All through my educational career people have told me the importance of networking. The time has come to finally start listening to all those teachers, friends, and advisers. One short year away from graduating I suppose I should be building up my address book.
Personal learning networks are kind of new to me, I have heard of them, but have never thought of myself as included in one until this semester during a digital literacy class. Breaking down the concept of Personal Learning Networks is simple:
Personal: Making connections and building relationships with other educators, administrators, and experts from around the world.
Learning: Sharing ideas, collaborating, and learning from others.
Networking: A global learning network, enabling people to access these resources 24/7.
Online interaction is what really makes PLN special. You could be in America in the middle of the night working on a project, when something stumps you and you need an answer. Who are you going to be able to chat with about when everyone is asleep? Get on Twitter or another networking site that allows you to connect to people on the opposite side of the world and get your answer immediately! Technology is truly amazing!
Why is being connected so important?
Being connected and engaged is what helps make a great educator. Collaborating and interacting with other educators will allow for learning and sharing with others. It helps you find what tools you can be using, find your support system, and figure out if you are doing everything necessary to be a great teacher in the 21st century.
From the research I did on PLNs I think Twitter is the most widely used networking tool. You can use it anywhere on any device and connect with like-minded educators for personal and professional development.
I found this quote from Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach using a river as an analogy for Twitter:
“Twitter is like a river. The river keeps flowing, but sometimes you might just walk past and have a quick look. Sometimes you might hang around and dip your toes in, and other times you might spend hours swimming around.”
I think it is an excellent analogy, because Twitter is one of those social media tools kind of like Pinterest. You could just stop on for a quick second to see if there is anything new and before you know it, three hours has passed and you aren’t even on Pinterest or Twitter anymore because you have been redirected looking at so many other websites.
I found a 9-step professional learning series about how to set up and become part of a PLN. There is some really interesting information, and tons of great, short videos describing the importance and how to set some things up.