Saturday, July 20, 2019

My PLN, Ten Years Later

Almost ten years ago, I look a seat in a computer lab (that's how you know it was a long time ago) for my first teacher education class, EDU-262. It was a night class. It was my first semester with the intention of become a teacher. I was green.

That educational technology course turned out to be one of the most formative experiences of my college career. It might be cliche, but I think I truly learned "how to learn" and not just "what to learn" with topics from project based learning, universal design, and digital creation/sharing. In large part this was due to the focus on professional learning networks.

I started off tapping myself directly into the firehouse. I was in regular Twitter chats through New Tech Network #pblchat and #miched, even hosting a chat regarding digital citizenship. I followed a slew of educator blogs- John Spencer in particular was a favorite. My school organized a conference and invited John to lead a few sessions and my family ended up hosting him in our home. I became involved in PBL consulting largely due to Twitter networking.

Slowly my network has changed however. Twitter and Feedly show up only occasionally in my browsing history, and my networking focus has shifted to a smaller set of focused relationships. Two past PBL co-workers and I regularly keep in touch via a Voxer voice chat. We discuss pains and gains in our PBL consulting, reminisce on past project stories, and have a long standing pipe dream of creating our own teacher-led school.

I also find that the local community partnerships with businesses, organizations, and public officials has become an important professional network for me. Whether its Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, the Rapid bus, or Heartside Ministries, my connections and relationships with community members have developed greatly over the last few years as students and I get more involved in local projects.

All that said, maybe it's time to re-expand back into digital networks. My school's emphasis on local issues is wonderful, but obviously every local happening is in a global context. You might see me back in the Twitter-verse this year.

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