Thursday, 29 July 2010

What can a PLN do for you?

I’d first like to acknowledge UPS for this great slogan. Secondly, I would like to express my humble thanks to my personal learning network. Last Monday I lost my job due to budget constraints at my former charter school. It was both shocking and humbling. I was going into this school year with more enthusiasm than I can remember. I was going to teach AP English Language and Composition for the first time in my career and had assembled a stellar group of students that were working hard over the summer within the summer reading network I created. I was also assuming the duties of instructional technology coordinator for the school. This position was several years in the making and really came to fruition as a result of my experience working with Joyce Valenza, Ken Rodoff, and developing a blog and a presence on twitter. All of these components, plus the evolution of #edchat and so many great people in my PLN, provided me with the tools and know-how essential to integrating technology into a curriculum in a positive way.

And in the matter of a twelve minute conversation it was gone.

I struggled with breaking the news to anyone on the eve of the conference I was organizing, ntcamp, and wanted to enjoy that event as much as possible. Two days ago I wrote about my situation and put it out there to the world. The results were truly amazing and demonstrated the power and support of a personal learning network.

In the span of one day I received so many kind comments on my blog and via twitter. I also received job offers, and leads to positions. Just this morning I spoke with a principal who is on twitter. We discussed the possibility of me working for his district. This is the power of social media. This is the power of the Personal Learning Network.

We no longer live in a static, closed off society. Many think that engaging in social networks will cut you off from society and some just simply like it the “old fashioned way”. And that is fine, but to dispel the myths and connotations that social media is cutting oneself off from society is just simply ignorant. Social networks are positive environments that promote and provoking thinking about a plethora of subjects. In education, I have found more substantive professional development than I have ever received at any district or school that I have been a part of. I look forward to the day when we can receive credit, as educators, for participating in various twitter chats and forums.

However, I know my students have greatly benefited first hand from my presence on social networks. I have learned about great resources and websites that I can immediately implement into my classroom or can simply ask for an interesting writing prompt from my PLN. Our students drive social media and networks. They are a product of this generation just as much as some of us were a part of the radio generation, the TV generation, and the MTV generation. At one time even the post office was a new concept that connected people and took time, social networks are no different.

I really hope the myths and taboos can be removed from social networking and we can start to value the positive merits it offers. I can honestly say that I have gained so much from my PLN and will continue to grow and evolve with this medium until the next generation comes about.