Inclusion in PLNs

Previously, we have been talking about how beneficial a PLN can be and how our digital identity is built; however, we haven’t talked about the importance of the quality of these networks. When thinking about the quality of networks, I think of a network including a variety of points of view, voices, and each member having a different expertise they bring to the group. Having these factors in a network improves inclusion and encourages every user that their say is significant and necessary for a successful network.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Looking at my professional PLN on Facebook that is used for students in my sociology class to talk about course content and questions, I would say it is pretty diverse. My PLN is made up of Uvic students with varied age, majors and professional interests. Though it is a 3rd year sociology class, there are many people not in 3rd year, including myself being in 4th year. This is an advantage to the network because we are able to gain insight from classmates in different points of their school life and life in general. It is also interesting to talk to people who are taking this class as an elective as opposed to sociology students taking it as a required class. Many of the group members are majoring in philosophy, business, computer science, psychology, and more. It is cool having people from different faculties come together in one sociology class. I actually learned that you can go into many business careers with a sociology degree. I wouldn’t have known this outside my PLN. 

Since we are in a sociology class group chat, sociology is the main topic being talked about besides career and everyday small talk. However, I have become friends with some of the members and have connected on other social media platforms of which we talk less about our sociology class and more about our personal lives.

I think that it is extremely beneficial to have a network full of diverse thinkers because you can share an endless amount of information you might not have known before. My network embraced inclusion and actively acknowledges everyone in the group. In the reading, One Without the Other: Stories of Unity Through Diversity and Inclusion by Shelley Moore and Leyton Schnellert, the authors explained how we all need to get better at something and with the existence of PLNs, we are able to each bring something different to the table to create an environment full of different perspectives that can help each individual in their own way (p. 9). 

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Moore and Schnellert (2017) also pointed out that “teaching to diversity and inclusion is where we value the characteristics that are diverse, and not try and homogenize them” (p. 9). We can value these diverse thinkers by being polite and acknowledging the contributions of each group member. It is key to show common respect for the people in your network. This may seem like common sense, but it can be a pitfall. It took me some time to learn “web etiquette” over the years, but it has helped me tremendously. Send thank you notes, acknowledgements, and use your true voice. Not only does it make the other person’s day, but it will help you gain more meaningful connections. Additionally, people are more content on participating and sharing their thoughts when the environment is welcoming, kind and inclusive.

Individuals in a PLN should also keep the spirit of collaboration as your driving force. PLNs aren’t a 1 person show and are all about working together. Be reciprocal and resourceful. Don’t think about what you have to gain, first think about what you have to give. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. By buying into the process and sharing useful information, your PLN grows naturally. Collaboration creates a common ground and allows others to see your interests. Genuine interest builds a solid, authentic and inclusive network.

“Diversity is having a seat at the table. Inclusion is having a voice. And belonging is having that voice be heard”

Liz Fosslien

To learn more about inclusion and diversity in PLNs, please visit these links:


Moore, S., & Schnellert, L. (2017). Introduction. In One without the other: Stories of unity through diversity and inclusion (Vol. 1, Ser. Reimagining Inclusion: The ONE Series, pp. 6–10). essay, Portage & Main Press.


  1. marissawaddell

    Hi Alison,

    Thank you for your post, I especially enjoyed what you wrote in the end about collaboration in PLN’s. It’s unfortunate how often people are too quick to think about what is available to gain, and not how they can help the others around them. Collaboration is at the root of all good things, and I love how you said that is should be the driving force. I think that this is so important! If more people thought about how we can work together, more good could be done in the world.


    • alisonneale

      Hi Marissa,

      Thank you for your comment! I love that you also agree that collaboration is important and should be our driving force when developing PLNs. It makes me think of the term, “strength in numbers” because a network doesn’t work with 1 person. You need a vast amount of individuals willing to communicate and collaborate to have an effective PLN.

  2. soleilb

    Hey Allison!
    I agree with your blog post this week and I think you did a great job of conveying the importance of diversity and inclusion. The rhetorical question you pose at the end of your post is very powerful. If everyone approached PLN’s with the mindset of what we could gain, versus what we could give, then I think the internet would be a more positive place. An imperative aspect of inclusion is open mindedness on both sides of collaboration with learners, educators, peers, etc. This is beneficial for accepting and diversity of PLN’s, and ultimately leads to a greater breadth of knowledge. You conveyed this idea well in your blog post!

    • alisonneale

      Hi Soleil,

      Thank you for commenting on my post! Inclusion is all abut open-mindedness as hearing from various individuals with different backgrounds and beliefs helps us learn and expand our thoughts.

  3. qiningliu

    I really liked how you explained the importance of web etiquette when mentioned that respect is the prerequisite for inclusion. Web etiquette is absolutely important in today’s society. Although some people tend to believe the internet is a free space without real punishments and restrictions, the abuses and offensive comments can truly hurt people and cause irreversible damage. in my opinion, there may be no concept of web etiquette because what we should do is to respect others whether it is in real life or online.
    I am wondering if you can tell me more about the difference between online etiquette and offline etiquette from your perspective.

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