Getting Connected

Note: This is a co-written post by Ray Swinarchin and I.

The essence of 21st Century Learning and Leadership comes down to the idea of becoming connected and one way of doing this is by developing a Personal Learning Network.  Personal Learning Networks or PLNs allow individuals to connect with others to share, communicate, and request.  By creating a PLN, an individual creates relationships with others who have similar interests.  This relationship leads to sharing of ideas and resources, collaboration and new learning.  Over time, the PLN grows connecting the individual to the global community.  Individuals interact in a variety of ways by using social networks and other online platforms.   Networking allows individuals to connect with leaders in education who can support the individual in their own self directed professional development.

When an individual self directs their professional development it leads to greater exploration or inquiry based learning.  In the past, teachers have had little input as to what PD would best fit their needs.  With a self directed inquiry process in mind, a teacher can now create a PLN and seek out leaders for support and guidance.  An example of this is being done within our own school.  Our administrator has asked for our input as to what direction each individual feels they need to develop.  As the  needs of the individual teachers are examined our administrator has created five  learning teams.  In a traditional setting, our administrator would need to facilitate five groups and bring in a variety of experts.  However, with social networking (i.e. twitter) our administrator could bring in other experts to join in discussions.  These experts would share their knowledge and provide prompts for the group to have dialogues that would leads to a deeper understanding.  As the group of learners continue to dialogue and share information the expert or leader takes on the role of co-learner as all members are contributing to the learning.  As the conversation grows in the network, new experts are drawn into the network leading to greater collaboration.  With a wealth of input, a sharing of resources and rich conversation, the original learning group will become leaders.  These new leaders will be encouraged by their peers of leaders to join other PLNs in order to share their knowledge and expertise.

Here is an an example of our personal learning network.  As we continue to develop and grow in different areas our links with others will grow.  In some instances we will be leaders and in other instances we will be the learner.

mind map PLN

Below is a number of links that describe Personal Learning Networks and tips on how to create a your own network.


Have you considered your personal learning network?  Who are the people and how do you access them when you have questions?


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