building my PLN

PLN

This post is Assignment 2 – Part 3 for ECS 210

Besides being about the many types of curriculum and the implementation of anti-oppressive teaching strategies, ECS 210 focused a lot on the construction of both a positive online identity and a Professional Learning Network (or PLN) through both Twitter and a blog.

While I did have both of these outlets set up in a professional context before this class, I find that my skills with these technological tools, my interactions with others through these mediums, and my realization of the responsibility I have to communicate with my colleagues and followers has grown tremendously over the course of the last few months.

This post is going to highlight some of the experiences and knowledge that I have gained throughout this journey of professionalism.

Just a few stats to start off (these were recorded from January 13-March 17):

Since ECS 210 started, I have:

  • followed 91 new people on Twitter and gained 68 new followers
  • tweeted 177 times (66 of which were either about ECS 210, an interaction with a classmate, or a retweet/response to post from a classmate)
  • used the hashtag #ECS210 27 times
  • followed 29 new blogs on WordPress and gained 23 new followers on my blog
  • gotten 25 new comments on my blog posts and commented on others’ blogs

This just goes to show you how much your PLN can grow in such a small amount of time!

The following section is comprised of screenshots of some of my most memorable interactions with others in the past few months…

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Here (above) is a comment that I wrote on thinkbannedthoughts‘ blog in response to an article that connected to my Inquiry Project (also an assignment for this class). The response I got is below; I was very excited to have challenged someone else’s thinking to the point that they even did some research to back up their opinion. To me, that is the goal of blog comments – to create a reciprocal atmosphere of critical thinking.

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Below, a post by TerryTutors ended up relating to a classmate’s tweet about supporting grieving students in our classrooms (an event that, unfortunately, is a part of life but something we often fail to think about). I ended up being able to give that classmate (@CassHanley) a resource that answered her query, which felt really good. It was also fascinating to see how many links I was finding between my Twitter and WordPress accounts.

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And here is another example of a WordPress referral that I made  to another classmate (@ItsJ02) via Twitter… I am still constantly in awe of how many useful resources and intriguing people that can be utilized by educators. It is very comforting to know that if you are ever having trouble, asking questions, or planning lessons, there is probably something out there that can help you achieve what you want.

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One of the interactions I was most excited about – and most proud of – was with Alec Couros, the resident technological and social media guru in the Faculty of Education. I noticed that I had many new followers after being mentioned in a few of his tweets via our ‘Twitter-sation.’

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(To any Education-related Twitter users out there, I highly recommend that you follow @courosa, as he is an expert and always tweets great stuff!) To have my blog and Twitter profiles (which I refined as a result of this class) complimented by someone who is very well versed in that respect was such an amazing feeling. Life lesson learned: if you go to a PD event, follow the presenter’s advice, because you never know how it may help you down the road. It also pays a huge compliment to them that you listened to their tips and actually applied them to your practice.

Most of all, I really enjoyed having a course hashtag to constantly be checking for new resources, food for thought, and inspiration. I predict (and hope, for future Education students’ benefit) that all Education classes will have Twitter hashtags in the future. It is such an easy and interactive way to connect with your classmates, especially when you have such a big lecture and only get to know a small portion of your classmates personally in the smaller seminars. You can end up making a professional relationship with someone who you may never get the chance to see in person. Eriko (this is her blog and her Twitter address is linked later on) and I interacted back and forth many times throughout this course, on both Twitter and WordPress.  It is very rewarding to have certain ‘critical friends’ that you know are going to read your posts and give honest, constructive feedback (and you do the same for them).

The following is a final example of how one tweet of mine allowed me to connect with several other ECS 210  students (@karidavis8, @karae_danielle, and @CloeAllard) through #ECS210.

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(Here is a link to the quiz we are referring to, if you are curious)

During my blogging this semester, I have become more aware of giving due credit to anyone that I mention (hence the links that are sprinkled all throughout this post), and there is really no excuse not to link to someone else’s blog or Twitter when WordPress makes it so easy (and strangely fun – just me?) to embed links into your text.  My post ‘improving professional communication‘ (February 24th) was inspired by a tweet from a fellow classmate (@parker3e), and I made sure to let her know through Twitter that I had mentioned her in my post, as well as adding links for my readers to follow her in my actual post. I did the same with my post ‘news awareness, gender equity, and music’s influence – oh my!‘ (March 2nd), but this time I was referring readers to the social media outlets of my instructor (@jmachnaik).

In regards to my previous posts (the two mentioned and linked above) about professional goals, I have been following up! I’ve been trying extra hard to truly listen when someone else is speaking and take in what they are saying. After they are finished, I give myself time to think and respond thoughtfully. Also, I have been checking my news apps fairly often (I am being kept on the edge of my seat with both the happenings in Ukraine/Russia and the missing Malaysian airplane). I currently have five news apps on my phone:

  • CNN
  • NewsFlash
  • Newsify
  • Globe News
  • News360

So far, I’m using CNN most often, and I really like that it shows breaking news updates on my lock screen, but doesn’t clog up the corner of the app icon with notifications.

Two assignments in this class also pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to experiment with two new online tools – StoryBird and Wikispaces. Though it was a bit frustrating at times when my inexperience meant not knowing how to accomplish a task, I actually really enjoyed both of these sites! They have become two more resources to add to my technological repertoire and I would highly recommend them to all educators.

A final warm, fuzzy moment for me was when my blog was pointed out during my seminar and my instructor had me teach other classmates how to add Widgets to their blogs. It was lovely to know that viewers appreciated my blog and thought that I had something to offer. I know that some of my peers have had a hard time getting used to tweeting and blogging and, although I cannot personally understand their struggles because I love tweeting and blogging so much, I try my best to share tips that may help them dive into technology as a means of presenting themselves as a professional online and enjoy it as much as I do.

In closing, I now have so many more ‘tools in my educational toolbox,’ in the form of colleagues, resources, and knowledge. My growing professional identity and engagement with others’ content has created numerous learning experiences and moments of critical personal reflection over the past few months. My learning as a result of ECS 210 has encouraged me to keep experimenting with new technology that can be used in the classroom and my own professional practice, periodically revise my professional goals,  and continue challenging my ideas regarding education so that I can grow into a critical and reflective educator.

 

3 thoughts on “building my PLN

  1. Great post, Kara! I love your blog, and really admire how much you’ve been able to grow your PLN this semester. Also, thanks for sharing about StoryBird! It’s something I had never heard of, but have now signed up as a result of your post. I love that this class has enabled everyone to share their tips, tools, and thoughts on education

    • Thanks, Ashton! I am actually using StoryBird for my Digital Story, so check back to see how that went! I think it’s a great tool for students, because the pictures are meant to inspire ideas that then result in writing – kind of a backwards design concept.

  2. Kara – thanks for sharing such an extensive account of an amazing PLN journey. I appreciated you taking time to share with the class; always being willing to try something new (such as Storybird – wow) and most of all, for popping in to read and comment on peer blogs! You inspired along the way and continue to inspire many. Thank-you and WELL DONE!

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