With a Little Help from My Friends: The Power of the PLN
Concurrent Session 2
“Get by with a little help from your friends” and reflect on practices that help form connected and collaborative personal learning networks. This interactive session will highlight the ways educators can leverage social learning as a means of critical professional development, crowdsourced problem solving, and collaborative scholarly work.
As we are called to answer the ubiquitous challenges of promoting equity and access to diverse populations of learners across multiple modalities, we only “get by with a little help from our friends.” The formation of personal learning networks and intentional learning communities provide educators, researchers and practitioners with the ability to leverage social learning as a means of critical professional development, crowdsourced problem solving, and collaborative scholarly work. This session will guide participants through mindsets and practices that aid in the formation and maintenance of a rich, interconnected network of collaborators. The presenters will share their own experiences forming their personal learning network, affectionately referred to as “#squadgoals” and the impact it has had on their careers in such varied forms as research and publications, podcasting, conference design, organizational leadership, and cross-institutional collaborations. Focused on the core mantra that “we’re better together,” this session will highlight the ways in which we are called to connect the stars around us into brilliant constellations of networked educators.
This express workshop will give participants the opportunity to examine recognized connection types formed with personal learning networks (Rie et al.) to include sharing practice and perspectives, giving feedback on work, collaborating on shared challenges, and motivating peers. Harmoniously, the practices detailed in this workshop were formed at an Online Learning Consortium conference years prior, and have continued to this day, marking this effective practice as one inspired by and bolstered through the connections made via the OLC. Broadly, personal learning networks make up one component of the synergistic give and take of professional development and mentorship - practices learned at conferences inform initiatives at our institutions, and the work from our home institutions is shared out at the conferences. Highlighting this symbiosis, the presenters will share tools and approaches in the form of a series of stations, showcasing technology and effective practices that have been instrumental in their work together over the past several years:
Finding Your Squad on Twitter
Design Thinking the Collaborative Process
Carving Paths and Plans with Trello
Co-Writing and Publishing with Google Docs
Using Slack to Keep in Close Collaboration
Frequent Co-Working Meetings on Zoom
Participants will engage in reflection on practices that emphasize cross-institutional collaboration over time, to include ways in which they might extend their reach and power in solving monumental challenges through their connections to other educators and organizations. They will have the opportunity to set up pertinent accounts, see existing examples, and develop an engagement plan for their next 30, 60, and 90 days upon return to their institution. They will gain hands-on experience with establishing a personal learning network of their own, assisted by a team of people who collaborates regularly across institutional boundaries. Active participants will come away with the foundation for future collaborative work within and beyond the scope of the conference.
Sie, R. L., Pataraia, N., Boursinou, E., Rajagopal, K., Margaryan, A., Falconer, I., ... & Sloep, P. B. (2013). Goals, motivation for, and outcomes of personal learning through networks: Results of a tweetstorm. Educational Technology & Society, 16(3), 59-75.