I was recently in a twitter chat in which we discussed ways for a person to expand their Professional Learning Network. (PLN) Many ideas bounced around that used technology to enhance a person’s resources. There were those in the room though who preferred a more personal approach. “Remember the times we used to sit at a table and have a reflective discussion on what we had done in our classrooms?”
I would love to help people understand that technology can be used to build a professional learning network so vast that any time they have a question it can be answered in minutes. Sometimes I feel like technology and all of the vast PLN resources can overwhelm folks though; kind of like drinking water through a fire hose.
I find many asking, “Where do I begin?” For starters you have to know yourself. What is it that interests you? What is it you want to learn more about? Then you need to determine how you feel most comfortable sharing information. Do you prefer to sit at a table and talk with people, or do you prefer to get your information through literature and online discussion?
I think the trick to building a PLN is to find folks who share a common interest with you. After all, it’s people – not products – that make a difference in our learning. Perhaps equally important is to find some folks who don’t always agree with you. In a true PLN we should challenge ourselves. Sometimes the only way to do that is to purposely follow folks that will ask us that famous question, “Why?”
My recommendation on collaboration is to use Twitter. There are several hash tags related to education. By following these you can see many others who share similar interests and viewpoints as yourself. You can also get involved in the chats that happen weekly if you choose. Here is a weekly list of chats I try to participate in. Keep in mind I’m an eLearning and engineering teacher. All times are central. If you follow new people be sure to recommend them to #ff so they can get other followers.
Monday: #sschat 6pm #flipclass 7pm
Tuesday: #edchat 11am #edchat 6pm #pblchat 7pm
Wednesday: #educoach 9pm
Thursday: #inlearn 7pm