Organizing Your Personal/Professional Learning Network – Part 2

In John’s previous post, Organizing Your Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN),  he discussed three types of tools for organizing your PLN start page. This post presents three more useful tools:

Curated Content
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For the purposes of this post, curation is defined as aggregated content that has been identified and vetted by a human curator.  You might choose to leave the searching, sorting, repackaging, organizing and publishing to curators.  Serious curators are area specialists who spend a great deal of time and effort to provide their networks with relevant content.  The majority of curated content is located, and shared on a casual basis by common social media participants on an ad hoc basis.  This can be seen daily on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.  Part-time curation is something that we do when we have a few spare minutes but the dedicated few that are professional curators are tremendous sources for up-to-date content.

Discovering a curator and trusting that they will curate relevant content that meet your professional requirements may necessitate determination and patience, but the results will be worth it.  Just imagine, someone else combing through dozens of sources and hundreds of items to repackage and present the most relevant to your on a daily basis.

An example of curated content is Susie Lenny’s ESL News.  She creates a digital page each day of her latest findings on the web.  Archives of previous editions are instantly available through a calendar widget.  The information is designed to be read daily.  She uses as her technology tool to manage this resource.

Another example of curated content is Nik Peachey.   He contributes a great deal to the TESOL community through his curation and original works.  He uses the Diigo platform as an organizer for his curation.

Using to access curated content is also an efficient means of quickly accessing visually appealing and relevant content.  Instead of following one curator, it is efficient to set a search to a keyword such as TESOL.  The results appear in reverse chronological order.   This is a great way to identify consistent and relevant curators on the web.

Content Aggregation

For the purposes of this post, an aggregator is defined as content that has been identified, selected and ranked by a by a computer algorithm.  It is an automated source that provides content based on end user input keywords.  In our profession these keywords can simply be TESOL, ESL, EFL, TESL and EAP. Each time the aggregator locates resources that are tagged with the input terms, it determines the suitability based on an algorithm and presents them to the end user usually in an email based on previous feedback, source reliability, and other factors.

Google Alerts is a well-known aggregator.  Some define it as an automated curation service. I have been using Google Alerts as a daily means of quickly locating news, videos, blog posts, discussions or books that Google locates on the Internet using the terms TESOL and TESL. If the results are not as expected, the search terms and other options are easily refined to enhance this service.  All of results are sent directly to my email each day. Alerts can also focus on a personality such as Michael Swan author, a theme such as grammar lessons or a company such as Pearson Education.

DIY (Do it yourself)

Creating your own PLN starting page with editors such as Dreamweaver or Weebly provide the author the freedom to build an interface that meets personal requirements.  However, most of us do not have the requisite skills to design, develop and script a truly custom starting page.  There are options that can be leveraged to build a personalized resource using drag and drop functionality.  LiveBinders is an example of this. LiveBinders is an online digital binder that can organize your PLN’s resources.  One can put virtually anything into a LiveBinder including a webpage, PDF document, image, animation, interactive activity and video. The lot is organized by tabs subtabs to enable efficient retrieval of PLN resources.

Jenny Gilbert shares her PLN with the world using LiveBinders.   Registered users can set viewing to private or to groups. The American TESOL Institute or Shelly Sanchez Terrell uses LiveBinders to showcase all of their offerings.  This is not a PLN but it demonstrates some of the diversity that a TESL PLN make encompass.

Now it is your turn

If you are thinking about creating your own personal/professional learning network, I recommend that you consider creating a PLN starting page using any tool that will allow you instant access to your PLN assets.  Having dozens of resources at your fingertips improves the balance between time and growth professionally.

I hope that this post is useful for your PLN plans.  If you have any suggestions or comments please add them to the comments section at the bottom of this page.


References used in this post:

American TESOL


ESL Ideas at!

Jen’s PLN

Google Alerts

Nik Peachey at Diigo

Organizing Your Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN) (by John Allan)

Live Binders

Personal Learning Network Sources (by John Allan).!

Suse Lenny at











Hi—I'm John Allan. I am an educator who works in the technology enhanced language learning field. I create online learning opportunities and mentor instructors on the Avenue project. I have experience teaching ESL and EFL in Canada and the Middle East. I hold an MSC in Computer Assisted Language learning, a M.Ed. in Distance Education, TESL B. Ed., a B.Ed. (OCT), and a variety of TESL relevant certifications from TESL Canada, TESL Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Education. For more articles, learning objects, projects and blog links see


2 thoughts on “Organizing Your Personal/Professional Learning Network – Part 2”

  1. Lynn,

    You are welcome, this is an amazing resource! Thanks for the share. Anna thanks for sharing your hard work.


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