I chose to review http://edupln.ning.com/ as I am already a member and dedicated user of both Edmodo and Twitter – both of which are excellent for creating PLN.
Edmodo is great to use in the classroom as an organisational tool and learning portal; I use it for all my classes.
I have posted about Twitter previsously and strongly advocate all educators create an account. As suggested in the video Being Connected, (U.S. Department of Education, Sept. 2013); your PLN will grow organically as you become familiar with the way that things work.
What I liked about edupln.ning.com, is that when you sign up, you can add in your Blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ details etc., which shows me this place is one that recognises the power of connection. Having accounts linked together is really helpful when managing a PLN – because, as suggested in Trust’s article, managing a PLN (particularly at first) can be tricky, confusing and time-consuming.
If we are to use PLNS to their best – which can be to provide us with transformative and powerful experiences that are teacher-driven we need to be able to connect and contribute (Being Connected, 2013). I chose to explore edupln.ning.com as Trust’s article suggested that it is more member-centred that Classroom 2.0, which advocates its own material more than that of educators (p. 36). I believe that the point of a PLN is to grow as an educator, learn from others, and contribute to a community (Trust (2012) p. 37. I prefer to learn from my peers - as suggested in the video Being Connected, (U.S. Department of Education, Sept. 2013), this allows us to learn consistently, when and where it suits us. I think eudpln.ning.com advocates this collaborative and creative content well – I like how you can post blogs and even set up your own group if there is not yet one to cater to your particular needs.
Each member has a page where their activity is shown. There are easy links to blogs, groups, Twitter etc. making it easy to cross-post and connect. Membership has to be authorised so I was not able to create my page yet. This is a little frustrating but you are able to access most of the content (I was not able to access ‘Tutorials’ ) whilst membership is pending meaning you can look but can’t contribute. Members were global, which is great for creating flat classroom experiences and gaining expertise from educators around the world. A great deal did seem to hail from Australia and many groups seemed to centre around Australian education. A majority seemed to come from the USA, whilst I struggle to find any from the UK. As a connected educator, this seems to be symptomatic of UK teachers (and I trained there). Australian and American teachers are my go-tos; they seem to be more open, more willing and more focused on continual life-long learning. They appear to embrace change more readily and are at the fore-front of education innovation. UK teachers are very traditional and staid – one of the reasons I left.
I like how you can endorse your membership with a ‘badge’ – I embedded mine into my blog to encourage others to get involved. The badge links directly to the site making it easy for other educators to get onboard – which is what PLN is all about.
|Educators PLN Badge|
Trust, T. Professional learning networks designed for teacher learning (2012). Reprinted from Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, Volume 28, Number 4
Being Connected, (U.S. Department of Education, Sept. 2013)