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Category: PLN VoiceThread

What’s the Point of a Personal Learning Network? (Guest Post)

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I’m proud to announce the very first guest post on A Relief Teacher’s Journey, written by Pooky Hesmondhalgh (@creativeedu) in response to my PLN Voicethread Project. It was first published here.

About our Guest Blogger

Pooky Hesmondhalgh (@creativeedu) represents Creative Education:

the largest independent provider of training for school staff in the United Kingdom, … which specialises in working with schools facing difficult circumstances  (from website).

She blogs at www.creativeeducation.co.uk/blog.

What’s the Point of a Personal Learning Network?

We all have a personal learning network or PLN. Even if we’ve not reached the dizzy heights of Twitter and the like our PLN is all around us every day. It’s the people that we work with and exchange ideas with.

Traditionally our PLN wouldn’t have reached very far beyond the staffroom, but these days in the blink of an eye you can be accessing information and answers from a PLN that spans the globe.

But what’s the point?

I know that a lot of people – generally the type who won’t be reading this blog, and certainly won’t be dropping me a line on Twitter to talk about it, think that virtual PLNs are just one big time wasting activity. That we’re all busy talking about what we had for breakfast, or watching videos of dancing cats. Of course, there’s some of that – just like there is in the staff room. But there’s a whole more to it as well.

Michael Graffin, a teacher over in Oz started a great discussion up on Voicethread a few days back trying to encourage an exchange of ideas about what we each get out of our PLN and how it’s changed us both personally and as educators.

Voicethread will eventually appear below – or you can access it here


Participating was a learning experience for me as I’ve never used Voicethread before. It made me examine what the point of my own personal learning network is and I decided that for me, the key elements were being part of an environment which was completely unprejudiced where I could ask any questions I liked without fear of looking silly. And also having the privilege of being able to draw on a huge range of ideas and experiences of educators working in a wide range of roles, all over the world.

Whenever I have a question, idea or problem if I talk to my PLN I always find that I am offered a wealth of advice and ideas which are more wide ranging and certainly a lot more rapid than if I had used my traditional offline PLN.

It’s well worth listening to the other views expressed in the voicethread and adding your own voice too. Some of the standout points for me were that a PLN offered the opportunity to:

  • Talk to like-minded, real people
  • Share and exchange a range of ideas
  • Inject creativity into everyday practice
  • Enjoy a constant flow of ideas
  • Encourage innovation
  • Discuss and consider controversial thoughts
  • Develop enthusiasm and passion

So are you a convert? Do you find your virtual PLN a great resource or do you think we’re better off sticking to the traditional methods of actually talking to people we know and exchanging ideas over the photocopier? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

6 Comments

What the heck is a PLN?

I’m a new teacher, returning to relief / substitute teaching after 3 months in (several) classrooms.

My PLN has changed the way I learn, and the way I teach, for the better. Yet, I am still to meet a new teacher in my part of the world who’s ever heard of, or has a PLN.

Perhaps this post will help to change that.

Untitled
Why you should begin your own PLNAshley Azzopardi (@ashleyazzopardi)

Defining the Personal Learning Network

As a quick Google search will show, there is a wealth of information already written and shared about Personal Learning Networks available online. So, in writing this post, I’ve drawn upon the collective expertise and thoughts of my own PLN. (A big thankyou goes to @mwedwards and @ashleyazzopardi in particular for your help with this post).

So, what does it mean to have a PLN?

Imagine being able to walk into a room filled with the very best education professionals, selected by YOU, and having a conversation with them!

It can be as long or as short as you want, and as in-depth as you have time for. Perhaps you might discuss ways to teach various concepts, learn about resources that others are using, or maybe even have conversations that challenge the way you think about education and teaching.

This is exactly what a Personal Learning Network (PLN) can bring to you!”

Ann Carnevale in Break Down Walls, Build Up A Community [italics added]


To me, this is the essence of my Personal Learning Network –

Connecting, Mentoring, Sharing and Learning

 



Building a PLN

People go about building or growing their PLN in different ways. I personally started by talking to my real-world colleagues; moved to blogging about my experiences; took the plunge with Twitter; met @clivesir and well, the rest is history!

Your PLN is shaped by YOUR interests, learning needs, technical skills, and ultimately, your contribution. Building a PLN doesn’t happen overnight, but in time, it can fundamentally change your teaching practice (see this excellent post from @InnovativeEdu). Truly, “from little things, big things grow”.

I’ve included a couple of useful videos which may make the PLN building process a little clearer; however, if you have some advice / experiences to share, please leave a comment! Your contributions are most welcome!

How to build a PLN? from Elena Elliniadou on Vimeo.


Ann Carnevale – Personal Learning Networks (shared by @mwedwards)

Sketchy Explanation: Starting a PLN (YouTube)

Coming Up: “The People of my PLN”

Seeking your Contributions!

Dear PLN: The concept of a Personal Learning Network / PLN is not well known in my part of Western Australia, and I’d like to create a PLN VoiceThread to share with prospective employers later this year.

I’m interested in learning more about the “real people” who make up my PLN, and exploring how PLNs influence us as people, and as educators. I’d also love to know if / how my inclusion in your PLN (via blogging and Twitter) has helped or inspired your own teaching and learning.

You can find the “The People of My PLN” Voicethread here (I plan to embed it in a subsequent post).

With your support, I hope to be able to better explain and share the benefits of having a PLN with my colleagues and prospective employers. Thankyou.

 


Further Reading

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