The Connected Teacher

My Personal Learning Network is the key to keeping me up-to-date with all the changes that are happening in education and how technology can best support and engage today’s students.” Brian Metcalfe

Thrust into a more connected learning environment (thanks to one of my current graduate school professors), I’m finding that technology in education isn’t just technological tools used by teachers to facilitate learning. Up to this point, I’ve thought of educational technology as: a variety of resources, hardware, and software, used in a classroom by students and teachers.

The Internet is, in my opinion, the most valuable of those technological resources due to its “vastness” and its ease of access. It vastness continued to reveal itself to me this week as I read articles and blogs, surfed the web, and watched videos (See some of the places I visited below to follow my trail. I tried to leave a few “bread crumbs,” because I know how easily I get lost on the Internet.). Rather than the usual overwhelmed feeling I generally get when faced with all the information available I stumble across, this week’s articles, blogs, and videos, showed me a way to harness the Internet to become a more connected teacher. The idea of the connected teacher is one who uses the connectivity of the Internet to create a network called a personal learning network or PLN.

According to Kate Klingensmith, in her blog Once a Teacher, the definition of a personal learning network is “the entire collection of people with whom you engage and exchange information.” (2009) Klingensmith lists several ways that teachers are using PLN’s to connect to other professionals, via the Internet, which include: for professional development, to find teaching resources, to get and share ideas with other teachers, to learn more about how best to use technology, to collaborate with others to find solutions to problems, and to stay abreast of the latest in technology and education news. (2009) Everyone of these, for me, is an obvious benefit for having my own personal learning network.

Graffin, in the blog Teacher Challenge, describes the connected teacher as a “…learner who collaborates online and uses a range of social media tools to…interact with other educators.” (2014) He goes on to give a basic step-by-step plan for building a PLN, which includes much of the same suggestions I found on several other sites. These common suggestions include: setting up a Twitter account, attending webinars, joining an online community, participating in Twitter chats or other online conversations, subscribe to blogs, use a bookmarking tool, and start your own blog. (Graffin, 2014)  I find, as I continue in this course, that I am beginning to practice some of these very steps. I have a Twitter (Yes; my own children think this is funny.) and tweet about educational technology news, I have started this blog and read and comment on blogs of classmates, I bookmark items into a group on Diigo, and I participate in online discussions. I hope, then, that I am on my way to becoming a more connected teacher with a growing personal learning network.

Please feel free to comment.  Suggestions and experiences welcome!

“Bread Crumbs” – Places I Visited This Week As I Discovered the Beauty of a Personal Learning Network:

Graffin, M. (2014). Step 1: What is a PLN? Teacher Challenge. Retrieved on February 6, 2015 from http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/pln-challenge-1-what-the-heck-is-a-pln/

Klingensmith, K. (2009). PLN: Your personal learning network made easy. Once a Teacher. Retrieved on February 6, 2015 from https://onceateacher.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/pln-your-personal-learning-network-made-easy/

Metcalf, B. (2011). My PLN: A teacher’s treasure. Life Long Learners. Retrieved on February 6, 2015 from http://life-long-learners.com/my-pln-a-teachers-treasure/

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