Friday, April 18, 2014

The Power of the #PLN


nettlesmoniqueedm310.blogspot.com 

I was recently asked my opinion (via a tweet) of how a teacher could move their learning community (a middle school) forward when it comes to instructional technology and improving communication through the use of social media. The problem that was presented, and the purpose of the tweet, was that the person holding the keys to the front doors is "behind the curve".

The issue, according to the teacher, is that the district leadership is not where the teacher believes they should be in their understanding and implementation of basic technology integration in learning. Similarly the building leader is not modeling the relevance of how both simple social media communication can impact parent awareness or how instructional technology is essential to student growth. The school community and the learning environment is not keeping pace with today's technology and therefore academic needs.

So you ask, "What's the big deal?" It's just a question.

I knew that this simple request for input was bigger than me and me alone.

And that is when I turned to the Power of the PLN.

(image courtesy of bellaverde.com)

With the rather simple approach of asking for one's opinion through reaching out to a group of individuals known as a Professional Learning Network (PLN), the wheels were put into motion. A simple tweet embedded with a question to solicit the thoughts and ideas of a specifically constructed group of professionals to provide insight and guidance is my interpretation of a PLN. Within a PLN the knowledge, experiences and perspectives capture the vast landscape from around the world. The replies would be to the point, less than 140 characters. Imagine a meeting with colleagues when gathered in a conference room or board room in which replies were shorter than a simple sentence or two. With an online twitter based PLN you often find that you get to that point, quickly.

Even though the question posed to the PLN may have appeared to seek out an answer, in this situation that was far from the case. Our goal was to process, discuss options, give feedback and provide our own perspective of expertise. And within a relatively brief period of time, moments at that, professionals collaborated and offered direction. The question that began this exchange had provided more than the teacher could have imagined. It cleared a somewhat muddy river.

As you scroll through your Twitter feed and form your Professional Learning Network ask yourself what your purpose is for participating. Determine how you embed social media into your personal and professional growth.

The Power of the PLN means something different to each individual. Find your purpose and grow through the experiences. As I was wrapping up this blog, this tweet came in. Fittingly, I would say.