Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tell me about your PLN.

I first jumped into social media for professional reasons in the summer of 2011 when I got hired at my current school. I walked into an iPad rollout and had not even touched an iPad -- much less taught with one. I quickly got a Twitter account and started blogging about my experiences.  I wanted to learn what other teachers were doing and then return the favor by sharing my knowledge with the world. I love being part of a global learning community where we share with each other and can grow together.  I have to confess that I feel I do more learning and less teaching through social media.

One thing I've seen over and over is the idea of a PLN. To be honest, I had to Google it, because I had no idea what it meant.  (That reminds me of the time when I saw that Karaoke was playing at all the bars in town. I couldn't believe they were so good that they had gigs every night all over the place... till I learned what karaoke really was. Oops!)  So, a personal learning network. Sounds great.  What is it? Seriously, I'm trying to figure it out.

OK. I can figure out some of the biggies.
  • It's an interconnection of learners who help each other grow.
  • It can be online, using social media, but there's nothing wrong with learning from people you can actually see on a regular basis.
I can think of numerous people I learn from.
  • In my school, I have a tech integration team I work with; we try to exchange information back and forth and learn together. 
  • There are certain people that I know I can pose a question to and I will hear back from them.  
    • Jon is a former colleague who has been instrumental in my shift from teacher who likes technology to technology integration specialist.
    • Matt is a former student who knows all sorts of hardware, software, networking, and a host of other stuff. He's not a teacher, but he works in the IT department at a hospital and loves to help.
    • Josh is a former student who is a social media specialist and is always willing to answer social media questions.
    • Carrie is a Kindergarten teacher who constantly wows me with what she accomplishes with her kids. I've asked her numerous questions about practices with the wee ones.
    • Leah is a 5th grade science teacher who uses iPads in her class. While I've just recently connected with her, she has proven to be a great source of information.
    • I have found lately that when I pose a question on Twitter, Michael is pretty quick to answer.
  • Then, there are the biggies that we all probably know about.  When I see Vicki, John, Nick, or Eric pop up on Twitter or Google Reader, I'll try to read their stuff and see what I can glean. 
Is this my PLN? Is it completely informal? I mean... What if I'm learning from you, but you don't learn from me (or even realize I exist)? Shouldn't there be a special handshake? 

I don't know how many times I've edited this post, because I don't want to sound like an insecure middle school kid who hopes he can find some friends. While my life dream is to be Norm from Cheers and have everyone yell, "Craig!" when I walk into a room, this isn't the goal of this post.  Really, I'm hoping to figure out exactly what it means to talk about a PLN and I'd love to know that my posts, tweets, ramblings are helping someone else be a better teacher. 

So, I'm all ears.  Comment below.  Tweet me. Email me (cncdky@gmail.com).  Tell me what you think.  Oh... and if it's not obvious by now, I'm looking for a PLN.  Will you be my friend? :)


  1. My PLN is totally informal and it spans the globe now that I use Twitter. I include in it anyone who has ever given me a few useful pieces of information or critique -- much like what you describe in this post. I also include current and former students, because I have learned a lot from them. A few months ago I realized that people from my past that I had lost contact with could become members of my PLN and I blogged about that.
    So, let's be friends! I am about to comment on your other post about #edtechex. Let's start with that.

    1. Thanks, Martin! I'd love to collaborate and learn together. Can't wait to hear what you have to say about #edtechex too!

      On a side note, I applied to Georgetown Day a couple years back. I don't think it got further than that. :)