Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Use the Power of Twitter to Build Your Personal Learning Network

Last week during our school’s bi-monthly collaboration day, I introduced the teachers to the idea of PLN’s or Personal Learning Networks. To most of the staff a PLN was not something they had heard about before. The last year and a half we have been talking about building a school wide Professional Learning Community (PLC), the idea of the PLC is the entire staff would have the same goals and expectations for the school, students and learning on campus. For myself, the idea of a PLN is the building block to a better PLC. Everyone is their own individual with their own ideas and backgrounds, meaning everyone will have their own PLN (that’s why it’s a “personal” learning network). If every teacher can bring their own PLN, we make a larger, more experienced PLC.

This is were the power of Twitter comes to play. In my last post, Learning to Twitter, Tweeting to Learn I discussed how I thought Twitter could help us build a great PLN and help us to stay life-long learners. Let’s just say I did not do the power of Twitter justice. Yesterday I was part of my first educhat on Twitter. I am not sure if any one individual was the person who came up with the idea; I do know that two people from my PLN played a very big part, Rodd Lucier and Bud Talbot. What is educhat? It is a way that anyone interested in educational technology can come together and talk through Twitter. Everyone involved in the discussion uses the hash tag #educhat. A hash tag allows you to follow the discussion of all the individuals, whether or not you are officially “following” them (please see my last post if you are unsure about what it means to follow someone).

The true power of Twitter unfolded before my eyes. During educhat, there were a large number of people that all came together for a specific purpose, to talk about educational technology. The best part is everyone brought their PLN’s with them.

In a way our students are ahead of us in building PLNs. They do it all the time on social media websites like Facebook and Myspace. Now if we can leverage this power for education, just think of the learning opportunities for our students.