Students and PLNs (Feedback Requested)

We’ve been discussing educators’ use of personal learning networks (see here and here). While the responses have been quite favorable (Certainly skewed by the fact that most that saw the request are likely plugged-in to social technologies) several have raised important issues, shared frustrations, and expressed reluctance related to the use of online PLNs. I do not wish to impede that ongoing conversation, but I would like for us to extend the conversation a bit more. So…

Do you think participation in personal learning networks (PLN) can enhance student learning?

NOTE: I’d like to include responses in my Podstock keynote and blog post. You can share your text/audio/video reply in the Comments section of this post or respond to the corresponding Plurk and Twitter discussions.

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

7 thoughts on “Students and PLNs (Feedback Requested)”

  1. I absolutely believe PLN’s can enhance student learning. It dismisses isolationism. It is easier access and allows for students to take ownership of their work. This leads to more student engagement. You can individualize student learning through PLN’s. The goal of PLN’s for students in the classroom is to achieve higher order levels of thinking. Since creating a Storybird for the first time. I was able to reflect after creating it and watching your video. Since creating the Storybird I took more ownership over the assignment since it was going to be published. ( Even though they unpublished it!) The same holds true for students and allows for more engagement.

  2. Growing the amount of students that can talk about a concept gives each student a chance to hear/read something that will let the concept make sense and live in their memory and imagination. Having a discussion that can conceivably involve more people that attend a particular school give the opportunity for students to make connections far outside of their immediate community. Wanting students to grow into adults that accept and embrace all people means we as teachers need to give students opportunities to make connections with as many other students from as many countries and cultures as possible. Social networking can create a worldwide PLN for students.

  3. Learning networks, formal and informal, are critical for all learners. In some cases, students learn in spite of us and the structures we impose upon them. If we could let go of “sit down, shut up, and listen” as the default school mode and replaced it with “think, connect, produce” I believe we would see learning skyrocket.

  4. I think there are several levels by which the question can be looked at. First in regard to the teacher, by participating in a PLN he/she moves in a state of constantly being the learner. The wider and more diverse my PLN the more the multiple perspectives and large amounts of resources I am exposed to. I am constantly challenged to evaluate what it means to be a teacher and a learner by my peers. Perhaps most importantly for me in regards to my learning is the passion that is so often lacking around me. I see people in my PLN rise to the occasion showing an excellence, focus, and passion that I need to have constantly modeled for me so my own self-motivation doesn’t wither. Secondly, the students benefit from a teacher’s participation in a PLN because our students themselves will need to navigate and make use of similar groupings and interactions for their learning in the future. The more we understand the challenges they face the more we can try to anticipate and direct them towards the skills and knowledge they will need. Lastly, the teaching philosophies which we were exposed to in college and the idealism that many teachers enter the profession with become worn down and compromised by the day to day demands of the bureaucracy and outside demands placed on what must take place in the classroom. Being an advocate and user of approaches such as project based learning and constructivism needs support from the minority of teachers who believe in this approach to learning. I haven’t completely grasped what a classroom that meets the needs of all the different learning styles with student centered, peer to peer engagement would look like. One that challenges students to focus on higher level thinking skills a greater proportion of the time. I know some in my PLN do know and are there and have gone through the process and I benefit from their experience. I know also that other teachers are exactly where I am and ask similar questions and I also benefit from this dialogue and conversation that takes place in my PLN.

    Derrall Garrison’s last blog post..Powerpoint and Levels of Comfort

  5. Anything new will help to enhance student learning. Novelty alone sometimes provides the catalyst a student needs to be engaged on a learning level. Since a lot of the connective technologies that I use for my PLN are fairly new, using them in the classroom with students, I think, is the next logical step, as there is still a novelty aura associated with them. That’s not to say that I don’t think they will have longevity, in fact, I think some of the connective technologies are changing the face of traditional pedagogies forever.

    Teachers are already using interactive blogging, Twitter, and Skype to connect their students to other students around the world. I think this is important for two reasons: 1)Having students create global frames around their own learning helps to situate them more deeply or have a deeper vested interest in authentic tasks around content and skills, and 2)Just like PLN’s do for adults–PLN’s for children/students will likely provide unlimited resources and opportunities on a level never before experienced.

    If we are currently in the “Age of Collaboration,” I think we have a responsibility and obligation to become a part of the participatory culture we seek to create for ourselves. We, as teachers, know how valuable our network can be. It stands to reason that we would want to give that gift to our students too.

    Mike Fisher’s last blog post..TEACHMeet Contest Winner!

  6. Well, I do, but I don’t think that is a new idea really. A class of students already is a PLN. What makes a PLN unique for teachers is that we are used to being alone and isolated.

    In my school we have one of each grade, one of each subject so we can’t really bounce ideas off of peers in a content specific way. When you build a network of peers, it is like being a student again- you have a class of peers. In some ways a school can be described as a number of PLNs (classes) with a guide (teacher).

    I would add that extending their already existing class via a classroom to classroom connection is a great thing as well. We have just started doing that in my school with various collaborative projects.

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