Connecting Through a PLN

I found both required readings very interesting and connected in the sense that technology is evolving so fast and it is up to us to use it to its potential.  Jeff’s Reach chapters resonated with me because figuring out who I am as a learner is something I am learning (no pun intended…okay maybe a little). I feel a bit like today’s youth, with the world at my fingertips but a bit overwhelmed at all that’s out there.  It is freeing, but also a bit scary at the same time.  Do I have anything worthwhile to contribute?  What if I reach out and no one answers?  What if I put myself out there and am wrong?  These are just a few of the questions I have asked myself.  Not to mention the good old comparison game. 

As I read about PLNs and creating communities I snapped myself out of my own head and realized that if we want our students to be able to learn, unlearn, and relearn quickly than I better be doing it myself.  I am a learner and thanks to technology I am a prosumer. I have this great tool to communicate my learning process. Jeff says, “If we are to teach our students to become prosumers of information in today’s connected digital world, then we need to understand and become prosumers ourselves.” I couldn’t agree more. We need to model and live out what we are preaching to our students. Student learn more from what we do than what we say, so we ourselves need to be flexible learners.  

I love how PLNs are personal and how “the people I follow or friend creates my unique network.” Laura Sockman from this article is a prime example of connecting with others.  She learned from experts and developed such a large network she in turn became an expert and resource for so many people at the ripe age of ten!

What I love about online PLN is that you don’t have to sit and wait for an invite to join, or you can.  You go at your own pace and comfort level.  You can still learn being a lurker, but your thinking and practices will be stretched further if you interact and connect. As I was saying in the beginning of my post, it is difficult to put yourself out there, connecting isn’t easy. While creating my PLN I have had to learn more about who I am as an educator and what I am comfortable with.

I like this infographic below by Silvia Tolisano on her blog, it goes right along with Jeff’s comment, “The more active you are within a community the more visible you become to other members. The more visible you become, the more potential connections are created.” When it comes down to it, you get what you put into PLNs. I think I move between stages 4 and 5, although some collaboration is just for a project and not continual. One of the first people I collaborated with was Paul Solarz, he is an amazing teacher from the US and really shared a lot with me. It’s been fun to watch his reach grow over the years and he just recently published his first book

7degreesofconnectedness

Individualized learning mirrors what we should be doing in schools. Therefore we should teach students how to create their own PLN so they do not rely on teachers. They become the driver of their learning and learn how to construct their learning in a way that works for them. Flipboard and blended learning are both great examples of this, students learning doesn’t stop when class is over. How powerful is that? Yet, if we don’t teach our students how to do this than we are doing them a disservice.

Two more thoughts that I kept having with regards to my school.  One, how do we get other teachers to create their own PLNs. Right now our PD is very traditional (pictured below), but I think if you can create a tipping point and get enough people into the right cart than others will follow and start owning their PD. If we put PD in teachers’ hands than they have a more personalized experience as opposed to sit and gets AND they will see the power of PLNs for their students in their classes.

faculty meeting
https://www.someecards.com/usercards/unsubmitted/MjAxMy1hZGQ1ODAzMzc2ODc5ODdi

My second thought was, if we are teaching students how to create PLNs than why not teach parents.  Being a new parent myself I have had to create a PLN of all things parenting.  It’s not easy to be a parent to a student nowadays, so shouldn’t we as educators help them navigate by pointing them toward other parents and resources. The Educational Technology Guy, David Andrade, thinks parents need to be connected too. Now how do I go about rolling this out to parents? Anyone have experience?

 

 

8 Replies to “Connecting Through a PLN”

  1. What a great idea to teach parents to connect via PLNs. Our school has several twitter accounts (for sports, for cool events that take place, and even to keep parents in the know as to what learning is taking place in classrooms). Some have jumped on board with amazing gung-ho while others hang back, using the excuse that they’re not very tech. savvy. Perhaps their kids could teach them what to do…? Or teachers could give mini-workshops on how to access Twitter feeds?

    1. I think at my school it might start with the students and then they could teach the teachers. All the students are on Twitter and know the world of #s so we are trying to have a student-led training session for teachers. I think it would be super powerful. Then of course we could have a parent session as well.

  2. Great read, Megan! It is evident that you place a lot of value in developing pLN, or as we call it here PLCs. Semantics, and honestly I think both are one in the same. My partner and I had a really good laugh on your someecards meme. So true most of the time.

    From your post I started reflecting on how teachers can develop their own PD. Personalizing their own experience is a key element to effective growth as an educator. There is no doubt to that if you collectively explore a topic that is directly related to your experiences in the classroom, you will grow as a professional.

    We have started our school year here with PLCs, and so far things are working out fairly well. I will give a word of caution though that when developing PLCs, especially when it involves a face-to-face format, administrators and teachers must be aware of and help teach communication methods and how to effectively work in a group. There are some who may be inclined to take control of a group, impose their beliefs on others and not take group consensus into consideration. Not that I’ve personally experienced this, but know someone who has recently and it’s put a bit of a sour taste in her mouth for PLCs. But, who knows, maybe a hybrid format of in-person and online might help to facilitate conversation.

  3. Anthony,

    We are starting PLCs this year, and I totally agree with you in that it is important to teach communication methods and how to collaborate. What norms did your school use?

    I think the great thing about PLN is that they can be F2F and online. I love Twitter because it opens the window to other schools and how they are doing things.

    1. The norms for many of the PLCs is solely F2F meetings. Technology is just not being leveraged as much as it should, and I wonder how many are engaging in online discussion. I’ve know tools like Twitter can prove such a great benefit to keeping the discussion flowing both within and outside of the school day.

  4. Sorry to respond again to your blog, Megan, but I read the rubric and saw I didn’t do everything I needed to do in a response. I’m now including a few articles that discuss the benefits of schools using Twitter in/at school (of course, with teacher input, making sure the tweets are school-appropriate, etc.):

    1. 50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom (link to teachhub.com) – some of these ideas are very do-able, including tracking assignments and staying up on current events.

    2. Can Tweeting Help Your Teaching? (link to nea.org) – some suggestions include the idea of collaboration between students and keeping parents in the loop of learning.

    3. 12 Reasons to Get Your School District Tweeting… (link to edutopia.org) – a lot of schools these days have mission statements about students being life-long learners; well, staying “up” with technology includes Twitter and other social media forums.

    Sorry this is such a long comment, but I should have read the rubric more closely.

  5. I am pretty passionate about developing learning experiences for teachers that meets them where they are and what they want to do. It’s a long process, but so very worth it. I can’t wait to see what you do and what ideas I can steal! Have a PLN (real and virtual) is a great start. Don’t worry about being perfect or not getting responses right away. Like so many things…it takes perseverance but is hugely rewarding. Thanks for the ideas!

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