PLN’s are Invaluable!

Professional Learning Networks or Personal Learning Networks are not ‘new’, but have grown exponentially, with the world wide web. Whereas, it used to be mostly face-to-face networking to grow professionally now it is global through the availability of technology.

Last year, I was able to visit a school in Finland through reaching out on Twitter with my hashtag @jackie_child. Just recently I have been able to share that contact with two educators who are now connecting with that school and will be visiting…the power of Twitter! I have since heard that they did visit!

People need ‘people’, we learn from each other, whether it’s a work colleague, friend, teacher, lecturer, neighbour, stranger, authors, actors, film makers ….anyone! With the availability of social media and other networks through technology, everyone has an opportunity to grow as an individual. This, of course, is invaluable as an educator. PLN’s support the development of pedagogy which leads to the improvement of student learning outcomes.

I’ve been fortunate to work with Dr Sarah Prestridge at Griffith University, who is a huge advocate for PLN’s and has written many papers, articles and researched into the benefits of educators using PLN’s. During a trimester at Griffith University as part of the course “Preparing to Teach in a Digital Classroom”, Sarah included an online course which she co-investigated called PLN’s For Educators: Novice to Experts. The 4th year pre-service cohort in the course participated and responded on Microsoft Teams to analyse, understand and dig deeper into their use of such platforms as Twitter and Facebook to build a virtual network.

It was pleasing to see how many students developed as educators as they reached out to educators and experts in other fields to grow as professionals. An example can be seen in the image.

Many years ago, as Deputy Principal, I encouraged teachers to visit other schools; to look around the classrooms, talk to the children and teachers, source ideas and methods which could be adapted to suit their own toolbox.

Now, of course, with platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, Face Book, Blogs, Instagram and so many more, teachers can grab, share, adapt and discuss pedagogy and learning experiences. We are all life long learners and more and more with global connections through the internet, we are able to select and direct our own interests and passions.

We are, like our students (given the right environment), ‘Self-Directed Learners’.

I support social media as a wonderful PLN tool…..if you haven’t ventured that way yet, I encourage you to give it a go in 2020!

Twitter     @jackie_child

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Jackie Child
Jackie Child has been teaching primary aged students for 40 years in a number of countries. She is passionate about how children learn through constructivist pedagogy. She is a Teacher Librarian at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School and a sessional tutor at Griffith University for pre-service teachers. Jackie doesn’t believe in standing still, there is always plenty to ‘do’ and learn!