This past Sunday, I had the distinct privilege of co-facilitating a conversation at Educon 2.3 at Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. Dr. Eric Brunsell and I spoke about our* research on how teachers use Twitter, and challenged workshop attendees to consider how to take the benefits, both tangible and intangible, of participating in an online Personal Learning Network (PLN), and translating them into actionable professional development. In other words, what specific good comes of our participation in online communities?
After presenting our findings, we presented our participants with three focus questions to discuss in small groups, carousel-style. They were:
- What examples do we have of personal learning networks leading to a change in classroom practice?
- What steps / structures can be taken / created to foster improved classroom practice through PLN interactions?
- What are the major barriers (beyond technical fluency) for social-network based PLN’s to become vehicles for transformative professional development?
Our attendees came up with some great responses to each of these prompts. I had originally planned to synthesize these into a single blog post, but as I sat in the SLA library typing them up on Sunday afternoon, I realized there was too much for a single post. Over the course of the next few days, I’ll put up three individual posts, each dedicated to one central question and the responses generated. In the meantime, have a look at the slidedeck that accompanied our presentation:
*Dr. Elizabeth Alderton, Eric’s colleague at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, is also a member of our research team, but was unable to attend Educon.
It seems that teachers are often so grateful to find kindred spirits with whom to connect that they spend a long time just settling in to their new reality. I wonder if the development of articulated action plans is something a PLN grows into over time.