Do you have a PLN? If not, you should get one. Having a group of educators willing to share their knowledge and expertise can be very valuable. My Personal Learning Network is an important part of my learning and has been a huge help to me recently. I have to share two instances where I’ve been so impressed with the people I’m connected with.

Two of my colleagues and I were planning on sharing information about Discovery Education Streaming, the Discovery Education website, and the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) to other library media specialists in our district. We are lucky to have a rather large department (16) compared to many other districts in SE Wisconsin. Our district has put a premium on keeping as many full-time, certified, library media specialists in our schools as possible. A stand many other districts are not taking. Anyway, my part of the presentation included talking about the DEN and how it has benefited me and the advantages it can provide. To me, the DEN is kind of PLN in itself, but my network extends beyond the Discovery walls. Via Twitter and Plurk, I sent out a question asking DEN members what they felt was beneficial and what aspects they liked the best, as well as things I needed to make sure I covered. While my network often meets my needs, one of the best parts is that my network also consists of the network of the people in my network, make sense? In this case, I reached out to Steve Dembo on Skype, one of the Discovery gurus in my mind, for some assistance. Steve also sent out a question looking for more responses to help me and within a reasonably short period of time, I had a number of great reasons why educators love the DEN. I was able to share those reasons with the people I was talking to later that day. To me, having this information to share was much more powerful than me just standing up there and talking about what I like. Through my PLN, I was able to gather a lot of information, from a variety of educators, and share their knowledge as well.

Another example of how grateful I am for those I’m connected with deals with my first attempt applying for the Best Buy Teach Award. I’ve never applied for a grant in my life and don’t consider myself the greatest of writers. The hardest part is often getting what’s in my head down on paper (or a computer screen). The application required me to answer a few questions about the project I was a part of and the impact technology has on student learning. This time, I just sent a message on Twitter and Plurk, and simply noted that I was working on the application. Responses came with offers to proofread. Suggestions where made to me about a blog with tips for this grant by someone who has received the grant numerous times. Another person suggested I contact someone they knew who also has been awarded the grant multiple times in the past. Wow! I put my answers in a Google Doc and shared it with those who were willing to help. They popped in, made suggestions and offered tips, and really helped me out. I reworked a few things, checked back with a few people, they made suggestions again, and the next thing I knew, I had a much better application. Am I going to get the grant? Who knows, but I certainly feel that my chances have greatly improved because of my PLN. I certainly hope I can return the favor down the road.

7 comments

  1. loonyhiker // October 14, 2008 at 1:18 PM  

    I need to look into DEN. We must be on the same wavelength! Here is my post on PLN today: http://successfulteaching.blogspot.com/2008/10/growing-my-own-professional-learning.html. They say great minds think alike.

  2. Nadine N // October 14, 2008 at 2:17 PM  

    Great post - I know exactly what you mean. My recent valuable PLN experience was the encouragement I got when I applied to be a Google Educator. It's wonderful to know that there are a very smart group of people who are generous with their advice, support, and encouragement. I've written about it a few times as well...http://nnorris.edublogs.org/category/pln/

  3. Tim // October 14, 2008 at 2:24 PM  

    Great post! And a great way to share the DEN with others, by getting the DEN to share with you.

  4. Teach42 // October 18, 2008 at 2:01 PM  

    Believe me, I feel lucky and blessed to have passionate educators like you to learn from, rely on, and inspire me. Great post, I couldn't agree more with you.

  5. Rebecca Mullins // October 19, 2008 at 5:35 PM  

    Great post. I have a really loose PLN. I need to solidify it.

  6. Lee // October 19, 2008 at 7:43 PM  

    Great post! Glad you're in my PLN.

  7. IMC Guy // October 23, 2008 at 10:44 PM  

    Thank you everyone. I'm very pleased to be connected to such wonderful people. Keep up the good work.

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