“What the heck is a PLN?” @ #RSCON3 (Video)

This Weekend, we kick off the third Reform Symposium eConference (#RSCON3)!


What the heck is a PLN?: Personal Learning Networks for Educators

When?

8.30AM Australian Western Standard Time
(Please check the schedule for your timezone – this is just before the Closing Keynote on Day 1)

 

Where?

Please click on this link to access my Elluminate room – up to 30 minutes before the scheduled start.

(https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?sid=2008350&password=M.25F4EE183D04E394FA038CA714AA9D)

This will be my FIRST-EVER professional presentation, so I’m hoping and praying things go well!

I’m really excited, and I hope to see you there!

Looking Forward to #RSCON3

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Six months ago, I’d never heard of the Reform Symposium Virtual Conference; the fantastic, FREE, online global education conference presented by teachers for teachers.

That all changed when I attended #RSCON11 in January this year; an event which attracted 4 100 global participants, and marked the birth of my Twitter PLN.

And, now to my amazement, I find myself presenting alongside some world-leading global educators at the next Reform Symposium (#RSCON3) in late July 2011.


So, what’s it all about?

The Reform Symposium e-Conference is about sharing, learning, and connecting with inspiring educators around the world. You don’t need to pack a bag, catch a plane, or pay a cent. You can even attend in your pyjamas! All you need is an Internet connection.

To find out more, visit the Reform Symposium website; where you can:

  • Find the official #RSCON3 schedule for your time-zone
  • Meet the presenters, and
  • Download the flyer to share with your colleagues and staff.


My #RSCON3 Presentation:

“What the heck is a PLN?” – Personal Learning Networks for Educators

  • Are you a new teacher, feeling isolated and alone?
  • Are you an experienced teacher looking for new ideas and inspiration?
  • Are you interested in sharing ideas and collaborating with other teachers on global projects?
  • Are you tired of falling asleep in boring professional learning seminars?
  • Have you heard about Personal Learning Networks or PLNs? Feeling lost, confused, wondering where to start?

Then please, join me at #RSCON3, as I

  • Share my ‘new teacher’ PLN story, and explain “What the heck is a PLN?”
  • Explore the technologies which underpin my global connections
  • Explore some of the global projects and learning made possible by my PLN; and
  • Facilitate a global discussion about how PLNs have influenced teachers’ professional practice around the world.

This is an opportunity for new and experienced teachers alike to learn, share, and connect.

I’d love to see you there!


When?

For Australian teachers, Reform Symposium 3 runs from July 30 – August 1, 2011.

I will be presenting on Day 1 (just before the closing Keynote) at 8.30AM – Saturday, July 30 (GMT/UTC+8). 

This time and date will VARY depending on your time-zone. Please click here to find out what time this is for you.

Where?

I will be presenting virtually in an Elluminate Conference Room. To participate, you’ll need to click on the (soon-to-be-published) “Webinar Links” in the RSCON Schedule.

In the meantime, I urge you to check out the Reform Symposium website, follow the #rscon3 hashtag on Twitter, and share the official Conference flyer with your Principal and colleagues.


Please, spread the word!
This is the only serious professional learning which you attend in bed! And it’s worth it!

I’ll be attending #RSCON3. Will you?

A Connected Teacher’s Balancing Act

Over the past 6 months, I have invested a significant amount of time and effort building my online Personal Learning Network.

In recent times; however, I have come to the gradual (and extremely reluctant) realisation that I need to find a balance in my online interactions.

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Attribution: Image from the Daring Librarian.
Image: ‘
PLN_DimSum‘: http://www.flickr.com/photos/43666171@N07/4806404770



This post was written in response to Josh Stumpenhorst’s (@stumpteacher) reflections in “Why I’m Not Following You”.

Too much time online

Twitter & blogs are valuable learning tools, but they can become extremely addictive. I don’t like to admit it, but I’ve been spending way too much time online, and spending too little time having a life.

And I’m not alone. I’m trying to find a balance; trying to put my ‘offline life’ (family, hobbies, and fitness) first. It is just not possible for me to follow 25+ blogs in my Google Reader, and spend 2-3 hours a night online – 7 days a week. 

I already do more professional learning online in a week than most teachers do in a year, but there’s no point wearing myself out. I’m better off curling up with a book, or taking my new camera out for a spin.

So, I may not follow you on Twitter. and I may not read your blog.

Please, don’t be offended or put-off. It’s nothing personal. I’m human.

I can’t read, process, or bookmark EVERY interesting website, blog post, tweet that comes up on my screen, although that hasn’t stopped me trying in my early days.

Finding a balance

I may not be online as often as I used to, but I’ll still be around. I will continue to learn, share and connect – just at a more reasonable, steady pace.

I want to invest my time online talking and collaborating with the real people in my PLN. I don’t want to spend countless hours bookmarking interesting websites and reading too many blog posts. I’ve found friends all over the world, and I’ve been able to tweet-up with a few over lunch.

It is these quality relationships and conversations which underpin the power of my PLN, not its size and scope. It means I don’t have to follow everyone – I follow experts who can put me in touch with other experts – when I need help. This is what it means to be connected.

So, please, if you feel like a chat, give us a shout on Twitter (@mgraffin) or on Skype (mgraffin). I’m a real person too.

Why I Connect


I’M A TEACHER

I was once an idealist. Now I’m more of a realist.

I once believed that our political leaders could positively change the face of education in my country. No longer.

I have dreams. They’ve been shattered – twice.

My first year of teaching left me feeling alone and disillusioned.

 

BUT, 2 YEARS ON …

I once believed I could make a difference. I still do.

I’ve rediscovered my passion for teaching.

I believe that effective literacy teaching and ICT integration is critical to prepare my students to communicate and interact on a global stage.

I’ve finally had the opportunity to practice what I preach

I’m a blogger, with a supportive global audience.

I’m becoming a more competent and effective teacher.

My teaching and learning is changing because of my global connections.

MY FUTURE

Is unclear.

I’ve yet to have a class of my own.

I’ve got a lot to learn.

I’m not an expert teacher … yet.

That’s why I connect, learn, share, and collaborate with experienced, expert teachers around the world.

My PLN has reawakened my passion for teaching

For this, I thank you.

What’s the Point of a Personal Learning Network? (Guest Post)

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I’m proud to announce the very first guest post on A Relief Teacher’s Journey, written by Pooky Hesmondhalgh (@creativeedu) in response to my PLN Voicethread Project. It was first published here.

About our Guest Blogger

Pooky Hesmondhalgh (@creativeedu) represents Creative Education:

the largest independent provider of training for school staff in the United Kingdom, … which specialises in working with schools facing difficult circumstances  (from website).

She blogs at www.creativeeducation.co.uk/blog.

What’s the Point of a Personal Learning Network?

We all have a personal learning network or PLN. Even if we’ve not reached the dizzy heights of Twitter and the like our PLN is all around us every day. It’s the people that we work with and exchange ideas with.

Traditionally our PLN wouldn’t have reached very far beyond the staffroom, but these days in the blink of an eye you can be accessing information and answers from a PLN that spans the globe.

But what’s the point?

I know that a lot of people – generally the type who won’t be reading this blog, and certainly won’t be dropping me a line on Twitter to talk about it, think that virtual PLNs are just one big time wasting activity. That we’re all busy talking about what we had for breakfast, or watching videos of dancing cats. Of course, there’s some of that – just like there is in the staff room. But there’s a whole more to it as well.

Michael Graffin, a teacher over in Oz started a great discussion up on Voicethread a few days back trying to encourage an exchange of ideas about what we each get out of our PLN and how it’s changed us both personally and as educators.

Voicethread will eventually appear below – or you can access it here


Participating was a learning experience for me as I’ve never used Voicethread before. It made me examine what the point of my own personal learning network is and I decided that for me, the key elements were being part of an environment which was completely unprejudiced where I could ask any questions I liked without fear of looking silly. And also having the privilege of being able to draw on a huge range of ideas and experiences of educators working in a wide range of roles, all over the world.

Whenever I have a question, idea or problem if I talk to my PLN I always find that I am offered a wealth of advice and ideas which are more wide ranging and certainly a lot more rapid than if I had used my traditional offline PLN.

It’s well worth listening to the other views expressed in the voicethread and adding your own voice too. Some of the standout points for me were that a PLN offered the opportunity to:

  • Talk to like-minded, real people
  • Share and exchange a range of ideas
  • Inject creativity into everyday practice
  • Enjoy a constant flow of ideas
  • Encourage innovation
  • Discuss and consider controversial thoughts
  • Develop enthusiasm and passion

So are you a convert? Do you find your virtual PLN a great resource or do you think we’re better off sticking to the traditional methods of actually talking to people we know and exchanging ideas over the photocopier? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

“Connecting Globally” (@clivesir)

 Casting an eye over my Twitter feeds this morning, I was mightily pleased to see an old ‘PLN  friend’ and mentor back online. 

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Clive Elsmore, or @clivesir as I’ve come to know him, has spent the past few years working in India and Sri Lanka as a volunteer teacher, training local teachers in the use of ICT technologies and Web 2.0 tools like Skype. (He’s now back in the United Kingdom.)

As a very special member of my PLN, and someone with whom I have many educational interests in common, I wanted to take a moment to share @clivesir’s thoughts on how global connections impact on teaching and learning in today’s world.

I first ‘met’ Clive as a newbie tweep around 6 months ago, when he literally took me ‘under his wing’; teaching me the Twitter basics and introducing me to some of the most integral members of my Personal Learning Network or PLN.

While Clive modestly puts this down to the ‘power of social networking’, his encouragement, feedback, and entertaining conversations mean a lot to me; and were a consolation and support as we journeyed through some very exciting, and very difficult times in our respective professional lives.

Today, I’d like to share Clive’s video in which he describes his work and ‘global educational connections’ in his own words. It was my first chance to virtually ‘meet’ this amazing educator, and it provides an excellent outside perspective on my own efforts to form global connections around the world.

 

 

 

My First #EdChat

Today marked an important milestone in my ongoing efforts to build a Personal Learning Network via my blog & Twitter™.

At 8AM Perth time, I joined in an international #edchat conversation on the topic of participatory / inquiry learning.

Following the conversation via Tweetdeck™ (for Google Chrome™), I started out by retweeting other teachers’ ideas, and throwing my own experiences / questions into the mix. I soon found myself conversing with several teachers (including a fellow Aussie in the US!) about rubric assessment, science teaching, and curriculum differentiation for seriously at-risk students.

I was really surprised with the intensity and quality of the Twitter™ #edchat conversation, and marvelled at teachers’ willingness to share their ideas, resources, and insights via their Personal Learning Networks.

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Twitter as a Professional Networking Tool

I’ve been using Twitter™ for less than a month, yet it has already started to transform aspects of my professional knowledge and practice. Aside from collating an incredible range of educational weblinks, I have found an empowering medium for sharing my ideas, and learning from experienced educators around the world. 

Twitter™ has made me a more collaborative teacher. I have always been happy to share my teaching resources & relief teaching materials with other teachers; which are generally ‘borrowed’ from, or politely shared by the amazing colleagues I meet on my relief teaching travels (See Learn to Steal on the Success in the Classroom Blog). Today, I had the opportunity to share my recent differentiated science project – Energy Sources Investigation (Year 6) with several teachers on the other side of the world … in America!


Twitter™ &
Me – Read, Learn, Reflect & Share

I have often said that relief / substitute teaching is an amazing professional development experience, as it enables me to explore & learn from other teachers’ practice. I now know, that when I eventually have my own class, I won’t lose the learning experiences and networking opportunities my day job provides.

I won’t feel so isolated, shut away … too busy to talk about teaching with my colleagues. I’ll have my PLN, which continues to grow day by day. For a graduate teacher, this is empowering and really exciting!

A big thankyou goes to @clivesir, @enrichingkids, @Edu_Traveler, @nykat, and @franklin_h, amongst others, who have actively supported my tentative forays into the online educator community.

Why not join me as I continue to read, learn, reflect and share via my online PLN?


Recommended Weblinks

Twitter for Teachers: A Guide for Beginners (Creative Education Blog)

Do Something: Twitter 101 (Stumpteacher Blog)

Connect to the World Through Twitter (Teacher Reboot Camp Blog)

Twitter as a Professional Development Tool (Social Media for Working & Learning Blog)