Creating Your Virtual PLN

Begin creating a virtual personal learning network centered on educational best practices in the fields of design thinking and STEM

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Creating a virtual personal learning network can be an invaluable tool to begin implementing transformative teaching practices.  Some topics to consider following might be teaching design process thinking, project based learning and learning environments. Here is a list of some of my current favorites:

I love that as teachers, we can learn from each other!

[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe something you learned from your empathy exercises or analogous research.

It has helped me to synthesize current buzz words (or acronyms, as we are so fond of using these in the education world) like PBL and STEM by thinking of it in this way...

WHO we teach is students PERSONALIZED LEARNING
WHAT we teach can incorporate STEM/STEAM
HOW we teach can be PROJECT BASED LEARNING/DESIGN PROCESS THINKING
WHEN we teach can be BLENDED/FLIPPED
WHERE we teach is THE THIRD TEACHER (Learning Environments)
WHY we teach is to inspire a generation of INNOVATORS

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Photo of Michael Schurr

Hi Josephine, Awesome post! Huge fan of PLN's. As Erin mentioned, twitter is a huge part of my PLN. I love how your summary makes the connection between PLN's and STEM.  Your post makes me wonder, why PLN's? I know why I believe in the power of personalized learning networks. But I wonder, do my colleagues?  How much experience do they have building their own network? What are the positives/negatives?  What about faculty who aren't social media users? How do we work to assist them in the creation of a PLN? I think my biggest question is how we get faculty to see the value of a PLN in connection with STEM education.  I wonder if you could talk with some colleagues, maybe get a cross section of those who have a strong PLN and those who don't. Or even those who want to but don't know how to get started.  Also, I wonder if you could find some folks who are invested in STEM education and learn about where they find their inspiration.  This could provide some areas for us to design together in the ideate phase!

Photo of Josephine Stringer

Yes, Michael.  I often talk about creating PLN's and have led some campus initiatives in the past on creating networks and I feel like the greatest challenge for most people is knowing where to start. Most people struggle with information overload at the beginning.  I like to encourage people to start with who/what they know and just remind them that it takes time to build a good, strong network, but once you have one, what a great resource!  

Photo of Michael Schurr

Josephine, I would LOVE to see you move iterate on this in the Ideate phase.  Maybe a build on this original idea would be a network of STEM experts, educators, schools, businesses, etc., as a starting point for those looking to discover their PLN. Just an initial thought....I wonder how else we might innovate on PLN's to leverage active and authentic STEM experiences. Lets build together in the Ideate phase, want to?

Photo of Josephine Stringer

Hi Michael, 
This conversation actually came up in our campus Ideate session last week.  I would be interested in possibly doing a video session or maybe a "top ten" post of how to create a PLN.  I am also working with a group of teachers on my campus to do a post about a cross-curricular idea.  Do I have to choose one or the other?

Photo of Michael Schurr

Hmmm, two really great ideas. One thought, is there someone else on your campus who would be willing to champion one of these two awesome ideas? That way, we can work on one and a colleague can work on the other.  Two prototypes from one challenge!  What do you think? 

In the mean time, let's decide which one you are most passionate about and get started.  Once we decide, we could start a google doc to think about what this idea would look like in practice.  What do you think?

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