One of the research projects I was working on this summer was trying to answer this question: Could online PLNs be valuable for all teachers?

I’ve often heard teachers promote the use of social media based on their own personal experiences and not based on research. In answering this question, I wanted to see what the research showed as effective or not effective in online PLNs and the use of social media for teachers. Probably not surprising to teachers that frequently use social media was that teachers feel less isolated or lonely, develop a sense of camaraderie, and connect to valuable resources.

One thing I found very interesting was the type of tool used had an impact on the effectiveness. The studies I found primarily examined Twitter, Facebook, and Edmodo. Of these, Twitter and Facebook had positive results for developing an effective online PLN, whereas Edmodo didn’t appear to be very effective.
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Link here: Could online PLNs be valuable for all teachers

My paper is linked here so you can see the whole work. I still need to do some revisions to get it up to publication standards, but I welcome any feedback readers want to offer. Do you think online PLNs are valuable for all teachers?


Photo courtesy of F Delventhal


  1. petersonj August 22, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I know I value the use of social media to help me connect to my PLN. I like seeing what is happening in others classrooms and Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites give me that window. I also enjoy sharing what I am doing with others. It would also be interesting to look at how the use of social media effects the students… Does it help build a deeper community and connection to the classroom? Does it help when a teacher shares visual review images or photos on Instagram? I tend to do that but have no idea if it really has any effect on student learning.

    1. Troy Cockrum August 23, 2016 at 2:26 am

      These are all good questions. My research didn’t look at student use specifically, but I have some of the same thoughts as you do. I also have an interest to explore the importance of the face-to-face element in enhancing the effectiveness of the online community. We know each other in both contexts (f2f and online). Would our online interactions be as valuable if we didn’t have any face-to-face interactions? I suspect they might not be. All of these ideas fall under the Communities of Practice (CoP) research. Although CoP studies have been around for some years, the proliferation of social media has changed the dynamic of online CoPs. I tend to believe that extension of the classroom to online spaces can help build a Community of Practice between the students. Interesting questions and certainly worth exploring.


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