Shout-out to my Personal Learning Network

05 Sep

When I started working as an Instructional Designer a few years ago, I didn’t have much ID experience. In fact, I didn’t even realise that it was a career path! I’d been working as a classroom trainer up until that point and enjoying it but I wanted a change. Since becoming and ID I’ve had the opportunity to design for eLearning and classroom environments. Apart from a 2-day workshop, much of what I’ve learned along the way has come from my own experiences and from the experiences of others. From early on in my career I have wanted know more about instructional design and how to design to improve performance – two things that still drive me today.

A few weeks ago I posted a list of what I called 20 Resources for New eLearning Professionals on the eLearning Industry website. It was my way of both acknowledging and sharing with others who are maybe in a similar place as I was and are looking for sources of practical and thought-provoking ideas in the fields of learning and design. I limited it to 20 just to keep it concise but now that it’s on my blog I thought I’d expand on it a bit. It would be great if you could add a couple in the comments area too. In just a couple of years, I have come across many of great practitioners in the learning field from trainers to instructional designers to those who specialise in a particular area and those who are more generalist L&D/OD in what they talk about. The one thing they have is common is a passion for what they do.

My personal learning network has grown steadily and continues to grow and I wanted to share with you a few of the people who have had an impact on me in some way. The following people and resources provide excellent, relevant and useful information on a variety of e-learning areas and most also provide a means for you to connect with the other learning professionals, helping you to grow your own personal learning network (more about PLN’s in my next post).

Books icon


When I first started looking for information on instructional design, I started with books. Even in this digital age, I still love reading an actual book. A colleague recommended Ruth Colvin Clark and as such I’ve read several of her books. I find her books provide a straightforward, evidence-based approach and I’ve learned a lot from them. All these books are terrific resources as they provide in-depth coverage that is easy to read and apply to your professional and personal life.

  1. Efficiency in Learning by Ruth Clark, Frank Nguyen and John Sweller
  2. Developing Technical Training by Ruth Colvin Clark
  3. The Gamification of Learning and Instruction by Karl Kapp
  4. Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte
  5. Graphics for Learning by Ruth Colvin Clark and Chopeta Lyons
  6. Telling Ain’t Training by Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps
  7. Evidence-based Training Methods by Ruth Colvin Clark
  8. Cognitive Load Theory edited by Jan L. Plass, Roxana Moreno and Roland Brunken
  9. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  10. Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential by Carol Dweck
  11. Out of Our Minds: Learning to be creative by Ken Robinson

(I’ve also got Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They can Change the World by Jane McGonigal and Better than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging e-learning with PowerPoint by Jane Bozarth on order).

Blog Icon


I didn’t start reading blogs until I started my own blog earlier this year. I figured that the best way to learn about writing a blog is to start by looking at how others do it. What I discovered was a wonderful source of information, opinions and reflections (even writing styles) on a variety of areas within the learning field. I find blogs to be a great way to not only learn about what’s happening in the learning profession but to get some alternative viewpoints that may challenge your own ideas. I’ve listed a few that I read below and there are some more under the ‘Blogs I follow’ label to the right of the screen. Regardless of whose blog you read, if you find a post that interests you, chances are it will be interesting to someone else so why not share it by clicking on one or more of the share options at the end of the post.

  1. Ryan Tracey: Ryan is an Australian E-Learning manager, blogger, writer, advisor & reviewer who writes about a variety of learning topics – (also on twitter @ryantracey)
  2. Cathy Moore: Cathy is on a mission to save the world from boring corporate elearning. Creator of the action mapping ID process and the Elearning Blueprint – (also on twitter @CatMoore)
  3. Connie Malamed: Connie writes as The elearning Coach and provides tips and reviews for success with online and mobile learning – (also on twitter @elearningcoach)
  4. Will Thalheimer: Will writes a research based commentary on learning, performance and the industry thereof – (also on twitter @WillWorkLearn)
  5. Clark Quinn: Clark is a learning experience architect & strategist taking it to the ‘next level’ via a deep cognitive and broad technology background – (also on twitter @Quinnovator)
  6. Jane Hart: Jane is the Founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT). She is an independent advisor, writer and speaker – (also on twitter @C4LPT)
  7. Allison Rossett: Alison has taught in EDTEC at SDSU for 30+ years, writing books, running projects, working with students and clients – (also on twitter @arossett)
  8. Craig Weiss: Craig writes the E-Learning 24/7 blog and has been identified as a thought leader and expert – (also on twitter @diegoinstudio)

website icon


The following websites have a huge range of learning articles, case studies, opinions, research, best practice and resources that may help you with your next e-learning project:

  1. eLearning Industry: (also on twitter @elearnindustry)
  2. The eLearning Guild (also on twitter @eLearningGuild)
  3. Learning Solutions Magazine: (also on twitter @learningsolmag)
  4. eLearning Learning: (also on twitter @trainmagnetwork)
  5. eLearning Brothers: provide a great range of templates and resources for Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate and Lectora
  6. Instructional Design Org: Good place for new e-learning professionals that contains information on learning theories, design models and terminology
  7. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT) is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication that aims to promote scholarship in the use of the Internet and web-based multimedia resources in higher education –

Twitter icon


Twitter is a tool that I didn’t use much at all until recently. I’ve found it to be a great way to connect with other eLearning professionals. As well as the one’s already mentioned here’s a few more people that I follow: @lrnchat – a weekly twitter chat covering a variety of interesting learning related topics. I’ve connected with a lot of learning people via lrnchat. @chat2lrn is another good weekly chat too. Learning and Development professionals from around the world (many of them write blogs too):

  • Helen Blunden @ActivateLearn
  • Costas @LearnKotch
  • Christopher Pappas @cpappas
  • Jane Bozarth @JaneBozarth  (Jane writes some great articles on the Learning Solutions Mag website too)
  • Charles Jennings @charlesjennings and @702010Forum
  • Tracy L. Bissett @TLBissett
  • Craig Taylor @CraigTaylor74
  • Mark Britz @britz
  • Kevin Thorn @LearnNuggets
  • Tracy Parish @Tracy_Parish
  • Tom Spiglanin @tomspiglanin
  • Bianca Woods @eGeeking
  • Mayra Aixa Villar @MayraAixaVillar
  • David Kelly @LnDDave
  • Lesley Price @lesleyprice
  • Colin Steed @ColinSteed
  • Nancy Duarte @nancyduarte

I’m using Articulate Storyline at work, so here are some Articulate people that I follow:

  • Tom Kuhlmann @tomkuhlmann – Tom writes the Rapid Elearning Blog where he shares great practical tips & tricks for building elearning courses.
  • Articulate @Articulate
  • David Anderson @elearning
  • Nicole Legault @nicole_legault
  • Christine Hendrickson @CHendrickson82

If you’re interested in gamification (as I am) check out these people:

  • Karl Kapp @kkapp
  • Jane McGonigal @avantgame
  • Alicia Sanchez @gamesczar
  • Amy Jo Kim @amyjokim
  • Scott Nicholson @snicholson
  • Gabe Zichermann @GabeZicherman
  • The Knowledge Guru @thekguru
  • Gamification Co @gamificationco

I realise that there’s a lot of names listed in this post but I believe they are worth checking out if you want to learn more about eLearning, instructional design, performance improvement and the role of L&D. Maybe not all at once but when or if you need to. They have helped me along the way and might help you too. It would be great if you could add a couple of (or more) resources that you have in the comments area below and also share this post. That way we can create a living blog post that will reach a wide audience.

Finally, a huge THANK-YOU to everyone who has and continues to help me, challenge me, inspire me and share their knowledge; it’s very much appreciated.


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11 responses to “Shout-out to my Personal Learning Network

  1. tanyalau

    September 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Hello Matt, nice list! I think my biggest learning revelations this year have been twitter and blogs / blogging. Twitter is a phenomenal learning tool, and one of the best vehicles for serendipitous learning and connecting with other learning professionals. What I really like about it is that it makes connecting and communicating with people whose work you admire (like the authors listed above) accessible in a way that no other medium does. It’s the transparency of the medium that enables this. And like you, although I’ve had an account for quite a long time, its usefulness as a learning tool is only something I’ve recently discovered through experience.

    Blogs – and in particular – commenting on other’s blogs – has been another great learning and connecting medium I’ve discovered. One of the things I find frustrating about twitter is the character limit – and I think whilst there are benefits to the limit – I do think it can limit the depth of conversation that can be had (great for sparking ideas and provoking new thoughts and learning, not as effective for exploring ideas in depth). This is where I think blogs – and commenting on them – can fill this gap by providing an opportunity to explore and challenge ideas in more depth. Obviously this also relies on someone responding to your comment…(!). Important to remember blogs aren’t just a broadcast medium; they’re also a social medium!

    btw, something I thought you’d be really interested in is this open learning event (kind of like a cMooc) on PLNs and organisational learning that Jeff Merrell is co-running It starts on 5 Oct. Pretty excited about this – looks really interesting and intriguing. Check it out and join up! And actually – open education opportunities like MOOCs are another avenue for developing your PLN….!!

    • learningsnippets

      September 8, 2013 at 9:49 am

      Thanks Tanya! I totally agree with your comments about twitter. I’ve been able to connect and even chat usually briefly with lots of wonderful learning professionals – some that I would consider famous! I don’t know why I waited so long to use it but glad I am using it now.

      Blogs do allow you to more fully expand on an idea or point of view that you can’t do with twitter. You’re right about them being a social medium, I hadn’t thought of them like that but they really are.

      I also find with twitter that as your network of people grow it can be hard to keep up with all the tweets that come through. Initially, I tried reading them all but quickly found that it wouldn’t be possible to keep up with them all. I now tend to scan through them and look at articles that grab my attention.

      The great thing about PLN’s is that they are evolving and growing and you get the chance to connect with passionate learning people. Hopefully I can meet more of them as time goes on.

      Thanks also for the tip about the open learning event I’ve just registered for it. I guess I’ll see you there!

  2. tanyalau

    September 8, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Yes – I try to scan at least once a day and usually favourite things that look interesting, then when I have more time try to read my favourites. But even then it can be hard to get even to all your favourited tweets – but at least they are there.
    I think it’s also useful to have a focus of a few specific topics of interest that you look for on twitter – this also helps limit the scope of what you use it for – e.g. mine are generally around social business, social / networked learning, collaboration, innovation, creativity, org learning, evaluation, performance support. Mainly because these are topics I’m really interested in extending my knowledge & experience in – and that also intersect research and work interests.

    Re conversing on twitter: I would really like to do more tweet chats as (I’m sure you can probably attest!) – regular participation in those would surely open up opportunities for more substantial connections and conversations. I really admire your commitment to lrnchat, I think it’s great that you make time for it each week. I sometimes try to dip into it, but we have an extremely closed network at work (all semblance of social media: BLOCKED) and though I can access via smartphone I find it REALLY hard to follow via such a small screen. I’m hoping to participate once our network opens up (soon I hope!), or possibly get a tablet. I’d love it though if there was a learning tweet chat during our evening rather than working hours or the middle of the night though – do you know of any? Maybe we should start our own at Oz friendly hours!!hehe ; )

    Anyway, catch you next time…. : )

  3. paulsignorelli

    October 12, 2013 at 4:49 am

    Great piece, Matt. See a lot of familiar names and resources there.

  4. Susan Barrett Kelly

    October 12, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    What a helpful list. Thank you!

    • learningsnippets

      October 13, 2013 at 1:35 am

      Hi Susan, thanks for your comment! I’m glad you found the list useful. While it’s not everyone in my PLN, the people listed have been positive influences on my career so far.

      • Susan Barrett Kelly

        October 13, 2013 at 11:40 pm

        I loved the list. Have it bookmarked for more follow up. Thanks!

      • learningsnippets

        October 14, 2013 at 1:40 am

        That sounds great Susan! Please feel free to share it with others who may also find it helpful.


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