19 October 2013

The Educator's PLN

For my MEd this week, we are looking at Personal Learning Networks - of which I am a huge advocate.

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)