Blog Post: Evolution of my PLN
In her online blog, Christine Younghusband, shares her experiences in using a professional learning network (PLN) aka #bcedchat (Twitter) initially to find people wanting to develop professionally in her areas of her interest. Those connections lead to the building of a support structure for her where she could connect, share ideas, and share support with others.
Christine describes meeting her Twitter colleagues in real life as an overall positive experience. Because of Twitter and her online support group she was able to make quick real-life connections with group members and skip introductory pleasantries. This allowed her to meet more people and have a deeper relationship with them, allowing for a more enriching professional development experience.
I am a member of a private Facebook collective for Technology Education teachers (members of the BC Technology Education Association aka BCTEA) which works in a very similar way to Christine’s Twitter support group and has seen a very similar evolution. It started as a place to share project ideas and resources but very quickly grew into an online space to ask questions and professionally support one another in any way we can to better one another’s teaching practice. It has taken a rather loose knit community, that only met once a year at the BCTEA annual conference and helped many teachers within the province form strong bonds both professionally and personally. For me it has been like a mentorship in that I can ask just about any professional question and I know that I will get many well thought out opinions in support of me and often in a very timely manner.
Much like Christine, because of this online group when members get together it is like we already know one another. We can meet as far closer friends than we ever would have when we only interacted once a year.
One thing the #bcedchat offers that the BCTEA Facebook group does not is the opportunity to set up guest online speakers and/or open moderated conversations to address varying topics for anyone who is interested in an online Twitter forum. This is a great opportunity that allows teachers to professionally develop in a less traditional “professional development day” way and choose what they want to participate in based on their interests. A fully laid out schedule of up and coming chats can be found here. If you miss the conversation, they are catalogued here for later review.
I was fortunate enough to meet Christine in class via video chat. Overall the experience was very pleasant and informative. It was interesting to here her experiences with #bcedchat and how it had formed a community for her both professionally and personally. Teachers need to support one another in their journey and #bcedchat is a beautiful way to do that, especially for teachers who may be for rural and secluded from other teachers. IT also offers an opportunity to share all the differing styles and methods of teaching going on around the Province.