This block focuses on the types of connections that exist in a Personal Learning Network. Some networks are maintained personally, some combine personal and social while others are quite dynamic. It is important to look at these three as we consider how to use these networks to our advantage and professional development as teachers.
Activity 2: Types of PLN
Study the introductory reading below entitled, 'Types of Personal Learning Networks'.
Setting up a PLN might sound daunting but in reality you most likely already have some of the tools and services set up. Let's investigate what others in the group are already using. Access the forum below entitled 'Do you already have elements of a PLN set up? Forum' and discuss this issue as a group.
So what is entailed in setting up a PLN? It is not a case of just signing up and will take a bit of effort and thought to make it really useful. By the end of this sub-unit you will have set up a component of your PLN.
Activity 3: Setting up a PLN
Study the introductory reading below entitled, 'How to establish a PLN'.
Now follow these steps inside the Twitter program;
Click on the ‘Who to Follow’ tab from the menu at the top of the screen.
In the ‘Who to Follow’ search field, insert a phrase like ‘Teaching history’ that reflects your interest.
A set of search results appears where numerous users are listed. Select one and their profile appears in the right hand panel. Look for the Tweet summary where you can see how many people that person is following and how many are following him or her. (Tip: People who have more ‘followers’ than they are ‘following’ tend to be more interesting… however, this is hardly a golden rule. You will also see that the results do not only list individuals. Some are organisations.)
Select a few individuals and organisations to follow.
Now look for a few colleagues of your class by using the search facility.
Accept all requests to be followed from your class colleagues.
Keep an eye on your home page in Twitter because it will list the tweets (posts) from your network.
If you have a smart phone its a good idea to install the Twitter app so that you get the posts directly to your phone.
How to Grow the PLN
How to Grow the PLN
Recommended time: 70 minutes
Networks take some time and effort to grow. They will not support you properly until they have a certain size and dynamism. In this sub-unit you will find out how to grow your PLN.
Activity 4: Growing the PLN
Study the resources below that provide a guide on how best to grow your PLN.
Any ideas yet on what your PLN will look like? What tools and contacts do you think will make sense to you? Access the forum below, entitled 'My PLN' and describe the ideal network. Make sure you comment on your colleagues' posts.
The latest trend in online professional development (PD) is to join a MOOC: a Massive, Open, Online Course. In this sub-unit we will unpack the MOOC concept and then investigate what PD opportunities exist online. On completion of this sub-unit you will have joined a MOOC.
Activity 5: MOOCs for Professional Development
Watch the video below that describes what a MOOC is and how they are organised.
Look through the PD courses designed specifically for teacher development. Do you see anything particularly interesting for you? Do you want to complete a course and add the lecturers and class mates as part of your PLN? If so, sign up with Coursera and enroll for an online course.
Portfolio Assignment: Draw your PLN
If we could draw our own PLN what would it look like? Choose a drawing package and see if you can draw or describe what your PLN might look like. Perhaps describe it like a 'spider-diagram' or create a map. Be creative. Elements that should be in your drawing are:
The different PLN tools you are or are going to use (e.g. Twitter, Skype, Coursera etc.)
The experts you intend to link with (e.g. Cormier, Robinson etc.)
Your colleagues at school or who are part of this course.
Approximate schedule. When will you interact or how often do you intend consulting the PLN etc.
When you have completed your drawing upload it using the assignment upload tool below.
Casey, L. (2009). How's Your PLN?; Cormier, D. (2010). What is a MOOC? YouTube; Klingensmith, K. (2009). Your PLN Made Easy; Nielsen, L. (2008). 5 things you can do to begin developing your PLN; Warlick, D. (2009). Grow your PLN; Weisgerber, C. (2010). How to Create Your PLN Page; Whitby, T. (2014). The Educator's PLN.
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The KICTCFT Course is in its pilot phase. Please provide feedback on your experience of this unit so that we might improve it.