PLN, just another acronym we can add to our bag of tricks in education. They sound fun don't they? Actually, I thought building a personal learning network sounded quite scary. I didn't know what one was much less how to build one! The name is self-explanatory, right? It's a network that you learn in? How in the world would you even begin to look for this network? Well, thank goodness for the internet, not only is it one place that these networks can be built, but it is also provided the amazing resources for me to figure out what in the world this idea of a PLN is. Teaching in the twenty-first century really has begun taking on a whole new meaning for me as I began my search through the web of networks out there.
According to Tim Wilhemus in Building Your Personal Learning Network, "A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is an extension of the self that enables a learner to harness the knowledge and experiences of many voices through a collaborative connection that may take many forms. Our PLNs represent all of the people with whom we've created a social connection, physically or virtually, and upon whom we can call to enhance our learning." Creating PLNs can help to break down the educational isolations of both teachers and students! According to Dr. Strange in Developing a Personal Learning Network, the information for creating a PLN is everywhere. Just as we once went to the library to do research, we now look to the clouds to find information. No, I don't mean start looking at the sky hoping the answers will rain down on you! Look to the wonderful clouds others before yourself have formed on the internet.
Five Reasons Why Educators Should Network by Tanya Rascorla
1. To Learn With Others Teachers:
Teachers do not know everything and cannot educate their students alone.
2. To Serve Your Students:
Networks provide ways to bounce ideas and make sure you are being the best teacher you can be.
3. To Access A Dynamic Resource:
Within a network, teachers can see what others are doing to improve what they are doing.
4. To Extend Your Learning Base:
When we graduate, we may have a working knowledge of the classroom, but we do not have hardly as much experience as most all of the teachers out there in PLNs! Find them and utilize their experience.
5. To Stay Engaged In Education:
If we stop learning, we can become burnt out on teaching. Other teachers can help you stay inspired. Personal learning networks should always start with questions! They should not be something we do, but they should how we think. We should want to grow our networks with each new question that comes to mind.
PLN- Michael Fawcett Offers His Insight, Michael offers us an interesting view on PLNs. To him, they are a network of teachers and educators that we can utilize to draw us out of our established comfort zones into new areas and ideas. They give teachers and students opportunities to collaborate and connect that are not there otherwise. Through them we are able to attend workshops across the world and participate in them through video conferences, chats, and twitter. The teachers are out there waiting for us to join in with them with our networks! Our use of an substantive PLN will encourage our students to build and grow their own.
Personal Learning Networks aren't just for teachers. In Personal Learning Networks are Virtual Lockers for Schoolkids, Vicki Davis says, "Constructing a PLN is the essential skill that moves my students into the driver's seat of their own learning." Assessing and analyzing information skills are necessary for the amount of knowledge we have access to. Having the skill of creating a PLN is an organizational skill that will help kids throughout their futures. The PLN is never complete!" This is so important. The PLN is always changing and evolving!
I have begun to create and build my own PLN using Symbaloo. My page includes links to many blogs as well as twitter. I also have links to many tools that I believe will be useful in growing my network. Right now, I have been exploring Twitter and the blogosphere. My explorations have been quite interesting and exciting, but I had no real grasp on what I was doing. I was creating a PLN without even realizing it!
My first edition to my PLN was a link to my Twitter so I can continue following the EDM staff and others in the Education College. Next added was my first C4T's blog and his Twitter, and I am going to be adding each one of my new C4T teachers as I am assigned to them. I also hope to find many more blogs on my own as I continue to explore, and hopefully I will also be able to add learn about and add new tools to further my exploring. I plan on digging deep into some of Dr. Strange's own material in his educational PLN that he listed in Developing A Personal Learning Network. I am also going to delve into his other two examples of PLNs, MacIntosh and Photography, as those are two of my interests also.
Altogether, I am going to remember that PLNs stem from questions, and I should grow those questions into my own Personal Learning Network.