Saturday, 12 January 2013

PLN 2.0

This last Thursday our Internet for Educators class was visited by John Evans. John is a technology consultant for Manitoba Education. He shared many useful websites, talked about the importance of a personal learning network (PLN), and gave us a quick tutorial on Maple, an upcoming sharing site for Manitoba educators.

John has been compiling sites for a long time. He mentioned wikis, diigo, pearltrees, scoop it and to name a few. I use diigo myself and love it. I can group and tag my links, share them, highlight parts of websites, and they go wherever I go! John shared his diigo group, Literacy with ICT, and I followed it. There is tonnes of stuff there and I get new additions emailed to me.
Another of the curation sites looked at was
It is aesthetically pleasing and I like how each site, or scoop, is a tile with title, thumbnail and text from the site. I just made a diigo bookmark of John's Professional Learning for Busy Educators. I'm used to diigo, but if has a chrome extension that lets me scoop within my browser the impressive display might just be enough to get me to switch.

The meat of John's presentation was PLNs: what they've been, what they are now and why they are important. John stressed that we need to shift from talking about professional development to professional learning, because development is incremental and finite (eventually you are fully developed), but learning is continuous and infinite. This idea really struck me and I plan to remember it throughout my career, especially if know-it-all thoughts start creeping into my mind.
Teachers have been islands in the past. Working alone with only their training and whatever books they could acquire to look to. In multi-class schools colleagues became an added resource to improve teaching practice. Now a typical teacher's learning network looks something like this:
The internet, especially web 2.0 with its focus on collaboration, has dramatically expanded the professional learning opportunities available to teachers. There are so many options available and they are two-way (sometimes n-way), 24/7, at my pace, based on my interests, in real-time or asynchronous.
Conferences and seminars used to only be available locally, but skype, twitter, live streaming and the like have removed the distance barriers and allows world-wide learning. I started on twitter last year for my ICT course and have found in to be a highly valuable resource for learning from and connecting with people. I blog, use diigo, share with dropbox and google drive. However, there is no set things you need to be doing, or sites you have to join, to have a PLN. John stressed that a PLN is not so much a thing, but a state of mind. A PLN starts, and continues to grow, with a commitment to learning and sharing.

With so much available to us it can be overwhelming thinking of where to start, but John gave us a leg up in that too. He signed up our whole class for the beta version of Maple. It's going to be a hub for sharing resources and ideas, and building relationships with fellow teachers in Manitoba. We each have a library of resources we share and can join groups, make events and follow others. It looks like a great addition to my growing PLN.


  1. Sounds like a great presentation! I would be interested in seeing what Maple looks like.

  2. Tyler,

    Thanks for the kind words about my presentation.

    I think you'll really love It does have a bookmarklet so you can scoop things directly from your browser similarly to how you do it in Diigo. I have wiki dedicated to the topic of Information Curation and pages on Diigo, and more. One of the best aspects of is the many, many topics being curated by others that you can follow and re-scooop to your own page.

    It was a pleasure meeting you and your classmates and I look forward to following your progress over the course of your final term at BU. I hope our paths cross at BYTE!



  3. Tyler, I like how you explain how you will use the different things we learn about. You help to make the scary practical for me!

  4. I, like Kelsey, appreciate how you offer your readers an explanation of the different resources John presented in class. It's also interesting that Kelsey and I see you as our go-to person for our technology questions, but you see yourself as someone who still needs to ask questions. That's really what growing a PLN is all about. We educators need to be committed to learning as well as teaching.
    You mention "curation" which is something I don't fully understand yet. Could you go into more detail about what you believe that to be? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
    I'm excited to learn from you because you are so passionate about technology.


  5. I agree with it being "overwhelming thinking of where to start." When I started to learn about where and how to store resources online, I couldn't believe that I used any other system before (binders, notebooks, space in my room that I couldn't afford to give up). I started to look around my room in disbelief, and thought that "I could have been WAY more organized in years prior." Aside from my messiness, I just couldn't think of which way to do it, which way to organize my resources. I have now become familiar with a few, and am slowly trying to learn more. However, more and more just keep popping up, but I guess thats just how technology is.