Personal Learning Networks for Middle Level Leaders and Middle Level Students
I have one, we all have one and we may not have thought about it in just this way. We need to and here’s why. It is already a part and will be increasingly a part of our students’ learning lives…not to mention our own professional lives.
PLE= Personal Learning Environments
VLE =Virtual Learning Environments
PLE + VLE = PLN = Personal Learning Network
Here is what Wikipedia says:
One aspect is that the learner contributes and derives knowledge in a PLE through various nodes. In this way, the learner chooses which PLEs, VLEs, and social mediums to build a PLN. Specifically, the learner chooses who to interact with in these mediums and how much to participate. The learner enters the PLE with certain goals, needs, interests, motivations and problems that are often presented to the people they include in their PLN. Moreover, the learner will collaborate and connect differently with various members. The learner will establish stronger relationships with some members and have a low level of connection with others. Not all nodes will be equal. Some of the member roles include searcher, assemblator, designer of data, innovator of subject matter, and researcher.
PLNs are becoming an important part of professional development in several fields with some businesses creating their own e-learning content and PLEs for their employees. In addition, PLNs have become prevalent in the field of education and are rapidly becoming adopted as centers for the diaspora of field related information (in this regard, they are also often referred to as PROFESSIONAL Learning Networks).
Here is a slideshow about PLNs
So what does this mean to us as middle level leaders?
It means we need to be consciously developing our own PLNs. It means we need to consciously be identifying how, where, and from whom we are learning…and this goes way beyond college courses and conferences for us and way beyond classrooms and classroom teachers for our students. It means staying actively connected with smart and capable people inside and outside of education who have knowledge we need and possible solutions to our current challenges.
It means staying actively connected virtually and “on the grid” continuing to develop our own virtual learning environments.
And, lest we forget, we may be part of the PLN of someone else. What have we got to offer and are we willing to share it?
What about our students? They’re watching. How can we best assist them to develop safe, productive, rich, and flourishing PLNs? By modeling it, for a start.
For me personally? This can’t be an add-on to my professional life. I have no extra time. None of us do. It needs to be entwined, enmeshed, embedded and a natural part of my work life. This means I need to replace some old and less efficient practices with some new more efficient practices.
This is a LOT to think about.