Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education

Views: 1876
Ratings: (0)

The Internet connects us in unprecedented ways. To prepare students to flourish in this new learning world, schools will need to transform themselves in important ways. This book is a road map for any educator thinking about using the web for learning. Build your own learning network, and use learning networks in the classroom and schoolwide to improve student outcomes.

List price: $28.99

Your Price: $23.19

You Save: 20%

 

5 Slices

Format Buy Remix

Chapter 1 Understanding the Power of PLNs

ePub

Pam Moran is in what she calls the “twilight” of her career in schools. Now the superintendent of the Albemarle County Schools in Virginia, home to some 1,400 educators and 13,000 students over 726 square miles, Pam has spent over thirty years in every level of education. It’s been a wonderful ride without regrets, save one.

“I really wish I had another 20 years left in this career,” she says. “I’ve spent most of my time in schools just tinkering around the edges of learning, but nothing much has really changed. But right now, things are changing at lightspeed” (P. Moran, personal communication, January 10, 2011).

For two years, Pam has been learning about learning in a different way—by connecting to other educational leaders and teachers around the world online. She’s been tweeting on Twitter, gaining a following of almost three thousand readers. Her blog, A Space for Learning (http://spacesforlearning.wordpress.com), has quickly become a must-read for other superintendents and educators of all stripes. A quick Google search leads to many other guest blog posts, comments, and articles about her work shifting the learning environment in her district to one that is more embracing of the networks and connections that facilitate learning outside the classroom. Those experiences have transformed her view of education.

 

Chapter 2 Becoming a Networked Learner

ePub

There is no single moment that Tony Baldasaro can remember that made him realize he needed to radically change the way he thought about learning. But for the assistant superintendent of the Exeter, New Hampshire, school district, the 2009–2010 school year proved to be a transformative experience when it came to his own learning, the way he thought about student learning, and his role as a leader for his teachers.

“I was a competent yet introverted school leader,” Tony recalls. He was willing to share his feelings about education with his close circle of friends but was uncomfortable making them known too widely. Over the course of that school year, however, things changed dramatically. “I became what I would call a transparent leader,” he says, a shift that he describes as “the most transformational event of my professional life” (T. Baldasaro, personal communication, August 13, 2010).

For Tony, that “event” centered on the online global learning networks and communities he chose to become a part of that year, networks that in just a short time gave him a voice and a perspective on education that he could not have imagined a year earlier. While no one reason drove him to learning networks, he did attend a three-day workshop on the topic and “couldn’t turn back.” He started a blog called TransLeadership (http://transleadership.wordpress.com/) where he wrote and reflected regularly on his role as a school leader. He became active on Twitter (@baldy7) and started following and participating with other educational leaders from around the world, people who pushed his thinking and deepened his learning around the changing landscape of education each step of the way. Before long, he had literally hundreds of connections willing to share their ideas, provide feedback, give advice, and on occasion, meet up for dinner. In short, this marked the beginning of his personal learning network, which now consists of the people and resources who contribute to his do-it-yourself professional development (DIYPD, as some call it) whenever he is connected to the Internet.

 

Chapter 3 Implementing a Networked Classroom

ePub

Seventh-/eighth-grade teacher Clarence Fisher has an interesting way of describing his classroom in Snow Lake, Manitoba. As he tells it, it has “thin walls,” meaning that despite being eight hours north of the nearest metropolitan airport, his students are getting out into the world on a regular basis, using the web to connect and collaborate with students in places around the globe. The name of Clarence’s blog, Remote Access, sums up nicely the opportunities that his students have in their networked classroom.

“Learning is only as powerful as the network it occurs in,” Clarence says. “No doubt, there is still value in the learning that occurs between teachers and students in classrooms. But the power of that learning is more solid and more relevant at the end of the day if the networks and the connections are larger” (C. Fisher, personal communication, November 23, 2010).

Without question, Clarence exemplifies that notion of the “networked learner” that we talked about in the last chapter. Aside from reflecting on his life and his practice on his blog, he uses Twitter to grow his network, uses Delicious to capture and share bookmarks, and makes other tools like Skype and YouTube a regular part of his learning life. In other words, he’s deeply rooted in the learning networks he advocates for his students.

 

Chapter 4 Becoming a Networked School

ePub

On the opening day of the 2009 school year, Superintendent Lisa Brady stood in front of the 250 teachers at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, New Jersey, and started a new conversation about learning in her district. “Our students are entering a different world,” Lisa said, “one that is more global, more connected, more diverse and less structured than the one we knew. Our students are going to change jobs more often than we did, sometimes changing their field as well. To be prepared, they will need the skills that we have always taught, like the ability to write effectively, speak confidently, and think critically, but now they will also need skills that we have not always emphasized, like the ability to solve open-ended complex problems using creative approaches and to collaborate with peers around the world. Most likely, they’ll need to learn ‘on the fly’ every day of their lives” (L. Brady, personal communication, September 8, 2009).

What Lisa said next is important for all of us to hear. “I only know two things for sure about the situation that faces us right now as educators,” she said. “The first is that we will need to do things differently than we have done them before, teaching in new ways, with new methods of learning using new technologies in our classrooms. The second is that the best path to those changes isn’t clear right now, and we will need every member of this community to work together to figure it out. Let me be clear about this—I need your ideas, your energy, your caring for our kids, and, most of all, I need your leadership.”

 

Chapter 5 Ensuring Success of Learning Network Adoption

ePub

In chapter 4, we sketched a road map of how to lead your school in the adoption of learning networks. We described how to engage your personnel in the change process, and we gave you a guided path complete with resources that you could use to support the change process. In this chapter, we move beyond personnel and process to give you advice on four areas that you need to get right in order to ensure your success—(1) money, politics, and technology; (2) technical support; (3) school policies; and (4) resistance to change.

For that reason, when it comes to managing the change process, we’re going to be less step-by-step in this chapter. More importantly, in this chapter, we’ll try to give you the ideas you need to build systemic solutions and overcome the major points of resistance.

The big points break down like this:

How can schools find the money to pay for the devices and infrastructure needed to support the use of learning networks?

How can schools structure reliable and affordable technology and support to help students, teachers, and staff use the tools?

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub (DRM)
Encrypted
true
Sku
2370003851304
Isbn
9781935543299
File size
0 Bytes
Printing
Disabled
Copying
Disabled
Read aloud
No
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata