One of the most important things your students can do while they pursue their education is to begin to build their PLN or Personal/Professional Learning Network.

A personal learning network is an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment. In a PLN, a person makes a connection with another person with the specific intent that some type of learning will occur because of that connection.

Linked-in, Twitter feeds, professional user groups, blogs and connections your students make to colleagues are all examples of ways students can extend their PLN.  Blackboard now offers a way students can begin this experience with the new Social Learning Tools.

With Blackboard’s social learning tools you can:

  • Have an enhanced Profile where you create your online academic identity and share only what you want to share. Profiles include a profile wall for communication and the ability to message and follow other users to make connections and build your learning network.
  • Use the People tool to find your students and peers, at your school or at another school with Blackboard Learn, and build your global learning network.
  • Message anyone within the global learning network.
  • Create a collaboration Space that you control, where you can communicate with others for departmental collaboration, best practice sharing, committee work, or to foster social learning among your students. You can also participate in spaces created by your peers or students.

Why the First Week?

  • Familiarizes the student with the My Blackboard menu which gives them access to their social profile as well as the dashboard for what’s going on in all of their courses.
  • Provides a way for student to identify themselves via photo and professional, educational and social information.  Once student has uploaded a photo, every interaction they make in your course will display their photo along side it so you and fellow students can connect with each other.
  • Let’s the students know that you are interested in them as more than just a person taking a class, which can start their learning journey out on the right foot.
  • Greases the wheels of communication:  Prompts the students to start collaborating/interacting from the start.

You can find instructions for using these tools in the Teaching Online tab in Blackboard and your students can find instructions through the Getting Started tab.  Both sets of instructions are accessed by using the Get Connected link in their respective course’s navigation menu.  You can also find instructions on the web here at