Did someone say “PLN”?

As educators today, it is important that we embrace the possibilities that the internet (and Web 2.0) provides in the form of instant, global communication with others who share our interests, challenges and passions. A blog can be a useful and effective means of building your own Personal Learning Network (or PLN), and one of the biggest advantages is that you can expand your network far beyond your school and local community.

PLN’s have changed significantly over the past few decades, primarily due to the improvements in global communication via the online learning space and the creation and development of supportive “communities” of professionals, sharing their triumphs and challenges with one another. (Hoskins Sakamoto, 2012).

A blog is simply a way of defining an online form of communication, much like an online diary or journal (Saddington, 2010). However, a blog invites participation from others in the form of comments and/or feedback to your thoughts. It is through a blogs’ interactive nature that we as educators have opportunities to share our thoughts, achievements or challenges and receive support or advice from peers, novices and experts worldwide.

The idea of connecting, sometimes seemingly instantly, with other professionals in my field is exciting. Learning the ropes of a new process (i.e. a blog) can prove to be challenging, but worthwhile. I do wonder where this blog will go? How far outside of my local community can I reach to expand my knowledge and skills? There are also other ways in addition to blogs to utilise the online environment to build your own PLN, such as social media (e.g. FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube etc).

Running your own blog isn’t necessary for building your own PLN. However, don’t underestimate what you may be able to gain from all of the online tools available to you as an educator. After all, we are aiming to teach our students how to become competent adults for the future, aren’t we?

tomorrow, the world

Happy teaching!

References

Hoskins Sakamoto, B. (2012). What is a PLN, anyway? Retrieved August 7, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.teachingvillage.org/2012/01/03/what-is-a-pln-anyway/

Saddington, J. (2010). What is a Blog? What is a Blogger? What is Blogging?. Retrieved August 4, 2015. Retrieved from http://john.do/?s=what+is+a+blog

Image. (2015). Retrieved on August 7, 2015. Retrieved from www.buzzquotes.com

What role do creativity and imagination play in education today?

When it comes to educating your students, how important are creativity and imagination to you? Are they behaviours that are best kept to the music and art rooms? Or are they in fact ways that we can connect with our students and engage them in learning that is relevant and long-lasting AND make our own teaching experiences more meaningful for ourselves, as well?

While we consider the role that ‘learning spaces’ play in education today, I feel it is important to consider a broader view of our educational practices as well. Are we rigid in how we teach? Do we feel comfortable following a set formula and not like to put ourselves in positions of making mistakes in front of our students? Are we allowing our students’ to develop the skills and behaviours necessary to solve the challenges and problems they will face? Are we further developing our own creativity and imagination as teachers and learners, and role modelling this to our peers and students?

This short video hopefully offers some further food for thought when it comes to what role creativity and imagination play in education today.

Happy teaching!

What are Learning Spaces?

Learning spaces in education can include any of the following:

  1. The classroom  and the school
  2. Beyond the classroom
  3. The electronic learning space
  4. The group learning space
  5. The online learning space

Most educators will be comfortable with utilising learning spaces one to four. Teachers are aware that most of their direct teaching has had to occur within the confines of the classroom and/or school. To a certain extent, this is then able to be reinforced at home via things such as homework, assignments, reports and so forth. Teachers are also more inclined to utilise group learning spaces during their time in the classroom and school, and the electronic learning space has introduced teachers and students to technology that can expand and/or simplify their experiences together (eg. Google Drive etc).

However, one space which may cause hesitation for teachers is the online learning space. Some may have ventured as far as social media as a means of extending their connections with other educators, and perhaps even with parents and/or students directly. However, the online space is one that is growing rapidly. It is one that has a capacity to create a safe learning community for students to interact with one another and share insights and ideas and to reflect on the feedback, opinions and findings offered by their peers.

As this article by Brown and Lippincott (2003) discusses the importance of education institutions not only acknowledging the expansion of the more ‘traditional’ learning spaces educators are accustomed to, but also ensuring that students (and teachers) will be supported to have success in utilising them.

Learning Spaces : More than meets the eye

What have your own experiences with learning spaces been as a teacher?

References

Brown, M. B., & Lippincott, J. K. (2003). Learning spaces: more than meets the eye. EDUCAUSE quarterly26(1), 14-17.