Professional Learning Networks Network

Network coordinators: Chris Brown and Cindy Poortman


For us, the term Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) represents any group who engages in collaborative learning with others outside of their everyday community of practice; with the ultimate aim of improving outcomes for children (Brown & Poortman, 2018). Our interest in this area stems from the increased focus on school improvement to better prepare children and young people for the demands of the 21st century. One implication of this focus is that teachers need to be high-level knowledge workers who constantly develop their own knowledge and that of the profession. Achieving this goal depends on high quality, continuing professional development. Networks of educators, (from different schools) such as teacher design teams, research learning networks, data teams and lesson study teams appear to provide such promising forms of teacher development. What’s more, as well as teachers and school leaders, policymakers and researchers may also be involved as facilitators and/or participants, enabling all parties to benefit from a wide pool of knowledge and expertise.

Although teachers working and learning together in PLNs is considered one way to support teachers, at scale, to rethink their own practice, there is still a lot to learn about this process of professional collaboration and the conditions that influence and sustain it. The network Professional Learning Networks, aims to bring together scholars, practitioners and policymakers with the common goal of better understanding and supporting networks for learning of educators with the ultimate goals of improving student learning.

Brown, C. and Poortman, C. (Eds.) (2018). Networks for learning: effective collaboration for teacher, school and system improvement. London: Routledge.

Collaborations and activities

Our networks was launched in 2017 at ICSEI in Ottawa. One of the first outcomes of the network was the collaborative edited book Networks for learning, published in the beginning of 2018 (Foreword by ICSEI past president Andy Hargreaves). Following our launch we now take the opportunity at each ICSEI conference to help organize the welcoming session for (new) members as well as our network business meeting at. We are an active network: for instance we regularly work together with members on ICSEI sessions and have also started the new Emerald Professional Learning Networks Book Series. We also recently secured funding from AERA for our own mini conference in this area in order to advance the state of the art (held in San Diego, 2019). As a network we endeavor to ensure we continuously work on book and journal publications (e.g. the EMERALD PLN book series) and other means of collaboration to advance the field of PLNs.


Within our network we work together with our members towards (international) symposia and (innovative) sessions and workshops to collectively share our research and practice findings about PLNs, both at ICSEI and other international conferences. A selection:

2022 ICSEI 2021 virtual business meeting (including what was achieved in 2021 and looking ahead):

PLN ICSEI Network session slides_2022virtual

2021 ICSEI 2021 virtual business meeting:

Final_PLN ICSEI Network session slides_2021virtual


ICSEI2020_Morocco_PLN_Business meeting

Dear colleagues, here is the PDF file with the PLN business meeting slides and notes with your input.

Please see the notes with slides 3 and 8 for your input (use the text cloud icon upper left corner)

Notes with slide 3 for main challenges

Notes with slide 8 answers to the 3 questions posed on this slide

Please note that many of our members are working on these challenges and questions. All network members are invited to report on this work (e.g. research projects, interventions, guidelines, publications, websites, grants etc.) in the newsletter, but also don’t forget to use twitter @icseiP ( to post your news!


  • Leadership for Sustainability in Professional Learning Networks Learning walkthrough session
  • The Evolution of a Professional Learning Network over Time: Exam- ining a Regional Math Network across Feeder School Districts
  • Professional Learning Networks Masterclass


  • Professional Learning Networks Innovate! session
  • The role of school leadership for school improvement in Professional Learning Networks.
  • Networks for learning: effective collaboration for teacher, school and system improvement


  • Understanding and using social networks for school, district and school system transformation
  • Developing professional capital in Professional learning networks
  • Professional learning networks for system and school improvement

Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about collaboration opportunities or presented sessions at ICSEI!


Setting up homogenized school-to-school networks using an evidence-based
approach. A way to strengthen distributed leadership in disadvantaged schools – Nina Bremm

A case study about the role of school leaders in maximizing their impact – Chris Brown

Discussion poster – Elizabeth Farley-Ripple

Learning to lead sustainable school networks:
the professional development of systemic leaders in Chile González et al

School Leadership for Sustainable School Improvement with Data Teams – Muilenburg et al

Responsive Lifelines for Regional School Development – Roessler & Agostini

Teachers Leading Teachers: A Case Study in Building a Professional Learning Network for Collegial Learning in Malmo – Marie Sjöblom 

Contact us

Please do not hesitate to contact us ([email protected]) with your Professional Learning Networks questions, ideas for collaboration for congress sessions or publication, further research, and so on. Also let us know if you’d like us to include your ICSEI PLN session slides or abstracts included on this page!

Twitter: @IcseiP