On Friday April 30th in Toronto, I was honoured to spend time sharing with my continuing education colleagues from all over Ontario re: how building a PLN can empower you to grow as a professional each and every day. The goal was to demonstrate how it is possible and essential to go beyond F2F networking and learning and move to everyday learning with each other through the use of web 2.0 tools such as wikis, twitter and video conferencing.
For two hours, we navigated our Networking 2 Learn wiki discussing these questions:
- What are 21st century skills, and why do they matter?
- What does it mean to be literate in the 21st Century?
- What is a personal learning network (PLN)?
- How can growing a PLN make me a better educator?
- How do I use web 2.0 tools to build and maintain a PLN?
In terms of context, it must be stated that our group creates programs in adult, alternative and continuing education in Ontario and most of us have staff who are in many locations and it is very challenging to bring them together onground and often impossible due to the geographics, etc… Also, another reality is that we as professionals have very unique roles in our own school boards and do find that we are different. Our staff is different, our schools are different and hence, we often don’t fit in with the K-12 learning community. We did conclude on Friday April 30th, 2010 that creating a PLN and starting out slowly and using web 2.0 tools would not only allow us to collaborate and network but it would also keep us in tune with the many students we serve. In fact, my colleague, Becky Howse from TVDSB debriefed at the plenary on our behalf and in her own unique and candid way stated that “it was time to tweet!”
As I reflect this weekend, I am jazzed and optimistic as my provincial colleagues did agree that it was time to be on board as a collective in using web 2.0 tools and building PLNs. YEAH! My next steps will be to encourage, model, position and invite my “con eddies” in Ontario to be online with me. I promise to keep it going with our small group. I will be there when they tweet me for the first time or share in #conted. I promise to celebrate with them when they begin to contribute in our wiki. My promise is to be open, to support, to share, to encourage, to celebrate and most of all to collaborate and to learn with them. This is my promise to them and all others who join us! Lifelong everyday learning in continuing education – makes sense to me.