Expanding My Personal Learning Network

During this semester of college, I’ve focused in on expanding my Personal Learning Network (PLN). As educators, it is essential that we stay connected and engaged to new methods and ideals that can help shape how we teach in the classroom. I remember when I was in school that there was always a stark contrast between the teachers that were excited about trying new methods and bringing new ideals to the class and the one’s that saw little benefit in changing anything up. While I understand that finding a routine and using methods that have worked for years will be very important in my professional teaching life, it is essential that we try new ideas and challenge previous held notions. To think of ways of how I’m connected to new information that will help in my growth as a teacher, I’ve outlined a map of how my PLN currently appears.

To expand this map, I’ve learned in a technology and design that social media can have profound effects on our PLN. I’ve used social media for years, mainly to stay connected with family and friends, but the idea of using social media to connect to information that will be relevant to my professional career was novel to me. We discussed in various classes how Twitter can be a powerful tool when connecting to fellow educators, both local and around the world, and can open doors to information we previously weren’t aware existed. So my first step in expanding my PLN was creating a Twitter!

I then went to work on following peers that I recognized and followed different accounts that interested me, keeping in mind how this will be useful in the growth of my professional life.

The #unietd has also been very helpful in finding resources and connecting to other peers that have shared information regarding the PLN. The use of hashtags on Twitter can be a powerful tool in finding information relevant to what I may be looking for, and various hashtags have helped me understand the importance on certain topics and how many people may be talking about something.

Many of the accounts that I’ve followed have shared information that is relevant to professional teaching life and some in more profound ways. For example, I’ve had the opportunity to work with at-risk youth throughout the years which has led to my desire of teaching in a lower income school. The needs of these students are often overlooked, as often times teachers put little effort into understanding the many needs that students in lower income areas may have. Sometimes we grow so accustomed to our own customs and norms that we forget that different living situations can have profound effect on our outlook on life and it is important as educators to recognize this. We must challenge our norms and beliefs, and must be engaged in being mindful in this. So when one of the Twitter accounts, Edutopia tweeted this I new I had followed the right account!

I’ve also had the challenged myself to use other networks such as Pinterest more. To be honest in when I first heard that we would be using Pinterest in a classroom lecture I wasn’t sure what to think. Although I hadn’t yet created a professional Twitter, I’ve used the network for a long time so I was comfortable with following education accounts that interested me and tweeting information that I’ve found, however I’ve never used Pinterest and I had no idea what I would be getting into. However, the social network soon became one of my favorite ways to find new information. Currently when I visit Pinterest I’m greeted with a wealth of information from new methods I could try in education to specific tools I can use as an social studies teacher.

One of my favorite features on Pinterest are the boards that you can create and pin articles to. Naturally I decided to create and education board to pin some of my favorite articles and resources to.

Screenshot of what a board looks like from my account

Many of the things that I’ve pinned are articles and resources that I should always keep in mind as a teacher and many are articles that I’ve pinned to help build my PLN.

For example, one of the articles that I’ve pinned to by board is a guide to blogging for teachers. I’ve pinned this to my board because I believe blogging is something that I definitely want to keep going throughout my professional career. When I click on the pinned article it takes me to connectededucators.org where the post was originally written on.

This is just an example of the power of Pinterest and I definitely look forward to using it more as an educator because as teachers we should always be challenging ourselves to use new tools and experiences.

To summarize, during this semester I’ve expanded my Personal Learning Network considerably. Throughout the semester I’ve connected with other professors, past teachers, and have used services that I wasn’t aware of such as Symbaloo. While my experiences on Twitter and Pinterest are the websites that I choose to highlight on this post I’ve expanded my use of other sources and have reconsidered what connections I currently have. At the end of the semester, my PLN map now looks like this:

While it has expanded significantly I want to continue to work on expanding my network throughout my professional career, as the more connections I have, the more successful I can be as an educator.