3 Ways to Instantly Grow Your Personal Learning Network
Imagine a network of leaders from every sector of education: public schools and early learning centers, colleges and universities, museums and libraries, nonprofits and corporations. Now stay with us: imagine this group sought to collaborate in order to inspire and empower a generation of lifelong learners not only locally, but across the United States.
This is no figment of your imagination. It’s the Remake Learning Network, a professional network of educators and innovators working together to shape the future of learning. And although they’re an impressive group, representing over 250 organizations, they’re doing what you should be doing: forming a Personal Learning Network (PLN) that benefits both themselves and the wider education community.
A Personal Learning Network can be made of every imaginable combination of individuals with an interest in education—a grade-level teaching team, a school committee, even an entire school district. It can also consist of individuals who’ve never met face-to-face but who find each other online, united by a common goal to collaborate and learn. As an educator, working with others is one of the best ways to ensure the success of your students. That’s why it’s so important to start building a PLN of your own.
Feeling inspired? So are we! In fact, we’re so inspired that we’ve put together three ways to instantly grow your PLN.
Organize a Meetup
No time to organize a meetup with strangers? No problem. Start collaborating with educators who work right down the hall from you. Choose a time to meet every week, select a topic of study, do some research, and discuss what you’ve learned. At the end of the school year, have PLN organizers present their findings to the staff. It’s a great way to promote a learning culture at work while expanding your own network.
Attend an Educational Conference
For some people, conferences can be stomach churning, but they’re also an amazing way to network and learn from educators across the country. Here are some biggies (though don’t forget to look for local options, as well):
- ISTE: International Society for Technology in Education
- STC National Forum: Schools That Can
- Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference
- Project Zero: Harvard Graduate School of Education
- Remake Learning Days: Remake Learning Network
Go to as many presentations as you can and talk to the presenters. Exchange contact information and follow up with a LinkedIn connection. It’s also a good idea to use the conference hashtag before, during, and after your trip. This allows the conversation to continue when everyone’s back at school.
The Ultimate Networking Tool: Social Media
When it comes to forming a PLN in the 21st century, social media is a must. In less than 30 seconds you could be on Twitter learning from educators across the world. Don’t worry about over-following at first. You can always go back and remove people later. Keith O’Neil offers some tips to get started. His LinkedIn page highlights 100 educators to follow in each of the 50 states. Participate in a #twitterchat, which lets you have public conversations around ed-related questions online. Buffer provides a great guide. Here’s a list of some of our favorites:
- #satchat: weekly on Saturday morning at 7:30 AM EST founded by Brad Currie
- #suptchat: first Wednesday of each month at 8 PM CST founded by Dr. David Frazier
- #engagechat: every Friday at 8 PM EST founded by Eric Davis
- #edchat: Tuesdays at 12 noon and 7 PM EST. co-created by Steven Anderson
- Check out this list for other solid options or head to Participate.com, which offers a calendar with chats and times.
One Last Note
We know how much being a great educator means to you. And we know achieving greatness on your own can be a daunting task. But with a PLN, you can improve your classroom, school, district, career, but most importantly, yourself. So go get started!
Oh and don’t forget to follow and connect with us!
Justin McKean Justin McKean (@JMcKeanK12) is an EdTech leader and co-host of the Perspectives in Education podcast.
Justin Aglio (@JustinAglio) served as a teacher, principal, and is now the Director of Innovation at Montour School District in Pennsylvania.
Author: Justin Aglio
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