I am currently in an online doctoral program at Winona State University. One of our recent discussion queries required answering the following prompt: “Share three pieces of your own PLN that you think would be helpful to the others.”

I wasn’t quite sure if I should share platforms, tips, or connections, so I will be sharing three things I wish I would have considered sooner than later.

1. Drop the IRL I have listened and visited with Angela Maiers–an educator, consultant, and speaker–a number of times. One thing that she frequently shares in her keynotes is around dropping the “IRL” (in real life) mentality when talking with your online PLN. For those who connect with you virtually, a digital relationship is IRL. You may never physically meet these individuals due to logistics, geography, or time and that is ok. Such relationships do not necessarily become instantly more meaningful when you meet in the same moment of time or space.

Darci Harland uses the term “digital colleagues” (DC) within research to support similar mentalities of the value of these online relationships attributed to working and collaborating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dave Blanchard is an assistant professor of Teacher Development and graduate director the Educational Leadership & Technology MS program in the College of Education and Learning Design at St. Cloud State University. Dave is a current doctoral student at Winona State University, focusing on innovative educational leadership and online personal learning networks. Dave is active on Twitter (@000Dave) and LinkedIn.

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