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!
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.
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?