Before this week’s lesson, I had never heard of the term Personal Learning Network. This new term, has showed me the how absolute necessassity it is for teachers to grow and develop as better educators. A PLN doesn’t have to be strictly online, but it can be any sort of interpersonal connection with someone. The fundamental part of a quality PLN is the connections. Without worthy connections, then it completely defeats the purpose of evening attempting to develop a PLN.
One thing to keep in mind as far as connections go and learning from your peers, is that this process is a two-way street. Meaning, don’t except someone to keep feeding you good information time and time again, when you don’t return the favor with information that your peers deem useful. You must be able to contribute in a way, which your peers will want to look to you for more advice in the future. In doing so, it is going to build a stronger relationship and it will build a deeper connection between the individuals in your group. All the while, it will show them that you truly care about the relationship and are willing to give and not simply take in that given relationship.
Before you can even begin to think who you are going to connect with, you must first ask yourself a question. This question is going to be what leads you in learning and into your group. For example, as a PE teacher I might ask how can I more easily emphasis the importance of daily healthy habits to my students? Once I ask that beginning question, I would then begin to locate people who are peers or experts in this area. Once you ask the right question, you must then find the right people to help you answer you problem. Once you identify worthy individuals, you can then began conversing and educating not only yourself but anyone that stumbles upon your collaborations.
A key obstacle for many people to overcome is finding the right medium to use when attempting to start your PLN. Whether that means you are using Twitter, Facebook, (any other social media) blogs, or even face-to-face. Whatever the medium, it must fit your style of learning and your personality, otherwise you aren’t as likely to contribute and share as much, and thus you won’t be able to develop your PLN to its fullest potential.
The tips in How to Cultivate Your Personal Learning Network certainly make the process of developing your PLN much more relatable and understandable. The fine-tuning concept is arguably one of the most important ideas that Frey brought up. Without any fine-tuning you are trying to win the lottery in trying to find the needed information you need. By tuning up your followers and peers, you can increase the odds and likelihood of finding the necessary material that is required to answer your question or problem.
As you progress in your PLN you will see yourself helping others more and feeding them information that they need. By helping out your peers and sharing new resources and information, it is opening up a new world of possibilities for your followers. In doing so, they will see that you are willing to share, and this will encourage them to do the same for you when they come across resources that they believe you may deem useful. However, that doesn’t mean sharing any random piece of information, but going through and reading your peers’ questions and concerns and going out and researching the situation and finding possible solutions. Now that may seem like a lot of work to many and a major challenge, but you want to feed quality information to your peers. Yyou must put in the time and effort accordingly.
Lastly, think of your PLN as more of a mindset to learning, and that will allow you to develop the connections and relationships necessary to learn and enhance their education.