tools to make participation smooth and simple.

Our group had a discussion on when and how to use community learning and we agreed that motivation and participation are key factors when it comes to trying to have a more active in-person learning experience. There are many collaborative learning strategies that can easily be adapted to or enhanced by online learning for example, in our Zoom meeting we made use of break-out group discussions in our session. Each group had a moderator to help facilitate the discussion and monitor the group for any issues that arise. I think that time and relevance are two extremely important issues in online collaborative learning environments. However, small-group discussions can make a large class feel more manageable.

Examples of other tools and tactics could be to create social media groups (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+) and invite colleagues you admire to share ideas and resources and also start blogging your own ideas to connect with the broader community. Open a Twitter account and check out interesting articles where you can engage by responding with questions and connecting with people who comment. It is also important to stay alive and consistent. Online learners must do their part, but facilitators should also remain active and post on a consistent basis. Therefore, collaborating to enhance ideas and content is the kind of activity that can make a good PLN great.

Good examples of collaborative learning activities will have clear instructions, as set goal, mid-sized groups and flexible rules, so that groups can experiment within themselves and work with open communication.

What are the individual benefits of collaborative learning?

  • Turns learning into a truly active process
  • Promotes learning from others viewpoints
  • Teaches how to think critically and quickly
  • Promotes listening to criticism and advice
  • Develops public speaking and active listening skills
  • Improves cooperation

Online learning communities should be a positive, supportive virtual space where learners can come to share their thoughts, learning materials and gain insight from their peers from anywhere in the world. Supporting online learning communities should also be an ongoing practice that will ensure learners feel like they are part of an effective peer network. Being part of the ONL course has allowed me to experience online collaboration using different tools and create networks and communities with fellow educators.

Oddone, K. PLNs Theory and practice, part 1. Viewed: 2021-05-18. Link:

Oddone, K. PLNs Theory and practice, part 2. Viewed: 2021-05-18. Link:

Valamis. 2019. What is Collaborative Learning? Viewed: 2021-05-18. Link:

Topic 3: Learning in Communities – Networked Collaborative Learning