Professional Learning Networks
Engaging in Professional Growth, Networking and Leadership
Think about this for a moment: Where do you find time for learning with with your colleagues? Does it happen while rushing down a hallway to the next class or in a scheduled professional development event? The chances are great that it doesn't happen often enough during the regular school year.
Because of the inherent lack of time to engage in organized professional learning, as educators each of us as must acknowledge that the responsibility for personal and professional development is on the individual, and not not on the organization for which we work. Besides sharing with local colleagues, creating a Professional Learning Network gives you the ability to participate in global learning communities, exhibit leadership and technology skills to others, evaluate and reflect on current research, and contribute to the effectiveness and vitality of the teaching profession, school and community.
Before you get into looking at a Professional Learning Network (PLN-which is one you create), take a moment to read a bit about PLCs (Professional Learning Communities - which are usually built for you) and why they are sometimes not as effective as building your own: Five Dysfunctions of a Professional Learning Community
- Know the elements, vocabulary, and protocols of global learning communities and social networking
- Understand the value of establishing a professional learning community and the use of groups, hashtags, posts, and protocols
- Make connections with technology standards and best practice
- Transfer the learning to professional practice by utilizing an online social network for professional use
CITW 9: Cooperative Learning; Setting Objectives & Providing Feedback
See examples for using these tools in the Crosswalk standards document.
Pre-Assess your skills for this "Thing"
Why Create a PLN?
There are multiple ways to create a PLN. Many of you have heard of Facebook which offers a great way to stay connected. The problem is that many school districts block it by their Internet filter due to the personal and sometimes inappropriate content of the posts. We will take a look at Twitter, LinkedIn, and some other professional organizations to find the ways they help educators connect. These professional forms of social networking are valuable tools grow your PLN.
Here are some specific ways that educators are using their PLNs:
- Professional development- learn from content-area specialists
- Locate resources for your classroom, such as free websites and software
- Get lesson plan ideas from master teachers
- Learn about new technology and how to integrate it into your teaching
- Find collaborative solution
- Find interesting links to education news
Using Twitter to Build Your PLN
A few years ago, Twitter was on the fringes of society, quietly gathering steam. Now it seems that you can't watch an ad on TV without seeing a Hashtag. For many educators, Twitter has made more of an impact on professional learning than any professional development opportunity they have had to attend. The learning is real, the ideas are powerful yet simple, and the connections to resources and people are infinite.
To start, simply go to Twitter and create an account. Once there, you can follow people on this list of educators, which will immediately start filling your column with great ideas and resources. If you are lost, ask questions from your local REMC Twitter sherpas (aka your instructors!) who will always be willing to help. You are always welcome to connect with us, and any of the 21 Things 4 Teachers evangelists would be more than willing to help guide you in this world that isn't as confusing as it may seem. Watch this introduction to Twitter video. Also check out Twitter Tips and Tricks to help you get the most out of your Twitter account.
Next, get more informed by using a real-time search of educational "goings on," using Twitter. Twitter is one of the most powerful ways that educators across the world are communicating and collaborating in real-time. For now, we’d like you to perform a search just so you can see what people are talking about. You will click on the following #HASHTAGS and discover some wonderful resources and ideas happening right now.
#MichED - Michigan educators talking about topics related to teaching and learning here in the Great Lakes.
#CPChat - Connected Principals Chat - Lot’s of teacher leadership and principalship topics.
#NTChat - New Teacher Chat - Many great ideas for teachers in their first few years of teaching.
#SPEDChat - Special Education Chat - Great ideas for teacher of students with disabilities.
Finally, take a look at this HUGE Twitter #HASHTAGS listing of weekly chats. Select one that interests you, use the Twitter search function and do a bit of reading, discovering and clicking links. Once you start to create your own Personal Learning Network (PLN), you may also want to look at creating a Twitter account for your school. There are many benefits from joining Twitter, but until you immerse yourself in using it, you will not be able to share them with those you serve.
Other Social Networks for Your PLN
21 Things Hands-On Activity and Assignment:
1. Before beginning this "Thing", complete the Pre-Assessment of your technology proficiency.
2. Build your Twitter profile by joining Twitter and checking out the resources listed in the Twitter section above. Add at least 20 people to your Twitter PLN (colleagues, your instructors, or people from the suggested list of educators to follow). Send a tweet to the group that introduces yourself or shares a resource and add the hashtag #21things4 to the end of the message. You will be sharing a screenshot of your Twitter page showing this tweet and all the other ones for this assignment in #7 below. Your tweets should be visible and easy to read in your screenshot.
3. Go to LearnPort and register for a free account if you don't have one. Check out the courses and other resources available to you. Send out a tweet to describe the resources you looked at (and include the link to the Learnport homepage in your tweet).
4. Join MACUL (FREE) if you are not already a member. Visit this link for more information and click here to join for free. Join at least one SIG (Special Interest Group) as well. Check out the MACUL Journal to see what other educators are doing throughout the state. Note that your application is manually processed, and it may take several weeks for you to receive notification confirming your status. Send a tweet about joining a MACUL SIG to through your Twitter account (and add the #21things4).
5. Check out the REMC projects page and view at least one Connected Educator Video. Send out a tweet recommending the video you watched with the hashtag #21things4.
6. Capture a screenshot (or more than one screenshot, if needed to make the text large enough to read) of your Twitter page that shows all of the tweets you posted in activities 2-5. Post it (them) on your blog or portfolio page. Write a reflection summarizing your learning from these activities. In it, include your thoughts on using Twitter to build your PLN, the resources you found in LearnPort, the benefits of joining MACUL, and what you learned from the Connected Educator video site that would be useful to you in your professional practice.
7. After completing all of the activities for this "Thing", take the Post-Assessment of your technology proficiency for this "Thing".
Post-Assess your skills for this "Thing"
2. Classroom 2.0 -Web 2.0 Social Network for teachers
3. Using Twitter in the Classroom : if Twitter is not blocked in your district and you are able to use it for classroom actrivities, this is an excellent resource.
4. Student PLNs: Visit the Social Networks "thing" of 21 Things 4 Students to find out how to help students become Connected Students and build their own Personal Learning Environment.
5. Join the M.O.R.E. community at EdWeb
6. Open Study is a resource that allows students and adult learners to form study groups, ask questions and get live answer online, or take certificate classes.
21things for the 21st Century Educator by Macomb ISD, Ingham ISD, Shiawassee RESD, REMCAM is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://21things4teachers.net.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.remc.org. Site updated August 2013.